open science

#ScienceHack with Connor Dickie, Synbiota


Connor Dickie, CEO, Synbiota Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:13) Has open science really taken off in the life sciences?

Listen (4:58) #ScienceHack

Listen (5:50) A pricey compound

Listen (5:17) How does it scale?

In March of this year at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin Texas, an open science website took home the first prize in the Innovative Technologies category.

Synbiota is an online platform of tools for researchers anywhere in the world to collaborate on synthetic biology projects. This year the platform has launched a new project called #ScienceHack. Here to tell us about the project is Synbiota’s CEO and co-founder, Connor Dickie.

Podcast Sponsor: Integrated DNA Technologies - providing custom double-stranded gBlocks Gene Fragments of up to 2 kb, for easy gene construction.

Big Pharma Does Some Farming: Pearl Huang, GSK


Pearl Huang, VP, Global Head of DPAc, GSK Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:28) What is the Discovery Fast Track Challenge?

Listen (4:25) How do the reseachers benefit if they are chosen?

Listen (6:55) How does the program fit into the overall vision at GSK?

As with the big studios in the movie industry, big pharma is more and more looking to outside sources for innovation, for new products. They are making early deals with venture capitalists on promising startups. J & J has their innovation centers and incubators. Bayer has recently begun its CoLaborator.

Today we talk to Pearl Huang, VP of GSK’s Partnership with Academia Team, about their Discovery Fast Track Challenge. This is a yearly competition where researchers from North America and Europe can submit their work and win the chance to collaborate with GSK. Finalists get to tour GSK’s R & D facility and have access to an impressive screening library.

Pearl explains the details of the competition in today’s program.

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."

Biotech Superstar Seeks to Foster Collaboration in the SF Bay Area

Guest: Una Ryan, PhD, Chair, Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative

Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

1:43 Returning to childhood mission

9:14 Improving the image of big pharma

10:54 Goals of Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative

21:50 Investing in women led companies

24:59 You need at least two women on the board

27:14 Honored by the Queen of England

When we first saw Una Ryan on an investor panel at last year's SynBioBeta, she immediately won us over with her unpretentious, even childlike simplicity combined with a powerful ease developed from years of experience. This life science superstar has done it all, from being researcher chipping away at tenure, to founding companies, to sitting on many organizational boards, including chair of MassBio for a decade.

In today's interview Una (pronounced Yu-na) talks about returning to the dream of her five year old self. As a girl in London she was inspired to a kind of "missionary zeal" by a television program about a man with leprosy. At that moment she decided that she wanted to cure the world of "these dread diseases."

After moving to San Francisco a year ago, Una has led the formation of the Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative (BAB), a non-profit with the aim of bringing together the life science crowd. The goal of BAB is now threefold: first, to create a single IRB that various institutions can adopt to speed up the process of clinical trials; second, to bring researchers and entrepreneurs together with experienced industry leaders; and third to focus on what happens to the startup after graduation from the incubator.

"I'm not a big believer in the fish model where you throw a lot of eggs in the sea and one or two survive," she says, likening the care of startups to natural reproduction. "I like the mammal model where you nurture people to adulthood."

As an investor, Una is keen on synthetic biology. The challenge with this sector is to come up with products that are useful to people, she says.

"I think the public doesn't want to hear about all the clever technology. They want to know what's useful, friendly, and cheap that they can use."

The conversation can go anywhere with Una, as she draws on such breadth of experience. We keep this interview under thirty minutes, but look forward to having her back to the program for more.

Podcast brought to you by: Your company name here. - Promote your organization by aligning it with the great content.

4 Reasons Clinical Trials Don't Work: Marty Tenenbaum, Cancer Commons


Marty Tenenbaum, Founder, Cancer Commons

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:28) Why Cancer Commons?

Listen (6:07) Four reasons why clinical trials don't work

Listen (6:57) How do we go about changing the system?

Listen (4:35) What do you mean by Rapid Learning Community?

Listen (4:48) What obstacles do Cancer Commons partners face in sharing more data?

Listen (1:24) The difference between a cancer researcher and a patient is a diagnosis

"At the end of the day, we're all patients," says Marty Tenenbaum, Founder of Cancer Commons, in today's interview.

Marty is a tough cookie. He's a survivor of metastatic melanoma--not a fun one--and he's been getting traction around the biomedical research industry.

Here's the thing. Marty's survival was really by chance.

Cancer has been called the "great equalizer," and Marty is fond of saying that "the only difference between a cancer researcher and a cancer patient is a diagnosis." He is on a mission to work with researchers, doctors, policy experts, and patients to improve the system so that success is not just an accident.

But how does one who is not a researcher or leader in the industry go about that? Marty sees the best opportunity in changing the way clinical trials work. In today's interview, he lays out four reasons why the current system fails patients. And he offers his ideas to fix it.

This is where Cancer Commons comes in. Already a successful web entrepreneur, Marty is attempting to break down the walls between trials and patient care with a new "clearing house" for cancer patients. Ideally, he sees a system that would allow for a "trial of one"--where a patient in treatment has access to an experimental therapy. The goal would be to focus on the patient's own recovery and not only some future patient. Important also would be that much more of the patient's data would be available to expedite research and medical therapy.

A good deal of the funding for Cancer Commons has come from Marty's own pockets. He did well as an entrepreneur. And then he survived a tough cancer. He's now devoting all his resources to creating a new paradigm that puts the patient not at the end, but at the beginning of the process,so that many more patients will have the chance he did.

Podcast brought to you by: BioConference Live's "Cancer: Research, Discovery and Therapeutics" - taking place online Oct 16-17, 2013. Register for free now.

Is PR Pharma's Biggest Challenge? with John LaMattina

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."


John LaMattina, PhD, Former Head of Research, Pfizer

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (3:36) Pharma's PR challenge

Listen (5:48) When did public perception change for the worse?

Listen (2:27) Astronauts are heroes, why not drug chemists?

Listen (5:06) What can the industry do about poor image?

Listen (10:51) Open data a win-win

Listen (8:21) Raising the bar means more failures

If astronauts can be heroes, asks John LaMattina, former head of R & D at Pfizer, why not drug chemists? It's a great question.

In the last ten years, big pharma companies have gone from being some of the most respected public companies in the U.S. to some of the public's least favorite. What happened? Since retiring from Pfizer in 2007, John has been focused on this question and what can be done to improve the image of the drug industry. He has authored two books, first, Drug Truths: Dispelling the Myths of R & D, and his more recent Devalued and Detrusted: Can the Pharmaceutical Industry Restore Its Broken Image?

When industry veterans retire, it can be good for the industry. They are free to talk about its problems. John says the industry must become more open and transparent. And he's eager to tell the stories of the industry's heroes.

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."

A Setback for Open Science?

"Open Science" took a real walloping this week. First, Gina Kolata from the New York Times published an article exposing the increasingly predatory nature of open access journals. Then, Evegeny Mosorov, author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, published an essay over at The Baffler that quite deconstructs the "open source" movement along with the guy who created it, conference producer Tim O Reilly. And Tuesday, we heard that Mendeley, a portal that opens up access to scientific research is to be bought out by the publishing giant, Reed Elsevier for about $70 million, a move that one commenter compared to "Haliburton buying Greenpeace."

I was introduced to the open science movement by Joseph Jackson, organizer of the Open Science Summit. My first question was how would business models even function in an environment of giving things away for free. I’ve always been leary of such offers. Everything comes at a price. “It’s free as in freedom, not free beer,” Joseph was quick to tell me at a the conference pre-reception held at his DIY bio lab in Sunnyvale where he handed out . . . . free beer.

Who can argue with “open?” It’s such a great term, as Mosorov argues in his essay. It's a big tent that can house a large crowd. Going to Jackson’s conferences, I’ve got to know that crowd a bit. The open access movement seems to be at the core of open science, and is certainly not without its appeal. What scientist doesn’t want free access to all the research that exists in a field? In our first video interview, we had Jonathan Eisen to the program just after he won the Benjamin Franklin award for open science. He’s the managing editor of one of the PLoS journals and brother to the co-foudner of the pioneering open access publication, Michael Eisen. When we interviewed Jonathan, he’d just uploaded all his dad’s research papers to Mendeley. Why? So anyone could read them. And for free. To the Eisen brothers, "paywall" is an evil term.

Clinical Trials Go Open Source with Marc Desgrousilliers, Clinovo

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based marketplace for research services. With Assay Depot, you can easily find the perfect research service provider and manage your project from anywhere in the world.


Marc Desgrousilliers, CTO, Clinovo Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

1:26 Why does open source make sense for clinical trial software?

7:47 What are the objections to adopting open source?

11:12 Will adoption speed up clinical trials?

14:15 Is this the future?

18:16 Do FDA regulations pose special challenges?

22:04 BONUS: Swimming with sharks, literally

We've been tracking the open science movement here at Mendelspod with shows on open access publishing, platforms for collaboration and sharing data, and genome sharing for research. But what about open source software? Does this trend so strong in the IT world translate over to the life sciences. Marc Desgrousilliers, CTO of Clinovo says yes. Marc comes from the world of IT, spending several years at Microsoft where he led the development of Windows' network management. Marc is passionate about open source and the benefits that come from using software that is developed by the larger community. First of all the software has no licensing fees. (Clinovo makes their money on services that go along with the software.) Users are not dependent upon one software vendor. In addition, Marc points out, when software is designed by a large community free of charge, the user/designer volunteers tend to me very passionate about upgrades and development of the software. Are there special issues related to FDA regulation for open source software? Marc tells of his experience with the Clinovo software and of the validation they provide.

The Online Conference for the Life Sciences: A Preview

Greg Cruikshank, President, BioConferenceLive Bio and Contact Info

Steve Shiflett, Technical Product Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:10) Highlights of upcoming BCL Fall 2012

Listen (5:17) A run-down on the all new Labroots

Listen (4:15) Steve Shiflett of Thermo talks of exhibiting

For the 4th year in a row Bioconference Live has been producing virtual conferences for clinical diagnostics and the life sciences.. They put on three shows each year and this week is the Life Sciences conference Sept 12 and 13th. The conferences are free and are growing in number of speakers and audience. There’s a virtual exhibit hall where you can interact with various vendors. We have the founder of Bioconference Live, Greg Cruikshank on the line to tell us a bit about the show and then we’ll be joined by one of the participating exhibitors, Thermo.

Note: Theral will be speaking at the conference on Open Science:The People Behind the Movement on Wed at 11 am PST. Register for free.

Sharing Plasmids and Insights: Joanne Kamens, Addgene

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based marketplace for research services. With Assay Depot, you can easily find the perfect research service provider and manage your project from anywhere in the world.


Joanne Kamens, Executive Director, Addgene Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:53) Addgene- a central repository for plasmids

Listen (3:05) Why don't academics want to share plasmids with industry?

Listen (2:10) Advantages of using Addgene over DNA 2.0

Listen (5:46) Women in science

Listen (11:43) Improving work-life balance

Joanne Kamens earned her Ph D in genetics at Harvard and spent 15 years in the pharma industry. She founded the Massachussets chapter of the Association for Women in Science. And she was recently made Executive Director at Addgene, a non-profit with a central repository for sharing plasmids. Joanne discusses the problems that have existed with sharing plasmids--storage, material transfer agreements, etc.--and how Addgene overcomes them. She then talks about issues of gender equity in science and we finish the discussion talking about some of the 10 Commandments of Joanne's "Work/Life Balance" workshop.

New to Mendelspod?

We advance life science research, connecting people and ideas.
Register here to receive our newsletter.

or skip signup