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May 31, 2016

A look at Mayo Clinic's NIH funding

It was announced last week that the National Institutes of Health awarded Mayo Clinic $142 million, spread out over five years, to a new federal Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program biobank.

NIH_Master_Logo_Vertical_2ColorThat made me think of a couple things. First, I remembered writing about the formation of Mayo Clinic Bioservices in 2014. It looks like that program is probably the core of this new project.

Next I wondered how $28.4 million a year or $142 million over five years measures up against Mayo Clinic's typical annual funding grants from NIH. Mayo Clinic has lots of money coming in from government contracts and grants from a variety of sources ranging from NIH to the Dept. of Defense.

Looking at just the NIH funding, this new grant is significant, but not not huge, in comparison to recent years.

Before this latest grant, NIH has already given Mayo Clinic $85.8 million in funding through 176 awards for 2016. The $28.4 million for this year will ramp it up to $114.2 million for 2016, which puts Mayo possibly on track for a record year. Here's the breakdown of Mayo's NIH grants in recent years.

• 2015 - 395 awards - $207.6 million

• 2014 - 401 awards - $201.2 million

• 2013 - 376 awards - $192.2 million

• 2012 - 380 awards - $205.2 million

• 2011 - 362 awards - $193.9 million






2016 - 176 awards - $85,878,422

 

May 25, 2016

Hold the applause - New Buckeye name is not set yet

I was a bit premature Tuesday when I wrote that South Dakota developer Stencil Homes had re-named its Buckeye Apartments project in downtown Rochester.

F89c28e7467b81cdb720c0c067eca5d3_f252I spotted the project on Stencil's website labeled as Ovation on Monday. I wasn't able to reach CEO Nate Stencil for confirmation, so I reported that it appeared that the new name for the project will be Ovation.

On Tuesday, Stencil sent me a note that said I was partially right.

"On 'The Buckeye' name change, we are still not 100 percent set on the new name but I can tell you we will be changing it. We are currently polling different names and will soon have one nailed down," he wrote.

The name of a 92-unit apartment complex being built on the corner of Fourth Street and Third Avenue Southeast in downtown Rochester has been a sensitive issue for some of the neighbors. Stencil originally tagged it as Buckeye as a nod to the Buckeye Liquor store landmark that was demolished to make way for the project. Some in the neighborhood didn't think that was an appropriate name.

 

May 24, 2016

Bye Buckeye, hello Ovation?

The name of a 92-unit apartment complex being built on the corner of Fourth Street and Third Avenue Southeast in downtown Rochester has been a sensitive issue for some of the neighbors. 
F89c28e7467b81cdb720c0c067eca5d3_f252
South Dakota developer Stencil Homes labeled it Buckeye Apartments as a nod to the Buckeye Liquor store that was demolished to make way for the project. Some in the neighborhood didn't think that was an appropriate name. Now it looks like the developer has decided to try something different.

Stencil Homes' website shows a 92-unit apartment building as a Rochester project, but it's not called Buckeye anymore. The new name under the old rendering of the complex is Ovation.

This must have been a recent change. The Answer Man wrote about this on April 27 and Buckeye still was the moniker at that point. CEO Nate Stencil was not available Monday to answer questions about the Ovation name, but it looks like concerned neighbors should give themselves a round applause for the spurring a name change.

 

May 23, 2016

Auto Techs to close at end of June

After 24 years in the fast lane, Roger Gansen is ready to slow down a bit.

Gansen has owned and run Auto Techs, a repair and sales shop, in Rochester since 1992. He has operated at his current location at 650 S. Broadway for about 12 years.

11146464_358227187720296_512149979420663139_oNow he has a "Closing soon" sign out front as he prepares to sell his property to the Lamont Cos. He plans to close the doors of his two-man shop at the end of June.

"It's kind of tough," said Gansen of the closure.

However, part of him is looking forward it.

"I'm ready for a change," he said. "I think this is kind of an opportune time for it."

The big question is will he re-open the popular Auto Techs somewhere else. That's a question he really doesn't have answer for.

"As of right now, everything is up in the air," Gansen said on Friday. "But right now, I'm looking forward to slowing down a bit."

While he is slowing down, the activity on that block of South Broadway is quickly ramping up this summer.

Lamont Cos. are the developers who recently purchased the adjacent Clarion Inn for $5 million with plans to build a newCandlewood Suites hotel and retail center. A liquidation sale of all of the hotel's furnishings and fixtures is underway.

Based in South Dakota, Lamont Cos. are the same developers who built Rochester's Holiday Inn by the Miracle Mile shopping center on Second Street in 2012.

May 20, 2016

Rochester's south Chipotle to re-open after hot water issue

I received several messages last night from taco bowl fans about Rochester's south Chipotle Mexican Grill at 1201 S. Broadway being closed. Chipotle-mexican-grill
 

It was just closed on Thursday, due to a water heater problem. I checked in with a manager today and he said they expect to re-open the eatery in front of Crossroads Shopping Center at noon today.
 
So Med City Chipotle addicts can relax and go get their fix.
 
 
 

Mayo Clinic Ventures looks to Israel for collaborations

Looking to help boost a variety of medical start-up businesses, Mayo Clinic Ventures is targeting collaborations and investments in Israel with a new program.

The goal of the Mayo Clinic Israeli Startup Initiative is to work with companies either through sponsored research grants or co-development.  

Flags"Co-development can include licensing of Mayo Clinic know-how or an investment," explained Timmeko Love, of Mayo Clinic Ventures. "It's about matching the right opportunities with Mayo Clinic know-how for collaboration. It's all about finding the right strategic fit."

Candidates for the Israeli Startup Initiative can include very early stage companies to ones that are much further along in development. They can work in any area of health care. 

"We're not limiting our options," Love said.

The project announced this week actually is a new phase of an existing Mayo Clinic initiative.

It has been active in Israel for about a year, partnering with the philanthropic Merage Institute. The California-based Merage Institute awards up to $150,000 in annual research grants for Israeli companies working with Mayo Clinic. The most recent recipient was EyeYon Medical, which makes a noninvasive medical device to treat corneal edema.

Mayo Clinic Ventures recently took on the Israel initiative and that has put co-development on the table. That new approach is being launched next week in Tel Aviv at IATI-Biomed, Israel’s largest life sciences and technology conference. Mayo teams will meet start-ups to study their technology, and then consider making investments or collaborations.

This is first time Mayo Clinic Ventures has focused on one whole country for business opportunities, despite its long history of international projects. Many might not be aware of it, but Israel is a logical candidate for a such a relationship.

"It's a natural next step for us," Love said.

Israel is considered to be the worldwide leader in innovation in medical devices, biopharma, software and other types of health-care businesses. The U.S imported $600 million of Israeli medical devices in 2011. In 2015, Israel housed 725 medical-devices businesses with an overall total of 1,380 life-sciences companies.

While California's Silicon Valley is known as the hottest spot in the world for business start-ups, Israel is recognized as a close second. A 2009 book, "Start-up Nation," documents how Israel, with a population of 7.1 million, generates more tech businesses than many much larger countries.

"It's kind of a national sport in Israel," said Guy David, a professor of health-care management at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He was born and raised in Israel and tracks its medical businesses closely.

David said Israel's required military service coupled with an environment that encourages questioning and taking risks is a big factor.

"Israel is hugely innovative. The innovative spirit starts at a very young age," he said.

While launching technology companies is a big focus in the country, the entrepreneurs all know the market for their products or services is elsewhere.

"There is no market in Israel. Israel is tiny," said David. "If they invent something, they know it has to be a global product."

Does that mean businesses partnering with Mayo Clinic could open offices or build facilities in Rochester?

"That certainly could be a possibility. We do look at an economic development when considering companies," said Love. "But it has to make sense for that company. There would need to be a business reason for it."

 

May 18, 2016

Chefs to upgrade Kahler's Lord Essex into a prime steak house

Here's some from my column on the culinary changes at the Kahler hotels. 

Local food fans in the know may recognize the names Tommie Tran and Duc Le. Tran used to own and operate The Lunch Box in the old downtown food court, previously on the third floor of the Galleria Mall, now University Square. Le comes from the Canadian Honker and Powers Ventures.

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Rochester's Kahler Hospitality Group is cooking again, with a new pair of executive chefs, who are turning the classic Lord Essex restaurant into a prime steak house.

Chefs Tommie Tran and Duc Le recently were promoted to take over the duties of Chef Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman, who recently left after a short run at the Kahler hotels to return to the Twin Cities.

Image001"Both are banquet savvy and restaurant savvy," said Tyler Kase, area director of food and beverage for Kahler Hospitality Group, of the two Rochester chefs.

Tran and Le now are in charge of the culinary operations of the Kahler Grand Hotel and its sister hotels, which includes Lord Essex, The Grand Grill, Salute, Martini's, CB3, Freshens and Dunkin Donuts.

The hotels and restaurants are controlled and owned, in part, by local health-care executive and real estate developer Javon Bea and his family.

Kase, area director of food and beverage for Kahler Hospitality Group, says the first project for the culinary duo is upgrading the fabled Lord Essex in the Kahler Grand Hotel into a steak house serving only USDA prime cuts of beef.

With the closure of Rochester's beloved Michaels restaurant, he said it was decided there was a need for a classic steak house.

The change is underway and the plan is to officially re-launch Lord Essex this summer. It will serve eight prime cuts of steak in different portions, according to Kase.

Diners should expect an opportunity to "meet the meat" before getting their menus. Servers will roll a cart up to the table to display the prime cuts as well as lobsters and examples of Lord Essex's jumbo, one-pound baked potatoes.

"We're going for the 'wow factor,'" he said.

While the Lord Essex will feature many new menu items, it also will be serving long-time local favorites. That means the Duchess potato soup plus the French onion soup, which is being brought back by popular demand.

After the relaunch of Lord Essex, Tran and Le will turn their attentions to Salute in the Marriott hotel to more finely "hone" the Italian cuisine there.

Kahler Hospitality Group has an estimated 50 to 70 employees staffing its food venues.

May 17, 2016

Mayo Clinic to take over Biobusiness Center floor as Celyad pulls out

Mayo Clinic is returning to the fifth floor of Rochester's Minnesota BioBusiness Center, after a Belgium-based biotech firm left it empty for more than a year. 

In March 2015, the Rochester City Council approved a five-year lease for Mayo Clinic-linked Celyad to take over the fifth floor to create a prototype manufacturing facility that would add 33 jobs to Rochester.

CelyadCelyad's lease meant displacing all the Mayo Clinic workers based on that floor. Mayo Clinic moved its employees out at the start of 2015.

However, the project didn't go as planned. Celyad, formerly known as Cardio3, was unhappy when development costs came in much higher than the estimate provided by the city. 

051509biobusinesscenteratnight"The budgets we got far exceeded initial assumptions on which the project was decided," said Celyad CEO Dr. Christian Homsy in an email from Belgium in November. "Including the city support, the fit-out cost now exceeds the cost to do the same work in other locations where there is no city or state support."

Celyad halted the project before any construction work was done, so the 14,963 square feet of space remained just as Mayo Clinic left it. However, the biotech company did uphold its end of the lease and has been paying rent of $22,444.50 per month, or $269,334 per year. City officials say the company has made all of the required payments.

Since the end of 2015, the city has been looking for a new tenant to take over the fifth floor. Now, the city has approved a new lease with an old tenant.

The new deal adds the fifth floor to Mayo Clinic's lease, which already includes four floors of the seven-year-old building. 

"The lease amendment would provide for a rental rate of $17 per square foot for the 'premises,' which consists of the entire fifth floor. That rate would be in effect for a term consistent with the present term for the other four floors through April 1, 2029," according to the agreement approved by the Rochester City Council on Monday. 

Mayo-clinic-logoThat's $1 less per square foot than the $18 per square foot Celyad has been paying.

Before approving the new Mayo Clinic lease, the city council OKed the termination of the Celyad agreement. It called for Celyad to continue paying its regular rent through Sept. 30, plus "a lease termination fee" of $111,549.18. 

That fee will cover costs for the space from October to Jan. 1. Mayo Clinic will be building out the space starting in October and it will began paying rent in January. Mayo Clinic plans on using the floor to help teams that need more room.

"Planned occupancy will include relocating certain research support teams in need of additional office type space," stated Kelley Luckstein, of Mayo Clinic Media Relation, in an email.

Celyad's relationship with Rochester began in 2007, when it licensed stem-cell research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. It was called Cardio3 Biosciences back then. They have collaborated for years on the cardiopoiesis technology the company uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cells to regenerate cardiac tissue. Mayo Clinic owned 2.69 percent of Celyad as of March 3, 2015.

Beyond the fifth floor prototype manufacturing facility, the Celyad deal was designed to clear the way for the biobusiness to possibly build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with 350 employees in Rochester. That's what the company anticipates it will need if the Federal Drug Administration gives it a green light to take its stem-cell treatment to market.

Celyad's Homsy says Rochester now is out of the running for that.

"Celyad has assessed that a manufacturing plant in Rochester at this point of time cannot be justified.  We have opened an office in Boston from where our U.S. management is based, but we have delayed the decision on a manufacturing plant in the U.S. as we are able to manufacture all clinical lots out of our Belgian facility. As we approach commercial launch in the U.S., this situation may be revisited," he responded from Belgium by email.

Though the relationship between Rochester and Celyad has diminished dramatically in recent months, Homsy said it is not completely over.

"We continue to collaborate with Mayo Clinic, as well as with Andre Terzic, in the context of the evaluation of our CHART-1 data that should be disclosed by end of June 2016. If the data is positive, further development in the U.S. in the form of CHART-2, and, potentially, commercialization would follow," he stated.

May 16, 2016

Hot dogs of spring migrate back to Peace Plaza

Getting hungry waiting for food trucks to finally get the green light to be in downtown Rochester?

Largeb75124341eAs of Tuesday you can enjoy a hot dog on the Peace Plaza while you wait. 

The spring winds have spurred Rick "Murph" Murphy and his hot dog cart to migrate back to Rochester. Weather permitting, he's planning on putting up his umbrella in front of the Wells Fargo building and open for business on Tuesday.

While he has mixed up his menu some over the years, he plans to focus on the basics - hot dogs, chips and pop - this season.

"Whatever I tried in the past hasn't gone over big. Customers just want the same best all beef wiener that they have enjoyed for a decade," stated Murphy in an email.

This is the Pine Island's 11th season hawking dogs to the herds of hungry downtown workers looking for a quick lunch and some fresh air.

That means he has been around downtown longer than the University of Minnesota-Rochester, Grand Rounds, Chester's, the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, 300 First, Social Ice, 318 Commons, Big Brad's, Hot Shots! and lots of other changes.

He was already selling dogs when people started saying "Rah-Rah" about Rochester. He was downtown long before it became "The Place To Be." He was here back when DMC was just part of the name of an '80s rap group.

Quite simply, downtown is Murph's turf.

May 13, 2016

Celebrity chef leaves Kahler hotels

Chef Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman's short tenure in Rochester is over.

The award-winning chef and cookbook author came to the Med City in September to take the reins of the culinary operations of the Kahler Grand Hotel and its sister hotels. The Kahler Hospitalit5672b9df89d09.imagey Group'srestaurants include The Grand Grill, Salute, Martini's, Crossings Bistro, Lord Essex, Freshens and Dunkin Donuts.


The hotels and restaurants are controlled and owned, in part, by local health-care executive and real estate developer Javon Bea and his family.


While it seemed last fall that the high-profile chef was planning for a long run in Rochester, Twin Cities media is reporting that Woodman started a new job this week as executive chef at Lela. Lela is a high-end Minneapolis eatery located on the northwest corner of Interstate 494 and Highway 100.

Mpls.St. Paul Magazine is reporting that Woodman is excited about the new role, because his gig in Rochester did not allow him much time to actually cook or manage a kitchen.

Michael Henry, Kahler's managing director of human resources, didn't return either a call or an email  today asking for details about the change and if Woodman has been replaced yet.

Kahler Hospitality has been tweaking its restaurants in recent years to keep up with the increasingly competitive Rochester food scene. Woodman's departure could set that process back a bit.

Prior to Woodman, Kahler Hospitality employed Chef Pasquale Presa from 2011 to 2015 to spice up its menus. Chef Pasquale is now the executive chef at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in the Wisconsin Dells.