by Dan Gundersen
Executive Director, Baltimore County Department of Economic Development
You see BD’s blue and orange logo when you travel north on I-83, but how many people know what the company actually does? I recently joined County Executive Kamenetz on a visit to BD in Sparks – headquarters of its Diagnostics Systems unit – to find out more about one of the region’s largest life sciences employers.
Tom Polen, President of BD Diagnostics - Diagnostic Systems, spends a lot of time on the road, whether the road is in China, Canada or BD’s corporate headquarters in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Tom briefed us on BD’s extensive Baltimore County operations.
BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) is a Fortune 500 company—No. 316 to be exact. With more than 1,600 employees in Baltimore County, BD’s Diagnostics Systems unit develops, manufactures and sells advanced medical devices that help diagnose infectious diseases and cancers. BD has six locations in Sparks and Cockeysville in more than one million square feet of space – about the size of White Marsh mall if you put all the buildings together. BD products are designed, built and shipped from Baltimore County to hospitals, medical offices and pharmaceutical companies around the world.
At BD labs in Sparks, biomedical scientists have developed new software and instruments to more accurately and quickly identify which type of infection a patient has and which drug will be most effective to fight it. These extensive research and development operations will lead to the discovery of new diagnostic tools to improve people’s health and cut health care costs.
BD’s plant in Cockeysville operates 24/7 and manufactures millions (Or something less specific than the actual quantity) of petri dishes per year. Petri dishes are used in labs to grow cultures that help detect and diagnose diseases and develop new drugs.
BD’s Diagnostic Systems unit was born out of four Baltimore biotech start-up companies that commercialized research from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. Today, the ideas, innovation and science born in Baltimore universities are key elements of BD, one of Baltimore County and Maryland’s largest employers and a worldwide leader in combating disease.