history of science


Spreading "Particle Fever"

On July 4 of 2012, we all watched with suspense for the outcome of one of the biggest and most expensive experiments in the history of science: the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. What many of us were not aware of at the time was that an entire generation of physicists were hanging in there to see whether their careers had been in vain.

The Real Deal: Sam Colella, Versant Ventures

Guest: Sam Colella, Co-Founder, Versant Ventures

Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

1:05 Where did it all begin for you?

4:23 What's in your magic sauce?

9:50 How did you get involved with Fluidigm?

13:30 "Build to buy" model

17:23 Is there a way to match the VC model to the long biotech cycle times?

19:59 "We're the real deal"

Today we're excited to welcome a special guest to the program for a rare and exclusive interview. Sam Colella is being honored this year at the BayBio Pantheon Awards ceremony in December for a lifetime achievement award. We sat down with him in his office at 3000 Sand Hill Rd.

Encouraged into venture capital by Tom Perkins (indeed, Colella replaced Perkins at Spectra Physics as CEO when Perkins headed to work for Hewlitt and Packard), Colella has become a legendary figure in our industry for picking winners. Talking first about his early years in the industry, Sam goes on to discuss his magic sauce for picking companies that go on to achieve success. He's a co-founder of Versant Ventures where he and his partners have come up with an innovative "build to buy" model of funding.

Sam sits on several boards of directors including Fluidigm, Veracyte, and Genomic Health. He tells how he came to invest in Fluidigm, a company who has seen their stock shoot up this past quarter. Speaking with a poker face and steely blue eyes, Colella says he still falls in love with deals and is motivated by the huge medical needs that are still unmet.

"This isn't a fad," he says. "We're not a social media. We're the real deal."

Sponsor: Today’s show is brought to you by the 10th Annual BayBio Pantheon Ceremony, presenting the 2013 DiNA Awards on December 5 in San Francisco. The Pantheon Awards Ceremony is a celebration of the contributions and achievements of the Bay Area, a moment to pause and reflect on the industry’s legacy over three decades.

Nola Masterson: "Guru of Biotech"

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Guest: Nola Masterson, Founder, Science Futures

Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

0:59 A career with many "firsts"

5:00 Some very creative financing models in the early days

9:11 Going for the "big one" and the founding of Sequenom

17:08 What excites you about the industry today?

20:10 Bioethics and the Dalai Lama

23:47 The open science conflict

26:16 Bullish about the IT industry bringing biotech into the 21st Century

28:25 A childhood dream come true

Today's show will give you some of everything. Our guest is Nola Masterson. She was the first biotech analyst on Wall Street, she's a founder of Sequenom, and she blazed trails in venture capital. Ever on the front lines, she reminisces about earlier times, but also weighs in on issues of today. What perspective has her career given her on bioethics? What does she think of the strong movement toward "open science." Never at a loss, Nola Masterson has been called "the guru of biotech."

Documenting the History of Biotech and its Relevance: Mark Jones, Life Sciences Foundation

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - Who for more than a decade has helped science-based companies build and execute innovative marketing campaigns. "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

Guests:

Mark Jones, Director of Research, Life Sciences Foundation Bio and Contact Info

Listen (7:14) Why is recording biotech history important?

Listen (11:48) Biotech history, such as that of recombinant DNA, can shed light on current ethical debates

Listen (6:04) A history of tech transfers

Listen (4:12) Can history provide insight to current gene patent case?

Biotech has been around for a while now. Some of the original pioneers of the field are getting along in years or have passed. To record and preserve the history of biotech, the Life Sciences Foundation has been established. Their website is becoming a rich, one stop source, to trace back the big achievements of the last 40-50 years with lots of videos and articles on the pioneers and major players in our field. In addition to the website, the foundation puts out a regular magazine and sponsors events such as the talk and reception at UCSF recently entitled the Centaur and the Whale and the emergence of biotech, an event devoted to remembering two early biotech companies, Chiron and Cetus.

Mark Jones is the director of research at the Life Sciences Foundation and has recently been going around the country taking down oral histories. In today's show he talks about what the history of the industry can tell us about issues of today.

Eugenics Not Just a Thing of the Past: Nathaniel Comfort and "The Science of Human Perfection"

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based Research Exchange for pharmaceutical research services.

Guest:

Nathaniel Comfort, Science Historian, Author Bio and Contact Info

Listen (3:49) A different viewpoint on genetics

Listen (7:45) Garrod and Galton, two different early visions for genetics

Listen (6:12) An uneasy relationship between medicine and eugenics

Listen (5:27) State control vs individual control

Listen (5:56) Is yours a provocative message?

Listen (1:35) Did early geneticists foresee genetics becoming such big business?

Listen (4:09) Genetics and the 2012 election

Listen (3:34) Genetics not the only tool

Most of us think of the eugenics movement as a blemish on American history. How could they think like that, we ask. But in his latest book, The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine, science historian Nathaniel Comfort talks about the ongoing current of eugenics throughout the last hundred years and more. "Genetics became medical, and medicine became genetic through eugenics," Comfort says recounting the themes of his book. Anyone who makes their livelihood in genetics will find Comfort's meticulous and well researched argument compelling. Comfort says that there are some using the word eugenics again in a positive light, and he says it's his job as historian to record it. Always the skeptic--see his blog at genotopia.scienceblog.com --Comfort urges us at the end of the book to remember that genetics is a powerful tool, but there are other tools as well in the kit.

Nathaniel also weighs in on the presidential election and Prop 37 in California requiring labeling of GMOs.

Bringing Bio Together with Europe, in Europe: BPFE 2012 with Robert Kilpatrick

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based Research Exchange for pharmaceutical research services.

Guests:

Dr. Robert Lee Kilpatrick, Co-founder of TVG Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

0:45 History and outlook of Biopartnering Future Europe (BPFE)

6:45 Face to face meetings still the number one way to get business done

13:11 Path to TVG

18:05 Biotech only interesting if it enhances life on earth

TVG Network, based in Santa Cruz, CA, has been producing the longest running bio partnering conference in Europe. This year, with the encouragement of the European Commission, the show has been renamed "Biopartnering Future Europe (BPFE)" to reference the Commission's goal of creating a knowledge-based economy in Europe. The show has also been moved this year from London to the more centrally located Brussels, Belgium, capital of the European Union. It takes place October 7-9, 2013.

Robert previews the show and explains why biotech companies want to participate. He says that "face to face meetings are still the number one way to get business done."

Joining Robert in his home garden, we ask him about his journey from history of science teacher in Cambridge, England to producing global conferences from Santa Cruz, CA.

Human Theome, Project Dick, and Other 2011 Stories You Missed with Nathaniel Comfort

Podcast Sponsor: We thank all our sponsors who have made mendelspod possible this year.

Affymetrix, Biotix, Epitomics, IDT, Ingenuity, Lab Roots, Laboratory Products Sales, Mo Bio, Science Exchange, Singulex, Traitwise

Guests:

Nathaniel Comfort, Science Historian Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:29) On being a science historian

Listen (1:41) Art, history, and science

Listen (2:05) Thalassophia

Listen (4:27) Human Theome Project

Listen (2:53) Project Dick

Listen (3:28) Nature writes like a middle-schooler

Listen (7:16) Barbara McClintock-Is there feminine science?

Listen (4:39) Horace Judson, science historian

Listen (1:45) Writing style and purpose

Listen (7:22) Science changes notion of self

Listen (7:09) Commercialization of personal genetics

Listen (3:23) Science tattoos

We have a special, at times light-hearted, show to wrap up the year.  Joining us is science historian, Nathaniel Comfort.  Dr. Comfort is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of medicine and author of The Tangled Field, a book about nobel laureate Barbara McClintock.  Nathaniel also blogs regularly but not always earnestly.  His blogs this year have gone from a eulogy written for his mentor, a renowned science historian, to some satiric pieces on the absurd  and too often believed notion that there's a gene for everything.   These blogs will provide the material for much of our interview and you can be the judge of whether Nathaniel's humorous gene is expressing.

NOTE: It’s important to acknowledge that mendelspod has been made possible through the generous support of our sponsors throughout the year. We thank all of them for their partnership. We wish them and all of you a very happy holiday.

History as a Bridge to the Future: LSF Launches Book on Genentech

Last month, while interviewing Steve Burrill, he introduced me to a new organization which he chairs, The Life Sciences Foundation (LSF). “What we want to do with the Foundation is to tell the real story of what happened,” he told me. “History and information are different. History is putting the information in a context that makes it useful in the future. Young people today don’t know who Cetus Corporation was.”

The Foundation

You Can't Google Insight: Up Close with Steve Burrill

Talk to anyone about the history of biotech, and at some point you’ll end up talking about Steven Burrill: venture capitalist, merchant banker, consultant, speaker, mentor, and teacher. On Nov 4, Burrill received the Scrip Lifetime Achievement Award in London's Grosvenor House.

“There’s an incredible number of people and companies who really owe their existence and success to Steve,” says colleague Fred Dorey, special council at the law firm, Cooley Godward Kronish.




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