Life Sciences summit offers opportunities to network

Sunday, July 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:30 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

About 300 people are expected to gather this week in St. Louis for the Missouri Summit on Life Sciences for opportunities to learn, exhibit and network with each other.

A Columbia contingent of 20 to 30 participants will attend the summit, which opens today and runs through Tuesday. It is “a way to facilitate commercialization activities that will directly affect Missouri’s bottom line in the life sciences industries,” said Barbara Wilhelm, program director for Missouri Biotechnology Association, host of the summit.

She stressed that the summit was not an academic conference, but more a business-to-business interaction.

Among faculty members in attendance will be Michael Chippendale, MU’s senior associate director of the Life Sciences Center. He will lead a panel, “The Laboratory Space Pipeline,” focusing on bioconstruction, which refers to buildings that house life science research activities, such as MU’s Life Sciences Center.

“You’ve got to have an infrastructure in place to be successful in doing research and development in biotechnology,” Chippendale said, stressing the importance of bioconstruction.

The four members of Chippendale’s panel are architects and engineers involved in the field.

A panel on BioAgriculture also will be comprised primarily of MU faculty. UM-Rolla faculty will make up an engineering panel.

The issue of stem-cell research will be saved for the last discussion of the summit on Tuesday. Stem cell research, Wilhelm said, is a crucial tool in the industry at this time. The public, she said, needs to be educated that it’s not cloning, nor do the somatic stem cells come from embryos.

Education and advocacy are high priorities for the Missouri Biotechnology Association, a nonprofit group that lobbies at the state level, trying to get legislators to make, what the organization considers, informed choices. Legislators are frequent attendees of the summit, participating as panel members and guest speakers.

This is the first year the annual summit, now in its fourth year, is to be held in St. Louis. Previous summits were held at Lake of the Ozarks.

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