John Davidson, Tom Von Essen Featured Speakers for BIO 2002

Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2002)-Two heroes, one from Canada and one from the U.S. were named today as headlining speakers for the BIO 2002 International Convention and Exhibition. John Davidson, a Canadian hero, and Tom Von Essen, a former New York Fire Department Commissioner, will have major speaking roles at BIO 2002, June 9-12, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

“These two men have both been tested hard by tragedy, one through a loved one and the other directly by the horrific events of September 11. They both overcame extreme adversity and triumphed,” said Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “They embody the theme of BIO 2002, ‘Life Advances,’ through their actions as well as their words.”

BIO 2002 will feature more than 100 sessions and symposiums on biotechnology for drug development, food and agriculture, industrial manufacturing, regulatory processes, and bioethics issues. BIO 2001 in San Diego attracted almost 14,000 registrants from 44 countries, 930 exhibitors and more than 600 media representatives.

John Davidson was driven to raise research funds to help find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy after his son Jesse was diagnosed with the disease. Leaving a highly successful career in broadcast journalism in London, Ontario, Davidson took to the road. Wheeling his son across Ontario he raised more than $1.5 million for genetic research. The 3,300 kilometer epic journey didn't end there. Davidson traveled another 8,272 kilometers in 286 days, covering much of Canada.

Tom Von Essen, a Brooklyn native, was appointed as New York City’s 30th fire commissioner by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1996. Von Essen responded when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. From ground zero, he directed the fire and rescue personnel who arrived at the scene.

Von Essen began his career in the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) in 1970 with Ladder Company 42 in South Bronx - one of the busiest departments in the city. As a labor leader, he rose through the ranks to head the city’s firefighters union. As commissioner he brought about some of the most significant changes in FDNY history, including the use of new safety and rescue gear.

Representatives from across Canada - from British Columbia to Newfoundland - are involved in the planning and production of BIO 2002. The steering committee chair is Mark Lievonen, president of Aventis Pasteur. Chair of the executive committee is Lorne Meikle, president and CEO of BioCatalyst Yorkton, Inc. In addition, Mark Craig of Industry Canada in Nova Scotia chairs the exhibits committee, and, Janet Lambert of BIOTECanada in Ottawa and Sandra Teeter of Vancouver are on the executive committee.

BIO 2002 registration for approved, credentialed media is complimentary, and advance registration is encouraged. All freelancers must register in advance. To register, go to

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. Canada is second only to the U.S. in terms of BIO membership. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.