Feature Story

Baxter Welcomes BIO 2013 International Convention to Chicago

This week, more than 16,500 global industry leaders converge on Chicago's McCormick Place to discuss many of the world's most pressing health, food and energy challenges as the city hosts the 2013 Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International Convention.

As a double-helix sponsor of the event, taking place April 22-25, Baxter is honored to welcome the biotech community to the company's home state of Illinois, which has long been a hub for groundbreaking biotechnology research and development, thanks to world-renowned academic, government and non-profit research institutions. Today the state's biotech industry includes more than 3,400 establishments and more than 80,000 employees, according to the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (iBIO). Illinois universities and colleges spend about $1.3 billion on biosciences research annually, according to the National Science Foundation.

"Innovations by scientists throughout Illinois' biotech community have the potential to significantly advance our ability to restore, improve and extend lives by preventing and treating disease, curbing climate change and developing alternative energy sources," says Ludwig N. Hantson, PhD, corporate vice president and president of Baxter's BioScience business as well as a member of the BIO Board of Directors. "It's a very exciting time for the industry."

Baxter's BIO 2013 participation
As one of the Chicago area's largest science- and technology-based companies, Baxter plays an important role in ensuring that Illinois continues to build on its reputation as a center of scientific excellence moving forward. To that end, the company is taking part in several BIO-related education and mentoring programs during and after the convention, including:

Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Biotech: This year-long mentoring program pairs a diverse group of graduate students and post-doctoral researchers with industry mentors who work at biotechnology companies. The scholars will be introduced to their mentors during a 6-day training experience taking place in Chicago during the BIO convention. Scholars and their mentors create personalized mentoring plans, which they implement over the course of the year following the training session, and continue their mentor-mentee collaboration by phone and e-mail after the initial session is complete. Baxter is a co-sponsor of the program and this year, two Baxter employees are participating as mentors.

TalentSparks! Biotech Teacher Workshop: With support from Baxter, the iBIO Institute EDUCATE Center is leading the development and implementation of an educator workshop entitled "Culturing Tissues, Culturing Issues," to be held April 21-23 in advance of the BIO convention. Approximately 30 teachers from across the United States and Puerto Rico will explore the past, present and future of tissue culture including its development, applications and related issues. The program, developed in partnership with the nationwide Coalition of Bioscience Institutes, an umbrella organization dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, will include two days of hands-on skills development in biotechnology and expert presenters from industry and academic research institutions. Among other presenters, Delara Motlagh, PhD, senior research manager, Cellular Therapies, will provide an overview of the various sources of stem cells, applications toward regenerative medicine and the therapeutic potential of developing cellular therapies.

Events like this one, Motlagh says, are a great way to support community needs, serve as educational resources and often are very fulfilling for employees.

"I find it so inspiring to connect with teachers, who have been entrusted to educate, inspire and mold the next generation of leaders," Motlagh says. The teachers will then gain exposure to applications of their hands-on learning by attending the BIO convention.

The program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of biotechnology education and will model the latest in evidence-based science teaching standards, according to Ann Reed, vice president of the EDUCATE Center.

"Teacher professional development has been cited by the National Academy of Sciences as playing a critical role in improving student achievement," Reed says. "This workshop is a wonderful extension of the EDUCATE Center's TalentSparks! teacher workshops, developed and implemented with support from Baxter and other companies since 2007."

Baxter's long history in biotechnology
Since its founding in Morton Grove, Ill. in 1931, Baxter has maintained a strong biotechnology presence in Illinois. The company was responsible for the first commercially manufactured intravenous solutions, the first commercial kidney dialysis machine, the first concentrated clotting factor to treat hemophilia and many other medical breakthroughs.  More recent "firsts" include the first protein-free recombinant factor VIII for hemophilia and the first cell culture-derived pandemic flu vaccine.

Today, with 5,550 employees at locations in Deerfield, Round Lake and Vernon Hills, Illinois, Baxter remains one of the largest members of the biotechnology industry in the state and in the Midwest. The company's R&D pipeline focuses on products and therapies that have the potential to satisfy unmet clinical needs, expand patient access to vital treatments, advance standards of care and patient convenience, improve medical treatment, and reduce medication errors.

"Baxter's mission has always been to apply innovative science to develop therapies and medical technologies that save and sustain patients' lives," says Hantson. "We have a strong pipeline with promising technologies that have the potential to profoundly impact the treatment and delivery of care in the future and add to the company's history of innovative 'firsts' in medical therapies."