2021 Award Winners and Finalists

the premier social event for the life sciences industry

May 26, 2021

About the 2021 Annual Awards Program

Each of the awards presented at the Life Sciences PA Annual Awards Program recognized a contribution that helped shape the life sciences industry into what it is today.  The nominees and award winners represent continued dedication to the ultimate goal of achieving better outcomes for patients. This year, we  celebrated the industry’s accomplishments with an outdoor, open-air tailgate in The Discovery Labs Parking Lot. Thank you to all who came to the Annual Awards Premier Tailgate!


Award Winners and Finalists

Federal Official of the Year Award

The Federal Official of the Year Award recognizes a federal official from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in Washington, DC on behalf of the life sciences industry. The honoree is selected by the Life Sciences PA Advocacy Committee from nominations provided by the Life Sciences PA Federal Policy Committee. This award is sponsored by Merck.

United States Senator Bob Casey

During his time in the U.S. Senate, Senator Casey has been a strong supporter of Pennsylvania’s life sciences community. Senator Casey serves on two committees of importance to the life sciences – the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate HELP Committee – and is also the Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging. He has been a champion in advocating for robust National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. In the 116th Session of Congress Senator Casey led the reauthorization of the Creating Hope Act, which extends the Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher (PRV) program for four years – incentivizing companies to develop medicines for rare pediatric disorders. He was also the lead sponsor of the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Microorganisms (DISARM) Act of 2019 a bill that helps advance research and new treatments for drug-resistant infections.

State Official of the Year Award

The State Official of the Year Award recognizes an official from Pennsylvania state government who has distinguished himself or herself as a leader who supports the life sciences community. The honoree is selected by the Life Sciences PA Advocacy Committee from nominations provided by Life Sciences PA’s State Policy Committee. The honoree for 2020 will be announced soon. This award is sponsored by CSL Behring.

Pennsylvania State Senator John DiSanto

Senator John DiSanto was first elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 2016 and is the Chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. In 2020, Senator DiSanto led the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 983, The Newborn Child Testing Act. This legislation, which was one of Life Sciences Pennsylvania’s state advocacy priorities, requires all babies born in Pennsylvania be screened for all conditions listed on the federal Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP). Additionally the Senator has been a consistent supporter of other Life Sciences PA state advocacy priorities such as the R&D Tax Credit, Life Sciences Greenhouses and other programs that incentivize investment in life sciences research and development.

Emerging Company of the Year Award

The Life Sciences PA Emerging Company of the Year Award recognizes a company or organization of 100 employees or fewer with significant operations in Pennsylvania, that has experienced significant growth and/or achievement in 2020, while contributing positively to its community and the overall life sciences business climate of the Commonwealth. The recipient is evaluated based on the following: revenue growth, business plan performance, product innovation, community impact, and entrepreneurship and leadership. The honoree is announced at the Annual Awards Program. This award is sponsored by Danforth Advisors.

Congratulations to winner, SwanBio Therapeutics! SwanBio targets diseases of the central nervous system with gene therapy. We are powering a movement for people living with neurological disorders to prevent the progression of disease and enable the progression of the person. The strength of our commitment comes from our long-standing investment in this cause. For us, it’s personal.

AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co., (“AnPac Bio”) is a biotechnology company with operations in the United States and China, focusing on early cancer screening and detection. We have two certified clinical laboratories in China and one CLIA/CAP registered clinical laboratory in Spring House Innovation Park, Ambler, PA. AnPac Bio’s CDA technology has been shown in research studies to be able to detect the risk of over 20 different cancer types with high sensitivity and specificity. The Company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol: ANPC.

Based in Philadelphia, Aro Biotherapeutics is a biotechnology company pioneering the development of tissue-targeted genetic medicines with a platform based on a proprietary protein technology called Centyrins. The company is developing a wholly-owned pipeline of Centyrin-based therapeutic candidates and is working with industry partners to leverage Centyrins for tissue-specific targeting of therapeutics for a diverse set of diseases. For more information, visit www.arobiotx.com.

Peptilogics is a clinical-stage biotechnology platform that designs and develops novel peptide therapeutics. Through its computational platform, Peptilogics is advancing drug discovery to uncover new, previously unexplored chemical design space while ensuring biological viability and scalable manufacturing. Peptilogics’ internal anti-infectives pipeline includes a novel clinical stage anti-infective, PLG0206, that has been granted FDA Orphan Drug Designation and Qualified Infectious Disease Product Designation for its initial focus on the treatment of prosthetic joint infections, an unmet medical need. For more information, visit www.peptilogics.com.

2020 Deal of the Year Award

The Life Sciences PA Deal of the Year Award recognizes an organization or organizations which have promoted the growth of Pennsylvania’s life sciences industry by way of a substantial deal or strategic partnership. The organization(s) receiving the Award will have closed a deal or strategic partnership in 2020 that resulted in the continued growth and advancement of Pennsylvania’s life sciences industry. The deal can have occurred at any stage of product development or level of company/organization maturity. This award is sponsored by Wexford Science and Technology.

Passage Bio is a clinical-stage genetic medicines company developing transformative therapies for the treatment of rare monogenic central nervous system disorders. Specializing in gene therapy and partnering with the University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program, Passage Bio is rapidly advancing its robust pipeline of optimized gene therapies into clinical testing. In February 2020, Passage Bio announced the completion of its initial public offering (IPO) which yielded $248 million, outraising its initial goal by $123 million.

Scientific Achievement Award

The Life Sciences PA Scientific Achievement Award recognizes a scientist in the Pennsylvania life sciences community who has demonstrated outstanding achievement by advancing scientific knowledge, innovation, and/or patient care. The honoree is chosen by a selection committee from the academic research community. This award is sponsored by Fisher Scientific.

Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D.

Deborah L. Birx, M.D., was born and raised in Pennsylvania, where, growing up, she and her siblings used a shed behind their family home as a makeshift laboratory for experiments. Birx had a passion for science from an early age, winning Lancaster County science fairs as early as her sophomore year of high school. After completing her undergraduate degree at Houghton College, she returned to Pennsylvania to earn her Doctor of Medicine degree from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Since that time, Dr. Birx has spent her career serving our Country, first as an Army Colonel and later, running some of the most high-profile and influential programs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at the U.S. Department of State. As a world renowned medical expert and leader, Dr. Birx has focused her work on clinical and basic immunology, infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, vaccine research, and global health.

In 2014, Dr. Birx became an Ambassador-at-Large, when she assumed the role of the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, she oversaw the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Most recently, this past year, Dr. Birx served as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, where she used complex data integration to drive decision making and worked closely with state officials across the country to provide state-specific advice and guidance.

Patient Impact Award

Life Sciences Pennsylvania’s Patient Impact Award recognizes a medicine, therapy, device, or organization that has made a significant contribution to the quality of healthcare or length of life of patients in 2020. Eligible organizations include medical device, diagnostic, pharmaceutical, biotechnology companies and research institutions with significant operations in Pennsylvania.

Pfizer is one of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceuticals firms, producing medicines for cardiovascular health, metabolism, oncology, inflammation and immunology, and more. Pfizer applies science and global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives, setting a standard for quality, safety, and value in the discovery, development, and manufacture of health care products. In the fight against COVID-19, a vaccine is a critical part of addressing the global health crisis by decreasing rates of infection, disease and death worldwide. Pfizer leveraged decades of scientific expertise to design and execute a rigorous Phase 3 clinical trial program to make the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine available as quickly and safely as possible, making history and changing lives in the fight against the pandemic.

John Nash MedTech Leadership Award

The John Nash MedTech Leadership Award recognizes an outstanding leader in the Pennsylvania med tech community who best exemplifies the spirit of innovation in Pennsylvania. John Nash has been one of the med tech industry’s leading engineers and entrepreneurs, co-founding Kensey Nash and inspiring many industry scientists, and executives. His vision for the industry and for the region, as well as his spirit and will to succeed, remain among his great legacies. This award is sponsored by DSM Biomedical.

Bruce Shook

Like John Nash, Bruce Shook has dedicated his career to life sciences. Prior to Vesper Medical, Mr. Shook was co-founder, Director, President and CEO of Intact Vascular and, previously, Neuronetics, a venture-backed company developing a drug/device product for the treatment of CNS disorders. Mr. Shook also served as President of Abiomed, where he obtained PMA approval for the first FDA-approved ventricular assist device, and is credited with developing cardiac pacing and anti-arrhythmia products at Cordis Corporation. Today, Mr. Shook serves on the Board of Directors at Venarum Medical, the Penn State Research Foundation and Life Sciences Pennsylvania, where he was elected Chairman earlier this month.

Frank Baldino CEO of the Year Award

The Frank Baldino CEO of the Year Award recognizes a CEO who has demonstrated visionary leadership and active participation to advance the industry. Frank Baldino, Jr., founder and CEO of Cephalon, Inc., was a pillar of the Life Sciences community in the Greater Philadelphia region and of the biotechnology industry as a whole.

Maureen L. Mulvihill

Like Frank Baldino, Maureen L. Mulvihill is widely recognized as a visionary leader of Actuated Medical (AMI). The company works to solve clinical needs using electronically controlled motion.

AMI is one of the few MedTech companies led by a female CEO and is also a certified Women’s Owned Business by WBENC. Over the last 14 years, Maureen built a central Pennsylvania company that develops, manufactures and sells medical devices. By establishing an ‘internal’ start-up ecosystem, her team has the infrastructure to incubate creative ideas and quickly test. Those ideas that demonstrate market potential are developed to commercial exits. To endure the long timelines of medical device regulatory approvals and sales, AMI differentiates from others by using a diverse financing model (e.g., SBIRs, sales, equity and debt).

Due to COVID-19, her team quickly reacted and within 7 days stood up a reusable face shield manufacturing line – shipping shields to first responders, manufacturers, and schools. Maureen set aside her entire commercial business in order to repurpose her manufacturing facility to make these face shields and address the PPE shortage, a statewide and national crisis. The product line grew over the next 4 months due to calls from businesses, schools, and parents to include reusable face shields for children, hard hats, and sports helmets. In 2020, AMI grew in people and doubled their footprint to accommodate manufacturing scale-up.

Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Leadership Award

The Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Leadership Award recognizes an outstanding leader in the life sciences community who best exemplifies the spirit of innovation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Hubert J.P. Schoemaker is widely noted as an inspiration and mentor to many industry CEOs, scientists, and executives. His vision for the industry and for the region, as well as his spirit and will to succeed, remain among his great legacies. This award is sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Kenneth C. Frazier

Ken Frazier is a titan of industry and a globally-recognized leader with an illustrious career in the life sciences. Ken has been with Merck for 29 years, holding positions of increasing responsibility including General Counsel and President. Prior to joining Merck, Ken was a partner with the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Ken currently sits on the boards of PhRMA, Weill Cornell Medicine, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Catalyst and Cornerstone Christian Academy in Philadelphia, PA. He is co-founder and co-chair of OneTen, a coalition of leading organizations committed to upskilling, hiring, and promoting one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs. OneTen is committed to facilitating a meaningful, measurable, and lasting impact on racial and economic justice.

Thank you to our event sponsors

Thank you to our block party participants