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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Breakthrough Or Breakdown?

by Raquel Guillory, Assistant Secretary, Department of Business and Economic Development

Fyodor Biotechnologies Corp. is on the precipice of a breakthrough in investigating sources of fever, other than malaria, in developing countries. Chairman and CEO Dr. Eddy Agbo was thrilled when he received word, only last week, of a National Science Foundation grant for their work. But before they could even process the payment, our federal government needlessly shut down.

Fyodor, headquartered in Baltimore at the UMB BioPark, has three full-time employees in Maryland and five in Africa. This grant meant an opportunity to seek out additional staff to help fulfill Fyodor’s mission of doing social good through science, but now those plans are on hold.

“The greatest challenge for us as we are developing our products is that every day we lose time, somebody is dying because that product could have benefited them and added years to their lives,” Dr. Agbo said. “It’s really very frustrating. It doesn’t allow you to keep focused on the critical mission that you set up the company.”

If the shutdown persists – he predicts that Fyodor would have no choice but to shutter the project.

“There are no very good options. If we don’t have the money, then the options for us are to put the project on hold entirely until we get the resources, which is really a pity,” Dr. Agbo said. “The other option for us is to find bridging funding. But you have to be able to tell the other source ‘In one week’s time, or two weeks’ time, I’ll be able to pay this back to you.’”

Despite the gloomy outlook for Congress coming together to fund our government, Dr. Agbo will not give up hope for his company’s mission of doing social good.

“We are adding our voice to the chorus,” Dr. Agbo said. “We are really urging our lawmakers and the president to find a way to resolve this. The impact is directly on the lives of people.”

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