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Nearly 500 business executives, scientists and other stakeholders gathered in Tampa last week for the 16th BioFlorida Conference, the hallmark industry event for Florida’s life sciences industry. This year’s event was stacked with dynamic speakers and panelists representing all sectors of the life sciences industry including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and bioagriculture.

Throughout the Conference, individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the life sciences industry were recognized and applauded for their impact on this industry which is of growing importance to Florida’s economy.

BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award The inaugural BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Phillip Frost, MD, CEO and Chairman of OPKO Health, Inc., and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. Dr. Frost, a Floridian, was recognized as one of the country’s most prominent biotechnology executives and a visionary in the life sciences field whose career success has contributed to economic growth in Florida and the improvement of patient lives.

Accepting the award on behalf of Dr. Frost, Steve Rubin, Executive Vice President and Director of OPKO Health, Inc. thanked BioFlorida for the recognition while noting that Dr. Frost wanted to also convey that his career is far from over. “With many career milestones, OPKO being the latest and perhaps his best, he is still very much engaged in the industry and is certain there is more to come,” said Rubin.

During Dr. Frost’s notable career, he has successfully founded several pharmaceutical companies and has overseen the development and commercialization of a multitude of pharmaceutical products. Prior to OPKO, Dr. Frost served as Chairman of the Board and CEO of IVAX Corporation until the sale of IVAX to Teva, and as Chairman of the Board of Key Pharmaceuticals until its acquisition by Schering Plough. While helping people live healthier lives through medications, charity is also a focus for Dr. Frost. He serves as a board member and advisor to a variety of health, educational and community institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Miami and the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

David J. Gury Company of the Year

The David J. Gury Company of the Year award honors a company that has had significant achievements leading to the advancement of the life sciences in Florida. This year’s award recipient was OPKO Health, Inc.

OPKO is a multi-national pharmaceutical and diagnostics company headquartered in Miami. The company aims to establish industry-leading positions in large and rapidly growing medical markets by leveraging discovery, development, and commercialization expertise and novel and proprietary technologies. Led by Dr. Phillip Frost, OPKO is heralded as one of Florida’s premier biotechnology companies. OPKO has had an outstanding year with revenues more than doubling in the second quarter and nearly tripling in the first half of 2013. Within the last month, OPKO announced it completed the acquisition of PROLOR Biotech and listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange. With the inclusion of PROLOR’s pipeline, OPKO now has four significant products in Phase III clinical development and a robust pipeline of important therapeutic and unique diagnostic products in various stages of development.

Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur Award

James D. Talton, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nanotherapeutics, was honored with the Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur Award, which recognizes an entrepreneur who has made extraordinary contributions to the growth of the life sciences in the leadership of a company or institution. Nanotherapeutics, a University of Florida (UF) Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator graduate located in Alachua, FL, is a privately-held emerging biopharmaceutical company with both proprietary platform technologies and a diversified pipeline of products

Under Dr. Talton’s leadership, Nanotherapeutics was awarded a contract by the Department of Defense (DOD) for the research and development services in support of medical countermeasure capabilities. These capabilities established by Nanotherapeutics will allow the DOD to more efficiently and expeditiously develop Medical Countermeasures (MCM) to protect and treat military populations against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attacks and outbreaks of naturally occurring emerging and genetically engineered infectious diseases. Through private financing, Nanotherapeutics will build its 165,000 square foot Advanced Development and Manufacturing Center in Alachua that will result in 150 new jobs.

BioFlorida Leadership Award

The BioFlorida Leadership Award was presented to Patti Breedlove, Director of the UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, an organization fostering the development of new commercial ventures related to UF research in all areas broadly relating to the molecular life sciences including medicine, agriculture, and the chemical and environmental sciences. Ms. Breedlove was recognized for her leadership role within BioFlorida, dedicating significant time to the organization’s mission and has acted as a true ambassador to fuel the growth of life sciences in Florida.

Ms. Breedlove is an active participant on the BioFlorida executive team and board of directors, while heralding the benefits of membership as chair of the membership committee. She also leads the Celebration of Biotechnology, an annual event in Alachua to recognize biotechnology advances. Under her leadership in July 2013, the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator was ranked “World’s Best University Biotechnology Incubator,” according to an international study conducted by the Sweden-based research group UBI. The inaugural benchmarking report was based on an extensive analysis of 150 incubators in 22 countries.

Legislator of the Year Award

Representative Matt Hudson, Chair of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, was awarded the Legislator of the Year Award for his commitment to advancing research and development in the industry.

Upon being elected to the Florida House, Representative Hudson immediately understood the importance of supporting the life sciences industry. During the 2013 legislative session, Representative Hudson sponsored and supported the passage of HB365, legislation related to biosimilars that ensures a pathway for safe substitution of biosimilar medicines. Additionally, he advocated for and secured increased funding of biomedical and cancer research.

Another highlight of the Conference was the release of the BioFlorida and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) report “Research in Your Backyard: Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Florida.” Working in collaboration with Florida clinicians and research institutions, the report shows America’s biopharmaceutical research companies have conducted more than 7,800 clinical trials of new medicines in Florida over the last 14 years and have supported 84,000 Florida jobs. These trials have benefited thousands of Florida patients, the state’s economy and the advancement of science and patient care.

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