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Momentum Rising for State’s Bioscience Industry

6 Oct 2019 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

BIO Alabama Board Approves New Chair and Eight New Board Members 

Just weeks after announcing the hire of their first executive director, BIO Alabama announces it’s new board chair and eight new board members. The BIO Alabama board voted and approved Blair King, Manager of Economic Development and Existing Industry for Alabama Power, as its Board Chair. In addition to King, eight industry leaders from around the state joined the organization’s board of directors.  

Blair King, BIO Alabama Board Chair
Peggy Sammon, BIO Alabama Immediate Past Chair
“2019 has been an impactful year for the Alabama bioscience industry,” said Blair King. “Our board, led by Peggy Sammon, CEO of GeneCapture, successfully advocated and supported our members, sponsors, and state in a number of ways,” King adds. 

BIO Alabama supported several initiatives including the passage of SB78, the Alabama Innovation Act, which provides an R&D grant program for qualified research expenses in Alabama. They also supported the introduction of BACE (Biotechnician Assistant Credentialing Exam) to prepare lab certification to high school and college students seeking biotech lab employment and the statewide introduction of MGMWERX, an innovation and acceleration center in Montgomery to support innovation in Air Force applications.

“It was a privilege to serve and represent our industry as the board chair,” said Peggy Sammon. “Blair is an excellent choice as chair. His background in economic development coupled with his passion for growth within the bioscience industry will serve BIO Alabama well.” 

This past year, members of BIO Alabama participated in the State’s International Trade Delegation for Life Sciences to Ireland and the UK. They co-hosted the National Security Innovation Summit that brought Department of Defense tech scouts to meet Alabama technology innovation companies. In September, they participated in Senator Doug Jones’ Health Conversations and International Trade discussions to continue to develop a climate for growth and trade import/export for Life Sciences. They also hosted a Life Sciences Boot Camp for startup companies addressing corporate structure, IP, investment and available Small Business services. Lastly, they supported several State and National bills to protect life sciences IP and pricing structure in the medical device legislation.

BIO Alabama’s board is made up of industry representatives, service organizations, and industry thought leaders. Collectively, the mission of the organization is to promote bioscience innovation by creating a favorable scientific, business, and legislative environment that will facilitate the growth of emerging and existing companies, attract new bioscience opportunities to Alabama, and to increase public awareness regarding the potential impact on quality-of-life and the state’s economy.

“BIO Alabama is positioned to provide direction and support to grow the bioscience industry in Alabama,” King said. “With our collective expertise represented on our board and within our membership, we plan to do that by creating a statewide economic development roadmap to grow our industries throughout Alabama and by promoting collaboration through our initiatives.”

More about the new BIO Alabama board chair and industry leaders who recently joined the board:

Blair King, Manager of Economic Development and Existing Industry, Alabama Power

Mr. King joined Alabama Power Company in 2009 as a project manager and economic development representative. In this role, he helped bring some of the biggest companies to the state including Shipt, Yorozu, Gerhardi and Golden State Foods. He currently leads Alabama Power’s economic development Existing Industry and Expansion team, which is dedicated to helping current industrial customers expand their business in the state. He is also responsible for working with new prospective companies considering Alabama for a new location. Prior to joining Alabama Power, King served as a Financial Incentives Specialist for Operation New Birmingham (now REV Birmingham), a downtown redevelopment organization focused on the revitalization and growth of downtown Birmingham. A Birmingham native, Blair grew up in Vestavia, AL and graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Management.

Molly LaBorde, COO & Interim CEO, Innovation Depot

Mrs. LaBorde is currently the Chief Operating Officer and the Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Innovation Depot. Prior to joining the Innovation Depot in September 2013, she managed the data analytics, operational reporting, and annual budget for HealthSpring of Alabama. She serves on the Birmingham Southern College Entrepreneurship Program's Advisory Board and is a PARCA Roundtable member. She completed the Leadership UAB program in 2015 and won Birmingham Business Journal's Top 40 under 40 in 2016. She has a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Bachelors Degree in Mathematics from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

Dennis Leonard, Innovation Consultant, EDPA

Mr. Leonard consults with the EDPA to envision and build a technology based economy in Alabama and advantage the vertical assets we have in; AG-Tech, Automotive, Aerospace, Advanced (3-D) Manufacturing, Chemical Production, Life Sciences, and Logistics. Additionally, he supports the growth of EDPA's Alabama Launchpad and imerge2019.

Russell Mumper, Ph.D., Vice President for Research & Economic Development, The University of Alabama

After spending nearly a decade working in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, Dr. Russell Mumper began his academic career in 1999 at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. In 2007 he joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the John A. McNeill Distinguished Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery. Dr. Mumper has received nearly $30million in research grants, has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and abstracts, and is an inventor on 60 patents or patent families, many of which have been licensed to companies. He has led or founded four different interdisciplinary centers/institutes on two campuses, and has also founded five startup companies. He now serves as the Vice President for Research & Economic Development at The University of Alabama.

Erik Schwiebert, Ph.D. , CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, Discovery BioMed

As Founder, CEO, and Chief Scientific Officer of Discovery BioMed, Dr. Schwiebert focuses on overall leadership and management of the company’s research and development. He brings several years of experience as a researcher in cell physiology and pathophysiology. He currently focuses his scientific efforts as an applied discovery scientist, applying his cell physiology and pathophysiology training to DBM programs. He was previously an Associate Professor with tenure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Prior to that, Dr. Schwiebert was a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His education includes a Ph.D. in Physiology from Dartmouth College and a B.A. in Biology from Grinnell College. He is originally from Princeton, NJ. 

Jared Sharp, CPA, Warren Averett

Mr. Sharp is a Member of the Warren Averett Firm and serves as the Service Area Leader of the Tax Division in the Huntsville, AL Office. He has been practicing public accounting since 2005. Shapr has experience serving clients in industries such as technology, biotechnology, healthcare, government contracting, manufacturing and distribution. He focuses his practice on large multi-state corporations. Sharp also has experience with the research and development tax credit, accounting for income taxes under ASC Topic 740, FIN 48 and state and local tax issues. He resides in Madison, AL with his wife, son and three daughters.

Kacee Sims, Ph.D., Director of Marketing & Technical Support, Avanti Polar Lipids

Dr. Sims is responsible for the planning, development and implementation of Avanti’s brand strategy to new and existing products and services, and she drives the development and delivery of high-quality scientific publications (abstracts, company presentations, website/digital content, and marketing materials) in support of Avanti’s products and services with a primary focus on creating brand familiarity. She completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011. Dr. Sims now resides in Birmingham with her husband and their two dogs, Chase and TJ.

Del Smith, Ph.D., Dean, College of Business & Public Affairs, Alabama A&M University and Founder & CEO, Acclinate Genetics

Dr. Smith has extensive management and leadership experience in healthcare, IT, higher education, and government. Since 2015, he has served as dean of the College of Business & Public Affairs at Alabama A&M University. In 2018, his role at the university expanded to include executive director for economic development. Dr. Smith launched and sold his first tech start-up at the age of 25. His newest venture, Acclinate Genetics, located on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, was founded with a mission of helping clinical research organizations achieve the most representative research sample by expanding their genomic studies and clinical trials to include diverse ethnic groups. Dr. Smith earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Faulkner University, Master of Science in Management from Troy University, and Ph.D. in Management from the University of Alabama.

Carolyn Turner, Assistant Director, Research and Training; International Trade Specialist, The Alabama International Trade Center 

Mrs. Turner assists small and medium sized companies in Alabama with international trade, expanding company’s sales via international opportunities, problem solve wide ranging international topics such as ITAR and EAR, classification, regulations, contracts, finance options, risk mitigation, and more. She also conducts country/market analyses for international market research, provides international business training and educational industry seminars. She has training on these topics: Incoterms, International Distributor Agreements, How to Prepare for an Import & Export Audit, ITAR and EAR, NAFTA, and other FTA’s, Developing an Import/Export Compliance Program, Import and Export Documentation, Customs Brokers License Training Course with Logistics Training Systems, Hazardous Materials, SBA and EXIM Trade Financing, Trade Promotion Coordination Committee (TPCC) Training, SBIR Grants, International Intellectual Property Rights, and global e-commerce.

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Post Office Box 13906
Birmingham, AL 35202

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