Scientists Simplifying Science

Author

Abhinav Dey

Abhinav Dey has 21 articles published.

Meet the STEM Peers-Part 4

in ClubSciWri by

With less than two weeks to go for STEM Peers, we will catch up with our STEM peers who are traveling from as close as Worcester (MA, USA) to as far as Chennai (India).
So let’s know more about Vidhi Thakkar (who is traveling from Atlanta, GA), Parthiban Srinivasan (who is traveling from Chennai, India), Jagan Srinivasan (who is traveling from Worcester, MA) and Sutirtha Datta (who is traveling from New York, NY) and find out about their reasons of joining us for STEM Peers.

Why do I want to attend STEM Peers 2017?

Vidhi is a final year PhD student in Life sciences at The institute of biomedical sciences, Georgia State University, USA. She is planning to graduate by May 2018. She did her bachelor’s in pharmacy (B.Pharm) from India and then came to GSU right after bachelor’s to do her Master’s and PhD. She is looking to transition into career fields that will not make her stuck to a wet-lab or in front of a computer. So, she has been looking into Field application Scientist and MSL positions and trying to build her resume accordingly. Since she does not have any internship/industry experience in these fields, she wants to be proactive and look for her options right away.
She is really looking forward to connect/network with people that will give her insight into the job market and she thinks that STEMPeers will be a huge step towards helping her with her career choice.

Vidhi attended the Experimental biology 2017 conference in Chicago which helped her weigh out her career choices after PhD. The conference had many career development seminars and workshops. It helped her to choose her ideal career and she explored the many myths that surround career options for PhD’s. Job hunting by Bill Lindstaedt and Beyond the bench by Joe Tringali stood out for her. As she always mentions that such career seminars and one-on-one interactions/advice in CSG and ClubSciWri is like a world full of support outside her small world in the lab!

 

Why do I want to attend STEM Peers 2017?

Parthiban Srinivasan, An entrepreneur, businessman, film maker and a scientist. Lives in Chennai. Traveled frequently in Europe and USA. Masters and PhD from Indian Institute of Science (Chemistry to Engineering to Life Sciences and now switching over to Artificial Intelligence). Yes, my next innings will be in AI. Ground work is in progress. Past affiliations include Parthys Reverse Informatics, Jubilant Biosys, GvkBio as business unit head and as researcher at AstraZeneca, NASA Ames Research Center and Weizmann Institute of Science. As soon as I heard this meet few months ago, I planned my next USA trip to complete with STEMpeers and managed to plan that way. All of us know the industry landscape is changing. And would like to see/hear how our friends are planning for the new environment. As I took a break for the last couple of years and as I am getting back and starting from ground zero, this meeting will be a good beginning for my second innings. And in my new ecosystem, would love to see CSG to be part of it and it is already there. Other than the core pillars of CSG, I have not met other contributors of the forum. This will be a great opportunity to meet them and say “hi” to them.

 

Jagan Srinivasan: Panelist on Academic Careers

Professor Srinivasan was born and raised in India. He completed his undergraduate course work at the University of Chennai earning a BS in Zoology and Chemistry. He then moved on to his MS at Goa University completing a degree in Marine Biology and Biotechnology. Professor Srinivasan thereupon relocated to Tuebingen, Germany where he completed his Ph.D in Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. His postdoctoral research soon after sent him to Pasadena, California where he studied the evolution of behavior in C. elegans and small-molecule metabolites regulating social behaviors in C. elegans at Caltech. After his time in Pasadena, in 2012, he moved to the opposite side of the country where he now is an Assistant Professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA. While simultaneously teaching classes he also focuses on researching brain process signaling and social behaviors using the model system C. elegans.

 

Sutirtha Datta: Panelist on Science Communication and Management Careers

I completed my PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics at University of Virginia, Charlottesville.  For my post-doctoral studies, I joined the cell biology department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York. Since January 2015, I am working as a clinical coordinator at the Clinical Trials Office,  MSKCC. As a study coordinator I handled various aspects of managing a clinical trial, both therapeutic and non-therapeutic,  including patient management, data science and regulatory affairs while maintaining constant communication with  industry sponsors regarding the progress of the trials. Recently I accepted the position of a Sr. Clinical Research Associate in the same department where in addition to managing clinical trials I also play leadership roles related to designing, monitoring and correction of workflows and supervising clinical coordinators.

Click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

Meet the STEM Peers- Part 3

in ClubSciWri by

 

Ragoo Raghunathan: Panelist on Careers in Business of Science

Ragoo is passionate about science and the arts. Hailing from Mysore, he got his Ph.D in Animal Sciences (neuroscience focus) from University of Hyderabad. His studies focused on studying ssDNA-binding proteins in rat brain followed by a brief neuroscience postdoc at Wesleyan Univ in CT. Here he identified and characterized isoforms of a CNS-enriched striatum enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase in rodents – which later was shown by other investigators to have important roles in various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Schizophrenia, ischemia, Huntington’s Chorea, alcohol abuse and stress disorders.

Following this Ragoo continued an extended postdoc tenure at the Dept of Genetics at Yale University where his focus was to study immune-system related genes/proteins. His first break was into a start-up biotech company (Molecular Staging Inc) as a scientist growing into a group leader role while developing sensitive assays to detect rare intracellular and cell-surface based marker. During his tenure here, he was a co-inventor of Whole Genome Amplification technology (WGA) using isothermal DNA amplification. He was part of the team that developed, validated and commercialized the technology as a kit – eventually commercialized by Qiagen in 2004 as Repli-G.

This is when Ragoo transitioned into the field as a Technology specialist where he was responsible for presenting technical seminars, training their sales and customer support team with WGA technology and eventually transitioned into a Sales Development Manager role for Advanced Technologies (WGA and RNAi). Since then Ragoo has served roles as Research Biotech Consultant, Field Application Specialist, Business Development Executive and Head of Business Development at companies such as Sigma Aldrich (currently Sigma Millipore), Horizon Discovery Ltd and Metabolon Inc.

Currently Ragoo serves as Business Development Executive (northeast US) for Metabolon and is responsible for multi-million dollar revenue for the company annually. He has a diploma in acting from University of Hyderabad, is an entrepreneur at heart and in his free time can be found advising the commercialization of 2 start-up biotech companies in the Greater Boston area, runs his own franchise of Little Medical School, Boston and plays a ‘bad-guy’ in a Boston-based web serial called Captive. He is also on the Executive Board of the local Indian Society of Worcester, enjoys coaching and mentoring young scientists and entrepreneurs. He loves traveling, drawing & painting and lazing while watching TV when possible.

 

Want to interact with Ragoo at STEM Peers then don’t wait anymore, click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

We thank our event sponsors

 

Meet the STEM Peers-Part 2

in ClubSciWri by

 

 Why do I want to attend STEM Peers 2017?

 

Onkar Bharadwaj (Software Engineer, Cambridge, MA) says “Because this is the first annual symposium of PhDCSG. What makes PhDCSG unique? My simple reason is as follows: if someone googles “PhD student organization” or “Postdoc organization” or “PhD student social network” or “Postdoc social network”, then on the first pages of the respective search results, there are zero organizations which are grass-root, nation-wide and dynamic in nature. In my opinion, this is much more serious than it appears. PhDCSG helps fill this very void to enable peer-to-peer conversations and career advancement through sharing first-hand experiences. PhDCSG is driven by the contributions of many passionate people and apart from being a go-to forum for useful professional advice, it has been a source of optimism and social support for many of its members. I am looking forward to attend STEM Peers 2017 to gain further perspectives from the fellow peers and professionals all gathered under a single roof. I am excited to see what further possibilities of career growth it can open up for its members so that one day it appears on the very first page of the above search results.”

 

About Onkar: Onkar has a Ph.D. in EE/CS (RPI) and a M.Eng. in Telecommunication (IISc Bangalore). He currently works as Sr. Software Engineer in Akamai Technologies, Cambridge, USA. In the past, he has worked as a post-doctoral researcher at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (USA) and as a Member of Technical Staff in Computational Research Laboratories (India). His technical interests are algorithms, computer networks, machine learning and social choice.

Don’t wait anymore, click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

We thank our event sponsors

 

Meet the STEM Peers-Part 1

in ClubSciWri by

 

 Why I registered for STEM Peers?

Sayantan Chakraborty (Postdoc, NIH) says, “One of the essentials for advancing in our careers during current times is networking. Whether it’s academics, industry, entrepreneurship, science policy, IP or any associated fields wherein STEM professionals can make a mark, networking events are indispensable. STEM Peers 2017 provides me that networking platform. As an open-minded career professional, I’ll have the opportunity to not only interact with the speakers, but with the audience too. This in turn will benefit me as I’ll get to learn about various career paths, what to and what not to in order to succeed, and of course, get to know the people who are in such profession(s). STEM Peers 2017 is a venue to build a career oriented support network. Plus, looking at this event as a symbiosis, I will also be able to present myself to a diverse audience – for them to know me better.”

About Sayantan: Sayantan is an IRTA postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore. A geneticist by training, he is now exploring the realms of transcription factor dynamics in T cells using quantitative microscopy and systems biology tools. His interests extend to being the Editor-in- Chief for the online blogging journal Club SciWri and Editor for NPR Office Hours and Friends of Joe’s Big Idea. As he grows, he’s looking forward to interacting and networking with fellow science communicators and outreach managers across the globe. Additionally, he’s also volunteering as a Crisis Counsellor with the 24/7 Crisis Text Line (CTL).

Now let’s get to know our Speakers!

Melina Fan: Keynote Speaker at STEM Peers

 

Melina Fan is passionate about open science and entrepreneurship. She received her PhD from Harvard University in the lab of Dr. Bruce Spiegelman.  Following graduation, she co-founded Addgene, a nonprofit plasmid repository that facilitates research through scientific sharing. Addgene distributes over 100,000 plasmids per year and curates sequences, protocols, and other educational resources for the community. Melina is the Chief Scientific Officer and is responsible for new initiatives, including Addgene’s latest initiative to produce and distribute ready-to-use viral vectors. She loves that her job brings her in contact with scientists from around the world working on everything from cancer to biofuels.

Ambrish Roy: Panelist on Careers in Industrial Research

Ambrish Roy did his PhD with Dr. Yang Zhang at University of Michigan, where he focused on developing methods for modeling 3D structure of proteins and using them to understand their function. His work is currently implemented as part of I-TASSER server and downloadable package. There after, he joined as a post-doc in computational chemistry at Georgia Tech with Jeffrey Skolnick. Currently, he is a research scientist at Vertex, as part of Modeling and Informatics team with interest in chemical biology and application of machine learning in drug discovery.

Ana Batista: Panelist on Careers in Science Communication

Ana Batista did a PhD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and IU Cancer Center studying pediatric leukemia, and a Post-Doc at MGH working on brain tumors.  Ana’s role at Trends in Cancer is to develop the journal strategy, commission expert reviews and commentary pieces in cancer, and oversee the editorial process. As part of growing the journal outreach, Ana is also involved in the planning of conferences, marketing and sales events, and also manages graphic content.

Rajnish Kaushik: Panelist on Careers in the Business of Science

Rajnish Kaushik joined the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC, formerly CVIP) at University of Massachusetts Lowell in August 2010. Prior to joining UMass Lowell, Rajnish worked at the Office of Technology Management at UMass Medical School and in interned at the Partners Innovation office in Boston working with evaluation and marketing of new technologies and assisting with patent prosecution. Currently, he is also a member of thew Executive Advisory Board of M2D2 (Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center), an incubator for the early-stage medical device and life sciences startups. A virologist by training, Rajnish’s 15 years of research has been in the area pathogenicity of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) as well as many animal viruses. His research resulted in many scientific publications, conference presentations and one US patent. He was a recipient of amfAR research grant for HIV research. Rajnish recently received a degree in Masters of Business Administration from the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell with focus on the entrepreneurship. Prior to that, Rajnish received his M.S. in Biotechnology from University of Pune, India and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore, India.

A few words from the organizer, Ananda Ghosh (Founder, PhD CSG)

Why you might consider registering for STEM Peers 2017?

For most academic scientists, especially those who have not been exposed to life outside the lab, the realization that one has to network or attend networking events can be daunting.

I remember my first networking event in NYC, surrounded by people who were talking business, people whom I was not used to interact with, topics which were at that time tasteless.. I remember I came out of the meet dejected. I was standing at the corner of the big hall, shaken, standing aloof….. had no idea how to introduce, how to strike a conversation..this was a world which was unknown to me.

When STEM Peers was conceived, it was especially designed to help us familiarize with this world but in a much more comfortable setting. In STEM Peers you will meet participants who are like you or were like you. They can converse in your language as well as the language they have now adapted to if they have transitioned. It will be a known setting, with a known culture.

Networking can’t go better than this. It will be an event where you can meet your mentors who might be your mentors for life. You can meet friends who might become your friends for next 20-30 years. You might meet people who are willing to listen to your troubles and advice you or get you connected to their network which can help you.

The entire event is designed to help those who need it but dont know how to proceed in an unknown territory. If you need further help or discussion on whether you are the right person to attend the conference, mail us at stempeers@gmail.com

 

Don’t wait anymore, click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

Click “Donate” to help PhDCSG (Please include your name, email address and phone number as an additional note while making the donation)




PhD Career Support Group (PhD CSG) for STEM PhDs is a US Non-Profit 501(c)3  organization and all donations to PhDCSG are tax deductible

We thank our event sponsors

 

STEM Peers 2017

in ClubSciWri by

Mission Statement: The first annual meeting of PhD Career Support Group (PhDCSG) is a much anticipated career advancement event, bringing professionals from more than a dozen life sciences industries and academia under one roof. Learn from first-hand accounts of success from mentors, entrepreneurs, recruiters, and professionals in industry and academia to help STEM graduates successfully navigate careers in life sciences. The meeting will feature highly interactive sessions from an impressively diverse group of STEM professionals, including panel discussions, small-group lunches and one-on-one networking opportunities.

If you are a STEM graduate don’t miss out on being a part of this event!

 

STEM Peers 2017- Connecting Scientists

1st Annual Symposium on PhD Career Advancements

Organized by Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (PhD CSG)

•September 23, 2017 • Boston, MA  •

Venue: Aeronaut Brewing Company, 14 Tyler St, Somerville, MA 02143 (Driving Directions)

Symposium Co-chairs
Syam Anand (Founder Mainline IP and Secretary, PhDCSG)
Ranjith Anand (Gingko Bioworks, Boston)

Symposium Organizers
Ananda Ghosh (Founder, PhDCSG)
Abhinav Dey (Co-founder, PhDCSG)

LIST of Participants

Participant Name Institution
Abhi Dey  EmoryUniversity
Abhishek Das  Palleon Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Adwait Godbole  The Scripps Research Institute, Florida
Aishwarya Swaminathan  University of Massachusetts Medical School
Ajit Kamath  Boston University
Ambily Abraham  UMass medical school
Ambrish Roy  Vertex Pharma
Amritraj Patra  Vanderbilt University
Ana Batista  CellPress
Ananda Ghosh  New York University
Anandaroop Dasgupta  Healthcare Consulting
Anisha Zaveri  Weill Cornell Medicine
Anita Chavan  Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Anshu Malhotra  Emory University
Arun K Rooj  Brigham and Women’s Hospital, HMS
Arvind Panday  Harvard Medical School
Aswin Garimalla  Research Foundation City University of New York
Ayyappan Subbiah  Sevengenes Inc.
Banishree Saha  UMASS Amherst
Benjamin Gabriel  University of Rhode Island
Bhanvi Mishra  New York Medical College
Chakravarthi Venkata Srinivasa
 University of Alabama at Birmingham
Chang Liu  Brandeis University
Christopher Link  Eton Bioscience
Colleen Brady  CellPress
Cong Huang Massachusetts General Hispital-Harvard Medical School
Danika Khong  Scismic LLC
David Waterman  Brandeis University
Deepti Gadi  Massachusetts General Hispital-Harvard Medical School
Devasena Ponnalagu  Drexel University
Dolonchapa Chakraborty  BenchSci
Elizabeth Wu  Scismic LLC
Eugenia Rojas
Ganapathy Subramanian Sankaran
 UMass medical school
Gargi Chaudhuri  Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Gaurav Jain  New York University
Giang Nguyen  Tufts University School of Medicine
Gyanendra Kumar  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Harish Ramamurthi  Oracle
Harpreet Singh  Drexel University
Hema Chug  Boston Children’s Hospital
Ilan Shanmugam  Boston University
Ishita Banerjee  UConn Health
Jagan Srinivasan  Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Jayeeta Sen  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
K Kannan  Takeda
Kiran Gireesan  Yale University
Kirk Haltaufderhyde  University of Rhode Island
Krutika Bavishi  Weill Cornell Medical College
Kumaraguru Raja  Research Analyst
Kushagra Bansal  Harvard Medical School
Manju Mummadisetti  Rutgers University
Mishtu Dey  University of Iowa
Muthu Dhandapani  Mitra Biotech
Nandhu Mohan Sobhana  SUNY Upstate Medical University
Nandini Mani  Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Nazish Abdullah Weill Cornell Medical College
Neha Deshpande  Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary/Schepens Eye Research Inst/Dept. of Opthalmology HMS
Neha Diwanji  University of Massachusetts Medical School
Nick Deal  Stratacuity
Nikhil Gupta  New York University
Ola Soderquist  Sevengenes, Inc
Onkar Bhardwaj  Akamai Technologies
Pallab Ghosh  Harvard Medical School
Pooja Gudibanda  Cornell University
Prabuddha Dey  Rutgers University
Prajna Behera  Rutgers University
Prasad Subramaniam  Rutgers University
Praveen Anand  Harvard University
Priya  Free university and MPIKG Berlin, Germany
Radha Mukherjee  Weill Cornell Medicine
Radhika Raheja  Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Rahul Chib  Rutgers University
Rajat Kumar Pal  CUNY
Rajeshkumar Prakash  Biogen
Ranjith Anand  Gingko Bioworks
Rati Sharma  Harvard Medical School
Richa Jaiswal  Lake Pharma
Rohit Arora  Harvard University
Ruby  Tufts University
Sahana Bhattacharya  CUNY
Samik Chakraborty  Boston Children’s Hospital
Sanjay K Bharti  University of Virginia
Sankalp Gupta  New York University
Sarojini Adusumilli  Arizona Technology Enterprises
Saurabh Khasnavis  Harvard Medical School
Sayantan Chakraborty  NIH
Scott Eastman  Eli Lilly
Shiteshu Shrimal  UMass Medical School
Shreyas Gokhale  MIT
Shreyas Jadhav  Research Scientist
Shruti Gupta  New York University
Shyamtanu Datta  UT Southwestern Medical Center
Siddheshwari Advani  UMass Amherst
Simon Mongtrison  Berklee College of Music, NY
Smita Salian-Mehta  Abbvie
Srinivasan Parthiban  Vingyani
Subhalaxmi (Subbu) Nambi
 University of Massachusetts Medical School
Sujatha Koduvayur
Sujay Ramanathan  Drexel University
Sumit Rai  MGH
Susannah  Brandeis University
Susi Macdonald  Stratacuity
Sutirtha Datta  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Syam Prasad Anand  Mainline IP
Thirupathi Barla  Harvard University
Tribhuwan yadav  Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital
Tuhin Das  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Vidhi Deepak Thakkar  Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University
Vinay Eapen  Harvard Medical School
Vladimir Botchkarev  Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Xiangmin Lv  Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts General Hospital
Zachary Knecht  Brandeis University

 

At the registration desk

(Connecting the DOTS) to help all those who fear networking and break the ice during their initial interactions. At the registration desk you will get a registration pack that will have your 1. Name Tag, 2. Lunch Ticket, 3. Breakfast ticket, and 4. Networking Stickers (Color coded). Choose the sticker/stickers which can provide maximum benefit to you and others at the meeting, and place it on your name tag. You can seek help and be a mentor in several other ways so wear the color with pride and humility.

Program Schedule

8am-9am Arrival and Registration

Welcome Note: Abhinav Dey
Introductory Note: Ananda Ghosh
Keynote Introduction: Ranjith Anand

9:30am-10am Keynote Lecture
Melina Fan (Co-founder/CSO Addgene)

10am-10:30am Panel Discussion on Industry Research Careers
Session Chair: Ranjith Anand (Gingko Bioworks)
Panelists: 
Smita Salian-Mehta (Abbvie), Ambrish Roy (Vertex),
Richa Jaiswal (LakePharma)

10:30am-10:40am Grant Writing as a Postdoc: Vinay Eapen (Jane Coffin Childs Fellow, HMS)

10:40am-11:10am Panel Discussion on Academic Career Development
Session Chair: Nikhil Gupta (NYU)
Panelists: Mishtu Dey (University of Iowa), Jagan Srinivasan (WPI), Harpreet Singh (Drexel)

11:10am-11:30am Recruiter’s Perspective
Nick Deal (Stratacuity)

11:30am-12pm Panel Discussion on Careers in the Business of Science
Session Chair: Syam Anand (Founder Mainline IP)
Panelists: 
Ragoo Raghunathan (Metabolon), Subhalaxmi Nambi (UMass),
Rajnish Kaushik (UMass), Ananda Ghosh (NYU)

12pm-1pm Lunch Break with Musical Performance by IMON

1pm-1:45pm Panel Discussion on Science Communication and  Management Careers
Session Chair: Abhi Dey (Co-Founder, ClubSciWri)
Panelists: Colleen Brady (CellPress), Ana Batista (CellPress), Sutirtha Datta (Clinical Trials Office, MSKCC), Muthu Dhandapani (Mitra Biotech)

2pm-4pm Networking Session- Chair: Smita Salian-Mehta
4pm-4:30pm Awards Ceremony
4:30pm-5pm Closing Remarks and Future Directions (Syam Anand, Conference Co-Chair)


Registration Fee 25$

Instructions to Register and Pay the Registration Fee

Click Here to Register Or Scan this QR Code

  1. Please complete required information in STEM Peers 2017 registration form.
  2. Email: your email address
  3. Name: Please provide your full name
  4. Organization: Please provide your current associated Organization/ University.
  5. Designation: Please provide your current designation.
  6. Participation: Please select appropriate participation group (Postdoc/PhD etc).
  7. Contact: Please provide your contact number.
  8. Food: Please provide information if you have any dietary restriction.
  9. Arrival time: Please provide details of your arrival time at event.
  10. Please select I am not a robot.
  11. Once you complete adding information, please click submit.
  12. Once you submit your registration, a new window will  pop-up confirming the receipt of your registration along with a highlighted link. (This is the link for registration fee payment)      
  13. Please click on link to pay and finalize registration.
  14. Payment can be made via using a PayPal account only.
  15. You can also use the “Buy Now” option (shown below) to pay your registration fee of 25$

 

(Please leave your name and email address as a note when paying using Paypal)

 

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Co-Chair’s Note:-

Why STEM Peers 2017 could be important for your career advancement?

  1.  If you don’t know what it takes to advance to the next level. If you think your publications make your career, attend and learn more.
  2. If you don’t know what it takes to get hired- the key skills, how to market them, how to to get them noticed by people who matter, and how to make your CV/resume stand out. If you think having a great CV will get anyone’s attention, attend and learn more.
  3. If you don’t know what it takes to stay in a job- getting hired could be the easy part. Staying in a job needs to understand the key job requirements that employers are seeking. If you think your bench work and associated skills is all it takes, attend and learn more.
  4. If you don’t know what it takes to advance your career after staying for a while in a new job (industry/pharma/IP/academia). Advancing your career depends on skills you develop while on the job. This needs preparation and updating of skills, sensing changing needs etc. If you think what got your hired will also advance your career further, attend and learn more.

I cannot emphasize this more- many bench scientists don’t understand these before their funding runs out or visa restrictions start dawning upon them.

Here is your chance to interact with folks who have successfully transitioned and advanced their careers further. Awareness, networking and DETAILS matter.

Finally, would you rather spend hours weeding through the internet to get the info you want or a day with successful people who are keeping their time aside for you?

STEM Peers is a bargain in that respect. We are able to bring all this to you in an affordable manner ONLY because we are a non-profit. Make use of STEM Peers 2017.

Best wishes!

Syam Anand

 

 

FAQs about STEM Peers

  1. What is the registration fee? Ans: $25 for Postdoctoral Fellows/Graduate Students; 50$ Faculty members/Industry members/Others; Late-registration fee/On-site registration Fee: 30$
  2. What is included in the registration fee? Ans: The registration fee includes access to all conference sessions and exhibits. When you check-in at the registration desk, you will receive a delegate package, which includes copies of the conference program, your name tag, and other relevant information. The registration fee also covers access to a morning coffee break, and an afternoon coffee break on the entire day of the conference.
  3. Do I have to be a CSG member to attend the conference? Ans: No
  4. Do you have discounted rates for graduate students/postdocs? Ans: Student/Postdoc registrations are heavily subsidized, and therefore the Early Registration Discount for these already discounted registrations is smaller
  5. Do you have early registration discounts? Ans: To have a better idea of how many participants will attend and to promote timely registration for the conference, CSG may offer an early registration discount. A discount applies to regular registrations received before the early registration deadline, as specified on the registration page.
  6. How do I confirm that I am registered? Ans: Once your registration is finalized, you will receive a confirmation email indicating that you are officially registered. You will receive an Official Receipt from PayPal, via email again, as proof of payment. In addition, your name will appear in the list of registered attendees on sciwri.club
  7. Can I get a certificate of attendance? Ans: A certificate of attendance can be printed for you on request and e-mailed to you after the conference. Please visit the registration desk and request a certificate to be mailed. We would appreciate it, if you wait for a time when the registration desk is less crowded to request a certificate.
  8. Is there a discounted rate of registration? Ans: Mail us stempeers@gmail.com
  9. What if I have a question that is not answered here? Ans: This FAQ only covers answers to questions that we receive frequently. If you have a question that still has not been answered, please email us stempeers@gmail.com and one of us will be happy to assist you.
  10. What is your cancellation policy? Ans: We understand that members who have registered for the conference may have to cancel their registrations due to unforeseen circumstances. While we try to accommodate cancellations to the best of our ability, any cancellation, especially late ones, put CSG at a difficult situation. Due to the size of our conference, we make many of our arrangements well in advance and therefore cancellations come with a cost to CSG. Therefore, the CSG Board has developed a cancellation policy to balance the needs of our members with the costs of cancellation to CSG. As such, please note that cancellation requests for an already confirmed registration will be processed according to the following schedule:

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For any queries mail us: stempeers@gmail.com

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Acknowledgements: Tribhuwan Yadav, Radhika Raheja and Anita Chavan for testing the registration process.

Featured Image and CSG Logo design By Ipsa Jain

 

Lantern Pharma: A Game Changing Precision Medicine Initiative

in Medness by

When the Precision Medicine Initiative was announced by President Obama in 2015, he said: “delivering the right treatments, at the right time, every time, to the right person.” As the next heralded breakthrough in healthcare, simply put it is the ultra-tailored therapy.

Personalization of therapy has always been a practice to a certain extent, however, the combination of technologies to generate patient-derived data, genomic medicine and computer science has added the PRECISION to make it personal.

This time in the Medness Focus edition we will talk about a young pharma company, Lantern Pharma, that could be a game changer in the field of precision medicine. How? Read on to know more!

Lantern Pharma: Personalizing the drug pipeline

Problem to address: Re-purposing of validated, de-risked clinical stage anti-cancer drugs that are discontinued for drug development

Reasons for failure of anti-cancer drugs in pipeline:

  • heterogeneity of cancers,
  • multidrug resistance,
  • inability of one drug to treat some but not all patients

Technology:

  • Personalized precision drug programs using advanced genomics and artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Repurposing of deserted late-stage clinical drugs that were successful in only a subset of patient population
  • AI- A proprietary machine learning algorithm called Rescue Algorithm for Drug Repurposing (RADR)
  • AI approach Connecting and Analyzing Clinical Trial and Patient Genomics Data to Identify relevant Biomarkers and predict favorable patient responders.

Step 1. Combine Clinical Trial Data with Lab genomic Analysis of Patient Samples

Step 2 a. Data Analysis from Clinical Trails and Patient Genomics 

Step 2 b.  Artificial Intelligence to connect the dots between drug candidates and best responders in a patient population

Step 3. Identify Biomarkers

Step 4. Identify Responders

Drug Pipeline:

  • Tavocept (LP-300) targeting Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Irofulven-1 (LP-100) targeting Hormone-refractory prostate cancer
  • Irofulven-2 (LP-184) targeting ovarian cancer

 

Opinions of Stakeholders:

“Within the next six years, the precision medicine market is expected to reach nearly $88 billion and has the potential to impact all cancer patients. Drug rescue and repurposing in oncology is a high-growth segment and expected to contribute to as much as 25 to 30 percent of new therapeutic approvals and significantly reduce development costs,” Arun Asaithambi (Co-founder and Director) said. (link)

“Lantern Pharma is leading a wave of innovation in cancer treatment that we believe will bring the best therapies to patients who are most likely to respond,” said Clay Heighten, M.D., founding partner of GPG Ventures. (link)

“We are thrilled to partner with Lantern in order to advance the clinical development of Irofulven, and to advance a new paradigm in cancer drug development by designing and conducting clinical trials around a targeted population of patients identified, via MPI’s diagnostic platform, as the patients most likely to respond to a given drug based on their tumor biology. said Professor Peter Buhl Jensen, M.D., CEO of Oncology Venture and MPI. (link)

 

“The more clinical and genomic data that is analyzed, the ‘smarter’ the AI becomes, which will lead to additional breakthroughs. We are very excited to assist Lantern in its pursuit to re-invent cancer drug development using advanced AI and genomics. This partnership accelerates the development of therapies at a faster and more efficient rate than ever before,” explains Anand A., Chief Executive Officer of Intuition Systems. (link)

Latest news: “Biotech Startup Lantern Pharma Raises $3.7M to Accelerate Cancer Drug Approval Process”

Who are the other players in the Precision Medicine Start-up market segment and where does Lantern stand?

We compiled a list of similar companies (in USA) who are working in the field of precision medicine and could have matching interests with Lantern (Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list and the opinions are based on the information available on the companies’ websites as on 05/05/2017)

Company name Target areas Competition for Lantern?
Syapse Precision medicine data platform for health providers Probably
GenomOncology Translating next generation sequencing data into actionable information Probably
 Centrillion Biosciences Genomics and DNA analyses Partially
4D Healthware Patient engagement software through connected-data approach Partially
Cellular Dynamics International Stem cell technologies for drug development and personalized medicine Partially
NeoDiagnostix Combines advanced diagnostics with therapeutics, enabling clinicians plan treatment Partially
Translational Software Converting genomic data into actionable, relevant intelligence Partially
Advanced Cell Diagnostics Diagnostic tests for personalized medicine Unlikely
Epic Sciences Early cancer detection systems Unlikely
Ignyta New drug discovery efforts in oncology Unlikely
Eve Biomedical Low -cost gene sequencing equipment for medical applications Unlikely
Sctheranostics Drug Discovery efforts on Patient derived cells in cardiology Unlikely
Kuraoncology New drug discovery efforts in oncology Unlikely
Genoptix Specialized oncology diagnostic services Unlikely
Precipio Diagnostics Cancer diagnostics reference laboratory Unlikely
Population Diagnostics Develop personalized DNA-based diagnostics Unlikely
Blueprint Health Startup accelerator, and crowdsources genetic and clinical datasets Unlikely
Rosetta Genomics Discovery, the development and commercialization of diagnostic testing Unlikely
Everist Health A machine learning technique producing mathematical models for cardiac patients Unlikely
Microarrays Array-based technologies for biological research, detection and diagnostics, Unlikely
PHIGENIX Novel molecular therapeutics which target the immune system against cancer. Unlikely
Genomind Pharmacogenetic laboratory testing for psychiatry Unlikely
Permedly Connects doctors & personalized medicine solutions via a software platform Unlikely

Company website: http://www.lanternpharma.com/

Available jobs

Concluding lines

Lantern’s approach will benefit not only those who are determined to be likely responders but also those patients who are deemed non-responders who will be reprieved from the costs, false hopes, and potential side effects of enduring a futile treatment. In addition, a lot of research dollars spent on the drug discovery efforts from the taxpayers’ money can be recovered by re-discovering their use in smaller subsets of patients.

 

 

Featured image source: Adam Simpson

GIF source: giphy.com

Infographics: Created using canva.com

 References:

  1. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601843/precision-medicine-pioneer/
  2. http://thelongandshort.org/life-death/precision-medicine
  3. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/7p3zs6/precision
  4. http://www.healthworkscollective.com/eborukhovich/328623/tech-and-precision-medicine-29-companies-who-will-lead-charge
  5. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160310005651/en/Global-Precision-Medicine-Market-2015-2022—Key
  6. http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2017/02/28/the-future-of-precision-medicine-great-promise-significant-challenges/
  7. https://www.statnews.com/2016/11/25/precision-medicine-leaders/

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for news and information. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Copyright: The contents of Medness is the copyright of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (A US Non Profit 501(c)3 is an initiative of the alumni of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The primary aim of this group is to buildup NETWORK among scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.)

Transitioning as an Editor at Cell Press: Face-to-Face with Colleen Brady

in Face à Face by

Scientific conferences are major networking events for scientists at various stages of their careers. Some find collaborators, some find career development opportunities, but nevertheless everyone builds their network. I met Colleen in a Keystone meeting while presenting my poster and it was nice to know that she is an Emory alumnus. We discussed science not only in experimental aspects but also in her career as a scientific editor. Not only did she agree to share her career transition story, she also introduced me to a treasure trove of similar stories from editors at Cell Press with advice for those wanting to be an editor as well as perspectives from different editors who give their background and reasons for becoming an editor. In this Face-to-Face interview with Colleen Brady (CB), we will learn how her editorial career path to Cell Press shaped-up while honing her science communication skills as a bench scientist at Stanford and Harvard universities.- Abhinav Dey (AD)

AD: Please tell us about your academic background?

CB: Before coming to Cell Press, I completed a postdoc at Massachusetts General Hospital and a PhD in Cancer Biology at Stanford University.  My training included some breadth beyond one technique or system, which was helpful preparation for academic editing.  As a PhD student, I studied the transactivation functions of the tumor suppressor p53 using mouse and cell model systems.  As a postdoc, I learned the zebrafish system and studied retinal regeneration using chemical biology screening techniques.  I also enjoyed teaching as both a student and a postdoc, which helped build my communication skills.

AD: As an editor at Cell Press, what does a normal day at work look like?

CB: I spend much of my time reading and evaluating science.  Our team meets almost every day to have an editorial meeting where we discuss manuscripts under consideration, including newly submitted manuscripts as well as those that have undergone peer review.  For new manuscripts, we read them and consider them within the framework of our journal and in the context of previous publications.  We consider the strength of the data as well as the level of conceptual advance over previously published work and whether the overall manuscript aligns with our journal’s scope.  When we decide to send a paper for peer review, I investigate potential reviewers with expertise in the key areas of the paper. After peer review, I synthesize the reviewer feedback along with our original editorial assessment to determine the best course for the manuscript.  I spend a portion of each day writing decision letters and responding to author inquiries and appeals.  My job also includes other activities such as going to conferences and visiting labs, where I can learn about the latest research, meet people in our community, and help scientists decide whether or not to submit their paper to our journal. These meetings can also help us identify topics for potential review articles. Editors also work on committees with the aim of improving the way we publish science.  For example, a lot of committee work went into our new methods format called STAR methods.  I wasn’t part of that committee, but maybe I’ll be involved in our next big project.

AD: What motivated you to transition from laboratory science into scientific editor?

CB: I enjoy thinking and communicating about science,  and my original career plan was to be a professor at a small liberal arts school.  Partway into my postdoc, curiosity led me to a “meet the experts” session at a conference, where I joined the group of a scientific editor.  I didn’t know what to expect, but she planted a seed that this might be an interesting career for me.  A year later, when I saw a job opening at Cell Press I decided to apply.  The interview process convinced me that I would enjoy the work, and when I got the job I was happy to accept it.

AD: How did you train yourself into science editing? What resources during your Ph.D. or postdoc tenure served useful towards achieving your goals?

CB: The traditional academic training in a PhD and postdoc provides many of the skills needed for editing.  Reading and thinking critically about a broad spectrum of science is key to this job.  Changing model organisms and topic areas required a significant amount of research reading when I started my postdoc.  My lab colleagues had diverse projects, and I tried to ask them critical questions about their work and think of key experiments that might advance their findings.  Journal clubs and helping my mentors evaluate papers for journal peer review were other structured ways I worked on these skills.  In fact, I always suggest that people interested in editing should try to get some experience by helping his/her mentor with peer review.

AD: Can you share the most important skills that you highlighted in your CV/interview during the job application process?

CB: The interview process for an editorial position always includes some written and verbal exercises intended to both expose the interviewee to editorial-style work as well as to test his or her aptitude for evaluating manuscripts.  I took these very seriously, and found them fun.  On my CV, I highlighted my strong academic training, prior communication-related work, and publication record.

AD: What are the long-term goals associated with a career in this field?

CB: There are many different trajectories that a career in editing could lead to. The most obvious option is to remain in editing and become a senior editor or even Editor-in-Chief of a journal.  Other editors develop an interest in a different role in publishing.  I have also seen people leave for jobs in academic science as program managers or to work as grant writers.  Scientific expertise, decision making skills, and strong communication skills can lead to many different possibilities.  Being an editor can be a great way to stay involved in science without a job at the bench.

We thank Colleen for sharing her experience with us and we wish her success in her upcoming endeavors.

Colleen Brady was interviewed by Abhinav Dey.
This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Featured image source: Pixabay

FDA Breakthrough A’La CAR-T: Medness Focus on Novartis CTL019

in Medness by

What’s the big news?

Novartis announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the company’s Biologics License Application (BLA) filing and granted priority review for CTL019 (tisagenlecleucel-T), an investigational Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy, in relapsed and refractory (r/r) pediatric and young adult patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This is the first BLA submission by Novartis for a CAR-T. The priority review designation is expected to shorten the anticipated review time by the FDA.

What’s even bigger?

On April 18 (2017) CTL019 received the FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation for the treatment of adults with relapsed and refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma who failed two or more prior therapies. Read more

What is ALL?

Image reference

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

Each part of its name tells you something about the cancer itself:

    • Acute: Often fast-growing, requires early detection and treatment. Without treatment, bone marrow cells developmentally impaired, resulting in an unhealthy bone marrow filled with proliferating abnormal lymphocytes.
    • Lymphoblastic: Affects the lymphocytes of a patient’s white blood cells. Alternative term is lymphocytic.
    • Leukemia: Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells.
  • Most common cancer in children, but it can also occur in adults of all ages (bimodal age distribution, with peaks at 3-7 years and 65 years of age).
  • Clinical presentation is nonspecific:
    1. fever;
    2. infection;
    3. bleeding;
    4. bone pain;
    5. lymphadenopathy;
    6. CNS involvement.
  • Disease classification based on evaluation of cells derived from a bone marrow or tissue biopsy. Clonal cells may be B cells (B-precursor lineage, 75%) or T cells. There are three main different ALL subtypes as follows:
    1. Pre (precursor) B cell ALL – most common in adults
    2. Mature B cell ALL – identified by particular genetic changes
    3. Pre (precursor) T cell ALL – more likely in young adults and more common in men
  • Management involves
    • remission induction with combination chemotherapy.
    • intrathecal chemotherapy is indicated for all patients to prevent CNS relapse.
    • Post-remission, patients undergo 1-3 years of maintenance therapy to eliminate residual disease.
    • Read more

 

What’s the history ?

  • CAR T-cell therapy, may appear to be overnight success, has a long experimental history.  Chemist and immunologist, Zelig Eshhar, developed the first CAR-T cells at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in the late 1980s. In 1990, Eshhar took a year-long sabbatical, joined Steven Rosenberg at the National Institutes of Health, and prepared CARs that targeted human melanoma. “We designed CAR T cells to overcome a number of problems in getting T cells to attack cancer,” says Eshhar. The problems being a tumor’s ability to escape immune recognition by preventing the major histocompatibility complex molecules and the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.

  • CTL019 first developed by the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) by Carl June‘s group (link to original NEJM paper). Read more.
  • In 2012, Novartis and Penn created a global collaboration to advance research, develop and then commercialize CAR-T cell therapies, including CTL019, for the investigational treatment of cancers. Through the collaboration, Novartis holds the worldwide rights to CARs developed with Penn for all cancer indications. In March 2017, Novartis announced that the FDA accepted the company’s Biologics License Application filing and granted priority review for CTL019 in the treatment of r/r pediatric and young adult patients with B-cell ALL.

 

What is the science behind it?

  • CAR-T therapies exploit the capability of a patient’s immune system to fight their disease, (sometimes referred to as “fifth pillar” of cancer treatment).
  • Therapy involves engineering patients’ own immune cells to recognize and attack their tumors (popularly known as Adoptive Cell Transfer).
  • Renier J. Brentjens, MD (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) describes it like “giving patients a living drug.”

 

What was the outcome of the clinical trials?

  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) study (link) showed disappearance of all signs of cancer (a complete response) in 27 of the 30 patients treated. 19 out of 27 are still in remission
  • The NIH Pediatric Oncology Branch study (link) 14 of 20 patients had a complete response with 10 of them receiving successful stem cell transplant and remain cancer free.
  • The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer center (MSKCC) clinical trial study (link) 14 of the 16 participants showed complete response and 7 eligible patients got stem cell transplant staying cancer-free.
  • The NCI-led study (link) showed “Of 15 patients, eight achieved complete remissions (CRs), four achieved partial remissions, one had stable lymphoma, and two were not evaluable for response”. This showed the “effectiveness of treating chemotherapy-refractory B-cell malignancies with anti-CD19 CAR T cells”.
  • Novartis clinical trial (ELIANA) evaluating efficacy and safety of CTL019 (with study enrollment having occurred across 25 centers in the US, EU, Canada, Australia and Japan) found that 82% (41 of 50) of infused patients achieved complete remission.
  • The second global CAR-T trial, JULIET, following the Novartis ELIANA study, led FDA to confer Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Treatment of Adult Patients withrelapsed and refractory (r/r) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The findings from JULIET are expected to be presented at an upcoming medical congress.

What are some of the doubts?

  • CAR-T, which induces an extreme immune response that attacks cancer cells, can create a cytokine storm leading to extreme side effects like high fever.
  • CAR-T might need the best – and presumably the most highly-paid – doctors and healthcare teams to ensure patients can manage the side effects.
  • The laboratory process of extracting immune system T-cells from each individual patient and altering the DNA to create chimeric antigen receptors will create additional costs (totaling upto $500,000-750,000 to treat one patient). Health providers might not be ready to foot the bill.
  • Initial failures from competitor Juno Therapeutics have created doubts on Novartis pulling out of the study. Novartis has previously backed out of large research programs like RNA interference.

What should the patients and their families know?

  • CTL019 is an investigational therapy- safety and efficacy profile not yet established.
  • Access to investigational therapies only available through carefully controlled and monitored clinical trials.
  • No guarantee that CTL019 will ever be commercially available anywhere in the world.

MedNess Quotient

After the announcement, Novartis shares were little changed but the shares of the company making CTL019 raw materials, Oxford BioMedica, rose by more than 4.5 percent. Alternatively, Kite Pharma, Novartis’ rival in CAR-T race, also submitted a rolling application for their chimeric antigen receptor T cell candidate. Rolling applications are allowed for promising new drugs. Kite’s application could be accepted early putting behind Novartis’. Therefore, the winner of the CAR-T race will set the price of the therapy and subsequently the stocks (Reuters and Nasdaq).

References and additional reading:

  1. https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-presents-results-first-global-registration-trial-ctl019-pediatric-and
  2. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/research/car-t-cells
  3. https://www.drugs.com/history/ctl019.html
  4. https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-car-t-cell-therapy-ctl019-receives-fda-breakthrough-therapy-designation
  5. https://pharmaphorum.com/views-and-analysis/will-car-t-profitable-pharma/
  6. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-09/uops-prr_1082515.php
  7. http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42462/title/The-CAR-T-Cell-Race/
  8. http://www.healthline.com/health/acute-lymphocytic-leukemia-survival-rate-outlook#overview1
  9. http://www.azfamily.com/story/35026270/novartis-announces-first-car-t-cell-therapy-bla-for-pediatric-and-young-adult-patients-with-rr-b-cell-all-granted-fda-priority-review

Featured image source: Twitter

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for news and information. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Multiple Sclerosis, Single Lead- Medness Focus on Ocrevus

in Medness by

What’s the news?

The multiple sclerosis community has been eagerly awaiting the approval of the drug Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), which will be used to treat patients who have relapsing MS (RMS) and primary progressive MS (PPMS). The FDA’s decision of final approval came on March 28, coinciding with Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

Ocrelizumab is the first and only investigational drug

  • to show greater efficacy in both RMS and PPMS in clinical studies.
  • to consistently and significantly reduce disease activity and disability progression compared with a standard-of-care high-dose interferon (Rebif®).
  • to significantly reduce the progression of physical disability in primary progressive MS in a large Phase III study (ORATORIO).
  • that has the potential to address an important unmet need in MS.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

MS is a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Patients with MS may show paresthesias (tingling sensation), blurred vision, optic neuritis (painful unilateral vision loss), clumsiness, muscle weakness, cognitive decline, and urinary dysfunction. Unfortunately, the neuron in the picture is also feeling some of these signs. The Lhermitte sign is caused when neck flexion creates electric shock-like sensations down the back and limbs.

Types of MS

1.    Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) First episode of neurologic symptoms caused by inflammation and demyelination in the central nervous system.

2.    Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) is characterized by clearly defined attacks of new or increasing neurologic symptoms.

3.    Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) worsening neurologic function (accumulation of disability) from the onset of symptoms, without early relapses or remissions.

4.    Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS) Most people who are diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to a secondary progressive course in which there is a progressive worsening of neurologic function (accumulation of disability) over time.

The History

In the past 20 years, we’ve seen a lot of improvement in the battle against MS to benefit the 2.3 million people worldwide who have this ailment. Notwithstanding these developments, people with RMS continue to need medications that offer the possibility for greater efficacy than standard-of-care interferons, with a favorable safety profile.

For people with PPMS there were no approved treatments before Ocrevus. Previous Phase III trials with investigational medicines have been unsuccessful in demonstrating a significant effect on disability progression in PPMS.

What is the science behind it?

Ocrevus

  • targets myelin-attacking B-cells (unlike similar medications attacking T-cells)
  • is an anti-CD20 humanized monoclonal antibody

Image source

How was the drug developed?

Genentech’s Medical Director, Peter Chin, said “The journey of ocrelizumab in MS started about 15 years ago, when Genentech began collaborating with academic researchers at major universities to investigate the importance of B cells in MS and their potential as a therapeutic target. The first small proof-of-concept studies showed that CD20+ B cells appeared to play a more important role in MS than anybody previously thought.”

Read the full interview with Genentech’s Peter Chin here

What was the outcome of the trials?

More than 1,600 MS patients enrolled in clinical trials for Ocrevus and 94 percent of participants had fewer brain lesions during the 96 weeks of treatment.

A summary of the data from the OPERA I, OPERA II and ORATORIO studies that support this approval can be found here.

What are some of the doubts?

There was little increased risk of infection (link). 

The clinical trials for Ocrevus also found that while patients taking the drug did have a slightly increased risk of common colds and flu, they had no significant increased risk of other infections when compared to patients taking the alternative medication, Rebif.

Some concerns like “Targeting B cells in MS patients appears to be Ocrevus’ strength, but depleting B cells also raises safety concerns” were addressed to Dr Chin. He responded saying, “Ocrelizumab selectively binds to CD20, a cell surface antigen expressed by a subset of B cells. CD20 is not expressed on stem cells or antibody-producing plasma cells, and therefore pre-existing humoral immunity and the ability to reconstitute B cells may be preserved. Since the CD20 protein is not found on many other cells of the immune system, they can continue to fight infection and other illnesses.

What should the patients and their families know?

Ocrevus

  • will be administered by intravenous infusion every six months.
  • will be used for treating primary progressive MS.
  • will also be used for treating relapsing MS patients.
  • may have potential serious side effects which may include infusion reactions, infections and malignancies where only routine screening is required based on age and medical history

Medness Quotient from Imit Kaur

“Analysts forecast annual sales exceeding $3 billion by 2021 as reported by Reuters. After the approval news, Biogen stock fell by 2%, and Roche stock rose by a fraction. Novartis’s drug for MS treatment, BAF312, for secondary progressive MS is expected to receive regulatory approval in the first half of 2017. Until then, Roche can bask in glory  (Reuters, Investor’s Business Daily, FiercePharma).”

Featured image source: Pixabay

References:

  1. https://www.gene.com/media/press-releases/14657/2017-03-28/fda-approves-genentechs-ocrevus-ocrelizu?platform=hootsuite
  2. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Types-of-MS
  3. https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2017/02/28/transcript-of-interview-with-genentech-peter-chin-on-ocrevus-for-multiple-sclerosis/

Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for news and information. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Transitioning to Pharmaceutical Research: Face-to-Face with Mark Musters from Lead Pharma

in Face à Face by

Welcome mixers are great events at conferences. To introduce myself, I generally shorten my name not only for ease of communication but also to save 1-2 minutes in getting the pronunciation right. However, when I met Mark and introduced myself as Abhi he was quick to ask if I am Abhi or Abhinav. I realized my nametag gave that away. We happened to exchange several notes and by the end of the conference he was nice enough to agree to talk about his career transition to pharmaceutical research for ClubSciWri. It has been a pleasure to know about his work and career. – Abhinav Dey (AD)

Mark MUSTERS, PhD

Mark W.J.M. Musters (born 1980, The Netherlands) obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology, followed by a PhD degree in computational systems biology at the same university in 2007. He continued his career at Wageningen University as a postdoctoral researcher by constructing detailed mathematical models of the central metabolism. In 2010, he started as a scientist at Lead Pharma, a small pharmaceutical company that develops innovative medicines to treat cancer and immune-related diseases. He is currently a project leader of an oncology and an immunology project.

AD: Can you briefly describe your role at Lead Pharma? What does a normal workday look like?

MM: Lead Pharma is a small pharmaceutical company (about 30 employees) that develops small molecular compounds to treat cancer and (auto-)immune diseases. I am a project leader of an immunology (atopic dermatitis) and oncology (metastatic melanoma) project. As a project leader, my main responsibility is that the project team develops potent and selective small molecular compound within a predefined time frame. A normal workday consists of structuring and coordinating all activities between the different groups (chemistry, molecular pharmacology, cellular pharmacology), informing team members and management about the progress, communicating with external parties, writing grant proposals and troubleshooting (if necessary). Besides being a project leader, I also analyze large -omics data sets to search for novel biomarkers and new targets that we could work on in the near future.

AD: What made you decide to move into industry rather than stay on the academic track?

MM: After completing my post-doc, I felt it was the right time to move to industry: I only worked for universities and research institutes and I was curious how working at a company would be. It turned out to be an excellent decision. The work at Lead Pharma is diverse and we collaborate in multidisciplinary teams towards a common goal. However, our fundamental research activities are limited compared to (top) academic groups and we do not publish our data either. That is certainly something to keep in mind.

AD: How did you prepare for your current interview? Which skills were essential apart from your scientific skills that helped you make the cut?

MM; I gathered information about the company (history, background of founders, mission, etc.), such that I could ask some questions during the interview as well. Personally, I think that I was hired because my personality matched very well with the company profile and I was honest in answering all questions during the interview. In addition, my pragmatic attitude and pathological optimism might have helped as well.

AD: How did your post-doc experience at prepare you for your position today?

MM: During my post-doc experience, I collaborated much more with “wet lab” experimentalists. Because I had a background in mathematical modeling, this trained me to communicate and understand biological research.

AD: Did you use any of the resources at your postdoctoral institution to prepare for your job hunt?

MM:Nope.

AD: How do you achieve work-life balance?

MM: Fortunately, our company offers its employees some flexibility and the management recognizes the importance of your personal life, which makes it easier to achieve a healthy work-life balance. This means that sometimes my workday is shorter, but a week later I work the whole weekend to finish an important presentation.

AD: Do you have any advice for postdocs considering careers in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry? What can they do to make themselves competitive?

MM: Prepare yourself! Read about how the pharmaceutical industry operates.  There are some good books available about drug development (and I don’t mean books like “Bad Pharma”). Ask yourself the questions: what would you like to do at a pharmaceutical company? And what unique expertise do you have that could help the company? That would be a good start.

 

 

Mark Musters was interviewed by Abhinav Dey. Abhinav is a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University and a Young Investigator Awardee from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. He is also the co-founder of PhD Career Support Group (CSG) for STEM PhDs and ClubSciWri
This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Featured image source: Pixabay

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