Author Archives: Lorna D. McLeod

Novel Vaccines and Virology

Vaccines have been around a long time — longer than any other biologic medical products. Since the 1700s, when a British doctor inoculated people against smallpox using Variolae vaccinae (cowpox virus), we’ve referred to such immunizing treatments as “vaccines.” Most children in developed countries grow up knowing there will be occasional “vaccinations,” usually injections, required to get into school and stay there (which may or may not seem like a great thing, depending on who you talk to). Similarly, people…

Q&A with Dr. Florian Wurm

In early April, I chatted with the chair of ESACT, Florian Wurm, a professor of biotechnology in the faculty of life sciences of école Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. As chairman of ESACT, what are your duties? How is the chairperson selected, and how long does he or she serve? How long have you been chair? The ESACT chair is elected from among the members of the executive committee, which are elected by the membership. The executive committee organizes…

Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering

Stem cells are probably the most-discussed — and least understood — potential therapeutics biotechnology offers. Headlines in mainstream media tout their potential benefits and decry their ethical complications. Time magazine featured stem cells on its cover one week in February (1), and an ABC network drama depicted criminals selling stolen cord blood stem cells to the rich and vain as a high-end cosmetic treatment (2). It’s a safe bet that most nonscientists don’t know the difference between embryonic stem cells,…

Puerto Rico Aims to Be the Biotech Island

Our vision is to be the preferred partner for industry and academia for biotech training, research, and development in the American hemisphere by 2012.” That’s the vision statement of the Bioprocess Development and Training Complex (BDTC) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, which opened 11 September 2008. The BDTC is the latest in a series of developments designed to make Puerto Rico “Bio Island,” the goal of Governor Anibal Acevedo-Vila. As he described in a conversation with BPI at the 2008 BIO…