SC's life sciences industry responds to the challenge of COVID-19 see more
I just completed a radio interview with SC Business Review, focused exclusively on the all-consuming and seismic topic of the Coronavirus – which is dramatically impacting all our lives. As I made clear to interviewer Mike Switzer, any relevance of me being interviewed as opposed to our scientists and clinicians is tied to the privilege that SCBIO has of serving as a voice and accurate storyteller for the 600+ life sciences companies and entities that proudly call the Palmetto State home.
And there are incredibly meaningful and encouraging stories to share in the midst of this very real public health crisis – regarding SC companies and institutions that will positively impact patients across the state and nation with innovative and creative approaches they are actively, and very rapidly, undertaking.
Just a few exemplary SC examples include:
- MUSC Health was the first in the nation to uniquely provide both direct, timely, and online access to Coronavirus screening via their virtual care platform coupled with a drive-through specimen collection site for patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. This was done in partnership with the developers (newest SCBIO Member, Trademark Properties) of the dramatically redeveloped Citadel Mall Epic Center, which is now home to MUSC Health’s West Ashley Medical Pavilion – as they worked closely to secure immediate approvals for the location of the collection site in the mall parking lot. If you or someone you know needs to be screened, log on to www.musc.care and use COVID19 as the promo code. This is FREE for all South Carolinians.
- Nephron Pharmaceuticals, a major national supplier of respiratory therapy medications badly needed by patients suffering from COVID-19, is aggressively ramping up their ability to increase production of 90 million sterile doses per month of targeted drug therapies with an additional 32 million doses, as they work with the FDA to have 3 new aseptic filling lines approved and brought online quickly to meet skyrocketing demands they are experiencing.
- Vikor Scientific has specifically dedicated 2,000 sq. ft of their brand new 22,000 sq. ft. headquarters and CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab facilities at WestEdge for COVID-19 testing as soon as approval is received from the FDA. They are in fact preparing 100,000 test kits to be available for shipment to customers as soon as Wednesday of this week – and are working closely with the FDA for continued guidance on expediting the approval process.
On the national front, there are also some encouraging stories emerging, including the most rapid launch of a possible new vaccine on record.
Moderna has already begun its first coronavirus vaccine trial in Washington State (the nation’s worst hot spot at present) with volunteers at Kaiser Permanente Research Institute in Seattle. Over the next 2 months, volunteers ages 18-55 will get two doses of the trial vaccine (known as mRNA-1273). Dr. Fauci of the national Coronavirus Task Force has confirmed that this 65-day development is the fastest ever accomplished for a new vaccine of this magnitude. And while widespread utilization of a newly approved vaccine is still likely 12-18 months away, gratefully progress is on track to achieve that. Also noteworthy are other vaccines and targeted therapies concurrently in the pipeline, involving companies such as Pfizer, Regeneron and Sanofi.
Finally, on a very personal note, each of us and our extended families are being dramatically impacted by this global pandemic and are encouraged to do our parts in mitigating the spread of this fearsome and highly contagious virus. After an extended battle with metastatic lung cancer, my dad peacefully passed away this past weekend, and regrettably his funeral will have to be limited to a private family graveside service (with a future memorial service to be scheduled once the health crisis has subsided). In an interesting juxtaposition of life & death, my nephew’s wedding this weekend has been compressed to a small family rehearsal dinner combined with a quiet ceremony in conjunction with the dinner. I’m certain that there will be a multitude of other similar stories from most of you regarding how we grapple and deal with this unprecedented event with no clear endpoint at present.
While all of this will ultimately be in our “rear view mirrors” at some point in the future through the power and innovation of our industry, our researchers, and our heroic healthcare providers, life and business as we know it will have to be dramatically different in the weeks – and possibly months – ahead. Expect a more virtual experience with SCBIO for the near future, and look to hear from us more often via electronic means ranging from e-blasts to social media efforts to increased website postings to webinars. I am fully confident that all of our life & health sciences companies and leaders will respond valiantly, and that this will bring out the best in us – with creative and even transformative solutions and strategies that will enable us to maintain momentum in our vital missions. And we will learn a great deal and grow through this challenging process – as our strength is truly forged in fire…
We will update you on various developments around COVID-19 and beyond and encourage all of you to share your stories of hope and progress as we collectively battle this formidable foe. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our SCBIO team for any reason, and we are more grateful than ever for all of you.
Sam Konduros, CEO
Charleston, Vikor Scientific featured in national media see more
Empty hotel rooms, half-full offices, and shuttered retail. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the most established commercial real estate asset classes, creating short-term financial crunches and raising long-term secular concerns as remote work is tested and e-commerce rates rise.
Other asset classes, once alternatives, have become institutional investing gold standard. Logistics assets such as warehouses are providing a punch to the portfolio of the world’s largest landlord, Blackstone.
As industrial real estate investing becomes more crowded, and many of the other large asset classes slump, attention is turning to life sciences real estate — or space that’s used by pharmaceutical and biotech companies for research, development, and even manufacturing of new diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines.
The life science industry had been growing rapidly before the pandemic, attracting $17.4 billion in venture capital funding in 2019, up 370% from $3.7 billion in 2008, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Funding has continued to pour into the sector, even as coronavirus has slowed down venture funding overall, creating demand for more lab space.
Webinar features inside details on beating back the COVID pandemic see more
Top executives from five of the Palmetto State’s leading life sciences organizations shared how they have found opportunity by pivoting, product adjustment, service expansion and partnering to overcome the global COVID pandemic and find accelerating opportunity and growth.
The SCBIO webinar took place August 25th and featured Shea Harrelson and Scotty Branch, co-Founders of Vikor Scientific; John Carrington, CEO of Zverse; Jen Thorson, COO of Modjoul; Steve Clemons, CEO of VitaLink Research; and Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Erin Ford EVP of SCBIO – South Carolina’s official life sciences industry organization -- moderated. Enjoy the whole program here.
Aug. 25 webinar highlights SC businesses stepping up during COVID see more
Top executives from five of the Palmetto State’s leading life sciences organizations will share how they have found opportunity by pivoting, product adjustment, service expansion and partnering to overcome the global COVID pandemic and find accelerating opportunity and growth. The SCBIO webinar, free and open to the public with advance registration, will take place Tuesday, August 25 at 10 a.m. EST.
Entitled “Beating Back COVID: 5 SC Companies Leading the Way”, the program will feature Shea Harrelson and Scotty Branch, co-Founders of Vikor Scientific; John Carrington, CEO of Zverse; Jen Thorson, COO of Modjoul; Steve Clemons, CEO of VitaLink Research; and Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Erin Ford EVP of SCBIO – South Carolina’s official life sciences industry organization -- will moderate the discussion.
The program is presented by Medpoint, a leading specialty consulting firm, with experts providing domestic and international consulting for the medical device, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries in over 90 countries.
The group will discuss such topics as:
- With more than 70 South Carolina companies pivoting or expanding product and service offerings to meet needs during the COVID crisis, how have these organizations leveraged their strengths to create new, long-lasting opportunities for their organizations?
- How businesses found willing and capable partners in the state’s universities, colleges, healthcare systems and advanced manufacturing industry to advance their capabilities and rapidly create new product offerings – expanding their market opportunities despite the economic downturn
- Industry perspective on the approach taken to reopen South Carolina’s economy, and what must be done to ensure safety for workers and limit litigation against businesses which employ them
- The importance of developing policy improvements around the re-shoring and repatriation of producing essential healthcare equipment, pharmaceuticals and ingredients, personal protective equipment and other medical products and devices back to the US and South Carolina from abroad.
Participation in the webinar is free to all interested parties. Those wishing to participate can register while space remains at https://www.scbio.org/events/scbio-webinar-beating-back-covid-sc-companies-leading-the-way.
The 60-minute program will provide attendees with insights on the pandemic’s impact on businesses and their employees in South Carolina to date, and insights and strategies to help organizations recover and grow in the coming months. The panelists will also offer reasons to be optimistic as South Carolina works to return to normalcy while still navigating a virus with no clear endpoint.
“Our goal is to bring the diverse perspectives of top business leaders from across the spectrum of life sciences together in one forum to share the opportunities they’ve found and the ideas and partnerships they’ve pursued which have resulted in business growth and success – despite the negative impact of COVID on our state and America,” said SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.
“The panelists will also share their insights on lessons learned, reasons to be optimistic going forward, and ways for all South Carolinians to come together to solve health, social and economic challenges and improve quality of life for our citizens,” he added.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 600 firms directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries. As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.
For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org
Vikor Scientific featured in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville Business magazines see more
A number of South Carolina-based life sciences companies joined the battle against COVID-19 when the pandemic hit in early March. Prominent among this group is Charleston-based Vikor Scientific, a testing laboratory founded just over two years ago by entrepreneurs Shae Harrelson and Scotty Branch.
Vikor developed a COVID-19 test kit that is now widely used by nursing homes and other healthcare facilities across the nation. The test kit also tests for more than 40 other pathogens known to cause respiratory illness. Click to enjoy the entire article...
Life sciences community at WestEdge is booming see more
The newest WestEdge building is in stark contrast to the former landfill it is built on.
The glass-exterior 22 WestEdge office and research structure rises with a gleam above the underground layers of trash.
Evoking modernity and progress in eight stories, the 125-foot-tall building is touted as the tallest multi-tenant office structure on the peninsula and in the Charleston region.
The 156,000-square-foot building recently opened with 78 percent of it leased in advance, closing out the first phase of the long-planned WestEdge development.
Only two floors remain unoccupied, but ready for build-out with piles of drywall, ceiling tiles, wall studs and other building supplies lying on the floor.
The ground floor houses retail and restaurant space with Rush Bowls restaurant now open and French cafe Saveurs Du Monde to follow soon. REV, formerly Heritage Trust, Federal Credit Union and The Smile Store/Charleston Orthodontics recently began serving clients, too, on the first level. Read on for the entire article...
New life sciences incubator opens in WestEdge in Charleston see more
The Charleston Digital Corridor, which offers space for startups and early stage companies, has opened a new incubator in the WestEdge development.
The organization partnered with the city of Charleston for the facility, which focuses primarily on life sciences and technology companies in the mixed-use development located in the medical district near the Ashley River.
Executive Director Ernest Andrade said Flagship – WestEdge, the fifth facility operated by the Digital Corridor, is 100% full with Anatta, BiblioLabs, DentureCare, Vendr, Vikor Scientific, and Zeriscope.
The Digital Corridor’s facilities aren’t traditional incubators where companies operate in isolation with low-cost commercial space.
The Digital Corridor uses month-to-month leases and designs its Flagship facilities to provide a setting for businesses to engage with one another. The Digital Corridor goes through an extensive application process to ensure a complementary mix of companies as well.
Mayor John Tecklenburg said the city’s WestEdge incubator was part of Charleston’s commitment to help knowledge economy companies, which generally offer wages above the state and national averages, grow in the region.
“Our investment in the Flagship – WestEdge business incubator is a tangible sign of the city’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and economic diversity while contributing to our citizens’ quality of life with high-wage technical and scientific jobs,” Tecklenburg said in a statement.
The Digital Corridor plans to move its headquarters next year to a six-story building on Morrison Drive called the Charleston Technology Center. The entire second floor, 18,000 square feet, will be dedicated to providing commercial space for small businesses and startups similar to Flagship – WestEdge. Construction began last year.
WestEdge booming as VIKOR calls it home see more
According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic drug resistance has become one of the greatest threats to global health. Charleston-based Vikor Scientific is in the business of eliminating this health epidemic, and their successful efforts to do so will continue as they expand and move their Lowcountry operations and growing workforce to WestEdge.
In the midst of this health crisis, the pressure is on clinicians to prescribe the correct antibiotics. At Vikor, they’re providing medical professionals with the diagnostic tools to achieve effective treatments. The team at Vikor specializes in customizing molecular diagnostic panels to accurately detect and quantify pathogen and resistance gene loads within 12-24 hours of specimen arrival at the lab.
Vikor’s mission to improve day-to-day diagnostics relies heavily on it’s Charleston workforce, with the company packing, shipping and handling everything going out to their vast 3,000+ client list - a diverse roster of medical professionals covering 48 of the 50 states.
“At Vikor’s new WestEdge location, together with South Carolina Research Authority, we’re creating a lab and office environment that people in Charleston have been craving for years,” said Vikor Scientific Co-Founder, Scotty Branch. “Not only will our workforce feel good about going to work in a state-of-the-art facility looking out over a world class city, we’re proud to invite scientists from across the country to visit our workspace.”
Vikor currently boasts a headcount of 53 individuals and is hiring weekly. The entire team is set to move into the nearly-completed 22 WestEdge building early this spring, with operations planned on multiple floors of the building. The company’s WestEdge headquarters is set to include the company’s C-Suite, sales & marketing teams, customer service, supply chain management, and payer relations, as well as multiple renowned clinicians, neuropharmacologists, medical specialists, researchers and scientists.
“As a graduate of MUSC, I’m extremely aware of the potential collaboration opportunities that exist at WestEdge with the neighborhood’s close proximity to the medical district,” said Shea C. Harrelson, PA-C, Vikor Co-Founder. “We recently launched our research division, KOR Life Sciences, and we are interested in working with other scientists at MUSC to identify areas where synergy may be possible.”
MUSC Health plans to move members of it’s senior management team to the second and third floors at 22 WestEdge, while Vikor will occupy the building’s eighth floor penthouse & fourthfloor. With its striking architecture, unique height and full height glass, the building will be the tallest multi-tenant office structure on the peninsula and in Charleston’s metropolitan area when it opens, offering 150,000 square feet of office & lab space, as well as street level space for cafes, restaurants & shopping.
“Vikor’s presence affirms the WestEdge vision. Scotty and Shea’s team represents the breadth of Charleston’s highly-educated workforce and underscores the potential and viability of our city to house world-class companies like Vikor,” said Michael Maher, CEO of The WestEdge Foundation, Inc. “Our neighborhood’s current and future living options, restaurants, retail, fitness, gathering and incubator spaces, were developed with businesses like Vikor in mind.”
Publix Super Market, the development’s flagship retailer, opened in April 2019 at 10 WestEdge, joining BkeDShop, Barre South, Jimmy Johns, and Hokkaido Sushi & Grill Restaurant, IX Artistry, 9Round Fitness and Domino’s Pizza at 99 WestEdge street. Recently-opened Woodhouse Spa occupies the retail space along the Spring Street frontage of 10 WestEdge.
Upon completion, WestEdge will encompass more than 3,000,000 square feet of space on 60 acres along the Ashley River adjacent to MUSC and the Medical District, and fronting on Brittlebank Park and the Joseph Riley Baseball Stadium. WestEdge is a public-private partnership created to advance economic development and expand the research capabilities of the Medical University of South Carolina and foster new companies and collaborative opportunities with private industry. It is an innovative redevelopment that is transforming the quality of life for Charleston's west side.
To learn more about WestEdge, visit http://www.westedgecharleston.com/ or follow the development’s progress on Twitter @westedgechs, Facebook @westedgecharleston, and Instagram @westedgechs.
WestEdge is a 60-acre master-planned development growing into a community of world-class office and lab space, beautiful apartment towers, restaurants, and retail shopping linked together by sweeping views and access to the Ashley River and Brittlebank Park. Key 22 WestEdge partners include Gateway Development (Developer) ELV Associates (Investor), BB&T (Lender), Trident Construction (General Contractor), Perkins & Will (Architect), Thomas and Hutton (Civil Engineer), and Lee & Associates (Marketing & Leasing).
Vikor Scientific plans move to WestEdge in Charleston see more
Vikor Scientific, a biotech firm that provides targeted diagnostics to improve patient outcomes, is expanding and moving its headquarters into the 22 WestEdge building this spring.
The building is nearly complete and will include offices for both Vikor Scientific and members of senior management at MUSC Health, according to a news release.
Vikor, which is currently in offices in Suite 8 at 645 Meeting St. in downtown Charleston, provides medical professionals with diagnostic tools to improve treatments. The company takes a specimen and customizes molecular diagnostic panels to accurately detect and measure pathogens and antibiotic resistance within 12 to 24 hours.
“At Vikor’s new WestEdge location, together with South Carolina Research Authority, we’re creating a lab and office environment that people in Charleston have been craving for years,” Vikor co-founder Scotty Branch said. “Not only will our workforce feel good about going to work in a state-of-the-art facility looking out over a world-class city, we’re proud to invite scientists from across the country to visit our workspace.”
There are currently 53 employees at Vikor, and the company is hiring, the release said. The company’s WestEdge headquarters will include executive suites, sales and marketing teams, customer service, supply chain management and payer relations, plus clinicians, neuropharmacologists, medical specialists, researchers and scientists on multiple floors of the building.
Vikor co-founder and Medical University of South Carolina alumna Shea C. Harrelson said she is aware of potential collaboration opportunities with the neighborhood’s proximity to the medical district.
“We recently launched our research division, KOR Life Sciences, and we are interested in working with other scientists at MUSC to identify areas where synergy may be possible,” Harrelson said.
Michael Maher, CEO of The WestEdge Foundation Inc., said Vikor’s presence affirms the WestEdge vision. He said the neighborhood’s current and future living options, restaurants, retail, fitness, gathering and incubator spaces were developed with businesses like Vikor in mind.
The 22 WestEdge building will be the tallest multitenant office building on the peninsula and in the Charleston metro area when it opens, with 150,000 square feet of office and lab space, plus street-level space for cafes, restaurants and shopping, the release said.
Upon completion, the entire WestEdge project will encompass more than 3 million square feet of space on 60 acres along the Ashley River.
Vikor Scientific names new CSO see more
CHARLESTON, S.C. (PRWEB) AUGUST 07, 2019
Bill W. Massey, Ph.D. will be joining Vikor Scientific™ as Chief Scientific Officer to provide scientific leadership for Vikor’s molecular diagnostic and therapeutic management services, lead Vikor’s clinical research efforts related to their strategic alliances in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and continue to develop their model of personalized healthcare.
"I am very excited to be joining Vikor Scientific at this crucial point in their growth and evolution. They have an incredible vision to step beyond the traditional model for clinical laboratory services and to become the premier provider of therapeutic management services. This transition to becoming a partner with providers and healthcare organizations in the delivery of optimal, personalized care is paradigm changing and will set the standard for coordinated diagnostics and collaborative care," said Dr. Massey.
Dr. Massey is a world-renowned neuropharmacologist, pharmacogeneticist, life sciences professional, inventor and entrepreneur. Dr. Massey received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and subsequently an investigator at the Pritzker School of Medicine’s Drug Abuse Research Center at The University of Chicago. Dr. Massey holds long-standing adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Associate Professor, Dept. of Pharmacology and Interdisciplinary Toxicology) and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (Clinical Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry).
Dr. Massey has held leadership positions at Merck, Astra Merck, Quintiles, Scirex, Astra Zeneca, Scientific Commercialization, Litmus Molecular Design, SureGene, and GeneAlign. He has played a leadership role in placing 28 new drugs into human testing and 8 new drugs onto the market. Dr. Massey formerly held the Jack Martin, MD Research Professorship in Psychopharmacology at Vanderbilt University, where he conducted research into the genetics, biological basis and pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia and serious mental illness in collaboration with Dr. Herbert Y. Meltzer. Dr. Massey is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Dept. of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Northwestern University where he continues his research collaboration with Dr. Meltzer.
Dr. Massey has been a leader in the field of pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine for over two decades. Dr. Massey invented an easy-to-use combinatorial pharmacogenetic algorithm that makes clinical use of PGx practical for any physician and is currently patenting a direct-to-consumer product for weight loss.