Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BioBeers | Stand in the Place Where you Work…

Now face…East! East towards Frederick, MD and NIH country this is, where the recently covered the goings on of BioBeers East. Hope you enjoy the following article – pretty cool stuff. Note that we are working on our hometown Holiday edition of BioBeers coming together for a mid-November merrymaking session back in Boulder – show us how it’s done Boulderites! And how about some carpool action in Denver. If you are interested in a ride or willing to provide a ride leave your info in the comments section below. If you are interested in sponsoring BioBeers please shoot an email to

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Scientists having fun
By Jason E. Balog

You may not realize it, but scientists like to have fun, too. Just because they wear those fancy white lab coats and spend their days talking about the manufacture of monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins from mammalian cell culture doesn't mean scientists don't like to get together, have fun and drink a couple of beers.

Hence, BioBeers East has quickly become a must-attend event for scientists working and living in Frederick County. What is BioBeers East, you ask? BioBeers East is the brainchild of Jim Hardy of Hemacell Perfusion and Jim Hartley, a principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute. Like many great scientific discoveries, BioBeers is the local take-off of someone else's idea. A couple of years ago, Hartley and Hardy were attending a happy hour at the Frederick Innovative Technology Center and were discussing a means to nurture the biotechnology community in Frederick County. After starting a blog, the pair decided to "borrow" the BioBeers model from the Colorado group. In Colorado, they discovered a successful model for fostering collaboration in the Colorado bioscience community by using local microbrews to bring together like-minded bio-entrepreneurs to share ideas, cultivate business relationships and build lifelong friendships. Hartley and Hardy liked the idea.

After all, as Hardy puts it, "brewing is quintessential biotech." A quick e-mail for permission later, BioBeers East was born. What has happened to BioBeers East over the last couple of years is the (ideal) model any good entrepreneur follows: Find a need, fill it and watch the endeavor grow. Started in the spring of 2008, the first BioBeers East was a small, informal meeting with a handful of attendees. However, as word got out, attendance grew from a few pioneers to a regular group of 85 to 125, and events have grown in frequency from quarterly to every other month. The Flying Dog Brewery is now the regular location for BioBeers East, providing interesting tours, appropriate space for scientific presentations and, of course, great beer. We are talking about scientists.

So who are these people who want to mix science with beer? They are the masses with unmet needs that Hardy and Hartley envisioned when they came up with the idea for BioBeers East. Recognizing that Maryland's bioscience community trends toward Montgomery County (and more recently, and to a lesser degree, Baltimore), BioBeers East was intended to "foster, in an informal and relaxed setting, the exchange of ideas, business opportunities and general mischief and promote Frederick County as the exclusive Biocluster in the world!"

At first, BioBeers East acted as a reunion of sorts for the numerous former Life Technologies employees spread throughout the four corners by the Invitrogen acquisition in late 2000. However, as word got out, BioBeers East was successful in drawing others from numerous local institutions and companies, such as the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, SAIC-Frederick and ImQuest BioSciences (the official chicken wing sponsor) to name a few, as well as Frederick County residents on their way home from biotech jobs in Baltimore or Bethesda.

So how can you attend one of these crazy events you didn't even know existed? The place to start is Hardy's excellent Frederick County Biotech Community blog, at, or find BioBeers East on LinkedIn. There you will see that the next installment of BioBeers East will be on Nov. 13 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Flying Dog Brewery. All you have to do is show up, have one of Flying Dog's award-winning beers, and learn a little about the manufacture of monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins or whatever other topic may be on tap.

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