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August 18, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Knoxville’s Eric Mayer discusses EDP Biotech’s antibody testing during “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival”

As noted in the previous article, much of the second day of Launch Tennessee’s “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” focused on the life science sector, and the state’s industry association was front and center.

Life Science Tennessee (LST) facilitated several panels covering topics ranging from “How COVID Changed the World of Biotech Innovation” to a discussion with Ed Mayer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of EDP Biotech Corporation’s recently approved antibody testing as described in this article.

“EDP stands for early detection products,” Mayer explained in a discussion with LST Executive Director Abby Trotter. With that mantra, it was only natural that the pandemic caused the company to ask, “How can we respond and bring our expertise to the need for testing?” The answer was the antibody testing that determines if an individual has come in contact with the virus in the past. “This whole field continues to innovate,” said Mayer (pictured here with Trotter).

The opening panel in the afternoon featured U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn and Michelle McMurry-Heath, the new President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Both agreed that two key factors in finding and producing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will be the willingness of individuals to participate in clinical trials and a well-coordinated and ample manufacturing capacity.

Another panel, moderated by Trotter, featured Adam Guss, Genetic and Metabolic Engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an Assistant Professor in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Ken Bly, Site Leader in Memphis for Smith+Nephew.

Their topic had an intriguing title – “A Day in the Life (Sciences)” – and, more important, showed the breadth of the life science sector. In Guss’ case, he is engineering bacteria to make renewable fuels and chemicals. The result is genetic tools to accelerate bioengineering. Bly described how Smith+Nephew, the 17,000 person global medical device company, shifted quickly to producing throwaway, one-time use face shields when COVID-19 hit.

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