CBG Media

Board Member to Represent CBG at Innovision Awards

 CBG Board Member Kayla Wilson

CBG Board Member Kayla Wilson

Board Member Kayla Wilson will represent the Carolina Biotech Group at South Carolina's premiere Innovation awards ceremony, Innovision 2016. In the 18th year, the Innovision Awards Dinner recognizes SC companies from a variety of categories including: 

  • Technology Development
  • Technology Integration
  • Innovation in Education
  • Small Enterprise
  • Sustainability
  • Community Service

This year there are 15 finalists that will be recognized at the event and the awardees will be selected.  NASA Centennial Challenge Program Director Monsi Roman will give the keynote address.

The Carolina Biotech Group enthusiastically supports innovation and entrepreneurship in biotechnology and digital health technology and congratulates these finalists.  We also thank the Office of Innovation and SC Department of Commerce for inviting us to participate at this great event.

PRESS RELEASE: CBG Receives Funding from Benefitfocus Fund

Organization receives grant to promote biotech entrepreneurship in SC

Greenville, SC | September 20, 2016  – The Carolina Biotech Group, a state-wide 501(c)(3) young professional organization, recently received a $5,000 grant to promote biotech and healthcare training and catalyze entrepreneurial activity throughout South Carolina. 

The funding will allow the organization to:

  • Benchmark program-specific curriculum;

  • Recruit experienced professionals to provide industry-relevant perspectives;

  • Sustain operations to cultivate a statewide high tech entrepreneurial community.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding from the Beneftitfocus Fund,” said Christian Graves, President of the Carolina Biotech Group. “As a new organization, having this type of support from an established group like the Coastal Community Foundation is tremendous. We look forward to what the future has in store for our organization.”

For more information about the Carolina Biotech Group, visit www.carolinabiotechgroup.com.


The Carolina Biotech Group (CBG) was founded in 2015 and serves to provide infrastructure, professional development, resources and support for the growing biotechnology and healthcare innovation ecosystem in South Carolina.  CBG is committed to cultivating the intellectual talent pipeline and connecting our best and brightest scientists, engineers, physicians, attorneys and entrepreneurs with industry, governmental, institutional and innovation-focused stakeholders critical to the experiential training of tomorrow’s high technology leaders. For more information visit: http://www.carolinabiotechgroup.com/what-we-do

About the BenefitFocus Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina

The Benefitfocus Fund is dedicated to creating thriving, healthy communities where people can lead better lives. The fund seeks applications from nonprofit organizations that share the company’s and its associates’ vision of creatingthriving communities, which include health and wellness, basic human needs, education, environmental stewardship and the arts. The Benefitfocus Fund is housed at Coastal Community Foundation, a public grant making organization dedicated to serving coastal South Carolina. The Foundation works with people and organizations who want to make a lasting difference through philanthropy, managing 800+ funds and more than $215 million in assets.

Download the official release here.

CBG Membership Lifts Off

If you couldn't make it out to learn about CBG at the recent Columbia information session, we missed you! But given the turnout, chances are, one of your colleagues or peers was present and would be happy to fill you in on the exciting opportunities to get involved with the Carolina Biotech Group. You can also always join our rapidly growing mailing list here. 

Just in case you couldn't make it (btw: we missed you!), here were just a few of the highlights from the evening...

So as you can see, we've been busy over the last year and we want YOU to get involved.  We are completing our membership drive by October 1, so don't miss out on our great programming!

And be sure to be on the lookout for your photo on Facebook....

Telling Stories and Catalyzing Reactions: A message from our President

Neither of my folks are from the South.  As an infant in our young family, we were transplants from the Northeast and the Southwest attracted by the beauty, advanced chemical manufacturing, and a sense of adventure to the Upstate of South Carolina.  Despite the superficiality of my roots, I was raised with a strong southern disposition, and was always told it's not polite to brag. Like me, many members of CBG likely identify with what has been called the "New South"; that is, they hail from diverse backgrounds from in- and outside SC and have been attracted here by more than one selling point. Most of these pioneers are also fiercely humble and find it challenging to celebrate - let alone share - their stories as the disruptive forces they have become in creating a more healthy, economically and technologically robust, and sustainable ecosystem. But when it comes to shedding light on the great intellectual talent that the Carolina's produce, at the Carolina Biotech Group, we find it difficult not to pull out the spotlight.  Innovation happens when good ideas are combined in the right reaction mixture, including the right people, resources, assets, advisors, and most importantly - when it's due - acclaim.  

We, like others, have recognized that many of the above reactants are present within our ecosystem, but often fail to be combined creatively to catalyze growth in biotechnology, healthcare, and entrepreneurial spaces.  We believe that the great opportunities that are created at our academic institutions should share a collaborative, regionally-focused thread.  We believe that we have a growing biotech and digital health ecosystem with stories that, all too often, go untold.  To increase the probability of these reactions, we've been sampling the chemistry of the biotech industry leadership, surveying the entrepreneurial landscape, and spotlighting our progress in efforts to better predict the major products of our future.  To this end, we hope you'll enjoy hearing from Jai Pandey, a SC product who currently calls the prestigious MIT Whitehead Institute home but who is striving to channel his passion for innovation in science into a regulatory career guiding the next generation of therapies from bench to bedside.

As someone who identifies as a lifelong South Carolinian, I am impressed on a daily basis by the passionate young innovators we produce and the potential for progress in our ecosystem. We hope that in reading the CBG Journal, you will appreciate that these unique stories, people, and passion for progress hailing from our talent pool, the rate-limiting reactant of any reaction, are in no short supply in the Carolinas.

  Christian A. Graves   Co-Founder & Chairman   Carolina Biotech Group

Christian A. Graves
Co-Founder & Chairman
Carolina Biotech Group

CBG Leaders Afield: Jai Pandey at MIT

Jai Pandey is a fellow at the prestigious Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He recently reached out and was generous enough to sit down to speak with us about life, science, and how his professional ambitions align with the mission of the Carolina Biotech Group. 

Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people might not know?

I like watching documentary movies.

CBG is devoted to building a professional network of leaders like yourself in science, engineering, and medicine.  In turn we hope to provide high impact opportunities to our alumni, future bioentrepreneurs, and leaders from our area.  You contacted us about interest in the group, what interests you most about what CBG is doing and how can we help leaders like yourself?

CBG is doing a great job with a focus of developing biotech sector in South Carolina. I think CBG is a good platform for scientists like myself to participate actively towards the common goal.

What brought you to USC’s program and how do you feel about the network and your level of connectivity since moving on to greener fields?

I finished my Masters degree in biotechnology before joining USC’s Biology PhD program. The interdisciplinary nature of program really attracted me towards itself.

How did USC's graduate program help prepare you for the next step in your career?

I learnt various skills including performing cutting edge science and to presenting my data to audience of diverse background.  This really helped me in becoming a better scientist.

Are there any areas where you think the graduate programming could improve?

One thing I would like to say is that future of science lies in collaboration, the program should entertain more collaborative science.

You were very excited about Carolina Biotech Group and reached out to us. How do you think an organization like CBG could have been beneficial do your professional development while at USC?

 I think by  [joining] I would have gained better business insight and entrepreneurial skills which is rare to find while doing basic science in an academic set up.

One thing I would like to say is that the future of science lies in collaboration, any program should entertain more collaborative science.

Let’s talk a little bit more about your time and research at USC:  You studied Lisencephaly in Deanna Smith’s lab at USC, can you tell us a bit more what Lisencephaly is and what interested you in that project?

I studied a protein Lis1, which is involved in neural stem cell differentiation during early brain development. In the developing brain, it regulates cell division of stem cells and migration of newly formed neurons. Mutations in Lis1 cause childhood epilepsy and the condition known as, Lissencephaly. I investigated how Lis1 deficiency perturbs function in post-mitotic mature neurons. I discovered that Lis1 regulates how organelles are transported within the cell, and found that mutations in Lis1 lead to defective transport in mature neurons, which is the major cause for neurodegeneration and epilepsy. The work was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and was very well received by the scientific community, leading to an invited talk at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference.

You published your thesis work in the Journal of Neuroscience on the role of Dynein and CDK5, can you tell us a bit more about that work, it’s novelty, and whether it lends itself to any potential for therapeutic development in better understanding neurologic conditions?

During my graduate work, I investigated how neuronal function is perturbed in the rare pediatric epilepsy known as Lissencephaly. I discovered that Lis1 (a protein mutated in Lissencephaly) and CDK5 (active only in post mitotic neurons) regulates how organelles are transported within the cell. Mutations in Lis1 lead to defective transport in mature neurons, which is the major cause for neurodegeneration and epilepsy.

What are you up to now at Whitehead institute?

As a postdoc at the Whitehead Institute of MIT, I have led two projects directly related to fundamental aspects of cancer biology. The first project focused on understanding how cells maintain protein homeostasis (proteostasis) by regulating the expression of “molecular chaperones”. Many malignant cancer cells are dependent on the master regulator of proteostasis, Heat Shock Factor 1 (HSF1), to sustain rapid growth in the presence of driver and passenger mutations. I used CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in healthy stem cells to disrupt HSF1, which led to novel insights into a possible therapeutic window for targeting the proteostasis network in cancer. A manuscript detailing the findings of this study has been accepted in Molecular Cell.

In the second project, I am leading the experimental interrogation of “allosteric hotspots” on the surface of kinases to understand how disease-associated mutations can unlock latent regulatory potential to hijack signaling pathways. In collaboration with computational biologists at UT Southwestern, we have developed new theoretical and experimental tools to predict and validate the consequences of cancer-associated mutations. We are finalizing a manuscript detailing these findings to submit to a high impact journal, and I have been invited to give a talk to present this work at 10th Annual q-bio Conference in Nashville, TN, in July.

You’ve studied neurodevelopment and cellular reprogramming, what do you think the outlook is for these fields to translate to tissue engineering and neurotechnologies?

(1) use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) culture systems for large-scale chemical and genetic screens to identify novel biomarkers for early detection and therapeutic intervention; (2) use CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering methods to improve the safety and efficacy of gene therapy approaches.

What’s next for you?

A career in regulatory science will fulfill my passion for science and my intention to improve and safeguard human health.


SC's Growing Biotech Landscape

Christian Graves

Ground is being gained in the biotechnology and digital health landscape in South Carolina.  The recent 2016 TEConomy/BIO report demonstrates sustained growth in the sector despite the great recession.  In fact, biotech continued to grow nationally at 9.7% from 2001-2014, second only to Software and Computer Services, all despite the financial downturn.  

Biotech and digital health jobs are robust in uncertain times and provide billions in direct and indirect economic impact in the state. We put together this infographic that we think captures the SC Biotech landscape:

All Rights Reserved Carolina Biotech Group 2016

Christian is President & Co-Founder of CBG and is interested in bridging gaps and building an innovative ecosystem in SC.  He enjoys climbing mountains and usually runs towards the fires.

Rick's Premier Healthcare Internship

This summer, JD/MBA member Rick Southard was nose to the grind stone in the Queens City.  He recently has been working for a healthcare company that is working to transform healthcare (something we at CBG are pretty excited about). We recently caught up with him when he made it back down Columbia before things took off for the semester. 

You're involved in the consulting club, law school, the Moore school MBA... and CBG! Tell us a bit about what you were up to this summer in CLT.

I’ve been working at Premier, Inc. up in Charlotte, NC. Premier is an alliance of 3,600 member hospitals and offers services ranging from group purchasing to consulting. My project this summer has been developing a strategic vision for specialty pharmacy technology that Premier is developing.

Very cool! How was life away from your studies and how did your your education help?

I’ve enjoyed being able to leverage what I’ve learned in business and law school and apply that in the real world to help Premier get this offering off the ground. In particular, I’ve enjoyed being able to work on a project where I get to work in a startup-like environment; working to evaluate competitors, identify strategic opportunities, and formulate recommendations.

Love that you enjoyed the #healthcare #startup environment and thanks for sharing, Rick.  Check back often for more of our go-getters as we detail the professional and experiential education our members are seeking.


Carolina Biotech Group & The Birthplace of Biotechnology

 SIBER President Chris Cullis & CBG President Christian Graves

SIBER President Chris Cullis & CBG President Christian Graves

Christian Graves

A Genentech-sponsored sign on a major thoroughfare into South San Francisco proudly declares the Bay Area to be “The Birthplace of Biotech”.  The Carolina Biotech Group - composed of the Carolina’s best and brightest entrepreneurial biomedical and digital health leaders - was represented at two international meetings in San Francisco, California.

Recently rated as the #2 Biopharma ecosystem in North America by the GEN Insight & Intelligence report, the Bay Area is a watershed for biotech, innovative pharma, and digital health startups. 

CBG leadership was invited to attend the Society for International Bioentrepreneurship Education and Research (SIBER) meeting on the beautiful USF campus.  This day-long event brought together global leaders in the bioentrepreneurship field from seasoned biotech VC pros to accomplished educator-entrepreneurs like the director of the UC-Davis Biotech Program.  The meeting, coordinated by Moira Gunn Host of Tech Nation, catalyzed round-table discussions on the biomedical workforce, professional biotech certification programs, and 2016 TEConomy-BIO Bioscience Jobs Report (formerly the Batelle-BIO report) with executives from biotech startups and forward-thinking international educational institutions.

CBG was also present for the opening of the international Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) meeting.  The annual BIO meeting sets the stage for deal-making in the biotech industry with over 1300 companies represented by nearly 16,000 industry leaders.  Amongst those descending on world’s most innovative town, SCBIO and several startups from the SC ecosystem will have a presence at the meeting showcasing the emerging Life Science ecosystem in SC.

In addition to taking in the sites, sounds, and fog of the Bay Area Biotech Frenzy (BABF), CBG also sampled the excellent startup scene for biomedical tech and investment at the world’s first venture-backed synthetic biotech accelerator Indiebio accelerator. Check out Indiebio’s recent class of all-star starts here and here.  

Through participation at key events like the SIBER meeting, the Int’l BIO convention, and visits with the first-of-its-kind early-stage biotech accelerator @Indbio, CBG looks forward to playing a key role in growing the culture of biomedical tech in the Carolinas and building opportunities for our entrepreneurial scientists, engineers, and physicians.

Christian is President & Co-Founder of CBG and is interested in bridging gaps and building an innovative ecosystem in SC.  He enjoys climbing mountains and usually runs towards the fires.



The Future is Bright for Biotech in SC

Christian Graves, President & Chairman

For immediate release

The Carolina Biotech Group was recently selected to present our vision on the Bright future for Biotech in South Carolina at the Palmetto-USC Health Medical Scholarship Day of Focus at the Beautiful SC State Museum. 

Johnie Hodge, MD/PhD Candidate & VP of Finance, authored the study with Stephen Iwanowycz, PhD Co-Founder & Board Member, Member Hossam Tashkandi, Drug Discovery & Biomedical Science PhD Candidate, and Christian Graves PhD/MD Candidate Co-Founder & President.  There, Hodge received great feedback from local physicians, clinical trials coordinators, and peers on the potential for biotech within the SC ecosystem.  

The publication covered the watershed and resource areas across the state including a breakdown of the state's health ratings, biomedical R&D hubs, clinical trial tallies, and overall R&D output.

We encourage comments and look forward to discussing the implications of this bright future for entrepreneurial science, engineering, and healthcare through biotechnology in the great state of SC.

Signup below to get a copy of the report The Future is Bright for Biotech in South Carolina by J Hodge, S Iwanowycz, H Tashkandi, & CA Graves

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An Evening of Life Science Innovation in South Carolina's Capital

 Christian Graves atop the Capital City Club.

Christian Graves atop the Capital City Club.

With views of the statehouse and Columbia city skyline, we gathered with executives from SC's growing Life Science industry as well as legislators and stakeholders to discuss the innovation landscape in South Carolina. The Carolina Biotech Group was thrilled to be invited to help staff the event at the Capital City Club in Columbia, SC.

Wayne Roper, President of SCBIO, stumped on the exciting developments happening in the State including several capital investments in new facilities - including a proposed medical school in Columbia - and developments at all of the major metropolitan areas. Becky DeLegge, Chairwoman of SCBIO, followed up with insight on SCBIO's mission to promote and grow the Life Science's space.

After these exciting updates, David Dodd of Æterna Zentaris, a recent transplant to the growing Charleston Life Sciences hub, discussed drivers of innovation and his company's growing pipeline.

Robert Popovian, a senior government affairs executive from Pfizer, emphasized the importance and support for early stage development in developing new medicines and medical technology.

 Wayne Roper, President of SCBIO, addresses the crowd at the Capital City Club

Wayne Roper, President of SCBIO, addresses the crowd at the Capital City Club

Carolina Biotech Group Representation:

  • David Prim
  • William Torres
  • Rosanne Prim
  • Tyler Franz
  • Hossam Tashkandi
  • Brooks Lane
  • Tony Klor
  • Christian Graves

SC Biotech Companies Represented:

  • Æterna Zentaris
  • RhythmLink, LLC
  • Kiyatec
  • Cipher Pharmaceuticals
  • Cryogenix, LLC
  • VidiStar
  • PolyMed

Thank you to all who came out, assisted, and made the evening a tremendous success despite the filibuster and high winds.

Photo Credit: SCBIO All Rights Reserved 2016 (SCBIO1-7)
For more photos of the event, please see here
Article written by Christian Graves, President & Chairman

A few minutes with Shawn Regan – CEO of RhythmLink, LLC

 All rights reserved, Shawn Regan 2016

All rights reserved, Shawn Regan 2016

 All rights reserved, Rhythmlink LLC 2016

All rights reserved, Rhythmlink LLC 2016

David Prim & Christian Graves

We recently connected with Shawn Regan, CEO of RhythmLink, located a stones throw from downtown Columbia SC to discuss what he looks for when hiring the best and brightest at his company.


RhythmLink is a medical device company specializing in electrophysiological monitoring that frequently sources intellectual capital within the midlands.  Regan and his company are also active with SCBIO and are helping organizations like CBG build the next generation of biotech and med device companies in our backyard.

Monitoring the pulse for intellectual talent for our area’s bio and healthcare tech space is of great importance when educating and cultivating our talents as emerging leaders.  Many companies rank experience and an entrepreneurial mentality among their highest qualifications when seeking qualified talent.

Shawn’s outfit is notably tech-intensive, and new hires often require training in several areas. He shared these four main areas as suggestions for what he wishes he saw more of in the talent coming through the Rhythmlink door:

Design Controls

As it turns out, building medical devices requires a predetermined framework and an ability to comply with manufacturing and regulatory standards.  Design controls prevail and can be an often overlooked aspect when designing a device on track for 510(k) filing, especially in new startups.  Regan emphasizes that many of these controls are largely streamlined; however, these elements can fall between the cracks in traditional curriculum.


Group based projects can be the bane of any curriculum.  Think many hours worked to motivate others who might not be interested in pulling their weight. Regan acknowledges these issues and points out that better organization and project management are key, especially in small- to medium-sized companies like Rhythmlink. While larger companies may have dedicated Project Managers, employees at smaller companies are often asked to wear many hats. As such, new hires often require on-the-job training to catch up with differences between academic and industrial research.  Seeking out practical experience through a CBG internship or valued mentor might be the difference between an offer letter and a post-doc.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

Regan points out that, when designing tomorrow’s medical devices, his team might be asked to draw up a prototype.  Even employees with other primary job functions end up needing to use design software at some point. Having a healthy mastery in CAD systems is one area that never hurts new hires.  While the software can be expensive, many programs offer elective CAD coursework and CBG provides resources for those outside the standard engineering channels as well.

Business Acumen

Giving a seminar or a talk in front of the medical school faculty is much different than interacting with a customer.  Regan points out that many of his engineers run their own teams and interact directly with the customers and vendors. At Rhythmlink (and at many other medical device companies), a custom business plan is created to go along with each new project. This includes costs of goods, manufacturing costs, manufacturing time, expected sales volume, anticipated margins, and more. Most scientists and engineers they hire have little to no experience in this area, meaning Rhythmlink must provide training to new employees.

Increasingly, firms are devoting less time to overhead – especially at bootstrapped small to mid-sized companies like RhythmLink.  This includes costly educational schemes that impact the bottom line and tie up valuable assets for training. Therefore, interacting with customers and bridging the gap between highly complicated product design and unfamiliar margins, pricing, and deliverables can seem like an insurmountable task to a new hire.  We are committed to helping our University partners educate in the more practical skills and promoting the professional development of our members.  While gaining this experience can be demanding, establishing even a basic understanding of these skills and concepts give job seekers a leg up in this competitive job market.

All rights reserved, Rhythmlink LLC 2016

Copyright 2016, CBG Media

David is VP Development of CBG and spends most of his time on soccer fields, spending time with his wife and dogs, and investigating factors affecting vascular graft remodeling.

Christian is President & Co-Founder of CBG and is interested in bridging gaps and building an innovative ecosystem in SC.  He enjoys climbing mountains and usually runs towards the fires.