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VOL. 127 | NO. 7 | Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bioworks Biz Association to Host Panel Discussion

By Aisling Maki

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The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 resulted in a more personalized approach to health care, with science moving away from a one-size-fits-all model and toward customized care based on individual genotypes.

“More institutions and physicians are taking advantage of this technology to look at the efficacy of drugs and how patients will respond to them based on genotyping,” said Regina Whitley, executive director of Memphis Bioworks Business Association, which works to advance the bioscience industry in the Memphis region through education, professional networking and advocacy.

Memphis Bioworks Business Association, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is gearing up to host its first panel discussion of 2012, which will focus on personalized medicine.

“Tomorrow’s World of Customized Healthcare” will take place Thursday, Jan. 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University Club Ballroom, 1346 Central Ave.

Whitley said she anticipates the topic will attract a mix of members of the academic and research community, logistics professionals, government and economic development representatives, and the legal community – which may be drawn to new developments regarding intellectual property.

“We usually get about 80 to 100 people, and one of the real goals of Memphis Bioworks Business Association is to bring those different groups together and create that networking for business development opportunities,” she said.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Calvin Anderson, chief of staff and senior vice president of corporate affairs for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, who also serves on the board of Memphis Bioworks.

“We usually get about 80 to 100 people, and one of the real goals of Memphis Bioworks Business Association is to bring those different groups together and create that networking for business development opportunities.”

–Regina Whitley
Executive director,
Memphis Bioworks Business Association

Panelists for the event are Bob Bean, CEO of Harmonyx Diagnostics Inc.; Jack Cox, vice president of business development for Accredo Health Group Inc.; and Dr. Clayton W. Naeve, senior vice president and chief information officer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Memphis is doing a lot in the space of personalized medicine, which is really pioneering in terms of what’s happening in bioscience,” Whitley said.

St. Jude is involved in groundbreaking work in the area of pharmacogenomics – the study of how an individual’s genes affects their body’s response to drugs, Whitley said.

“They treat each patient uniquely based on their study of the pharmacogenomics capabilities,” she said. “Clayton Naeve is leading the data initiative, which is the pediatric genomics research project that St. Jude is conducting with Washington University to study the various forms of cancer in 98 pediatric cancer patients and how comparing that different DNA would potentially uncover causes and effects. His work is really in mining that enormous amount of data.”

Whitley said the work of Harmonyx has involved a human genotyping initiative that’s now being insured by BlueCross BlueShield, making personalized medicine more affordable and readily available to patients through physicians’ offices.

And Whitley said Accredo, the Memphis-based provider of specialty pharmaceuticals,

is fully taking advantage of these breakthroughs in technology to deliver more customized care to patients with chronic conditions.

It’s believed personalized medicine will be one of the drivers behind the growth of Memphis’ biologistics industry, which involves the personalized shipment of medical goods, including vaccines, orthopedic devices and pharmaceuticals.

“I would say the role of FedEx, UPS or other logistics players is really driving a lot of health care business,” Whitley said. “It’s a growth opportunity for Memphis as a center for biologistics.”

Visit www.bioworksbusiness.com for registration information.

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