Friday, June 19, 2009

Catching Up: Convergence, #NEINNO, What's Next in Tech

- The sixth edition of Convergence: The Life Sciences Leaders Forum (an event I help organize) happened last week. Oddly, attendance was up from 2008. Not sure how to explain that. Featured speakers included Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer, Sirtris founder Christoph Westphal, Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker, Beth Israel CEO Paul Levy, and cutting edge researchers David Altshuler from the Broad and David Eisenberg from Harvard. Xconomy had some coverage, as did Mass High Tech, and there was a pretty healthy stream of tweets, too.

(Termeer's appearance was followed by a great Sunday Globe story by Stephen Heuser, and then some unfortunate company news on Tuesday, as Genzyme was forced to shut down its Allston plant for decontamination.)

For the first time, we're sharing audio from the event. You can either download the MP3s for later listening, or just click play.

    - Christoph Westphal / Henri Termeer session on "The Past, Present & Future of Genzyme." (MP3 file.)

    - Alnylam CEO John Maraganore moderates a panel of executives from GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen Idec, Novartis, and Merck on "The New Logic of Partnerships, Licensing Deals, and Collaborations." (MP3 file.)

    - Stromedix CEO Michael Gilman talks to David Altshuler of the Broad Institute and David Eisenberg of Harvard Medical School's Osher Research Center about their research. (MP3 file.)

    - Jeffrey Krasner interviews Beth Israel Deaconess CEO Paul Levy and Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker about the future of the healthcare system. (MP3 file.)

- I've been psyched to see how many people have been tweeting about New England Innovation Month using the tag #neinno. This coming week wraps things up, so do help spread the word -- and try to get out to an event. (We just added a free event called PitchPub to the calendar.)

- For my part, I'll be dropping by XSITE 2009 and EurekaFest on Wednesday and Friday, and moderating/emceeing things at What's Next in Tech on Thursday evening -- which looks like it is attracting a great group of participants (listed on the registration page all the way at the bottom.)

- I'm also adding the Social Media Breakfast series to the list of regular gatherings (at right)... although I find it impossible to figure out from their site when the next one will be held (!)

(In the photo is Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer being interviewed by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals founder Christoph Westphal, at Convergence 2009.)

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Know Your Genome

Apparently the only company that will sequence your entire genome is located in Cambridge.

The cost? $350,000. (That's $150,000 more that it costs for Virgin Galactic to fly you into space.)

The company, Knome, was the focus of my Boston Globe column earlier this week. Is there any benefit, in mid-2008, to having your DNA decoded?

From the piece:

    These are the rip-roaring Wild West days for companies peddling genomic information to consumers, offering insights about the twisted nucleic acids that make us who we are - and also those trying to bring down the cost of sequencing an entire genome.

    Some believe the large-scale gathering of genetic information will remake the way healthcare is practiced and shift its focus from treating disease and chronic conditions to staving them off. Others, such as genetics researcher David Altshuler of the Broad Institute, liken it, at least in the near-term, to the recent rage in whole-body CT scanning for healthy people. Genomic analysis may identify potential problems that don't ever become real maladies, but generate all sorts of unnecessary diagnostic tests and procedures.

Here's the video -- a chat with Knome CEO Jorge Conde.

Wired has a wonderful profile of Knome founder George Church (written by Thomas Goetz) that begins...

    George Church is dyslexic, narcoleptic, and a vegan. He is married with one daughter, weighs about 210 pounds, and has worn a pioneer-style bushy beard for decades. He has elevated levels of creatine kinase in his blood, the consequence of a heart attack. He enjoys waterskiing, photography, rock climbing, and singing in his church choir. His mother's maiden name is Strong. He was born on August 28, 1954.

    If this all seems like too much information, well, blame Church himself.

Side note: Conde pronounces the name of the company, Knome, like it rhymes with "gnome." Church pronounces it "know-me." Conde says with a smile that Church must be more influential, since he hears far more people pronouncing it the Church way.

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