Top national, state, and regional government and industry figures will speak at the two-day Emerging Issues Forum, “Biotechnology and Humanity at the Crossroads of a New Era,” at North Carolina State University Monday and Tuesday.

The event covers some of the hottest topics in the news today: bio-terrorism, stem cell research, cloning, gene therapy and genetically engineered crops.

“We are especially interested in the question of how to take the next quantum leap in biotechnology in North Carolina,” says Noah Pickus, of the Kenan Institute for Engineering Technology and Science at NCSU, which puts on the emerging issues events.

“The forum will address both social and scientific issues in human and agricultural biotechnology development with special attention to identifying the economic opportunities and challenges.”

Some of those issues, Pickus says, include how to prepare a work force with biotechnology skills, stimulate entrepreneurial culture in the sector, and involve both western and eastern North Carolina in the biotechnology boom.

Pickus says the final forum discussion on the “Next Steps in Biotechnology Policy,” Tuesday afternoon will explore what the biotech leaders present believe is most important to move forward, economically, ethically, and socially on biotech issues.

“We want to identify areas not being addressed where we can fill the gap,” Pickus says.

Headliners: Thompson, Kennedy, Edwards

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson tops the list of speakers who will address biotechnology issues. Thompson is at the forefront of Bush Administration initiatives on stem cell research and domestic security against bio-terrorism.

Marye Anne Fox, chancellor of NC State, former Gov. Jim Hunt, who is chairman of the emerging issues forum, and Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), all speak the first morning. Hunt and Fox chair panel discussions.

Tuesday, Gov. Michael Easley, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Lt. Gov. of Maryland, and Molly Corbett Broad, president of the University of NC system are the headliners. Townsend and Broad speak at the luncheon session on “The Business of Biotechnology: The Maryland Story.”

From industry, Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics Corp., the company made famous for its mapping of the human genome, James Mullen, president and CEO of Biogen Inc., and Max Wallace, president and CEO of Cogent Neuroscience, are among those on the governor’s panel on biotechnology and new economic opportunities for North Carolina.

Other speakers include: Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania; and Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology.

Robert Ingram, chief operating officer and president of pharmaceutical operations for Glaxo SmithKline; Charles Hamner, president and CEO of the NC Biotechnology Center; Robert Nussbaum, senior investigator, National Human Genome Research Institute; and Elizabeth Kiss, director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University.

More information on the event is available at: