By

Luke Timmerman

5
Jun
2015

Cancer is Hot, Diabetes is Not: Watch for Drug Safety and Cost Debates at ADA

The Internet was crackling this week with stories of progress against a disease that kills lots of people, and costs society billions in lost productivity. That was cancer. Don’t expect such hopeful scientific narratives this weekend, as physicians gather in Boston to discuss another common scourge—diabetes. Compared with innovation in cancer, diabetes is dullsville. This drug market is more about...
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1
Jun
2015

Big Pharma Talent Is Flocking to Biotech Startups. Nobody’s Saying ‘Are You Nuts?’

Look at some of the high-science, high-risk, venture-backed companies in biotech and you’ll see something that wasn’t so common five years ago. The management teams of these startups are often stacked with people who quit high-paid, high-powered jobs in Big Pharma. Last week, the cancer immunotherapy startup Juno Therapeutics poached a chief scientific officer, Hyam Levitsky, from Roche. Microbiome drugmaker...
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26
May
2015

Long-Term Relationships May Not Count in Many Businesses, But They Do in Biotech

Cynicism runs through just about every business, if you read the news or follow pop culture. The Netflix show “House of Cards” portrays dirty politics of Washington, D.C. A new “Entourage” movie delves into Hollywood manipulation. Prosecutors in real life last week showed traders cackling about rigging interest rates that harm millions of people, so they can sail away on...
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22
May
2015

The Genentech Alumni: Where Are They Now?

Genentech is almost 40 years old, and still has spring in its step. Through ups and downs, the company has never stopped attracting first-rate talent, and still develops people with the itch to do big things in healthcare. Last week, a trio of Genentech veterans came together to start a neuroscience company called Denali Therapeutics that raised initial financing of...
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21
May
2015

Why a Pfizer R&D Exec Joined Synlogic to Make ‘Therapeutic Synthetic Life’

One of Pfizer’s well-connected R&D leaders, Jose-Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, quit recently to run a startup with technology that’s just a little too early, a little too risky, for just about any Big Pharma company. JC, as he is commonly known, said today he has joined Cambridge, Mass.-based Synlogic as president and CEO. It’s a two-year-old company with $35 million in venture...
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15
May
2015

More than Moderna: Who’s Who in mRNA Therapeutics?

Biotech doesn’t usually make for must-see TV. It scares most people. Something must be up if a biotech company can get extended air time on television. Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna Therapeutics captured more than its share of attention this week when it succeeded Elon Musk’s Mars exploration company as the “No. 1 Disruptor” in corporate America by CNBC. Many in biotech...
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11
May
2015

How Do VCs Divvy Up Their Pay?

Venture capitalists are notorious for keeping their performance a secret. But an even bigger mystery is who has the power inside firms, and how that gets reflected in their pay. Compensation is a sign of who’s who inside a firm, and what it values. It’s frequently the thing that tears apart firms in both bad times and good. While much...
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7
May
2015

Gates Foundation VC Portfolio: Where is the Global Health Investment Going?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy, decided about five years ago that instead of just giving out grants to researchers and hoping for the best, it sometimes made more sense to invest in startups. That way, the Seattle-based foundation could put some of its $43.5 billion to work with entrepreneurs developing high-impact vaccines, diagnostics, and drugs...
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29
Apr
2015

Q&A With Illumina CEO Jay Flatley on Where Genomics Is Growing

Walk into any biomedical lab these days, and chances are you’ll see Illumina’s orange logo. Many scientists, diagnostics makers, physicians, and Wall Street analysts look upon the dominant maker of DNA sequencing machines with a mix of respect, fear, and awe. Much like Intel became the company that sparked so much of the computer revolution, Illumina has risen to prominence...
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15
Apr
2015

Who Should Biotech Pros Follow on Twitter?

Many people in biotech are still afraid of Twitter, even as it has accumulated more than 280 million users. Drug companies want to advertise to patients and doctors on social media, but they’re afraid the FDA will slap them for misleading promotions. They want to engage with investors, but they’re afraid someone (rightly or wrongly) will question their clinical trial...
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6
Apr
2015

Baseball Meets Biotech, Where Hope Springs Eternal

Baseball season is here, and I can’t wait. It’s time to draw some analogies between these two passions of mine. Plenty of writers have observed that baseball is basically a microcosm of life in all its messy glory, filled with hope and disappointment. This time of year, the old saying goes, “hope springs eternal.” Fans are optimistic, and maybe even...
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