In the news

Dr. Reddy’s Is Developing Eight More Biotech Drugs
– India continues its foray into biotech/pharma

Stem Cell Policy Hampering Research
– NIH official speaks out against Bush’s plan

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Guy Kawasaki on Innovation

Guy Kawasaki outlines 10 steps to innovation in this terrific presentation. I’ve never had the opportunity to attend one of Guy’s talks, but judging by the video it would certainly be worth the time. Guy does a great job of telling a coherent story in an entertaining and engaging fashion.

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In the news

In line with yesterday’s theme, two articles in the Scientist discuss online opportunities for scientists:
Shouldn’t you be online?
-Editorial addresses restrained adoption of online services by scientists (an issue I raised in my post yesterday.)

Better work through the network
-Using LinkedIn to expand your network.

Take aim…
– This month’s Economist includes a brief overview of the intrinsic difficulties developing cancer therapies.

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Nature Releases Scintilla

Nature Publishing Group has created a science aggregator called Scintilla. The goal of Scintilla is to bring personalization to science.

Here’s a description from Nature’s blog Nascent-

Scintilla is an aggregator—of science weblogs, news stories and publication databases—but it works in a slightly different way from the existing online RSS readers that cover the whole internet. For a start, the sources are manually selected, and only related to science, so there shouldn’t be any trouble with spam when searching for stories. Also there’s no ‘unread items’ count, so you don’t have to feel like you have lots of reading to catch up on. Browse the site, add sources to your collection, and visit your ‘Read’ page on Scintilla whenever you’re looking for some juicy science stories to read. Read the rest of this entry »

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Should US Scientists Take a Protectionist Stance On H1-B Visas?

A recent Science article highlights the impact increasing the number of H1-B visas could have on US scientists. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, and more recently Genentech have advocated for increasing the H1-B visa cap. Bill Gates has proposed that the cap be abolished. Increasing the cap is, of course, in the corporation’s best interests as such action will increase the prospective employment pool, and likely depress wages.

I don’t have a problem with companies lobbying for increases in the H1-B visa cap (that currently stands at 65,000.) Incredibly, the cap was reached on the very first day that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting visa applications for 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the news

Betting on biofuels
McKinsey Quarterly article outlines strategies for competitiveness in the biofuel industry.

Scientists apply for first patent on synthetic life form
– Controversial issue that will certainly generate much discourse over the next several years.

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Links

Relevant stories from around the web-

- Biologists make skin cells work like stem cells
Potentially huge step for regenerative medicine.

- Venture fund seeks out cost cutters in health care.

- Is health care making you better–or dead?
Interview with Regina Herzlinger (author of Who Killed Health Care?). Long, but provides great insight into the problems with the US health care system.

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Big Pharma Innovation Woes Continue

Not surprisingly (especially to those of you that are scientists), the gap between R&D investment and return on investment (in the form of approved therapeutics) continues to grow.

I am well aware of the difficulties inherent in drug discovery and development, but I remain amazed that the massive efforts and resources put forth by thousands of very intelligent people continue to yield subpar results. Is it possible that expectations are too high? Perhaps the much more favorable ratio of investment to approved NME’s in the 90’s was a result of “low hanging fruit”? Is the current return on investment (or lack thereof) sustainable? If not, what is the breaking point?

I suppose this is good news if you own equity in a small biotech and hope to cash out by acquisition!

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How to Foster Science Entrepreneurship (or Bioentrepreneurship)

A few months ago I was invited to attend a workshop hosted by the Council of Graduate Schools to discuss the role of entrepreneurship in graduate education. The goal of the workshop was to produce a set of recommendations for the advancement of entrepreneurship education at the graduate level. Much of the discussion focused on methods to incorporate entrepreneurship training into science and engineering graduate programs. Overall, there was great discussion amongst the 40 or so attendees (from universities across the country) and I’m anxious to read the resulting report that will be disseminated soon.

I believe there are 3 critical barriers that must be overcome to successfully foster entrepreneurship in science graduate programs:

1) Academic culture

2) Structure of graduate programs

3) Access to resources

I will address each of these issues in the coming weeks.

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Open Source Biotechnology: CAMBIA-BiOS

There is an interesting article ($) in Innovations by Richard Jefferson on his efforts to promote open source innovation in biotechnology. He believes the rate and direction of progress of biology is limited by access to tools (techniques). Richard has established the CAMBIA-BiOS program to apply aspects of the open source software model to biotechnology.

The prospect of open source biology is very intriguing, but fraught with complexities. I plan to post more on the biotech open source movement in the future.

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