Bennet Hosts Bioscience Day to Highlight Key Industry

Brings leaders from across the state to tour cutting-ed labs, companies

Aurora, Lakewood, CO – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet brought together more than 45 state leaders from the bioscience industry, academia, local governments, local businesses, and economic development groups to have a first-hand, inside look at Colorado’s bioscience industry. The groups toured labs at Children’s Hospital Colorado and Terumo BCT, a multinational firm in Lakewood specializing in the collection, storage, and transfusion of blood. Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, a top director at the National Institute of Health, joined the tour and gave the keynote address. 

Together with the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, Terumo BCT, the Colorado Bioscience Industry, and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Bennet organized the event to highlight the important economic role the industry plays in Colorado and to increase collaboration across regions, functions, and industries. Last year, Bennet held a similar event with the aerospace industry.

“Colorado has a reputation as a hub for innovation, and the state’s rapidly growing bioscience industry is proof of that,” Bennet said. “Just in the past two years, the bioscience industry has grown by more than 50 percent, generating hundreds of good-paying jobs in our state. Today, we wanted to bring together a group of inventors, educators, entrepreneurs, and city officials to see first-hand the diverse nature of this industry, the positive economic effect it’s having on Colorado, and its enormously vast potential. This will help strengthen the collaboration within and across industries in the state to further our economic success.”

“As we continue on our quest to grow the life science sector in Colorado and compete on an international stage, it is imperative that community leaders actively participate in the success,” said Steve VanNurden, President & CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. “We are grateful for Senator Bennet’s continued efforts to build awareness of and support for the incredible opportunities we have on this campus.”

"Colorado's bioscience industry has developed into a thriving cluster for the state, creating breakthrough technologies and therapies that will improve the health of patients around the world," said Colorado BioScience Association President & CEO April Giles. "This tour helps showcase the exciting research and innovation taking place, and brings together a diverse group of executives and leaders who can see first-hand the critical work underway within their own community."  

“Biotechnology is an emerging priority for the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. We are a leading provider of health professional education, clinical care, and basic and clinical research, so becoming a leader in biotechnology innovation and transfer fits right in with our mission,” said Lilly Marks, Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Colorado and Executive Vice Chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus. “Senator Bennet has provided tremendous interest in, and support of, biomedical research and technology, and his stalwart backing of the work on our campus helps us reach our goals.”

 On the Anschutz Medical Campus, participants toured labs at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where researchers are exploring ways to treat congenital heart defects with minimally invasive surgery, and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy, where pharmacists are utilizing robotics and computer modeling to mix compounds and precisely tailor drug therapies to individual patients. Participants also traveled to the Lakewood campus of Terumo BCT, where the roughly 1,800 workers are developing and manufacturing cutting-edge technologies that help ensure safer blood transfusions.

The day ended back on the Anschutz Medical Campus, with an “open house” at the Bioscience Park, an incubator for early stage bioscience companies.

The bioscience industry is critical to Colorado’s economy, employing 27,000 Coloradans, resulting in over 122,000 direct and indirect jobs, and translating into over $10 billion in payroll. In 2011, there were 400 bioscience in the state paying an average annual salary of $76,000; now there are more than 600 companies paying an average salary of $84,000.

Bennet’s federal work on bioscience:

Throughout his time in the Senate, Bennet has been an advocate for the bioscience industry.  Last year, he helped write and pass The Drug Quality and Security Act, which tracks prescription drugs from the time they are manufactured to the moment they are picked up at the drugstore. That bill is widely considered to be the most comprehensive effort to establish safeguards for the drug distribution supply chain in the last quarter-century.

Bennet also successfully wrote and passed the Advancing Breakthrough Therapies for Patients Act in 2012, which creates a “Breakthrough Therapy” designation for certain drugs and treatments that show dramatically positive responses early in development. This allows lifesaving medications to be expedited through the FDA approval process, while still maintaining patient safety, potentially reducing the FDA approval process by up to 10 years.  The breakthrough therapy bill was part of a larger reform of the FDA that helped improve drug safety measures and increase innovation to help safely and quickly bring medical devices and medicine to patients.