Two firms, two university programs win GBC’s 2010 Maryland Bioscience Awards

Leaders of two Columbia, Md. companies and the directors of university programs in Baltimore and College Park that conduct genome research and work to commercialize bioscience products have been named winners of the 2010 Maryland Bioscience Awards.

Winners were honored March 25 at the Maryland Bioscience Awards ceremony, conducted by the Greater Baltimore Committee at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore. The GBC has made bioscience industry development a top strategic priority. This is the fifth annual bioscience awards event the GBC has conducted. 

“We instituted these awards to highlight the growth, development, and high achievement of Maryland’s bioscience industry,” said GBC President and CEO Donald C. Fry. “Despite a difficult year for bioscience companies, the year was also marked by advances in the industry and great successes. We’re here today to celebrate those successes.”

The awards program was sponsored by DLA Piper. The media sponsor was The Daily Record.


Winners of the 2010 Maryland Bioscience Awards are:

  • Leadership in Bioscience: Dr. Claire M. Fraser-Liggett, director, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Under Dr. Liggett’s leadership, the Institute for Genome Sciences, a part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, has grown to a 95-person interdisciplinary team of investigators. Housed at the UMB BioPark, the institute has become a leading center for major biological initiatives of international value, including the Human Microbiome Project and the Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases. A preeminent genome scientist and microbiologist, Dr. Fraser-Liggett led the teams that sequenced the genomes of microbial organisms, including important human and animal pathogens. That work helped initiate the era of comparative genomics – the study of relationships of genome structures across different biological species.

  • Best New Product or Progress: Wayne Swann, senior advisor, CrispTek, LLC

CrispTek, LLC, located in Columbia, Md., produces and sells ChoiceBatter, a formulated food coating consisting of rice-based flours, pre-gels, and modified rice starches invented by USDA Agricultural Research Scientists in New Orleans. The patented formula reduces the oil absorbed in frying batters by as much as 50 percent, compared to commonly-used wheat flour batters. It is gluten free and suitable for people with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten that affects three million people in the U.S. The company has signed distribution agreements with Mid-Atlantic Giant Food stores and HEB grocery stores in Texas.

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Charlene Riikonen, president and CEO, Cera Products, Inc.

Cera Products, Inc. was founded in 1993 by Charlene Riikonen, who was later joined by Johns Hopkins University physicians David Sack and W. B. Greenough. The three had met in the 1980s while working in Bangladesh, where they saw firsthand how dehydration causes severe illness and death. Located in Columbia, Md., the company manufactures and distributes rice-based oral rehydration solutions developed through years of research, product development and clinical studies. Cera Products has a presence in major U.S. medical centers, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. Recently, the company donated 9,000 liters of its product to Haiti.

  • President’s Award: Dr. Martha Connolly, director, Maryland Industrial Partnerships

Dr. Connolly spearheaded development of the new Maryland Drug Discovery and Development Network in Maryland. This effort has helped collate the vast bioscience resources in the University of Maryland System, Johns Hopkins and a number of Maryland’s community colleges. The network is now administered through the Maryland Biotechnology Center. Dr. Connolly heads the Maryland Industrial Partnerships, located on the campus of the University of Maryland College Park, where 40 percent of funding goes to bioscience companies. She has helped launch a number of successful bioscience firms and products and has generously donated her time, expertise and advocacy in serving on the GBC Bioscience Committee.

Winners of the 2010 Maryland Bioscience Awards were selected by a panel of judges from more than 30 nominees submitted by businesses, bioscience advocates, higher education institutions and government agencies.

Judges for this year’s awards were: Dr. David J. Fink, director of entrepreneurial services, bwtech@UMBC; Dr. Libbie Mansell, president, White Oak BioPharma Solutions, LLC; Karen Olson, CEO, BioMarker Strategies; Howard Schwartz, Esq, partner, DLA Piper; and Dr. Paul Silber, principal, Silber Associates.

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