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Daily Business Report — May 27, 2010

40 Under 40 Nominations

Nominations are still open for San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s 11th annual 40 Under 40 awards. The nomination period ends May 31. The honorees will be feted at our annual luncheon on Sept. 9 at the San Diego Convention Center and profiled in the September issue of the magazine. Visit for a nomination form.

Mesa College President Takes Chancellor’s Job in San Jose

Rita Cepeda, president of San Diego Mesa College, has accepted a position as chancellor of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District in San Jose, which serves more than 40,000 students a year at two colleges — San Jose City and Evergreen Valley College. She will assume the position on July 15. Cepeda, who has been president of Mesa for five years, began her 30-year career in community colleges in 1980 when she joined the State Chancellor’s Office and served for 18 years. As vice chancellor for educational services and economic development, she headed the largest division within the State Chancellor’s Office, managing the entire spectrum of community college instruction, special programs and economic development.

From 1999 to 2004, Cepeda served as president of Santa Ana College, and before that, she served as interim president of Mission College in Santa Clara. Cepeda’s contract runs through 2013.

Ex-Obama Aide Joins BNA Communications in San Diego

A former member of President Barack Obama’s White House staff, Mark Perriello, has been named vice president of BNA Communications, a San Diego-based advertising and public affairs firm. Perriello, 34, served as director of priority placement for the Office of Presidential Personnel from the time of Obama’s inauguration until he left the administration to join BNA Communications. He led diversity recruitment efforts for the White House, helping to recruit and place potential appointees for federal jobs, boards, and commissions. At BNA Communications, Perriello will advise clients on communications strategy. BNA provides advertising and related services to corporations, unions, and nonprofit agencies. BNA is a woman- owned company led by Kelly Murphy Lamkin, daughter of former San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy. The firm’s founder, Bob Nelson, is a veteran political adviser and communications expert.

Perriello has previously held leadership positions for a variety of national civil rights advocacy groups. A Massachusetts native, Perriello holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

NextMed Inc. Hires 2 New Vice Presidents

NexMed Inc. announced the expansion of its senior business development team with the appointments of Linda Smibert as vice president of business development and Mark S. Wilson as vice president of technology development. Both executives will report to Vivian Liu, the company’s executive vice president. Smibert will spearhead the out-licensing of NexMed’s pre-clinical and clinical product pipeline. Prior to joining the company, she served for eight years as senior director and director of business development at Santarus Inc. Smibert has over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industryShe has held a variety of business development and strategic planning management functions at Bristol-Myers Squibb in the U.S. and in Canada, as well as with Zeneca in Canada and the U.K.

Wilson is responsible for the out-licensing of the NexACT technology. He has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical, diagnostic and medical device industries. Prior to joining NexMed, he was entrepreneur-in-residence at CONNECT in San Diego, where he provided business start-up strategy, development and sourcing consulting services to local companies. Prior to that, he served for five years as vice president of business development at Halozyme Therapeutics, where he was responsible for initiating the company’s $612 million alliance with F. Hoffmann-La Roche and for various alliances with Baxter Healthcare.

San Diego Scientists Create Breakthrough ‘Synthetic Cell’

By Annu Subramanian, San Diego News Network contributing writer

J. Craig Venter

Nature and technology have come to a revolutionary confrontation at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego.Venter, along with a team of researchers, has successfully constructed a synthetic cell, indicating that genomes can be conceived by computers and created in chemical laboratories.  This marks a significant milestone in genome research and puts researchers even closer to complete gene programming.

“We now have the means to dissect the genetic instruction set of a bacterial cell to see and understand how it really works,” said Dr. Ham Smith, a researcher at JCVI. This achievement is a major stride for genome research, as the synthetic gene can perform all the functions of a gene in a cell, implying that computers can create genes without the help of any natural DNA.

Though the creation of artificial life is still a distant goal, the JCVI believes that the creation of a self-replicating cell heralds major technological and social advances, including the development of biofuels, vaccines, medicine, clean water and new food products.

The results of this research will be “one of the most powerful technologies and industrial drivers for societal good,” said J. Craig Venter, founder and president of the JCVI.

The genome created at the JCVI is currently the largest synthetic molecule of a defined structure, nearly double the size of the previous principle genome synthesis.

Researchers created the synthetic cell by transplanting the synthetic M. mycoides genome into recipient cells that were, by being transcribed into RNA, translated into proteins.  The recipient cells were destroyed by cell replication and restriction enzymes, leaving only the synthetic DNA. After creating an extensive error correction method to delete genes responsible for unsuccessful transplants, the first synthetic cell was created.

As costs of DNA synthesis decrease and genome creation becomes more feasible, JCVI researchers hope that people will expand their use of the powerful technology that this science provides.

“We look forward to continued review and dialogue about the important applications of this work to ensure that it is used for the benefit of all,” said Venter.

According to the Institute, the synthetic cell could lead to the development of biofuels, vaccines, pharmaceuticals and clean water and fuel, among other applications. While the creation of a fully synthetic gene is a major triumph for genome research, the Institute’s work is not nearly done.

“We can now begin working on our ultimate objective of synthesizing a minimal cell containing only the genes necessary to sustain life in its simplest form,” said Dr. Daniel Gibson, who will publish the results of the research in the upcoming edition of Science Express. “This will help us better understand how cells work.”

Minimal cells will be able to analyze the function of every essential gene in a cell without adulteration.  Researchers at the JCVI have been attempting to create a minimal cell since 1995.

Despite skepticism, Venter has been lauded for his commitment to transparency throughout his research. The scientists at JCVI have demonstrated their long-term goals in even the smallest of places — encoded on their exclusive string of DNA is a quote by James Joyce, “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.”

Author to Address NAWBO San Diego

Author Jennifer Sedlock is the guest speaker at the June 16 luncheon meeting of the National Association of Women Business Owners San Diego. Her presentation is titled, “Leading Beyond Your Own Style: Optimizing the Strengths of Others.” The meeting will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Sheraton La Jolla, 3299 Holiday Court, La Jolla. Online registration is available at

Mummified Peruvian Children to be CAT-Scanned

Four naturally mummified children from Peru will be CAT-scanned as a result of a scientific partnership between the San Diego Museum of Man and Scripps Memorial Hospital Imaging Pavilion. The CAT-scans are expected to reveal never-before-seen images of the insides of the 550-year-old mummies. Scientists will be looking for signs of cultural evidence and causes of death. Burial goods may be included within the mummy wrappings which may illuminate issues of importance within their culture. The mummies will be removed from the Museum of Man on June 4 and CAT-scanned at Scripps Memorial Hospital Imaging Pavilion in La Jolla on June 5. They will be returned to the museum on June 7.

In 2005, a CAT-scan solved the 3,000-year-old mystery of how King Tutankhamun died and what his exact age was. The San Diego Museum of Man said it can expect to find similar answers and more when the four Peruvian mummies are scanned. The four mummies range in age from infancy to five years old. They are currently on display at the Museum of Man.

City Heights Homes to Get a Facelift

Ten to 15 homes in City Heights will be the focus of the Summer 2010 FaceLift on June 5, where volunteers will paint homes, upgrade fencing, railings, doors , lighting and clean alleys and yards, among other chores. Rakes, loppers, shovels, brushes, rollers, paint and supplies will be provided to volunteers. The program is sponsored by the San Diego Redevelopment Agency in partnership with Community HousingWorks, the City Heights Redevelopment Project Area Committee and Councilman Todd Gloria. The work will be done between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. An awards ceremony and volunteer pizza lunch will be at 12:30 p.m. to honor Community Housing Works’ revitalization of its 500th home. “FaceLift efforts have transformed City Heights,” said Gloria.  “It is an honor to partner with the community and to serve as a volunteer.” Started in 1995, the FaceLift program improves homes for low-income, disabled or elderly homeowners. Volunteer registration begins at 7 a.m. in the Corridor Neighborhood at 38th Street and Polk Avenue.

The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, the North Park News, Kensington News and the West Coast Craftsman. (619) 906-4104.

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