MassBioEd Inspires Students to Pursue the Life Sciences

PeteBy: Peter Abair, Executive Director of MassBioEd

“Today’s Career Exploration Day has inspired me to pursue a career path in biotechnology because I got to see what people in this field do.  Before today, I didn’t really have any idea.”

That statement, from a Chelmsford High School female student, came at the close of MassBioEd Foundation’s November 4th Career Exploration Day hosted at EMD Millipore in Bedford.  Similar responses were provided among the 160 students who participated at Career Exploration Days at Amgen, Whitehead Institute, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Addgene, Leica Biosystems & Beckman Coulter Genomics.

Career Exploration Days, organized by MassBioEd and hosted at biotech companies and non-profit institutes across Massachusetts, provide an exceptional opportunity for high school students to visit life sciences labs and manufacturing facilities and gain first-hand knowledge of careers and activities in biotechnology directly from mentor workers at each site.  The experience can be as powerful for the company volunteers as it is for the visiting students.  As one volunteer mentor at Novartis reported,

362 IMG_0242

Students from Weymouth High School conducted a series of experiments to simulate the manufacturing process of biologics. Credit: Amgen

Read the rest of this entry

Top 10 Tips: How to Impress the Biotech Press

On Thursday November 12th, MassBio hosted Meet the Press with a panel of some of the most influential journalists in healthcare and biotech including:

  • Jessica Bartlett, Health Care Reporter, Boston Business Journal
  • Doni Bloomfield, Biotech Reporter, Bloomberg News
  • Stephanie Simon, Managing Editor of News, STAT
  • Luke Timmerman, Founder & Editor, The Timmerman Report

The reporters shared insider tips to help the audience learn how to get their stories covered.


We’ve captured the top 10 tips in case you missed the event:

  1. Develop relationships with reporters and be sure to make meetings worth while.
  2. When pitching your story, look over a reporter’s past headlines to learn their style and the topics that interest them most.
  3. Preferred way to receive a pitch? Email!
  4. Press releases aren’t dead, but they are more useful as background so don’t obsess over wording. Write a short summary in your email and explain why this would be a great story.
  5. Originality and timeliness are key elements of a good pitch, and exclusives are ideal.
  6. When possible, connect reporters to the “decision-makers” at your company even if it is off the record.
  7. On drug pricing: It’s not going away so don’t avoid it. Focus on conveying the value of medicine and always be transparent.
  8. Respond to questions promptly and be willing to jump on the phone to explain technical elements.
  9. See an error? Call immediately! The reporter wants to know and is happy to make a correction. (Just remember an error is something that is factually incorrect, not a wording preference.)
  10. Data is valuable. Share it!

Happy pitching! We hope to see your story in the news soon!

Top 5 News: 11/14-11/20

Top 5 logo1) FDA approves J&J drug for advanced multiple myeloma – Reuters, 11/16/2015
U.S. regulators have approved an experimental treatment from Johnson & Johnson that may offer hope to multiple myeloma patients who have run out of other options against the blood cancer.

2) UMass researchers achieve several ‘firsts’ in new use for CRISPR/Cas9 BBJ, 11/16/2015
A new technique for so-called gene editing that formed the basis of well-funded Cambridge startups like Editas Medicine and CRISPR Therapeutics may have another use: Turning off genes that cause a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

3) After two-decade battle, Maynard’s AquaBounty gets FDA nod for genetically engineered salmon BBJ, 11/19/2015
More than two decades after approaching federal regulators for approval, a Maynard company today says it now can produce and sell its genetically engineered, fast-growing salmon.

4) FDA approves nasal spray that reverses opioid overdose  – STAT, 11/18/2015
A critical drug used to reverse opioid overdoses will now be sold as a nasal spray, a development that will likely broaden use of the antidote among family members and friends of addicts caught up in a growing national epidemic of drug abuse.

5) Kraft foundation gives $20 million to advance personalized medicine– Boston Globe, 11/19/2015
New England Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft is donating $20 million to advance personalized medicine, the growing field of research that holds the promise of new treatments for patients with debilitating diseases.

Washington Update: October Review

Lawmakers had a busy and productive month in October. In addition to electing a new Speaker of the House, legislators passed a two-year budget deal, debt ceiling increase, and temporary extension of the Highway Bill. The Senate also passed a bipartisan cybersecurity bill. Discussions continued over long-term transportation reauthorization legislation, and the House passed a long-awaited reconciliation package repealing key portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final two months of the year are expected to yield deals on the highway bill and an omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government.















With the Senate and House in session together for only two weeks in November, lawmakers will work together to address issues running up against impending deadlines. This includes finalizing a deal on a multi-year Highway Bill by November 20 and negotiating an omnibus spending bill to fund the government past December 11. Congress will also spend November looking for a path forward on the vetoed National Defense Authorization Act and reconcile the House and Senate versions of cybersecurity legislation.

In the House, newly-minted Speaker Ryan will spend the first month in his new office setting the tone for his tenure and laying out a broad agenda for the coming months, including possible reform measures for House rules to assuage the House Freedom Caucus. In the Senate, lawmakers will first turn their attention to legislation blocking Administration rules affecting waterways in the U.S. The upper chamber is also expected to take up the House reconciliation package that repeals key portions of the ACA. Read the rest of this entry

Guest Post: MassBio Hits the Road!

MassBio headshot_3435By: Lauren Perna, Director of Member Engagement at MassBio

With over 700 MassBio Member companies, it can be a challenge to individually reach all of the employees of our member companies, especially if the members are outside of the Cambridge area. In response to the increasing number of member companies outside of Cambridge, we created our popular Regional Mixer Series. This series has brought together our members in growing biotech hubs such as Woburn, Danvers, Worcester and beyond.

To complement the series, this year we launched “MassBio’s Trick or Treating Road Show.” Along with my fellow team members, Laura Hamilton and Lea Sansone, we took to the road and delivered over 70 Trick-or-Treat Goody Bags to our members near and far. Not only did the bags include delicious goodies, they also included information about membership. Our goal was to not only thank our members for their support, but also to educate them on our programs and upcoming events.

Throughout our journeys, we were able to meet new contacts, get valuable feedback and even update our records. We learned members had moved, member reps had changed and we also learned that some people had no idea they were members!


A happy member at Cisbio Bioassays in Bedford, MA!


Laura Hamilton, our Manager of Member Recruitment, headed up to the Burlington/Bedford area, stopping at places like Anika Tx, Cisbio and Ocular Tx. While Lea Sansone, Manager of Member Benefits, made deliveries around Waltham and Newton area, she stopped at places like Radius, FORUM Pharmaceuticals, and Juno Therapeutics. I toured Metro-West and the South Shore. This exercise was a great way to introduce myself to long-time members that I had never met in person, such as Jennifer Allahyarian from Imugen and Rick Hennessey at Commonwealth Sciences, both in Norwood. I also discovered that members Allena Pharma and Alcresta Pharma had expanded into a new Natick lab facility and that Immunogen has a location in Norwood, as well as Waltham.

Lea and I completed the tour on October 29th at MBI at Gateway Park in Worcester with MassBio-friends, Jon Weaver and Kevin O’Sullivan. We were able to meet many of the up-and-coming incubator companies, while spreading the word about our Worcester Regional Mixer that night.


Lauren & Lea with long-time MassBio Members Kevin O’Sullivan & Jon Weaver at MBI in Worcester, MA!

The experience was a great way to connect to our members and get the MassBio word out there. We look forward to continually finding new ways to connect & engage our members – stay tuned!