CUMBERLAND — Allegany County officials say an internationally recognized Maryland health sciences company is in the process of establishing a research laboratory in Frostburg.
Amethyst Technologies LLC, founded in 2006 by Dr. Kimberly Brown, currently has offices at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Brown is partnering with Frostburg State University and Allegany County to establish a research lab in the Allegany Business Center adjacent to the FSU campus.
The new lab, Aeon Technologies, will perform pharmaceutical research in an effort to unlock testing and treatments for diseases, including the coronavirus. The facility will employ 10 technicians and administrative staff.
County officials announced the plans for the new laboratory during Thursday’s regular meeting of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners. The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the partnership.
“This is something I know we have been working on for a long time,” Jake Shade, commission president, said. “Brown is internationally recognized in the field of global health. ... The fact she wants to locate in Allegany County and Frostburg is great all around.”
Amethyst has 13 years of experience successfully developing laboratories to international standards for the U.S. government in North America, Africa and Asia. Her lab has studied multiple pathogens, including malaria, Ebola and HIV-AIDS.
The new lab will become part of the university’s academic research offerings. In addition, Brown will become an adjunct faculty member at FSU.
“This affiliation will capitalize on expanding opportunities for laboratory testing, quality assurance services and global health initiatives,” according to a county-issued news release. “Expansion in Allegany County will bring the company an advantage in market share for testing contracts in the region and allow the testing laboratory to become a HUBZone company eligible for federal funding and set-aside contracts.”
During a recent interview, Brown said she is excited about the partnership with FSU and the county.
“It will be an analytical and clinical lab for testing in the region for health, environment and for pharmaceutical research,” she said. “With the coronavirus, it is really important to getting diagnostic testing underway. We are looking forward to getting open and testing for COVID-19.”
Brown said she hopes the lab is set up within the next month.
“At FSU we will provide opportunities for students for coursework and internships which can provide hands-on experience. That is not typically provided everywhere and provides opportunities for research,” she said.
County Administrator Brandon Butler said other possibilities could result from having Brown’s lab at FSU.
“When you have a world-class professional like Dr. Brown in your area it will only lead to more professionals like her coming as well,” he said. “FSU is making her an adjunct facility member and using students in her processes. You have opportunities for students ... this has a workforce development component. This is a generational story. It has a lot of room for expansion.”
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.