Join the Conversation: Biotech 101 for Non-Scientists

allie4By Allie Rocovich, Communications Assistant at MassBio/MassBioEd. View her LinkedIn page here.

What’s more intimidating than entering a conversation with people that are talking about something you know nothing about? I can’t think of anything. And our career is the biggest ‘conversation’ we are going to take part in throughout our lives. So why not be ready, know the jargon, and be able to take part like we all want to, for the sake of our self-esteem, knowledge, and overall career satisfaction?

It’s scary, entering a new job, especially if you’re making a career move into an industry you aren’t schooled in. Biotech is hard. Not only is the actual content – the science – difficult, but there are so many stakeholders in the industry that knowing the science isn’t even all there is to it. That’s where we, the finance, business, marketing, operations, economics, communications, policy, government, management, IT, sales, public relations and human resources professionals find ourselves useful, but we’re hesitant. We want in on the conversation, but don’t speak the language.

Biotech 101 is our in. It’s the dictionary, the introductory biology class we never took, the shameless question-and-answer. Not to mention it’s totally up-to-date, and there are ALWAYS new things happening in the life sciences, it’s the nature of the industry. So when I, a Communications Assistant at MassBio, took Biotech 101, I got to learn about the latest topic in and outside of the office: Ebola.

Biotech 101 is designed to accommodate open discussion and questions, and because most of the people gathered for Biotech 101 were heavily social and relationship-driven professionals, there was great discussion. This helped break down the conversation barrier that a lack of science background can create in the lab, office, or wherever you spend your 9-5. It’s comfortable. Donald Kirsch, bio/pharmaceutical industry consultant and Harvard Extension School professor, lectured us while prompting us with questions that related directly to our respective roles. We got our questions answered (finally!).

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Welcome New Member

wilsonWilson Therapeutics AB is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing novel treatments for Wilson Disease, a rare genetic disease that affects approximately 1 in 15,000. Wilson Therapeutics was founded in 2012 and funded by HealthCap, one of the leading European life science venture capital funds. Leading investors in the company also include Abingworth and MVM Life Science Partners. Wilson Therapeutics’ lead compound, WTX101, is the proprietary bis-choline salt of tetrathiomolybdate. Tetrathiomolybdate is a novel de-coppering agent – meaning it reduces the body’s level of copper – with high affinity and selectivity for copper. Link

Top 5 News 11/7/14 – 11/14/14

Top 5 logo1) Blueprint gets $50M to bring first two drugs to clinical testsBoston Business Journal, November 12, 2014
Blueprint Medicines has said for some time that it plans to start testing two of its potential drugs in humans next year. Today, the Cambridge biotech got $50 million to pay for those tests. The company, launched by Third Rock Ventures three years ago with a library of potential drugs and a computer-based approach to help figure out which ones might work against certain cancers, said the Series C round comes from a slew of old and new investors. Link

2) State will hand out $2M to fledgling biotech firmsBoston Herald, November 7, 2014
A quasi-public state agency will give out up to $2 million to early stage life sciences companies, a move that industry insiders say will help fill a gap in funding for promising companies. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will award up to $200,000 each to early stage companies selected by a panel of experts. Link

3) From the line of fire to life sciences: Helping veterans find a career pathBoston Globe, November 11, 2014
Today, MVP — which stands for MedTech & BioTech Veterans Program — has organized close to a dozen boot camps for more than 500 veterans across the country. MVP also has recruited more than 30 life-sciences companies to serve as sponsors, providing everything from financial support to internships to mentors. The goal: Hire 5,000 veterans into the life sciences by 2018. Link

4) State to promote drug development in space through ‘Galactic Grant Competition’ - Boston Business Journal, November 13, 2014
The state’s agency that promotes life science firms today announced an opportunity for biotechs to develop drugs in space. Gov. Deval Patrick announced the so-called “Galactic Grant Competition” at the Boston Museum of Science. The competition is supported by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, a Florida-based nonprofit that promotes and manages the use of the International Space Station for experiments that could develop innovative new technology. Link

5) AbbVie, Enanta drug shows potential in hep C genotype 4 patientsReuters, November 11, 2014
AbbVie Inc said its experimental drug that treats genotype 4 hepatitis C showed high response rates in a mid-stage study in patients who have been considered difficult to treat. The company is developing the drug with Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc. AbbVie said on Tuesday 100 percent of the patients who were given the drug and had failed previous treatment showed high response rates at 12 weeks after the treatment. Link

Welcome New Members

duke 3As the world’s largest academic research organization (ARO), the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) is dedicated to advancing clinical research through innovation, education, sharing knowledge, designing scientifically rigorous studies, and conducting operationally efficient clinical trials across multiple therapeutic areas. We conduct amazing clinical research, from the smallest pilot study to global megatrials. Our experience covers all phases of evaluation, from initial, first in human and proof-of-concept studies to multinational, late-phase trials, postapproval registries, and outcomes studies. Link

Mount-Ida-College-11CC63F5Mount Ida College blends career-relevant education with broad-based learning in the arts, sciences and humanities to prepare students to succeed in a changing world. Link

trimetisLogoTriMetis Life Sciences provides GLP and non-GLP laboratory services, biospecimens and preclinical consultation for medical device, pharmaceutical, biotech companies, and academic institutions. Whether your organization is seeking to satisfy its mission-critical objectives, meet regulatory requirements, or expand its R&D capabilities through a facility lease, you can rely on TriMetis for leading-edge capabilities. Link

Top 5 News 11/1/14 – 11/7/14

Top 5 logo1) With change of governors, a shift in approach to the economyBoston Globe, November 7, 2014
The election of Charlie Baker probably means a shift in the state’s approach to the economy after eight years with a governor who viewed and used government as a catalyst for economic growth. Baker is likely to return to the philosophy and policies of his Republican predecessors, who believed that the best way for government to boost jobs and the economy is to largely get out of the way. That approach is in sharp contrast to that of Governor Deval Patrick, who targeted industries that his administration viewed as promising, such as biotechnology and clean energy, and supported them with taxpayer money and other initiatives. Link

2) Boston Children’s “Innovation Tank” yields two first-place winners, Boston Business Journal, November 2, 2014
Multimillionaire and entrepreneur Daymond John sat listening to innovators making impassioned pleas about their products, asking them questions about sales data and evidence of proof of concept.Yet instead of a panel with four other millionaires, he sat with Boston innovators and venture capitalists, and instead of being hosted by ABC, the event was held by the Boston Children’s Hospital Global Pediatric Innovation Summit. Link

3) Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) Strikes Deal Worth $444 Million With Galecto BiotechBioSpace, November 3, 2014
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) will acquire Danish firm Galecto Biotech for $444 million in a bid to gain worldwide rights to its lead asset, pulmonary fibrosis drug TD139, the two companies said in a statement Monday. The new deal will consist of total aggregate payments which have the potential to reach $444 million, including an option fee, an option exercise fee and built-in clinical and regulatory milestone payments. Link

4) Karyopharm settles into new home, gears up for biggest drug trial yetBoston Business Journal, November 4, 2014
Since moving to its new, larger headquarters in Newton this summer, Karyopharm Therapeutics has been readying for its largest-ever clinical trial involving blood-cancer patients. And next month, investors will get a preview of the results from an earlier trial. Link

5) New Massachusetts Life Sciences Center grant program to fund milestone achievement by early-stage companiesMassBio, November 7, 2014
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced the launch of a new grant program today at MassMEDIC’s MedTech Showcase.  The Life Sciences Milestone Achievement Program (MAP) will award early-stage life sciences companies in Massachusetts with funding necessary to perform and complete essential value-creating milestones. Link