New IBBR Director Envisions Premier Biotechnology Research Institute

New IBBR Director Envisions Premier Biotechnology Research Institute

The University of Maryland today announced the appointment of Thomas R. Fuerst, Ph.D., as the new director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR). IBBR is a joint research enterprise created to enhance collaboration among the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the fields of medicine, biosciences, technology, quantitative sciences and engineering.

"Tom has dedicated his life and career to this industry and we are honored to have him as a new member of the University of Maryland team," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "His executive management experience in both government and private industry, coupled with specialized scientific and manufacturing expertise, will be a valuable asset to the university and our partners as we pursue our goal for the institute to become a premier biotechnology research institute and educational center."

"We are excited about our opportunity to work with Dr. Fuerst as he assumes his new role as Director of IBBR," says Willie May, PhD, associate director of laboratory programs at NIST. "NIST considers IBBR to be an important partnership with the University of Maryland in the area of biomanufacturing, a critical strategic area for NIST. We look forward to working with him in making IBBR a world-class institution in advanced therapeutics research."

Under Dr. Fuerst's direction, IBBR will continue its work as an initiative of The University of Maryland: MPowering the State, a formal collaboration among University System of Maryland (USM) institutions designed to focus their collective expertise on critical statewide issues of public health, law, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering.

"IBBR represents one of the first major collaborations between UMB and UMD, and coming under the purview of MPowering the State signifies that we are making this a collaboration with high expectations," says Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, UMB's chief academic and research officer and senior vice president, and MPowering the State steering committee member. "We are certain that Dr. Fuerst will be able to meet these high expectations, considering his record of achievement in biomedical research at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and in private industry."

In his new role, Dr. Fuerst will lead IBBR in leveraging advances in innovative science and technology to facilitate the transition from basic scientific discoveries to the development of new medical products and diagnostics that address unmet medical and public health needs.

Dr. Fuerst will also steer IBBR's work in the development of new analytical tools, standards and approaches for the characterization of safe and effective biological products and innovative manufacturing platforms. He will lead the institute in networking with leading academic research groups to create interdisciplinary programs, and work closely with industry partners to facilitate commercial application and economic growth.

"The ability to foster and support the flow of scientific exchange in academia and industry is essential in translational sciences to realize the development of new innovative technologies and products with commercial promise," says Dr. Fuerst. "The University of Maryland/NIST partnership has formed an outstanding group of scientists and engineers with the mission to develop new medical products and state-of-the-art analytical and manufacturing platforms in the biological science field with the goal of achieving significant health benefits and economic growth for our community and nation. I am delighted to be part of the University of Maryland team to help lead this effort."

Dr. Fuerst has a long-standing and distinguished track record as a senior biotechnology executive and former government official with more than two decades of experience in the research, development, and manufacturing of biological products, and strategic planning. He has served as a leader at the nexus of government, industry, and academia and brings extensive scientific expertise and knowledge of state-of-the-art technologies and practices used in the discovery and development of vaccines and biotherapeutic products.

Early in his career, Dr. Fuerst was a founding scientist at MedImmune in which he helped establish its R&D programs.  He later joined Sanofi Pasteur and played a key role in establishing the company's biodefense initiative post September 11. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) then asked him to serve as director of vaccines and biologics, and senior science and technology advisor in the Office of the Secretary. In this capacity, he led the development and acquisition of vaccines and immunotherapeutic products for biodefense and other emerging public health threats, including anthrax, smallpox, botulism, and pandemic flu while managing a multi-billion dollar budget. Following HHS, he joined PharmAthene, where he served as executive vice president and chief scientific officer, responsible for its biodefense franchise and started a new company, Applied ImmunoGenetics, with a focus in the prophylaxis and treatment of Hepatitis C.

Dr. Fuerst served as a senior fellow at the National Institutes of Health, NIAID, and holds a B.A. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Cornell University, and a MBA in science, technology, and innovation from the George Washington University. He is the recipient of several Distinguished Service Awards for leadership from HHS, serves on the Advisory Council for the College of Life Sciences at Cornell University, and participates on advisory boards in the biotechnology industry.

About the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research
The Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) is a joint research enterprise between the University of Maryland College Park, The University of Maryland Baltimore and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The mission of IBBR is to leverage collective research strengths of the partnering institutions in medicine, biosciences, technology, quantitative sciences and engineering, to foster integrated, cross-disciplinary team approaches to scientific discovery and education, and to serve the expanding economic base of biosciences and technology in the state of Maryland and the Nation.

About MPowering the State

The University of Maryland: MPowering the State brings together two universities of distinction to form a new collaborative partnership.  Harnessing the resources of each, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore will focus the collective expertise on critical state-wide issues of public health, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering. This collaboration will drive an even greater impact on the state, its economy, the job market, and the next generation of innovators.  The joint initiatives will have a profound effect on productivity, the economy, and the very fabric of higher education.


November 13, 2013

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