science and politics

August 2020 Review: Radical Shift on LDT Policy, First Pan-Cancer Liquid Biopsies, and New Alzheimer’s Test

After a long break, the world's first genomics pundits are back for the season. And they are calm and collected in the face of the strorm on Pennsylvania Ave. We're sixty days from an election. How serious should we be taking politicization of the COVID vaccine, this radical shift on LDTs at the FDA?

We also discuss some regular approvals and on rejection that sent the industry reeling with disappointment. Then it's on to Laura's, Nathan's, and Theral's picks for science of the month.

Welcome back!

Science Communication in a Post Fact World with Erik Clausen

"That’s fake news!”

We hear it all the time. And often it is said about scientific facts, for example, recent studies or evidence of global warming. Or the safeness of vaccines. But has the problem with “fake news” been that much of an issue in the life science industry?

Today we chat with Erik Clausen, a life science communications specialist at the PR and marketing firm, CG Life. Erik has been training life scientists to communicate with many kinds of audiences with many different kinds of tools, including social media, podcasts, and YouTube channels. In fact he has worked with many of the guests on this program.

So what does Erik think about the challenges for science communication in this era where the top leader in government has set an example of questioning science, questioning fact? And has the new media helped our industry better communicate science, or are things getting worse?

What Would You Do for Darwin Day?

This month a lone member of the House of Representatives from Connecticut, Jim Hines, proposed a bill to make February 12th Darwin Day.  It was totally symbolic, having as much a chance of survival as the dinosaurs after the meteorite.  For one thing, we live in America and Darwin is, of course, British.    

We think it's a great idea and to support Mr. Hines we reached out to some audience members to see how they might celebrate a Darwin Day:


“Bird hunting.  Ducks, not finches.”

-Rob from Minnetonka, Minnesota


Gene and Tonic: The Decline of Pseudoscience, An Atheist for President, and What to Do with a Sexist Reviewer

The New Republic argued in a pice entitled, "The Decline of Pseudoscience," this week that now that the so called "natural" living industry has gone mainstream, "it's days are numbered."  Surely Oprah's dumping of Dr. Oz backs this up.   But other events this week show a different story.  Matt Herper at Forbes tracked down the makers of a brain enhancement supplement who were forging articles to promote their snake oil.  And have you read up on the new Republlican presidential candidates?  One of them, a neurosurgeon, says the human brain is "too complex for anyone but God."

And finally, as a follow-up to the scandal last week, we've come up with suggestions for handling a sexist reviewer.  

Join us for another episode of Gene and Tonic, our wrap on the week's news.


Alan Mertz Sells Personalized Medicine on Capitol Hill


Alan Mertz, President, ACLA Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:28) Revolution in healthcare colliding with terrible time in the Capitol

Listen (5:54) A growing recognition of personalized medicine in Washington

Listen (6:16) Story of the recent CPT code change

Listen (4:40) Are there still labs that are not being paid for MoDx tests?

Listen (3:01) What is your message to Dx industry?

Today we begin a new series, Going the Companion Diagnostics Way. We’ll be looking at issues around reimbursement, regulation, and development of diagnostics in conjunction with a therapeutic. Talk to anyone in the world of diagnostics, and they’ll tell you the big challenge is reimbursement. And things are getting even worse. Recently Medicare has changed the way tests are reimbursed, but the change has been ineffective and left many testing labs without any reimbursement for several months this year.

Here to talk to us about the Medicare issue and about reimbursement and personalized medicine in general is Alan Mertz. He’s the president of the ACLA or American Clinical Laboratory Association who represents the nation’s leading clinical labs. This means that Alan is the salesman for molecular diagnostics on Capitol Hill. Hear in this interview Alan's summary of the Medicare debacle with new CPT codes and his message to those in the industry going forward.

Podcast brought to you by: Myraqa Clinical Research: The CRO for Point of Care and PMA Diagnostics.

Is Big Science Worth It? Debating the Brain Activity Mappping Project

The bad boy columnist for the life sciences is at it again. Bill Frezza is an unabashed libertarian venture capitalist based in Boston who pens a regular column over at Bio-IT World called the Skeptical Outsider. Though he’s invested in our industry, he’s undeterred from disparaging things the industry holds sacred, such as the War on Cancer or the Human Genome Project. He is emboldened by two major influences. First, he had some success in the IT industry and sees important lessons there for the life sciences.

Best of Mendelspod 2012

Thank you to all our 2012 sponsors and underwriters! Your support enables us to tell some great stories from the front row of a fascinating, ever unfolding industry.

Our final show of 2012 is a compilation of highlights from throughout the year. If you remember, it started off with some great buzz about sequencing. Both our series on sequencing and what to do with all the data is represented. 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki came on the program to talk about her direct to consumer approach. This year we spent time with some folks who are attempting to shake up the industry and we’ve included two of them in today’s show. Finally we end with a selection from our series, Science and the 2102 Election.

(See Guests for speakers' bios.)

Listen (2:09) Paul Billings talks up the Ion Proton from CES in Vegas

Listen (8:37) Sultan Meghji weighs in on Roche bid for Illumina and the future of genomics

Listen (3:12) Anne Wojcicki answers questions from the audience

Listen (8:28) Big Pharma's Apostle of Innovation speaks out

Listen (4:56) Bill Frezza insists that the life sciences need a Grand Awakening

Listen (2:10) Chris Mooney: if scientists are the new world rulers, they don't know it

Listen (:48) Year end note to our audience

Happy New Year! from the Mendelspod Team

Chris Mooney: More Science in Politics!

Podcast brought to you by: See your company name here. - Promote your organization by aligning it with today's latest trends.


Chris Mooney, Journalist, Author Bio and Contact Info

Listen (1:40) Can you tell our audience of geeks how to be more sexy?

Listen (5:42) Why hasn't science been an issue in this election?

Listen (1:05) US has a long history of publically funding basic science

Listen (1:49) When will we have an atheist in the White House?

Listen (12:16) Obama's liberal brain the reason he lost the first debate

Listen (3:30) If scientists are the new world rulers, they don't know it

Listen (6:20) To adapt, or not to adapt..

Chris Mooney wants to see more science in politics. Pundits who actually know something about climate change, for example. A media which doesn't resist scientific research just to sell a sound byte. His most recent of four books (the guy is only 35) is The Republican Brain: They Science of Why They Deny Science - and Reality. Chris says research shows fundamental differences between the conservative and liberal brain. These differences explain why Obama lost the first debate. Chris has been actively involved in getting science into presidential debates (see Unfortunately, this year science has been a non-issue. Until Sandy hit. Hear Chris' take on the election, on when we might see an atheist in the White House, and whether scientists are the new world rulers.

See An Election Debate about Science and Climate moderated by Chris.