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:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-04-2011
Liberty Media Corp. chairman and Johns Hopkins alumnus John C. Malone has given the university’s Whiting School of Engineering $30 million for a building where researchers will collaborate with colleagues from other Johns Hopkins divisions to learn to tailor therapies for individual patients and devise systems-based approaches to some of society’s biggest problems.
The gift, the largest ever to the Whiting School, will fund construction of a 56,000-square-foot research building on the university’s Homewood campus.
Malone Hall will house two planned interdisciplinary research efforts in which the Whiting School will have a leadership role: It will be the home of the Systems Institute and the Homewood base for Johns Hopkins’ emerging initiative in individualized health.
The initiative in individualized health is expected to bring together engineers, life scientists and medical researchers from across Johns Hopkins. They will focus on bringing information science into the practice of medicine, with an initial emphasis on cancer, in a manner that will allow an unprecedented focus on treatment designed for the individual patient. The approach grows out of the recognition that genetic and epigenetic differences among patients explain, at least in part, why traditionally developed drugs help some people and not others.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-13-2010
Talk about armchair politics! In a tax-saving initiative dubbed “YouCut,” Republican Majority Leader-Elect Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Nebraska congressman Adrian Smith invite the public to identify National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that are wasteful or that they feel are not a good use of taxpayer dollars. The YouCut webpage includes a link to a list of NSF funded project and an online form that visitors can fill out with “wasteful” grant ID numbers.
The good news for the American Biotechnologist community is that congressman Smith’s message is clearly not directed at the biological sciences which he refers to as “worthy research in the hard sciences.” However, those engaged in social science or psychology beware! The House is out to get you!
In a thought provoking blog post, NewScientist points out that some of the “wasteful” grants cited by congressman Smith (such as $750,000 to develop computer models to analyze the on-field contributions of soccer players) are actually rooted in “hard science” and will become unfortunate casualties of this battle against wasteful spending.
While most of us would agree that scientists should be given the intellectual freedom to pursue their research as they see fit, I would argue that not all research projects are worthy of being funded by public tax dollars. Congress is now opening up the floor for public input into the matter. If you do vote, please be sure to do your homework and vote responsibly. Also, be sure to let us know which grants you’ve voted against or if there are any non-NSF funded research projects that you believe should never receive public funding.
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-22-2010
Research America is an advocacy group that aims to increase funding to and awareness of medical research throughout the country. Some of their activities include annual polls on Americans’ perception of health care and scientific research funding, media kits for reporting on health care and research and general coverage of medical research policy issues.
According to Mary Woolley, President and CEO of Research America, polls conducted by the organization show that although Americans value medical research they are generally unaware of progress in the field which is reflected in the fact that most “cannot name a living scientist.” The conflict between what Americans value as important and what they actually know about medical research helped inspire the Rock Stars of Science campaign. The event paired musical celebrities with scientific geniuses in an event that was a true tribute to the scientific community.
In the clip below Joe Perry of Aerosmith performs a musical tribute to Congressional champions of research with National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, on guitar, Harvard neuroscientist Rudy Tanzi, PhD, on harmonica, Joe Ryan, PhD of the National Human Genome Research Institute on drums and David Hull of the Joe Perry Project on bass. The video was unveiled at a Capitol Hill event celebrating Rock Stars of Science, a campaign launched by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation.
A great day out of the lab indeed!
Video credit: David Carlin King, thecarlincompany.com
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-05-2010
It looks like the life science sector continued to attract the attention of investors throughout the second quarter of 2010.
According to a recently released report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), the 3 month period ending in June 2010 saw a 52% increase in dollars and 36% increase in the number of venture capital deals within the life sciences/biotechnology community compared to Q1-2010. The VC cash flow included $2.1 billion invested in 234 deals within the life sciences sector in Q2-2010. This represents a 24% increase in deal volume from the second quarter of 2009. Furthermore, the growth rate of investment in early stage companies significantly outpaced that of late-stage companies by 29% on a quarter-over-quarter basis.
PWC’s data should be well received by the life sciences industry as it points towards continued growth in a sector that has been on the rise since 2001 (as reported in the Battelle report published earlier this year).
Several months ago, Genomeweb extolled the virtues of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRC), pointing out that it injected billions of dollars into the biosciences sector with over $1 billion dollars of invested into Genomics research alone. However, the authors supposed that since the heavy investment of funds needed to be spent over a short period of time, it may have created a bubble effect which is in danger of bursting over the next couple of years. Certainly, the PWC report does not seem to support that supposition.
So what does all of this mean for your average bench scientist? Well, as my industrial twitter friend @jadedbybiotech mentioned several weeks back, (and I will paraphrase quite liberally), if you’re into research for the money you’re better off in industry than academia. Moreover, since early-stage companies are more likely to hire academic scientists than their late-stage counterparts, the VCs favorable outlook towards early-stage biotech companies should certainly be encouraging.