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Baruch S. Blumberg Institute Hosts 15th Annual Regional Biotech Conference

Record crowd gathered at PA Biotech Center to discuss cost and process of drug development

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (November 2015) – A record crowd gathered at the Pennsylvania Biotech Center of Bucks County recently for the 15th annual Regional Biotech Conference, organized by the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute.

The institute, which is the research arm of the Hepatitis B Foundation, hosted more than 100 of the area’s life science and biotechnology leaders for the conference, which focused on ways companies can work to reduce the cost and improve the process of drug development.

The average process to develop a drug from the laboratory through FDA approval to patient use can cost $2.6 billion and take more than a decade, said Dr. MaryAnne Rizk, Vice President of Global CRO Partner Business for Oracle Health Sciences. Conference speakers discussed ways to mitigate those costs and to improve the efficiency of the drug discovery process.

One promising approach to improving that process lies within the growing philosophy of translational medical research, which facilitates speedier clinical adoption of best practices and treatments discovered in the laboratory. This “bench to bedside” approach strives to improve collaboration between researchers and health practitioners, thereby speeding new treatments and therapies, particularly for orphan diseases and conditions that currently lack effective treatments.

“Nurturing translational biotech research is the reason the Blumberg Institute was founded to begin with,” said Dr. Timothy Block, president and co-founder of the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and the Hepatitis B Foundation. “Building this critical mass of researchers and companies creates an environment of collaboration, which, in the end, means better treatments for patients.”

Now in its 15th year, the Regional Biotech Conference continues to grow, offering life sciences researchers and company leaders the opportunity to learn from and support one another.

“The greater Philadelphia area is now a hotspot for leading biotech companies, and the growth of the annual Biotech Conference is a reflection of that,” said Lou Kassa, chief operating officer of the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and the PA Biotech Center. “The biotech industry is vital not only to the improvement of human health, but to our economy as well, as it creates the science-based, high-paying jobs this region needs to succeed, now and well into the future.”

The 2015 Regional Biotech Conference was hosted by Dr. Bill Kinney, director of the Natuaral Products Institute of the Blumberg Institute, and Wayne Yetter, Founding CEO of Astra Merck, Inc. and CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals U.S. and a member of the board of directors of the Hepatitis B Foundation. The presenting sponsor for the conference was Univest.

Speakers included Pennsylvania state Rep. Marguerite Quinn; Dr. Gary S. Jacob, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Synergy Pharmaceuticals; Vivek Ramaswamy, Founder and CEO of Roivant Sciences Ltd.; Dr. MaryAnne Rizk, global Vice President, Oracle Health Sciences; and Dr. Robert Zivin, head of Translational Research & Alliance Management at Medgenics Inc.

About the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute: The Hepatitis B Foundation established an independent, nonprofit research institute in 2003 in order to conduct discovery research and nurture translational biotechnology in an environment conducive to interaction, collaboration and focus. The research center was renamed in 2013 to honor Baruch S. Blumberg, the man who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus.