Bio-Science City

When it comes to health care research, Cincinnati is in the top tier of cities nationally because of renowned institutions such as Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati.   It is no surprise, then, that our city is also home to some up and coming health care products companies who find plenty to like about being in Cincinnati.

Carol Frankenstein, president of BIOSTART, a life sciences start up organization based in Corryville funded through a public and private collaborative, says that the strength of Cincinnati's talent pool in health care research and education has been a big boost for the local medical products industry.

With more than $300 million in research grants each year between both UC and CCHMC, the area is known as a brain trust of new ideas and breakthroughs, she says.

The University of Cincinnati ranks among the top 30 institutions nationally for research and development expenditures, according to UC Magazine.  Many of its health care programs rank in the top 50 nationally.  When life science companies need access to an educated and talented work force these assets make Cincinnati stand out among the competition. In addition, the city also offers "well established" associate degree programs at its community colleges, says Frankenstein. 

"We also have tremendous talent at the bachelors and master's degree levels," she adds.

The city is also the location for many clinical trials for numerous products and medical research that is beneficial to the life science industry.

"Between UC, Children's and private companies, we have a tremendous amount of clinical trials here," says Frankenstein.  "It's complicated and you have to be in a place where you can recruit people to be in that clinical trial who qualify."

UC College of Engineering professor and president of Siloam Biosciences Inc., Chong Ahn, says that his company relies on the strength of talent at UC and CCHMC to create its high tech point-of-care testing products.  He was part of a cross-disciplinary team that included students and staff from UC's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Medicine, CCHMC, and UC's College of Engineering who all worked on developing the technology for Siloam's fluidic control testing equipment.

"University of Cincinnati provides innovative biomedical inventions and excellent human resources for starting life sciences companies," says Chong.  "BIOSTART also plays a very important role as an incubator for the biotech start-up.  UC's medical school and hospital are also very helpful in finding collaborators and doing clinical trials."

Neil Hensley, senior director of economic development for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that the high number of life science companies already operating in the area, more than 225, is also an attractive feature for luring established life science companies here. With a history of developing innovative products often using exotic materials, the Cincinnati area is known as a region with expertise in high tech manufacturing, he says.

"The educational system has evolved around that to produce people who have those skills," says Hensley.  "We have engineers who understand these (unique) applications for medical devices."

However, one of Cincinnati's biggest draws is decidedly low tech. 

When it comes to quality of life, Cincinnati offers some universally appealing features such as good schools, short commutes, close knit communities, plus world class arts and sports attractions.

"We have all the things the big cities have but at a more affordable price," says Hensley.  "For the hard working executive you can still get home and pursue your personal passions.   If you're spending an hour or two commuting then you don't have time to do that.  You can have the best of both worlds."

Frankenstein says our area's lifestyle is also an easy sell.

"The stress on an entrepreneur is ongoing," she says. "So, to be in a place where the culture is about finding balance between professional and family life is a plus.  That's what our community has to offer."

Soapbox Seven:  Innovative Life Sciences Companies in Greater Cincinnati

Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a division of Johnson and Johnson, was founded in 1992.  EES develops medical devices for minimally invasive surgery in bariatric procedures, gastrointestinal health, gynecology and surgical oncology.  Today, EES has more than 600 sales representatives around the world and sells products in 50 countries.  The company is first nationally in the endo mechanical market.

Merdian Bioscience was founded in 1977 as Meridian Diagnostics and has grown steadily with sales of its core diagnostic test kit products in 60 countries around the world.  The company's products provide accurate and early diagnosis in the treatment of conditions such as gastrointestinal, viral, urinary and respiratory infections.  In fiscal 2008, Merdian's sales grew 14 percent and the company posted earnings of $30.2 million.

Advanced Testing Laboratory, Inc. is a professional lab services company that delivers analytical chemistry and microbiology testing solutions for the health and beauty, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical and medical device industries. ATL provides complete laboratory services on an as-needed basis, including individual rush samples and comprehensive product testing solutions and complete on-site testing and laboratory management.

Clinical Trials and Consulting Services (CTI) is a full service provider of drug development, regulatory, consulting, health care communications and continuing medical education services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

Kendle International provides regulatory consulting, clinical testing and ancillary services for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as clinical research consultation.  Kendle designs protocols and implements clinical trials as part of the FDA process for approval of drugs and other medical products.

Siloam Biosciences, LLC designs and manufactures micro fluidic and micro sensor technology for use in rapid testing applications. Siloam is targeting point-of-care testing (POCT) in emergency room and home care health monitoring, as well as cardiac marker monitoring, and biochemical toxin levels in food supplies. Siloam's portable, cost effective lab-on-a-chip testing devices make use of BioMEMS (biological electromechanical systems) technology to streamline medical testing, providing quick and accurate results to healthcare providers and patients.

PDS Biotechnology Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company applying the company's platform Versamune (tm) nanotechnology to a new class of safe, simple, potent and targeted immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases.

Photography by Scott Beseler
Chong Ahn, Siloam Biosciences, LLC
Plastic Microfluidic Biochips
Chong Ahn, Siloam Biosciences, LLC
Neil Hensley
Siloam Lab
Siloam Biosciences

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