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New conference to spotlight life sciences in Delaware

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CLAYMONT – A new daylong conference known as “Delaware’s DNA” will showcase Delaware’s growing life science sector, expecting to draw a strong crowd from around the region and across the country.

The conference organized by the industry’s trade group, the Delaware BioScience Association, will run on May 11 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Waterfall banquet facility in Claymont. 

The inaugural event aims to attract several hundred regional and national biomedical researchers, business leaders, investors and policymakers to network and listen to panel discussions and expert speakers on timely industry issues.

Conference headliners include Delaware Gov. John Carney, Incyte CEO Hervé Hoppenot, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) interim CEO Rachel King, Aisling Capital founder Dennis Purcell, National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) Director Kelvin Lee, Prelude Therapeutics CEO Kris Vaddi and Eric Kmiec, director of the Gene Editing Institute and founder of CorriXR Therapeutics.

In many ways, the conference will serve as a statement of Delaware’s burgeoning sector and bringing outside attention to the First State. The association’s annual gala dinner, which the conference will replace, used to draw interest from around the region and organizers expect that interest to grow, said Michael Fleming, president of Delaware Bio.

“To my knowledge, it may be the first time that Delaware has ever hosted, for any industry, a full-day conference like this,” he told Delaware Business Times. “That really is showcasing the breadth of innovation, research, new company development, and leadership in the state.”

Particularly exciting is the participation of King, who can fill in attendees on the industry’s national landscape, and Purcell, a leading voice in venture capital for the sector, Fleming said.

A University of Delaware graduate, Purcell founded the New York City-based life sciences investment firm Aisling in 2000, and today it has $1.8 billion in committed capital. He has invested in many life sciences startups that have been acquired by major companies and served on numerous boards of growing companies.

In addition to the speakers, the conference will feature startups vying for the title of “Most Promising New Company.” Companies launched within the last five years are invited to apply to be among those selected to make five-minute pitches during a full session of conference participants. All event attendees will be eligible to vote on their favorite new companies.

Companies selected to participate will receive complimentary access to the conference and gain significant exposure to the most influential industry audience ever assembled in the state. Top vote winners will also be recognized with prizes and invited to share their stories at future Delaware Bio programs.

Another important element of Delaware’s DNA will be poster presentations on cutting-edge science by local researchers. Throughout the conference, students and faculty from area educational and biomedical research institutions will be on hand to share and discuss their compelling work with attendees. A call for proposals for the poster presentations and most promising new company applications will be issued later this week.

Delaware Bio is also preparing a smartphone app that will include a partnering tool to allow attendees to schedule and conduct one-on-one meetings with other attendees after the conference.

For more info, visit delawarebio.org/page/delawares-dna.

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