June Newsletter from BioMADE

Letter from the CEO

Last week, BioMADE announced a special funding opportunity for members related to Coronavirus response and preparedness. If you missed it, click here for information about this funding – two paragraph project concepts are due tonight!

This opportunity highlights one unique way BioMADE membership is advantageous. BioMADE members will continue to have access to project calls like this one – opportunities that are only accessible through BioMADE. Having your BioMADE membership squared away means you’ll be able to quickly and efficiently apply for research funds in the future.

Becoming a member now also means your organization will be in on the ground floor as BioMADE develops. Members will play an active role in BioMADE governance by setting priorities, participating in leadership councils, voting on committees, and more.

The opportunity to work together and collaborate with other BioMADE members is one of the most valuable aspects of membership. I’m excited to announce that we will be holding our first annual member meeting in-person this fall! More details will be coming soon, so please keep an eye out. This will be a terrific opportunity to meet other member groups, learn about capabilities and teaming opportunities, and hear from BioMADE leadership.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of BioMADE membership. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at membership@biomade.org with questions.


Education and Workforce Development Member Spotlight: BioBuilder

BioMADE member BioBuilder is a nonprofit organization working to bring tomorrow’s science into today’s classrooms. Established in 2011, BioBuilder taps into the potential of high school students and their teachers to build with biology.

The curriculum, originally developed in MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering with funding from the National Science Foundation, provides hands-on, problem-based lessons that prepare the next generation of innovators for college and careers. BioBuilder’s in-school and extracurricular programs reach thousands of students each year, impacting education in rural districts, at vocational and technical schools, and in under-served urban communities.

“Joining BioMADE supports our goal of preparing all students across the U.S. for opportunities in the bioeconomy,” said Dr. Natalie Kuldell, BioBuilder Founder and Executive Director. “With BioMADE, we can deepen our industry partnerships, ensuring that we are training the next generation of innovators with the up-to-date skills needed in this rapidly growing biomanufacturing industry.”

BioBuilder also plans to use its BioMADE membership to advance its training and certification programs by connecting to BioMADE’s network of community colleges. Finally, BioMADE membership will expand and inform the curriculum that BioBuilder delivers in-person and online through the BioBuilderClub for young innovators and at their “tinkerspace” Learning Labs.

“Biology is rapidly becoming a platform for engineering, and we need to shift how the field is taught if we are to adequately prepare the skilled workforce and informed citizenry that our nation needs,” adds Kuldell. “For decades, biology has been taught as a collection of facts to be memorized. Now and for the future, students should learn about biology as a way to address persistent global challenges and a platform for creatively engineering solutions.”

Technology Member Spotlight: Interview with Melanie Tomczak of UES, Inc.

UES Inc. was one of the first companies to formally sign on as a BioMADE member in June 2021. For nearly 50 years, UES, Inc. has been involved in scientific research and technology development, and has created and successfully commercialized innovative products and services. Their Biological and Nanoscale Technologies Division focuses on soft material research, development, and technology transition spanning across several fields including organic synthesis, synthetic biology, and machine learning.

We caught up with Melanie Tomczak, Director of Biological and Nanoscale Technologies at UES, Inc. to learn about her interest in BioMADE and her vision for the future.

BioMADE: Tell us about UES, Inc.

Tomczak: As a scientist, it’s fun to be part of UES, an organization that was founded with a vision to become a trusted scientific research and development partner. We prioritize solving scientific challenges in multiple disciplines flexibly, and that keeps our work environment rewarding and challenging. We’re an Ohio-based, women-owned small business. Working well with our government, academic, and industry and non-profit consortium partners, like BioMADE, is part of our DNA.

BioMADE: How did you hear about BioMADE, and what made you want to be involved?

Tomczak: UES has been a partner with BioMADE since the proposal stage. UES differentiates itself from most scientific services firms by valuing technology transfer. My Biological & Nanoscale Technologies Division, as part of the UES organization, focuses on bio & soft material research, development, and technology transition spanning many fields. So BioMADE as a DoD-sponsored Manufacturing Innovation Institute is a natural partner. We’re already members of America Makes and NextFlex, and this seemed an excellent next step.

BioMADE: What do you hope to gain out of your partnership with BioMADE?

Tomczak: I think being part of an ecosystem that leverages our thriving biotech sector would be a good opportunity for UES. We’ve made valuable contributions in areas like nanomaterial production scale-up, biostabilization, and flexible materials development. Staying in tune with fellow members’ market needs, and innovating towards those needs, will be an exciting place for UES to be in. We see ourselves as a necessary and natural tech transition bridge between DoD/academia and industry. We thrive on and understand the challenges of research, and at the same time are responsive to market priorities as well.

BioMADE: Where do you see the industry going in 5-10 years?

Tomczak: It’s clear to us that there’s a welcome and overdue vision to establish long-term and dependable bioindustrial manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. We’re beginning to see all the facets of daily life that we can positively affect with intentional and sustainable technologies. BioMADE members will be at the forefront of that evolution, and we’ll learn to work better together to synergize research innovation and industry leading practices.

BioMADE: What barriers need to be overcome to reach that vision?

Tomczak: Recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic have made it clear that we need to secure and strengthen our bioindustrial base, in all the diverse areas that our disciplines serve. If we get more collaborative, we can respond in a flexible and purposeful manner to the challenges that we’ll face. I’m optimistic that with BioMADE, we’ll be able to incubate and foster the local and national innovations and growth. I’m grateful to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for recognizing this opportunity and fostering this new ecosystem.