Johns Hopkins, UMD researchers win BioMaryland LIFE awards

BALTIMORE, MD (February 19, 2014) – Faculty researchers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University were recognized for their groundbreaking research and its impact on human health with 2014 BioMaryland LIFE (Leading Innovative Faculty Entrepreneurs) awards. Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray and BioMaryland Center Executive Director Dr. Judy Britz presented the awards to Dr. Jonathan Powell of the Johns Hopkins University Kimmel Cancer Center to further develop a new therapeutic agent for diabetes type II; and to Dr. Eduardo Davila of the University of Maryland, Baltimore for his T-cell based universal immunotherapy platform to fight cancer. First awarded in 2010, the LIFE prizes are two $50,000 grants funded by the BioMaryland Center along with the two universities to help advance research in biotech and biopharma, medical devices, or diagnostics that have the greatest potential for commercial application.

“We are proud to work with our partners at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland to create a pipeline of support and assistance that takes the groundbreaking research being done at our world-class universities from the bench to the bedside,” said Secretary Murray. “I want to salute all of today’s faculty presenters for the important role they play in keeping our state on the cutting edge of innovation and discovery.”

“We’re excited to again have the opportunity to work with the BioMaryland Center and the University of Maryland, Baltimore to speed the translation of research into real benefits for patients,” said Christy Wyskiel, Senior Advisor to the President – Enterprise Development at Johns Hopkins University. “The caliber of all of this year’s presentations was tremendous, and I congratulate Dr. Powell for winning additional funding for his groundbreaking work on T-cells and diabetes.”

“This was once again an outstanding showcase for innovative technologies at both institutions,” said Phil Robilotto, DO, MBA, Assistant Vice President, Office of Technology Transfer, University of Maryland, Baltimore. “The LIFE award has been a real stimulus for technology development and start up formation at UMB and we are excited about the prospects for this year’s winner Dr. Eduardo Davila and his important AT-CAR oncology platform.”

In addition to the LIFE prizes, the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation also awarded two $50,000 prizes to two university researchers for their positive impact on the health of Baltimore. Dr. Chad Gordon of the Johns Hopkins University Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery won support for his computer-based system to improve the planning and execution of face-jaw-teeth transplants. Dr. Nita Ahuja of the Johns Hopkins University Departments of Surgery, Oncology and Urology won for her development of a blood test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

The LIFE prize was awarded as part of a day-long Joint Meeting of the Johns Hopkins Alliance for Science and Technology Development and the University of Maryland, Baltimore Commercial Advisory Board. It was attended by more than 150 venture capitalists, seasoned biotech entrepreneurs and business development executives from the biopharma industry. Judging committees evaluated presentations from more than 30 university researchers before selecting the two winners.

In 2013, the BioMaryland LIFE prizes were awarded to University of Maryland Dental School’s Dr. Mark Shirtliff and to Johns Hopkins Professor Dr. John Wong. Dr. Shirtliff is using the funding to further develop a protective vaccine against staph aureus, and Dr. Wong is using the funding to develop technology that will aid in the safer delivery of radiation therapy. Previous winners include University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Dr. James Gammie, whose mitral valve repair technology was recently licensed to UMB startup Harpoon Medical.

About the BioMaryland Center:

The BioMaryland Center is an office within the State’s Department of Business and Economic Development which connects life sciences companies, academic and federal researchers with each other and with potential capital sources, partners, clients and other resources. Center staff provide information regarding funding and other resources, business plan feedback, access to market research, advocacy, and other industry support. The BioMaryland Center also promotes the State’s life sciences industry domestically and abroad. For more information, visit

About DBED:
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development stimulates private investment and creates jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing workforce training and financial assistance to Maryland companies. The Department promotes the State’s many economic advantages and markets local products and services at home and abroad to spur economic development and international investment, trade and tourism. Because they are major economic generators, the Department also supports the Arts, film production, sports and other special events. For more information, visit

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Karen Glenn Hood

Karen Glenn Hood