Posts Tagged ‘NIH’

The business of medicine – and the band played on…

August 31, 2014

Its official, I am starting to be concerned about the spread of Ebola to the developed world.  Now, let me make this clear, I doubt we would have a major epidemic in a country like the US.  But with the sheer number of cases reported and the fact that the epidemic is gaining steam makes the possibility of cases developing in the developed  world more likely.  The WHO just released a very grim prognosis regarding the course of the epidemic in Africa and given the way things are going, I see why they are concerned.

Ebola outbreak spreading and showing no signs of peaking…

Yesterday, I  read an article in The Washington Post article about Ebola spreading to Senegal the following points were particularly worrying:

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The business of medicine…

August 24, 2014

In my previous blog I discussed the business of science  and why science itself is not,  and should never be, considered a business.  Today, as we see the widening Ebola epidemic spreading throughout West Africa I find myself thinking the same thing about medicine.

Medicine is not a business…

As in science,  there are businesses surrounding medicine.  Big pharma and biotech being far from the least among them.  As  I pointed out before, the science of pharma and biotech must not mix with the business unless you want to be buying hi-tech snake oil when you go to the pharmacy.

But there is another component here, often overlooked and currently underfunded even in developed nations:  the role of a strong public health program and the public funding for basic research.

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Lessons From Game of Thrones: Invention & Innovation Requires Public Commitment

July 16, 2014

In the very first episode of a Game of Thrones,  10-year-old  Branden Stark had an unfortunate “accident”. He was pushed from a high window and nearly died. Although he survived, he was paralyzed from the waist down.  A few episodes later,  the decidedly book-smart and wealthy  Lord Tyrion Lannister offered Bran a gift.  He designed  a special saddle so Bran could ride horseback once again.

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Invention often happens that way.  Someone with the technological know-how and the money, sees a need and acts to fill that need.  This is but one of the more minor routes to discovery and invention.  It is simple, direct, but far from the most likely.  For the most part, big gains and earth changing discoveries are generally not sprints; they are marathons.

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Consequences of the Sequester – an entire generation of American scientists could be lost…

September 8, 2013

Traditionally elections SHOULD have consequences, but in this case they did not. Obama’s strong victory in 2012 did nothing to stop  the draconian sequester cuts.   As far as the sequester goes, 2012 did nothing to stop the carnage.  But actions (or inaction in this case) always has consequences and we are seeing them now.

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Innovation with a little “i” is booming but we probably need bigger government for big problems…

June 8, 2013

“Yes! There’s an app for that!”  Too bad if its an app for trying to find  single men between the ages of 40 -50 in a 3 block radius when what you really need is an app for finding affordable health insurance after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer.  The dichotomy between the apparent collapse of real deal innovation and the explosion of useless “fluff” apps was brought to vivid life by C.Z. Nnaemeka  in the “The Unexotic Underclass” in the MIT Entrepreneurship Review.  It is a great article worth the read and don’t forget the comment thread.

Truth be told, the author was preaching to the choir as far as I was concerned.  I mentioned this in previous blogs about little “i” innovation outpacing big “I” innovation at an alarming pace.  America has big yawning problems with a dearth of solutions, yet there is app after app, and product after product for the trivial and irrelevant.  We have iPhones, iPhone apps, iPads, and even iShares to help you make a killing in the market.  We have apps to find the perfect restaurant, apps for train schedules.  VC flows freely into these ventures while the purse strings remain tightly closed for the big issues such as climate change, income inequality, or our apparent inability to keep Americas roads and bridges from collapsing.

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The Innovation Squeeze…and Bill Maher’s New Rules…

May 13, 2013

Where is the American innovation engine?   Right now, this great engine of growth reminds me of  a sputtering car engine, struggling to turn over when the battery is low in sub-freezing temperatures.

What’s worse, we need innovation now, more than ever.  Jobs are scarce, jobs that actually pay the rent or mortgage are even scarcer.   If we want to see the creation of jobs that have some meat and bones on them, we should be doing everything to get that innovation engine chugging along like it used to.  As technology and off-shoring swallows jobs whole into an abyss we count on the innovation engine to create the next generation of jobs.   We need the next internet, the next PC, the next wonder drug, the next something…. that will put people back to work.

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The Sequester is no way to enhance innovation…or the economy…

March 4, 2013

We are now entering the sixth year of a depression.  Personally, I  stopped calling it the Great Recession about six months ago because I believe in calling things what they are.    And now, those who work in STEM fields have yet another black swan to deal with – “The Great Sequester”.

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