BioFlorida Conference Promotes Collaboration, Growth and Innovation in Florida’s Life Sciences Industry

AGTC and TherapeuticsMD Recognized for Leadership, Achievements and Industry Contributions

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--()--More than 400 business executives, scientists and other stakeholders gathered in Ft. Lauderdale last week for the 17th Annual BioFlorida Conference, the hallmark industry event for Florida’s life sciences industry.

The Conference concluded on Tuesday, October 14th after two days of hearing experts from leading universities, research institutions and companies throughout the state discuss advancements in key areas of innovation and growth in Florida such as medical technology, cancer research, Alzheimer’s research, marine biotechnology, medical tourism and ophthalmology. “The 2014 BioFlorida Annual Conference delivered the insights, collaborative atmosphere and relevant programming that is necessary to grow the industry,” said Nancy Bryan, president and CEO of BioFlorida. “The attendees enjoyed expert panels and keynote speakers that truly represented Florida’s innovative life sciences activities.”

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

David J. Gury Company of the Year Award

The Company of the Year is awarded to a company or organization that has had significant achievements leading to the advancement of the life sciences in Florida.

The David J. Gury Company of the Year Award was presented to Sue Washer of Applied Genetics Technology Corporation (AGTC). AGTC is a Gainesville-based health company that specializes in developing proprietary gene therapies to transform the lives of patients with rare eye and lung diseases. Their technology uses gene therapy that replaces broken genes with normally functioning genes, allowing a patient’s body to produce the proteins to combat their illness.

AGTC is one of the most celebrated graduates from the UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator. In 2014, AGTC achieved several milestones, including becoming the first ophthalmic gene therapy company to complete an initial public offering and a successful follow-on offering. AGTC also facilitated a strategic partnership with SAFC Commercial, filled critical positions with impressive industry veterans and is expected to start clinical trials for two of its potential orphan eye indications during the first half of 2015.

Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year Award

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes an entrepreneur who has made extraordinary contributions to the growth of life sciences in the leadership of a company or institution.

The Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Robert G. Finizio of TherapeuticsMD. In 2008, Finizio co-founded TherapeuticsMD, Inc., a Boca Raton-based women’s healthcare company whose prescription and over-the-counter vitamins focused on prenatal care. Six short years later, Rob’s vision and leadership have guided publicly traded TherapeuticsMD to its current status as an innovator in caring for women, developing and commercializing products throughout their life cycles.

Finizio’s background in healthcare, pharmaceutical technology, clinical software and patient safety led him to patent TherapeuticsMD’s SYMBODATM technology, which enables delivery of bio-identical hormones for treatment of menopause-related symptoms. Today, Rob is shepherding two of TherapeuticsMD's late-stage phase 3 investigational hormone therapy products through the rigorous FDA regulatory. TherapeuticsMD employs than 100 employees and has a market value of approximately $700 million. A University of Miami graduate and true entrepreneur, Finizio also founded CareFusion in 2001 and sold the company to Cardinal Health in 2006.

Legislator of the Year Award

The Legislator of the Year Award recognizes strong supporters of Florida’s economic development and life sciences industry. In 2014, BioFlorida recognizes two legislators with this distinction: Senator Jeremy Ring and Representative Matt Hudson.

As Chairman of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, Senator Ring has been able to leverage his business entrepreneurial experience in Yahoo to be a champion in creating a life science infrastructure in the state. In the past eight years, Senator Ring has been dedicated to bringing life science companies to Florida and securing state funding for economic development projects including his work on Seed Technology funding, state pension investment in Florida-based life sciences companies and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research.

Senator Ring was presented The Legislator of the Year Award on October 13, 2014 at BioFlorida’s Annual Conference.

Representative Matt Hudson’s personal interest in biotechnology has been a driving factor in his advocacy for life science issues. As a member of the House of Representatives’ Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee, the Health and Human Services Committee, and the Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation, Representative Hudson is an indispensable authority on healthcare and its role in Florida’s economy. As Chairman of the Biotech Caucus, he has passionately advocated for biomedical research, including securing historic levels of funding in the 2014 Legislative Session for peer-reviewed research grants that will enhance the quality and competitiveness of cancer research and care in Florida. Serving as the Chairman of the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Representative Hudson was vital in the 2014 Legislative Session as he helped secure $3,000,000 in funding through the establishment of the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program. Representative Hudson is a legislator who truly knows the critical role research plays in the life science and biotechnology industries.

Representative Hudson will also be recognized with the Legislator of the Year Award at BioFlorida’s Southwest Chapter meeting on November 11, 2014.

BioFlorida Leadership Award

The BioFlorida Leadership Award is designated for a BioFlorida volunteer who has taken on a leadership role, dedicated significant time to the mission and has served as an ambassador for the organization.

The BioFlorida Leadership Award was presented to Gregory A. Nelson of Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg LLP. Nelson specializes in intellectual property law and was recently named to the 2015 Edition of Best Lawyers, a respected legal publication. Nelson has served as an active participant on BioFlorida’s executive team and board since 2006, currently serving as Secretary and previously serving as General Counsel. Nelson participated in the founding of BioFlorida’s Saturday Exchange Chapter meetings that mobilized life science personnel in South Florida and have introduced a career workshop into the agenda to provide counsel for recent graduates and encouraged their continued contribution to the industry. In addition, Nelson served as one of the creators of and Chairman for the Latin America (LatAm) Conference, which was designed to create a forum to increase collaboration between Latin America and Florida, to leverage Florida’s geography/culture and to advance the life sciences in the state.

BioFlorida Chapter Award

The BioFlorida Chapter Award recognizes the most influential and active of BioFlorida’s eight regional chapters. Regional Chapters are volunteer led and serve as BioFlorida’s regional link to the life science community in the area.

Michael Van Butsel of DPR Construction serving as the Business Chair, and James Humphrey of the Roskamp Institute, serving as the Science Chair, were each awarded the BioFlorida Chapter Award for creating and serving as co-chairs for the BioFlorida Sarasota-Bradenton Chapter. They organized a dynamic leadership team including a cross section of academics, economic development council’s, core scientific companies and related life science businesses.

Having only started the chapter in March, the chapter has held three chapter meetings engaging 60-75 attendees in regional life sciences programming and introduced a new regional BioFlorida event named The BioTech Expo, a life science poster and vendor event that showcased the strong STEM infrastructure in the region attracting more than 150 attendees.

Florida’s life sciences industry has a full calendar of events for the remainder of 2014 and the location for the 2015 Conference is to be held in Orlando October 11-13 at the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate. Additional upcoming events hosted by BioFlorida can be found here.

About BioFlorida

BioFlorida ( is the voice of Florida’s life sciences industry, representing more than 3,000 companies and research organizations in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and bioagriculture fields that employ nearly 84,000 Floridians. BioFlorida’s member-driven initiatives provide a strong business climate for development and production of innovative technologies and products that improve lives and promote economic benefits to the state.


Audrey Morris, 561-932-1698
public relations counsel


Audrey Morris, 561-932-1698
public relations counsel