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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

BioUtah, Navigen Advocate for Life Sciences in our Nation’s Capital

April 4, 2019

BioUtah’s President and CEO, Kelvyn Cullimore and Navigen, Inc. CEO and BioUtah board vice chair, Brandi Simpson, were in Washington, D.C. this week to help advocate for Utah’s growing biotechnology and pharma sectors.

On April 3, BioUtah cohosted a congressional briefing titled From Labs to Patients: The Discovery of New Treatments and Cures.

The briefing was convened in collaboration with Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52), chair of the Congressional Life Sciences Caucus, and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT-3), co-chair of the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, along with more than a dozen state life sciences associations.

The briefing featured a panel of distinguished experts, including Navigen’s Simpson, who was joined by James Baker, MD, Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine Medical School and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan; Bill Newell, CEO of Sutro Biopharma, and Chair of the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) Board of Directors; and, Eric Gascho, Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for the National Health Council. Joe Panetta, President and CEO of Biocom served as moderator.

The discussion focused on the research and development process, the pathway to medical innovations, and barriers to discovering new treatments and cures for some of the world’s most challenging diseases. The event was well attended, with virtually all members of the Utah delegation represented.

“I was happy to have the opportunity to speak to congressional staff about the challenges for small drug discovery companies and the importance of government policies that support innovation,” said Simpson. “As an example, I was able to discuss the generous support that the NIH has provided Navigen to fund our efforts to advance our potentially game changing viral entry inhibitor for HIV toward the clinic and how our progress would not have been possible without NIH grants.”

“In addition to hosting the congressional briefing, BioUtah and Navigen were in D.C. as part of BIO’s annual grassroots fly-in,” said Cullimore, who, along with Simpson, met with every member of the Utah delegation or their staff.  “Advocacy is important to BioUtah’s members. We engage directly with our United States Senators and Representatives to help shape policy to support and advance the industry. We’re grateful that our delegation understands the importance of the life sciences and works closely with us.”

While in Washington, D.C., Cullimore and Simpson met with staff members from the offices of Representatives Rob Bishop, (R-UT-1) and Chris Stewart (R-UT-2) and met directly with  John Curtis (R-UT-3) and Ben McAdams (R-UT-4) along with members of their staff.  Cullimore and Simpson also met with Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT).

This year, drug pricing is a subject of growing debate in Congress. BioUtah and its fellow BIO state affiliates talked about the need to ensure that legislation and regulation aimed at addressing drug costs doesn’t impede American innovation and the commitment, risk, and long-term investment that is needed to make life-changing breakthroughs.

“Utah’s life sciences industry appreciates having an on-going dialogue with our lawmakers as they consider issues that impact our ability to improve health care,” noted Simpson.

While in D.C., Cullimore also met with life sciences stakeholders, including government affairs representatives for BD, Edwards Lifesciences, GE, Myriad, and the Advanced Medical Technology Association, Medical Device Manufacturers Association, and Medical Imaging Technology Association.