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Feature Story

Catching up with Marco Chacón of Paragon Bioservices

This fall we had the chance to catch up with Marco Chacón, who is Founder & CEO of Paragon Bioservices. We asked him about his company and his answers are included below. Look for more executive discussions in future issues.

Tell us about your company:

Paragon Bioservices is a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) that provides research services, process development and contract manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals (including therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines and viruses).

Our clients include a "who’s who" in pharma and large biotechnology companies. We work with a number of smaller biotech companies, including virtual companies. For the latter, we become their outsource service partners—since they don't invest in their own laboratories.

Paragon was founded back in 1990 and originally manufactured serum and culture media products—mostly selling to the NIH, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. When the internet hit though, we became visible outside of Maryland, and even internationally. Soon our product base shifted and clients wanted services more than products. As more of the smaller biotechnology companies arose, we had a growing market. Within a few years, big pharma customers joined our client base.

In March 2009, we moved from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus to the University of Maryland BioPark. We moved with 35 employees today we have 137.

What is your strategy for growing the business?

We aim to always be relevant in the industry and we pride ourselves on "reading the tea leaves" – determining what healthcare companies need, and positioning our company to meet those challenges. We build the right skill set to match the programmatic outsourcing needs of our clients. At this point in time, it's more about adaptability and providing full program manufacturing.

Our differential is that we stay where the market is hot. Today, for example, our target clients include companies who are developing vaccines and immunotherapies.

What can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?

We have an active client base and commercial revenues. However, we started with a modest investment from one individual (who remains on our Board of Directors today).

We started paying the bills by selling products and services, and then services exclusively. For the first 18 years, we supported the company from revenues alone.

In October 2014, we announced a Series A financing from Camden Partners and New Spring Capital. We expect to grow revenues by approximately 20-25 percent in 2015.

What strategic relationships, particularly at UM Baltimore, have been helpful to your company?

We have a local venture capital fund invested in our company, so that speaks for itself. They want to support Paragon as a local Baltimore company.

I can't say enough about the vision of Wexford Science & Technology's (BioMed Realty) principals. They have been extremely successful with their biopark model (which has its roots in Baltimore). The wonderful concept of a BioPark, adjacent to a major research university, promotes development of technology and new enterprises with entrepreneurial flair.

We also have had great relationships with Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland, Baltimore. The leadership here at UMB—President Jay Perman, Jim Hughes, Linda Cassard, Jane Shaab—have been a true asset to Paragon. These relationships and friendships have led to multiple collaborations.

For example, we've found ourselves collaborating with different labs on the UMB campus. This helped with our credibility and allowed us to attract federal government contracts in vaccine development (e.g., the recognition of UMB's vaccine expert, Dr. Mike Levine, was a huge feather in our cap).

For all of us, it truly is about working together and promoting Baltimore.

Recent News

Institute of Human Virology Begins Phase 1 Clinical Trials of HIV Vaccine Candidate

Baltimore-based Institute has begun enrolling volunteers for initial phase 1 clinical trials

Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford announced that the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine launched its Phase 1 clinical trials of a novel HIV vaccine candidate developed by a research team led by Robert C. Gallo, MD, the Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Director of IHV. Dr. Gallo’s team includes his IHV co-workers George Lewis, PhD and Anthony DeVico, PhD, and Tim Fouts, PhD of Baltimore-based Profectus Biosciences, Inc., a spinoff company from IHV. Enrollment for the clinical trials began October 1, 2015. The candidate immunogen, denoted as the Full-Length Single Chain (FLSC), is designed to elicit strongly protective antibody responses across the spectrum of HIV-1 strains. Read more…

University of Maryland School of Medicine Prepares to Treat First Cancer Patients at New Maryland Proton Treatment Center

William F. Regine, MD, FACR, FACRO, the Isadore & Fannie Schneider Foxman Endowed Chair and Professor in Radiation Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) and Executive Director of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC) and UM SOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced on October 27th they are making final preparations for patient consultations at the new Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC) to begin this November with patient treatment expected to start after the new year. Read More…

PathSensors & UM School of Pharmacy Pursuing Business with Korea

PathSensors CEO Ted Olsen, left, hosted a meeting on October 20th with a high level delegation from Korea lead by members of the National Assembly and the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

UM School of Pharmacy Dean Natalie Eddington and Jogarao Gobburu attended discuss the School of Pharmacy’s proposal to the Korean government for training in regulatory policy and processes.

Recent Events

November 17, 2015 // 8:30am - 7:00pm

TEDCO's 5th Annual Entrepreneur Expo

Location: BWI Marriott

Entrepreneur Expo is the event that brings Maryland's entrepreneurship community together for a day to network, educate and inspire. Click here for tickets.

November 18, 2015 // 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Pitch, Please! Perfection Workshop

Host: Betamore

Location: Betamore

Real-life examples of the worst presentation situations — and how these can be avoided. Benefit directly from decades of institutional presentation experience, and stories, to inform your own presentation style. Click here to enroll.


November 19, 2015 // 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Science In The City

Host: University of Maryland BioPark & Wexford Science + Technology

Location: UM BioPark

Join us to meet-and-great UM BioPark's tenants and UMB faculty and staff.

November 24, 2015 // 8:00am - 1:00pm

Biopark Blood Drive

Host: University of Maryland BioPark

Sponsor: Red Cross

Location: UM BioPark

Help those in need this Thanksgiving by giving blood. Your donation can save 3 lives.

All donors will receive a $5 gift card good at all University of Maryland Medical Center eateries.

Schedule your appointment today!

December 15, 2015 // 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Annual BioPark Holiday Happy hour celebration

Host: University of Maryland BioPark

Location: UM BioPark

Please RSVP by December 1st to
Events@UMBiopark.com

Recent Events

We’d love to hear from you!
Please send your news, milestones, events, and ideas to lcassard@umaryland.edu.

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