Life Science Forum joins scientists with business leaders

A gloved hand injects liquid into a microtiter plate

By Nicolas Loran/

The Fifth Annual Southwest Virginia Life Science Forum, held the evening of October 6, will bring university researchers together with business leaders to discuss discoveries and possible collaborations.

The free forum and reception, hosted by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will be an opportunity for business people to learn about the latest research results and initiatives, for university scientists to meet people from Virginia’s biological and medical product companies, and for students to learn about potential careers. More than a hundred academic and private sector bioscience leaders are expected to participate. Poster presentations will include biotechnology, biomaterials, nanotechnology, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering.

“The Roanoke and Blacksburg areas are undergoing a transformational change in the activity level in the biosciences,” says Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “Between Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic, the new Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, and the vibrant biotechnology business sector, there is an emerging scientific, entrepreneurial, and economic force in this region. The many untapped discoveries and innovations from the community’s scientists have the potential to bring the business, scientific, and academic communities together here in a way similar to other highly successful regions, such as in northern California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.”

Preceding the event will be a daylong workshop on how to apply for funding from the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research program and a talk, “Seeing What the Nose Tells the Brain: Imaging the Sense of Smell.” Matt Wachowiak, the Utah Science, Technology, and Research Initiative Professor of Physiology, Brain and Behavior at the University of Utah, will be giving that lecture for the general public from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.

The forum is organized by the Virginia Biotechnology Association and the Roanoke–Blacksburg Technology Council and co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech, Novozyme, and Greenblum & Bernstein PLC.

“Attendees at this event will see firsthand the wealth of local bioscience research that is poised for commercial applications,” says Mark Herzog, executive director of the Virginia Biotechnology Association. “Anyone with an interest in technology-based startup companies and entrepreneurial development will want to be in the room.”

“Virginia is a vibrant area for life science research,” says Tim Howland, associate director of corporate relations in the College of Science at Virginia Tech. “Health care venture capital firms invested $159 million in southwest Virginia firms in the first six months of 2011. This is more than Maryland and North Carolina combined.”

Registration for the forum is encouraged but not required.