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Encouraging Louisiana to Partner with BIO

October 26, 2009
Louisiana is one of just a few states that do not yet have a BIO affiliate. I was invited to speak to community leaders in New Orleans by Jim McNamara, a local real estate investor who is presently the Secretary of the Board of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, a Member of the Greater New Orleans Biosciences Economic Development District and a Commissioner of the Downtown Development District of New Orleans.

Jim believes biotechnology can be key to the Big Easy’s recovery from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. We started the day on the biggest morning TV show and, after a breakfast of beignets at Café Du Monde, met with leaders of a prospective BIO affiliate at the BioInnovation Center’s temporary headquarters. A brand new facility is under construction.

Next we met with Dr. Larry Hollier,  Chancellor of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, to discuss the University’s plans to build a $1.5 billion new hospital adjacent to the U.S. Department of  Veterans  Affairs proposed $1.7 billion hospital. In combination, these two state-of-the-art medical facilities will anchor a biotech hub with vastly expanded opportunities for life sciences research, clinical trials and technology transfer.

At historically black Xavier University of Louisiana, we met with renowned President Dr. Norman Francis and discussed how a New Orleans biotech hub could provide career opportunities for the school’s graduates.

Jim McNamara and I next presented keynote addresses to several hundred of the community’s business leaders to share our vision of the future of biotechnology in general and what it can mean for the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana.

There is an exciting new mood in New Orleans. The Katrina disaster has not broken the city’s spirit. Instead, it has challenged the residents to rebuild their community into something better than it ever was before.  Biotechnology can be a central component of this rebirth and we at BIO look forward to working with our newest partner.