• Dean Calcagni, HST advisory council member, left, chats with Sean McKee, Pharma Biosante, at the 5th annual BioBash.

    Dean Calcagni, HST advisory council member, left, chats with Sean McKee, Pharma Biosante, at the 5th annual BioBash.

    Photo / Heather Manning

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  • The Broad Institute welcomes BioBash celebrants.

    The Broad Institute welcomes BioBash celebrants.

    Photo / Heather Manning

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CBI unveils drug initiative at forum

Dean Calcagni, HST advisory council member, left, chats with Sean McKee, Pharma Biosante, at the 5th annual BioBash.


The MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation announced its new initiative to improve drug safety during the fifth annual Celebration of Biotechnology in Kendall Square Aug. 17.

As part of an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration, the center plans to develop a computerized system that will analyze data on prescription drug and medical device use to detect dangerous side effects more quickly.

The announcement was made during the second annual Biomedical Innovation Forum, part of the daylong celebration of community and business hosted in part by the Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI).

"Our goal through this collaborative effort (with the FDA) is to rapidly respond to signals that we find, while balancing the need for scientifically rigorous analysis with sensitive and timely detection of issues that may impact the public," said Dr. Frank Douglas, executive director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation and one of the speakers at the Aug. 17 forum.

"We will have real, adjudicated data that provides the best guidance for decision-making, and create a model that will hold great promise for the future," Douglas said.

The announcement of the initiative dovetailed nicely with the forum's agenda, "Collaborative Innovation in Action." Sessions explored vaccine development and personalized medicine.

In addition to Douglas, speakers included Una Ryan, CEO of Avant Immunotherapeutics; John Pena, president of Ancora Pharmaceuticals; and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the deputy commissioner of medical and scientific affairs for the FDA.

The forum was hosted by the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation, the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, in collaboration with the Personalized Medicine Coalition and the New England Healthcare Institute.

As the sun set on the day's events, the window-lined lobby of the Broad Institute opened to the fifth annual "Biobash," where more than 200 members of the biotechnology community in Kendall Square mingled and munched hors d'oeuvres.

The "bash," which was started in 2002 to honor the strong academic and business relationships between MIT and the biotech community, was attended by speakers from the forum, dozens of MIT alumni and others looking to network and learn more about the biotechnology community in Cambridge.

"I've been thinking of starting my own consulting business," said Timothy McCafferty (S.M. 2006). "This seemed like a good place to come and meet people."

Reflecting on the day, McCafferty said, "This has been going quite well. There are a lot of attendees and they cover basically the entire biotech spectrum."


Topics: Bioengineering and biotechnology, Health sciences and technology

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