Scientists Simplifying Science

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June 2017

The geeky way to lose or gain weight

in That Makes Sense by

Editor’s note: To actively lose or gain weight has always been decisive – whether for health/fashion reasons or both. Although we do aim to tilt the scale in our favor, there’s basic mathematics hidden behind how much weight can we lose or gain. And interestingly, that depends a lot on our diet, gender, height, weight and age. Club SciWri intern Sanchita Chakrabarty scripts the hidden basics of weight transformation in this article. If you want to be a part of the Club SciWri internship experience, please drop an email at sayantan.ch@sciwri.club.

 

There has been an increase in incidence of obesity in populations mostly spanning the urban setting of highly developed industrialized countries to developing countries due to a deskbound lifestyle and additional factors.  With recent studies connecting obesity to a variety of high risk diseases like diabetes, sleep apnea, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and even cancer, it is high time that we became knowledgeable about this topic for our own good. As is in most parts, obesity is related to food habits as well as a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, understanding the biochemistry and physiological processes of calorie uptake, energy release during bodily functions and different types of exercise ought to be helpful.

The simple math of calorie

A calorie is the unit to measure energy released by food when digested by human body. The body metabolizes the molecules that constitute our diet and converts the resulting calorie into usable energy. Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the rate of energy expenditure per unit time, necessary for normal bodily functions including maintaining heart rate, body temperature, respiratory functions, metabolic processes, making new blood cells etc. Resting energy expenditure or REE corresponds to the total amount of caloric requirement in a 24-hour period by the body in a sedentary state. REE and BMR can be calculated using the Harris-Benedict equation, which takes into account gender, age, height, and body weight of the subject and is derived from an indirect calorimetric method. To maintain basic bodily functions and retention of body weight, it is very important to eat healthy food of optimalcaloric value.

Harris-Benedict formula for BMR calculation

 men BMR = 66 + (6.2 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) – (6.776 × age in years)
women BMR = 655.1 + (4.35 × weight in pounds) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age in years)

 

Harris-Benedict formula for daily calorie intake according to activity level

Sedentary BMR × 1.2
Light exercise BMR × 1.375
Moderately active BMR × 1.55
Highly active BMR ×1.725
Heavy exercise BMR ×1.9

 

Example: If a man is 35 years of age, 6′ tall (72 inches) and weighs 163 pounds (74 kg), then his BMR = 66 + (6.2 × 163) + (12.7 × 72) – (6.776 × 35) = 1753.84 calories/day. Now, if the person lives a sedentary life, he would have to consume BMR × 1.2 = 2104.6 calories in a day to maintain his body weight. To lose or gain weight one has to decrease or increase caloric intake and/or activity level.

As 1 lb of fat corresponds to 3500 calories, there has to be a deficit of 3500 calories to lose weight by 1 lb. Hence, according to the above example, if the man wants to set his weight at 160 lbs (a 3 lb reduction in weight) and starts consuming 1604.6 calories instead of 2104.6 calories (i.e. 500 calories less) in a day, then it would take (3 × 3500)/500 = 21 days or 3 weeks to achieve the targeted weight by maintaining a sedentary lifestyle. Although it is possible to gain or lose weight by altering caloric intake, physical activity is always advisable for good health.

Fat metabolism during exercise

Fat is stored as triglyceride in adipose tissues. Triglyceride consists of three fatty acids attached to a molecule of glycerol. Droplets of triglyceride remain stored in muscle fibers in close proximity of the oxidation sites in muscle mitochondria. During exercise, the enzyme hormone sensitive lipase gets stimulated and dissolves the lipid into three molecules of free fatty acid (FFA) and glycerol, the latter being water soluble diffuses into blood. An increase in plasma concentration of epinephrine that activates betareceptors in adepocytes is thought to be the reason of stimulation of adipose tissue lipolysis. Plasma FFA is the exclusive fat source and fuel during low-intensity exercise. On the other hand, during a high intensity work-out, pools of intramuscular triglyceride are utilized as an additional source of fat. In case of low-intensity cardio exercise, the heart rate of an average person increases up to 60-70% of maximum heart rate within 2-5 minutes. Fat starts to burn if this heart rate is maintained. At this stage, 50% of the total burned calorie comes from fat and if the same intensity level is maintained for 20 minutes, 70-80% calorie comes from fat and the rest from carbohydrate. This is referred to as the “Fat burning zone”. For a high-intensity cardio work-out, mostly referred to as endurance training, heart rate reaches between 70-85% of maximum heart rate and one burns more fat in less time.

Eating at the right time

Studies have confirmed that along with what we eat, when we eat is also important. Superchiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is a small region within the anterior hypothalamus controls the mammalian circadian rhythm. SCN can synchronize with peripheral tissues and influences the sleep-wake cycle in rhythm with the usual light and dark cycle in a day. SCN also regulates certain behaviors like feeding. Apart from the temporal circadian clock, some peripheral tissues like liver tissues also demonstrate circadian rhythm with the help of cyclically expressed genes. Imbalanced circadian clock has been linked to obesity and type-2 diabetes. Researchers have shown that a change in the circadian timing of feeding results in weight gain in mice. The hormone melatonin plays a major role in regulation of the mammalian circadian clock. Melatonin is very important for proper secretion and action of insulin. Short sleep durations affect melatonin function in turn worsening insulin sensitivity. Recent studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to increased brain activity and intake of high calorie food as well as increased desire of binge eating. All of these are directly or indirectly linked to obesity. In general, the rule of having a meal within one hour after waking up and an early dinner still stands true. Also, an early lunch following a good breakfast helps reducing blood sugar level in the afternoon.

Although a cliché, reminding ourselves to eat at the proper time, watch our caloric intake and understand the value of some amount of exercise could be the start of a fight against obesity and its related diseases.


About Sanchita:

Sanchita completed her PhD from Jadavpur University (Kolkata, India) in Chemistry, followed by a Postdoctoral position at University of Texas at El Paso. Currently she is freelancing in technology scouting and market research and aims to transition into a position where her transferable skills would be put to use. Apart from science she enjoys travelling, writing and reading a lot!

 

Editor: Sayantan Chakraborty, PhD

The contents of Club SciWri are the copyright of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (A US Non-Profit 501(c)3, PhDCSG is an initiative of the alumni of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The primary aim of this group is to build a NETWORK among scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs).

This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

A Recruitment Manager’s Eye View

in Face à Face by

Editorial Note: We want to make sure that the mid-week pressure and long lab hours are not blurring your visions. ”Look out beyond the horizons of academia”. Are you now wondering how to do that? Where to start from? Or are you just tired of beating around the bush? We hope that this article will provide you with some perspectives.

It encompasses the basic queries and suggestion for those who are looking towards a STEM career transition. Dr. Sudhakar Bangera systematically breaks down the current job market scenario in India, talks about how to bridge the gaps between the expectations of the employer-employee, how to train oneself and discusses the major challenges faced in Indian Bio Industries.

We are sure this article will broaden your myopic vision and help you take a lead in your next venture. – Rituparna Chakrabarti

 

Dr. Sudhakar Bangera is currently the Vice-President (Medical Affairs), Bharat Biotech International Ltd., Hyderabad. He started his career as a medical practitioner and a teacher, later moving on to clinical research. In his 26 years of health care profession, he has successfully led several start-up companies, the US subsidiary of India and governmental organization. His main forte encompasses business and program management of clinical trials of new drugs and medical device. In this Face-to-Face interview with CSG India Team, he talks about the Indian job market for life science professionals and the employer-employee expectation gap. We highly appreciate Dr Sudhakar’s effort and time in helping the young researchers and science students to improve their stand by sharing the views of “people on the other side of the recruiting table”.   His willingness to help young researchers and science students is evident from his dedication in meeting CSG members at MNR Educational Trust office at Hyderabad for half a day on a Sunday in sharing his experience and providing guidance to Scientists from academia and Industry.

Image source: Pixabay

Q1: What is the expectation gap between the students (potential employee) and the industry (employer)?

There are four entry levels: Fresher, junior, mid and senior level. Each of these four levels has different expectations.  I have gone through all these four levels as an interviewee and an interviewer, hence it is easier for me to speak about it.

For a fresher just out of college, the technical skill is not the priority to be judged as there are various streams and not everything related to the job/position requirement subject is taught in the school. At Bharat biotech people with a background in life science like biotechnology, microbiology, molecular biology, medicine, pharmacy and other life science backgrounds are recruited. I have also recruited people with multiple backgrounds in my team. During the interviews, subject related questions (technical questions) are generally avoided, such questions are asked only when the interviewee himself directs them or provokes them to test his/her knowledge.  In most of such instances, the interviewee tries to kill himself with his own axe.  This interview pattern is only for the fresher’s.  For the other cadres, technical questions are asked according to the post.

Each division particularly chooses the candidate with Masters over Bachelor’s or a Ph.D. over masters because of only one reason and that being “age”.  With age comes “maturity” which is a must in any profession. This maturity is attained by the experience we get while dealing with different people. During masters the people we interact the most are the classmates (limited interactions). Whereas, during Ph.D. the interaction is at much broader level because of the diversity of the people we interact.

Ph.D.s/MDs should also realize that they don’t know everything. They will learn more as they work. There are few areas where a medical grad understands medicine and physiology and anatomy better, and a Ph.D. understands a particular peptide/ enzyme better. People need to know their limitations.

Candidates coming from overseas or from big schools have huge expectations from the company in terms of position and salary which most of the time are not met. Many times when the job is accepted by the employee they don’t stand on the agreements made during job offer, they try to diverge away from it. For e.g. ability to travel, work on weekends, completion of assignment even if it needs staying back for more hours. Many times, the more a person is experienced, the more reluctant they are to change. Instead, they try to change the system in the new job place. Another issue with experienced employee coming from MNC culture is that they need to get adapted to the new system, for e.g. business class travel in MNC company versus economy class policy in Indian companies, perks and benefits may be different, the number of workdays in a week.  Occasionally employer is also at fault because they expect deliverables on time but does not facilitate the whole process to run smoothly.

Not only the job seekers have shortcomings but also the industry. From an industry point of view, it is the HR team who act as a front line in the whole process of hiring. Most of the times the HR team fails to convey the proper job description to the interviewee while contacting them. They also don’t send proper emails with all the relevant information about the interview.

Q2: Most of the life science job advertisement/ profiles in India states “M.Sc. with 3 or more year’s experience”. Why is the industry not willing to absorb Ph.D.s for the entry/junior level jobs? Does this unwillingness, to take or join the juniorlevel posts, comes from the industry or from the Ph.D.s themselves?

To answer this question we create two groups:

1) Ph.D. with zero experience, 2) Ph.D. with experience

When we take Ph.D. with experience: in such instances, the educational qualification of the person is not given value; it is the technical experience which gets the highest priority. In the West, for most of the high-level job entry, it is the years of work experience that is counted irrespective of the educational qualification. In India, the scenario is a little better because people still give some importance to the educational qualification, though the professional experience is given the priority while hiring. For a fresher, it is always soft skill rather than technical. The soft skills are generally not taught in schools and colleges.

Q3:  Most of the Ph.D. face a problem of getting absorbed in a job market. Is it the real scenario in India or our approach towards the job market is different and wrong?

The Ph.D. is very focused on a specific topic and most of the time the research is on basic science which is not that useful to an employer in the industry, where the focus is more on the commercial aspect. As an employer in a fresh graduate (Ph.D.), I look for overall knowledge, non-technical skills, adaptability, and flexibility. We take people with minimum basic knowledge and then try to train/mold them according to our requirements in the industry. In this process of molding and training, not everyone reaches to our standards and expectations.

Q4: What are the different ways we can train our students so that their chances of being absorbed in the industry increases?

When a fresh grad is interviewed, the most important thing we look for is non-technical skills. One of which is communication fluency (in English) both oral and written. Many times I find the interviewees speaking in Hindi or their regional language during the interview.  When I receive a CV, I first scan for the overall presentation in the CV, like font type size, margins, and layout.  Most of the time I receive CV’s which are merely filled template. There is no time and energy invested into the making. Even when writing an Email for a job application, people generally don’t write a covering letter, they just mention in one line that “my cv is attached and kindly look at it”. All the basics of communication and behavior are not laid down in schools, and the schools are not paying adequate attention to this aspect of education which is reflected later on in their job applications and interviews. The graduate students should be trained more on the non-technical skills like body language, attire, transparency, follow-up on assignment, questionable on loyalty by staying long term, travel, enthusiasm.

Q5: What are the kinds of non-technical questions raised in the interview?

My way of judging people: when I interview people, for the first two minutes I go through their CV, in these two minutes I observe them for their behavior from the corner of my eye. I watch their body language, attire and communication skills.

Q6: Why in life science we get paid so less as compared to other streams

The salaries are benchmarked; they are always compared with the pre-existing employee salaries where people are working for lower salaries than offered in the job market.In the end everything boils down to “Supply and demand”!

Q7: What according to you is the apt time to transit from academia to industry for Ph.D. holders

Soon after Ph.D. is the best option. If experienced, then years of post -Ph.D. experience counts. Companies then require specific technical skills and that matters. Education then becomes obsolete. If transitioning many years after Ph.D., then salary, title, expectations become an issue.

Q8: What are the other options /allied career in science for a Ph.D. Fellow?

The answer to this question is influenced by the gender. As a woman, one prefer a job involving no travel and usually look for a stable job. They generally prefer bench work. This might be due to many reasons and family being one of it. Whereas, most of the men perceive and try to go up the corporate ladder. Based on this it depends on where one wants to go.

In the Indian perspective, many companies may not have R&D if they have it can be of two type-a generic formulation R&D or innovative pharmaceutical or vaccine R&D. Another division coming up these days is R&D for medical devices and IVD (in vitro diagnostics). The last two areas generally don’t hire Ph.D.s because the medical devices are run by engineers and IVD companies are very close knit and have 4-5 people with higher qualifications and rest of the staff is just bachelors or masters who do the groundwork.

Among the first two R&D types, in India we hardly find any pharmaceutical industry working on innovation (i.e. finding out new drugs). Most of the pharma industry runs on making “the generics” for which the industry requires only 1-2 Ph.D.s at the top position and few chemistry and pharmacy graduates. Ideally, there are not many positions in a pharma industry for a Ph.D. graduate, and the Ph.D. doesn’t like to tone down their expectations and take a job of a master’s student. My advice/suggestion to all the fresh Ph.D.s is to join at a lower level, don’t go after designation and salary. Prove your worth/caliber to the industry and climb up the ladder. The more the number of skills you present on the table the better your position becomes and then one can negotiate about the designation and salary.

In an industry, a Ph.D. is hired mostly for R&D. If they are open to new arenas and willing to acquire new skills they can also be hired for Medical & Scientific Writing, Regulatory, Project Management, Clinical Operations, QA, Data Management, Proposal Writing, Business Development or Compliance in my line of work.

 

The take home message

“Start from scratch, forget the education, title, show your skills, enthusiasm and passion. Work hard, let people recognize your caliber and climb the ladder”

 

This interview was coordinated and conducted by Dr. Hema Mohan (L), with support from Dr. Reetu Mehta (R) and Dr. Viswanadham Duppatla (Extreme R).  They pursued their Ph.D. in Neuroimmunology, Microbial Genetics and Biochemistry respectively. All the three of them chose to move from bench science to alternative careers in science.  Hema is presently working as a Senior Research Manager and exploring opportunities in Science Management, Reetu has explored patenting opportunities and Visu is interested in improving science education and working as COO of MNR Foundation for Research and Innovation, Hyderabad

 

Editor: Rituparna Chakrabarti

Rituparna pursued her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Georg-August University (Göttingen, Germany) and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Biostructural Imaging of Neurodegeneration (BIN), Göttingen. Over years, she has gained technical expertise in electron and high-resolution light microscopy, in order to study the nanostructures of specialized chemical synapses in the sensory systems. She likes to have a bird’s eye view of her undertakings and gets excited with analytics. Passionately believes in, correct simplification of science, therefore engages in different scientific communication and public outreach projects. To unwind herself she plays mandolin and eagerly looks for a corner at a coffee house to slide herself in with a good read or company.

Featured image source: Pixabay

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This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

 

The Patent Chronicle

in Sci-IP by

June 27, 2017: Your weekly dose from the world of patents. The Patent Chronicle is led by Syam Anand, who has been at the core of CSG’s development and an entrepreneur himself. This section is your go to destination every week for a capsule dose on the hottest happenings in the patent world. Syam has clinically dissected out every news on the decision, the background and the impact. He is also in the process of building his scicomm team for this section. If you would like to come aboard, mail him at syam.anand@sciwri.club

via GIPHY

 

China gives CRISPR patent to UC Berkeley

Decision: China’s State Intellectual Property Office granted Doudna and Charpentier the CRISPR patent.

Impact: UC Berkeley’s patent on CRISPR has broader claims compared one of the Broad Institute’s patents that claimed a “victory” in an infringement battle at the USPTO. UC Berkeley’s application was also granted in the EU and UK. These wins are good for Doudna’s CRISPR startups, Intellia and Caribou Life Sciences and bad for Editas, which has licensed CRISPR from Broad Institute.

Read more

US Supreme Court to look at Patent Review process

Decision: The US Supreme Court has taken up an appeal by a Texas company that essentially questions the Patent Office’s right to cancel patents it previously granted.

Reason: Texas-based Oil States International Inc had previously lost a case in a lower court where it argued that patent owners have a right to a jury trial, as patents are private property and USPTO’s inter partes review process does not give them their constitutional right, as they are decided by administrative judges. The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that owners of private property who have their rights revoked have a right to a jury trial.

Impact: If the Supreme Court sides with Oil States International, it will directly question the constitutionality of the PTAB review procedure and also the larger question whether patents are private property.

Read more

Patent activity tied to growth

Source: The Rise of American Ingenuity: Innovation and Inventors of the Golden Age

Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, Tom Nicholas, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 23047, January 2017

Trends:

  • Strong positive correlation between patent activity and GDP growth.
  • Small numbers of inventors (0.02 per cent of the population) have high impact on their communities.
  • Higher urbanization tended to have more innovation probably by clustering people and supporting interaction of people and ideas.
  • Access to capital supported innovation, showcasing a need for strong capital economy for patent activity and innovation.
  • Geographical isolation negatively correlated with patent activity.
  • Positive correlation between patent activity and upward social mobility.

Read more

 

STRONGER Patents Act Introduced in the US senate

Decision: Senators Chris Coons (Democrat; Delaware) and Tom Cotton (Republican; Arkansas) introduced the Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act in the US Senate.
Background: Two years back, an earlier version of the Act (STRONG, without the ER) that was introduced by Sen. Coons failed to pass in the Senate. The new bill is a revised version of the old one. It is apparently aimed at strengthening the patent system by a set of proposed legislation that will gut many of the provisions in America Invents Act (AIA).
Impact: The US Patent Office with the help of AIA has been pursuing to strengthen the patent system by strengthening procedures that gets rid of low quality patents. The STRONGER Patents Act wants to reverse that by making it difficult to challenge the validity of patents in the USPTO using those procedures. The proposed legislation is unlikely to go anywhere. However, it throws light on how a section of America views the patent system and where and how the validity of patents can be questioned. One major focus of the proposed legislation is the post-grant review procedures in the USPTO.

Read more

Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular disease diagnostic patent invalidation remains

Decision The federal circuit supported the District Court of Ohio’s ruling invalidating Cleveland Clinic’s diagnostic patents.

Background: Cleveland Clinic had brought an infringement suit against True Health Diagnostics LLC on the Clinic’s cardiovascular disease diagnostic test patents. The Ohio court had used the US Supreme Court’s 2012 famed Mayo decision that natural laws are not patentable to invalidate the Clinic’s patents. In essence patents that cover nothing more than the natural correlation become invalid in light of Mayo. In this case, the Ohio court ruled that the Clinic’s patents covered nothing more than a natural correlation between an enzyme and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Impact: The US Supreme Court’s Mayo decision and its impact on diagnostic patents are very familiar to people familiar with intellectual property law. The latest decision on the Clinic’s patent invalidation is a case worth reading and understanding for people who are in the business of developing diagnostic tools and understanding the distinction between innovation and patentability.

Read more

Infographically speaking………

Heart Disease 101: The Basics

 

Infographic From Visually.

Proprietary humor by Mimi and Eunice

About the author:

Syam

Authored by Dr Syam Anand, PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc; Post-Doctoral research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Faculty, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Founder and US Patent Agent, Mainline Intellectual Property LLC, Ardmore, Philadelphia USA). Syam has over 20 years experience in diverse areas of Science with domain knowledge in Life Sciences and Intellectual Property. Dr. Anand is also an inventor and budding entrepreneur. A rationalist, Dr. Anand enjoys science at all levels and advocates the use of scientific methods for answering all questions and solving all problems and make common people curious and interested in understanding their worlds.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/syamprasadanand

Featured image source: Pixabay

Blog design: Abhinav Dey

Creative Commons License
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From Oklahoma to Manhattan- The Genesis of Sevengenes

in Entrepreneurship/Face à Face/Medness by

Where there is a will there is a way. This is the mantra followed by scientist-turned-entrepreneur Ayyappan Subbiah. Ayyappan started his journey in the field of Material Science, obtained PhD in 1997 from IISc, Bangalore, India under the supervision of eminent Professor C.N.R. Rao. Introvert by nature, Ayyappan had a desire to bring about some kind of impact in people’s lives. This passion was rekindled during his job at ConocoPhillips where he was working as a Senior Scientist. Ayyappan did not want to entangle himself in the rut of routine work and confine himself to the realms of bench experiments. This prompted Ayyappan to break the traditional norms and set forward his journey of entrepreneurship. With the help of two friends, Ayyappan founded LivePet LLC. The first product from LivePet was an anti-inflammatory supplement for the pets. In order to take the product from the bench to over-the-counter veterinary product, Ayyappan and his mates tested their product at Liberty Research Institute, NY and carried out a couple of small trials on 50 dogs. The dogs were administered a set dose of the supplement for 30 days and were tested successfully for the safety and the change inflammatory markers. All the tested dogs were safer and healthier at the end of the study.

After developing the novel anti-inflammatory supplement for the dogs, Ayyappan started questioning himself to go further beyond pet supplements. By now he also realized that as a responsible human being, the best job he can do is to help “towards making 7 generations of human beings living together healthily/happily!” But the bigger question was what will be the source of funding for his next project? There comes a point in life of every scientist when they look for their next career move. “I just knew that after LivePet, I couldn’t go back to the monotonous life of being a lab scientist. I wanted to make an impact in people’s lives and this was the right time” reminisces Ayyappan. Ultimately, he thought of self-funding his own project. He did not know how far his self-funding will take him, but decided to begin the journey. With this dilemma being resolved, the next question was the kind of project he should start.

My first instinct was to learn about the bottle-necks in pharmaceutical industry and look for the potential problems. I wanted to find solution to the biggest challenge of the pharmaceutical industry

says Ayyappan proudly. His research yielded him the answer for his quest. He decided to work on the solubility issues of the hydrophobic drugs. He says “About 40% of drug candidates filed with FDA and 90% in the discovery pipeline are hydrophobic and possess solubility/bio-better issues. Therefore there is an immediate need for a safe and better solvent (excipient) in the pharma industry.” He wanted to test one of his novel excipient/solvent technology idea from his materials science background with a hydrophobic molecule preferably a novel molecule for the first time in the pharma industry.  Literature search yielded an ideal hydrophobic molecule called triptolide which is notoriously known to possess solubility (and toxicity) issues but never became a drug just for those reasons.

Ayyappan took it as a challenge to solubilize triptolide in the novel excipient (7GEN) or the solubilizer. That’s the birth of Ayyappan’s successful start-up called Sevengenes (www.sevengenes.com ). Since then, there has been no looking back. 7GEN significantly enhances the solubility and bioavailability of hydrophobic molecules.  7GEN is very effective compared to existing drug delivery strategies (such as lipid and nanomaterials based) used for approved drugs.

So how does he fund his start-up projects? Ayyappan is deeply passionate about his project and he used up his 401 savings to fund his project. When asked about grant funding, Ayyappan did not want to divulge the details of his idea to the federal agency before gaining patent approval. He pitched in the idea to family and friends and they acted as amazing sources of funding. His MSc classmate wanted to help him and became a co-founder. Similarly, couple of his PhD colleagues from IISc also wanted to jump in and help and they have become co-founders too.  In addition, Ayyappan’s project was also screened by a non-profit organization, i2e (www.i2e.org) that provides funds to small scale biotechs in Oklahoma. With limited funding but tons of passion and zeal, Ayyappan and Sevengenes’ cofounders outsource their experiments to CRO’s and University of Oklahoma.

They are a pre-clinical company and would like to file their Investigational New Drug (IND) application on their first drug product 7GEN-TDTM when they get their first round investment.  They would like to use their 7GEN excipient (as a platform) for many other hydrophobic drugs and take 505(b)(2) approach for a particular combination.  Meanwhile, Sevengenes recently got selected by Alexandria LaunchLabs for an incubator space in Manhattan, New York from June-2017. Their might be restricted funds but there isn’t dearth of passion inside Sevengenes.

Infoshell…..

When asked about advice he will give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Ayyappan suggests that one should chase their dreams regardless of worrying about the outcomes. He believes that once someone sets his or her brain and heart to a project, the brain will work at its best to find resources to complete the project. Ayyappan has his background in Material Science and is yet a founder of Biological Science start up. He believes in working hard and fair. He credits his spouse and family for their support. He believes that it is a two way street. He saved up enough 401(k) so as to provide secured life to his family while his family understood and supported his dream of a start-up and his project. When asked about his mantra for relieving stress, Ayyappan says he enjoys yoga and believes in the power of prayers!

Ayyappan with Ananda Ghosh (Founder of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs).

About the Author:

Imit Kaur, Ph.D. is a freelance scientific advisor, medical writer, editor, and an active science blogger. She pursued her PhD in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah. She is experienced in the field of oncology, hematology, pharmacology, nanotechnology and drug development. Follow Imit on LinkedIn (Imit Kaur) or Twitter (@imit_kaur)

 

Featured image: Ayyappan in the auspices of Alexandria Launchlabs

Blog design: Abhinav Dey

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This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

The week that it was – 19th to 25th June, 2017

in ClubSciWri by
  • Open-Access-vs-Publication-houses.png?fit=3508%2C2480
    Balancing the cost and availability of scientific research publications - by Fuzzy Synapse.

With the start of summer in the northern part of the world, CSG announced its first Annual Symposium- ‘STEMPeers: Connecting Scientists’ on Saturday, September 23, 2017, at the Aeronaut Brewery (Somerville, MA). Addgene’s co-founder, Melina Fan, is going to be the plenary speaker – get inspired with her story of building organizations to help scientists work more efficiently.

Unlocking Science – by IpsaWonders

How soon can total open access really work? On one hand, European leaders have asked for complete open access to scientific papers by 2020. But in the current open access model how do we get around the huge payments for publishing the open access journals? SciHub, the Robin Hood in Science, has been recently issued a penalty of $15 mn for Elsevier copyright infringements by US court, for making scientific papers illicitly available to public.

Adding to the woes of researchers troubled with paid access to scientific literature, non-reproducibility of pre-published data calls for immediate action towards better information. Those who are fretting over a horrible western blot result before the weekend hits, will appreciate the efforts taken by Biocompare to tackle the reproducibility issues of antibodies. While we appreciate efforts taken towards making the scientific community more informed about picking the right reagents and protocols, Chinese government went another step by announcing severe penalty, that can also lead to execution for scientists found fabricating their data – in an effort to restore scientific data integrity in the country. Data fabrication, a problem that plagues the community, might only be aggravated if such harsh measures are taken instead of tackling the root cause of it.

The rise of the age of nanotechnology in food sector – encompassing nutritional content of food to judging its freshness – also calls for the society to embrace newer technologies with newer regulations to understand. While most people still stay unclear about the moral and ethical concerns around gene editing, the CRISPR story gets more melodramatic with Doudna’s A Crack in the Creation. With more and more non-novel technologies being developed, it is also imperative for scientists to embrace easier forms of communication with public. Here is an example of a scientist’s pursuits of reaching people by drawing science. SciViz, NYC, USA is another avenue where you can be a part of network of people who work towards visualizing science.

The healthcare consulting enthusiasts might want to take a look at a list of top-rated firms in the field. The other life scientists among our readers might want to take a sneak peek at the companies that employees have valued in life science sector. Alfreda James, from Stony Brook University, gives insights from her experience as a career education professional.

Take a look at the opportunities shared on CSG –

  • PhD programme in Biology at Ashoka University
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Scientific project management, Harvard Program in Therapeutic Science, MA, USA
  • Postdoctoral fellowships, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, linked with Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship Actions, Madrid, Spain
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Stream Hydro-Ecology, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Berkeley, USA

If you are interested in the above positions, you well might want to know what it takes to write an impactful proposal for postdoctoral fellowship.

And in case you feel dissatisfied with your performance – remember sometimes it is better that you just work, and let others evaluate your work – you are not always the best judge of your work. Keep calm and keep maximizing on your happiness. Everything else will have to fall in place!

Featured images are by IpsaWonders (on Facebook and Instagram) and Fuzzy Synapse (on Facebook).

About the author:

Somdatta Karak works with Club SciWri as a project coordinator and Corporate Liaison. She is a doctorate in Neuroscience from Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany and has been a Teach for India fellow (2014-16). She loves putting her analytical skills to build newer and more sustainable solutions, enjoys traveling and communicating and takes every opportunity to expand her horizon.

You can reach her here.

What is Science Policy and Diplomacy?

in Poli-Scie by

Editor’s note: Science is a universal language and it knows no bounds. In her new post, Debanjana talks about why science should be at the center of all diplomatic relations – Neha Bhutani

 

I had promised in my last blog to be back with an article to discuss some plausible paths to a career in science diplomacy. However, I gleaned from the reader comments that the concept of science diplomacy seemed abstract to many. Therefore, before we get to careers and transition paths, I would like to linger a little longer on the definition and cite a few concrete examples.

 

Policy is a two-way street between the government and the public1,2. Science policy experts are links between the world of research, the government, and the public. These experts are entrusted with the responsibility of shaping and formalizing the government’s stance on particular scientific issues and controversies, as well as drafting legislation to address them. Besides their own policy experts, politicians often call upon outside analysts working at scientific non-profits for recommendations and reviews on the bills they draft. In the words of Dr. Laura Hoopes, emeritus professor at Pomona College, CA and former AAAS-fellow, ‘Science Policy really addresses two different themes: policy for science and science for policy. Policy for science is probably what most scientists think of when they think of “science policy”. It revolves around questions on how to fund science, and how to create goals for scientific research. In contrast, science for policy is more about how scientific evidence can contribute to the decision-making process.’’

Policies are drafted not only at national level, but also at subnational as well as international level. This leads us to the topic of ‘science in diplomacy’ where some policy experts, by dint of their background in specific scientific disciplines as well as economics and international affairs, advice to inform and support foreign policy objectives of a country. For example, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is a government agency of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs which works to reduce poverty and promote development and equality. The SIDA-supported Health Nutrition and Population Sector Programme (HNPSP2) in Bangladesh is the world´s largest health sector programme3.

‘Science in Diplomacy’ is crucial in combating issues that have far-reaching consequences well beyond national levels, such as climate change, emergence of new infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance etc. An erroneous policy of one nation can impact the health and economy of not only its neighboring countries but the entire world. United Nations is constantly pushing for evidence-based policies customized to the needs and circumstances of every stake-holder to realize the sustainable development goals (SDGs) worldwide.

 

As I had mentioned in my earlier blog, ‘Science Diplomacy’ refers to three main types of activities:

  1. “Science in diplomacy”
  2. “Science for diplomacy”
  3. “Diplomacy for science”

 

Since we already touched upon the topic of ‘science in diplomacy’, we are left with the other two undertakings. The way I see it, ‘Science for Diplomacy’ is when scientific collaborations are used as a tool to improve diplomatic relationship between two nations. However, not all international scientific cooperations qualify. Such cooperations when established, and maintained with an ulterior diplomatic motive constitutes science diplomacy. Scientists are at a unique position to foster such connections. The relationship between two countries could be strained but they are usually still open to the idea of scientific exchange for the greater good. Prior to Obama administration, this approach was popularly known as ‘soft power’. The US-Iran nuclear deal of 2015, recent improvements in US- Cuba relations are prominent examples. Despite half a century long political impasse between US and Cuba, American Association for the Advancement of Science had been silently collaborating with the Cuban Academy of Sciences since 1997. This scientific cooperation formed the bedrock for the reestablishment of bilateral relations in December 2014. Contrary to popular notion, it is not always that the less developed country gets to benefit more from such relations. An interesting example is the US discovery of Cuba-developed lung cancer vaccine, Climavax, which has now been approved by FDA. Here are some good articles describing the role of science diplomacy in rebuilding of US-Cuba relations:

http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2016/07/11/science-diplomacy-and-us-cuban-relations

https://www.aaas.org/news/science-diplomacy-improves-cuba-us-relations

http://www.sciencediplomacy.org/perspective/2015/building-lasting-cuba-us-bridge-through-science

 

Update: This article was written prior to the executive order by President Trump to revise some of the Cuba policies of Obama era. The extent to which the diplomatic and scientific cooperation between the two countries would change is unclear at present.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-announces-revisions-to-parts-of-obamas-cuba-policy/

 

The flip side of the coin are the nations with friendly diplomatic relations who could still benefit from establishing better and more effective ties through scientific collaborations (Diplomacy for Science). The most personal example in my mind is that of Germany and India. Historically, these two nations never faced any insurmountable diplomatic obstacle. Nevertheless, recognizing the benefits of science and technology collaboration with India and possibly, as a strategy to attract young highly-skilled talent into the country (Replacement Migration4), Germany has been making great efforts in engaging with India through ‘Science Diplomacy’. Unknowingly, we ourselves might have reaped positive benefits from such efforts. Back in 2010 when I set off for the Germany, little did I know how my career path had already been touched so closely by science diplomacy. German House for Research and Innovation at New Delhi is actively involved in facilitating bilateral projects in higher education, language, science, research and innovation. One significant step forward in the bilateral relations was signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in April, 2006 during the visit by the then Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh to Germany. As a part of this Science and Technology Collaboration, the Indo-German Science Centre for Infectious Diseases (IG-SCID) was opened in 2007. To foster cooperation through joint workshops and exchange programs, the IG-SCID brought together the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and the Hanover Medical School (MHH). This policy had impacted me personally as I was able to interview in-person with professors from MHH at New Delhi to secure a full scholarship for my doctoral studies at MHH. Such stories are only a small part of the boon of such diplomatic endeavors.

 

I hope that this article sheds some more light on the premise of science diplomacy. The next blog topic would be career track in science policy and diplomacy. So long!


1http://www.asbmb.org/asbmbtoday/asbmbtoday_article.aspx?id=10188

2http://www.sciwri.club/archives/2453

3http://www.sida.se/English/how-we-work/our-fields-of-work/health/

4http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/migration/migration.htm

 

About the author: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debanjana is an Immunologist / Clinical Coordinator at Columbia University, NY.  She is passionate about traveling, dancing, and languages. She is here to share the musings of her meandering mind.

 

 

Featured image: Pixabay

This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

Confluence of Intellect: The 2017 IISc Alumni Meet (Washington, DC)

in Sci-Pourri by

Indian Institute of Science Association of Alumni North America (IISc AANA) held its 3rd Conference on Emerging Themes in Science, Engineering and Technology on June 4th, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The conference featured plenary and invited talks on cognitive healthcare, space exploration, alternative careers, entrepreneurship, academic and industrial leadership, and a panel discussion on career options.

More than a hundred alumni attended the conference, including the present Director of IISc, Prof. Anurag Kumar. The alumni included those who graduated way back in the 1960s, several recent graduates and everyone in between. Motivation, ambition and eagerness to network, learn from each other, and dedication to make lasting contributions were palpable from each and every one attending the Conference.

Dr. Sunil Kumar, Provost and Senior Vice-President of Academic Affairs at John Hopkins University gave the introductory remarks.

Three exceptional talks followed.

The first one was given by Dr. Eric Brown, Director of Foundational Intelligence for IBM Watson Health on “Watson in Healthcare”. Dr. Brown’s talk focussing on the role of IBM Watson in Healthcare neatly brought out the impact Watson will have on the availability of large curated data sets of patient records for clinical practice. The role could be similar to that played by Thomson Innovation that made curated Patent and patent application data sets available for IP professionals in a scale that was unprecedented.

The second one was given by Dr. James Green, Director, Planetary Science Division, NASA on “Space exploration”. Dr. Green’s talk elegantly presented the advances NASA is making in understanding the solar system and evolution of planets. Introducing Dr. Green, Dr. Murthy Gudipati from NASA compared the role played by Caltech and JPL in NASA’s pursuit of its goals to that of IISc in Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) pursuit of its ambitions. He also remarked about IISc’s effort to start a Center for Planetary Science, a welcome sign that India is preparing to play another lead role in space exploration. 

The third one was given by Dr. Katepalli Sreenivasan, Dean of NYU Tandon School of Engineering on “International Science”. The talks were followed by question and answer sessions.

The IISc Director presented a brief history of the Institute and its present activities, notable among which were the expansion of infrastructure, academic and research activities within the present campus, the acquisition of a huge new campus (1500 acres) at Chelekkare, located around 225 kms from the Bangalore campus, and funding expansion beyond traditional government funding support.

The latter included several industry tie-ups as well as support from other organizations and foundations as well as individuals for student fellowships, faculty support, travel support, research support and establishment of dedicated research centers such as the Center for Brain Research supported by Pratiksha Trust with a 20 million dollar endowment. The Director, Prof. Anurag Kumar, also discussed the activities of IISc’s Office of Development and Alumni Affairs with its stated aim to build a vibrant community of alumni, friends, partners and well-wishers who volunteer to support the Institute’s mission.

ODAA has been successful in bringing in support worth several million dollars to various research programs such as Brain Research, Environmental Research and Cyber Physical Systems. The Director also talked about IISc’s Office of Career Counseling and Placement. The current Chairman of ODAA, Prof. Govindan Rangarajan, was in attendance.

Dr. Sreenivasan, presented an engaging critique of IISc’s research activities as it relates to international science, focusing on the steps IISc management has to make to have the Institute get noticed as a leader in international scientific arena. He pointed out that the international stature of IISc is not commensurate with its national status and working on solutions to problems that India faces and focusing on a few Grand challenges will engage international collaborations at the highest levels. He noted and welcomed several new initiatives that the present Director presented earlier, specifically the new initiative of a tenure track program for IISc faculties and the efforts to shore up ODAA to seek and maintain funding outside traditional sources that IISc is familiar with. He encouraged the management to sort out a mandate for the institute from the many choices it had such as instructional and research. He wondered whether the IISc is spreading itself too thin with the breadth and nature of its current activities. He suggested that IISc focus its resources on a few research programs with Grand Challenges and also further develop ODAA to improve the perception of the Institute in other spheres. He suggested that the institute should aim to procure 20% of its funding from private sources as done by many of the leading research institutes/universities in the US. He also pointed out that IISc is yet to have a woman director.

The post-lunch session featured talks by Dr. Srikumar Chellappan (H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, titled “Biology and Treatment of Human Cancer: New Insights and Old Challenges”), Dr. Girish Nallur (Connecticut Innovations, titled “Innovating in the age of disruption – spotting, seizing and internalizing emerging opportunities”), Dr. Jairaj Acharya (NCI, titled “What model organism studies have taught us about bioactive lipids”, and Dr. Sunil Kumar (Provost, Johns Hopkins University titled “Preparing to lead in the next decade”). Dr. Sunil Kumar in particular engaged the audience with his unique style and talents. Dr. Anand Swaroop from NIH introduced the speakers.

The Panelists and Participants

The Conference ended with a panel discussion on Career Options. The panelists, Dr. Syam Anand (Founder and US patent agent, Mainline Intellectual Property LLC, Philadelphia), Dr. Sankhavaram R. Panini (Professor of Biochemistry & Genetics, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Middletown, NY), Dr. Durga Paruchuri (MCCO Account Manager Genentech Inc.), Dr. Hiriyana, Kelaginamane (Patent Examiner, USPTO), and Dr. Haren Vasavada (VP, Optherion, Connecticut) were led by Dr. Rita Khanna (Legal Counsel and Business Development Professional at International Technology Transfer Management, Inc., Washington DC). The discussion evolved into a candid, vibrant, and engaging one with the young and the old in the panel as well as the audience sharing their experience and wisdom. The discussion covered the importance of individual initiative, passion to excel, understanding financial and legal challenges right at the beginning of becoming an entrepreneur, protecting intellectual property right from conception, the role of mentoring, and the role of networking.

IISc AANA’s senior alumni encouraged youngsters to take initiative and get engaged in AANA’s activities as it expands to the east coast.

 

Historically and Infographically speaking…..

 

& Humorously Laapataa on IISc Campus

Cartoon By Sujit Kumar Chakrabarti

About the author:

Syam

Authored by Dr Syam Anand, PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc; Post-Doctoral research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Faculty, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Founder and US Patent Agent, Mainline Intellectual Property LLC, Ardmore, Philadelphia USA). Syam has over 20 years experience in diverse areas of Science with domain knowledge in Life Sciences and Intellectual Property. Dr. Anand is also an inventor and budding entrepreneur. A rationalist, Dr. Anand enjoys science at all levels and advocates the use of scientific methods for answering all questions and solving all problems and make common people curious and interested in understanding their worlds.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/syamprasadanand

Feature image source: Vikas Navratna

Blog design: Abhinav Dey

Creative Commons License
This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

 

 

MedNess: FDA Approvals, Label Expansions and International Market

in Medness by

Hello and welcome to MedNess. This edition of MedNess covers the latest from small and big biotech and pharma companies. Stay tuned for MedNess Asco Coverage. In the meantime, please subscribe to ClubSciWri for our other articles and blog posts!

Celgene supports Dragonfly in enhancing NK-cell based immunotherapy

The discovery-stage company, Dragonfly Therapeutics, aims to enhance immunotherapy using Natural Killer (NK)  cells. Dragonfly aims to harness the power of body’s innate immune system to vastly improved patient outcomes. They plan to stimulate NK cells so that these cells can attack tumors directly with support of T and B cells. This strategy has attracted the attention of a leading global pharmaceutical company, Celgene along with the Duke of Bedford, Disney family members and other organizations.

Celgene bagged the option on four NK cell based cancer therapeutics to treat myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma and other hematological cancers by investing over $33 million in Dragonfly. This collaboration by Celgene shows that they saw immense potential in this discovery stage biotech to develop innovative therapies for cancer patients (Dragonfly Therapeutics, Fierce Biotech).

MedNess: Celgene recently reported positive data from Lupus trial. Its shares have been soaring with an overall gain of 19.8% in the last one year. As per Zack’s index, Celgene stocks are a strong hold. At the present, the shares are sold for $124.82 (Zacks).

Europe, US, and Japan joins hands to boost antibiotic development

The three drug regulators of the world; European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA,) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) participated in the tripartite meeting in Vienna, Austria  to consider a robust response to boost antibiotic development.

They agreed to align their data requirements for certain aspects of the clinical development of new antibiotics so that the new meds can come in the global market. Also, in the meeting, they discussed in detail clinical trial recommendations for certain types of bacterial infections, including infections caused by multi-drug resistant organisms. Even the areas of differences were talked about in this meeting, and an effort to work together to minimize them was discussed.

While all three of them are now working on updating their respective guidance documents, they are also willing to provide suggestions to the individual biopharma companies. The next meeting is scheduled for October 2017 ( Fierce biotech, EMA).

Astrazeneca terminates the plan for NASH drugs with SoCal’s Regulus

California based biopharmaceutical company, Regulus aims to discover and develop innovative medicines targeting microRNAs. They recently announced their pipeline updates and advancement in which a major setback was when Astrazenenca terminated the clinical development program for AZD4076 (RG-125) which is involved in the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in Type 2 Diabetes/Pre-diabetes.

Regulus also planned to discontinue clinical development of RG-101 for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) upon completion of the one remaining clinical study, which is expected to occur in July 2017. Now, the company is majorly focussing on keeping the plans of the Phase II clinical programs for RG-012 which is used for the treatment of Alport syndrome on track. Also, the IND for RGLS4326 for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is on track for filing by year end 2017 (Regulus, Fiercebiotech).

AstraZeneca’s Lynparza slows breast cancer progression, now a potential precision drug against prostate cancer

AstraZeneca announced statistically significant positive results from Phase 3 OlympiAD tested against breast cancer patients with BRCA gene mutations. The results demonstrated a clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) for patients treated with Lynparza (olaparib) tablets (300mg twice daily), compared to chemotherapy. In addition, a 42% reduction in disease worsening or death (HR 0.58; 95% CI 0.43-0.80; p=0.0009; median 7.0 vs 4.2 months) was observed in patients treated with Lynparza when compared to those who received chemotherapy. The results were reported in New England Journal of Medicine. Lynparza was earlier approved for ovarian cancer that is caused by BRCA. Now, in another study being carried out at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, Lynparza is showing a potential towards precision drug in prostate cancer. According to the researchers, the test designed by them, could distinguish the disease severity, treatment response and if prostate cancer is evolving genetically and can potentially become drug resistant. The results of these tests were reported in Cancer Discovery (AstraZeneca, Reuters)

MedNess: AstraZeneca has a strong pipeline of drug candidates.  The stock has a market capitalization of $87 billion. Lynparza generated $218 million in sales in 2016. The current share price is a little over $34 with overall gain of 0.26% (Forbes, CNNMoney).

Clovis Oncology announces positive results from late stage ovarian cancer trial

Clovis Pharma’s, Rubraca, met its primary endpoint and a key secondary endpoint. The company is planning to request label expansion for Rubraca and gain approval for second line treatment and maintenance treatment for women with platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer who have responded to their most recent platinum therapy. Clovis Pharma’s drug is directly in competition with Tesar Inc’s Zejula and AstraZeneca Plc’s Lynparza. All the drugs belong to the class of PARP inhibitors, that blocks enzymes poly ADP ribose polymerases. These enzymes are involved in repairing damaged DNA (Clovis Oncology).

MedNess: Clovis Pharma’s shares are soaring. It shutdown at $59.97 on Friday, June 15. The stock opened at $87.73 (~ 50% surge in price) on Monday, June 19.

MedNess Asia:

Promising addition in cancer therapy from Chi-Med with a huge investment from U.S. partner Eli Lilly

Last week, Hutchison China MediTech Limited (Chi-Med) has submitted its New Drug Application (NDA) to China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for fruquintinib, developed jointly with Eli Lilly to treat advanced cases of colorectal cancer (CRC). In addition, fruquintinib is being tested to treat non-small cell lung cancer and gastric cancer. The drug selectively inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor receptor and helps preventing angiogenesis, i.e. development of new blood vessels essential for tumor growth and metastasis.

Chi-Med aims to break the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) manufacturer’s stereotype of Chinese pharma companies, and establish itself in bringing innovative and modern drugs in international market. The other drug that the company is evaluating at phase II trial for cancer research is sulfatinib, that also targets tumor angiogenesis and immune evasion. (Reuters, Chi-med press releases)

MedNess: CRC is the second most common cancer with 380,000 cases in China and 1.5 mn cases globally. Reports suggest that the number of new cases of CRC will increase by 13% over the next three years by 2020. Hopes are that fruquintinib can be used in combination with chemotherapy and targeted cancer therapy. Since the application of NDA for the drug on 12th June, Chi-Med has seen a surge of 2.6% in its stock prices (within two days).

Market for internationally manufactured aesthetic medicine in China

Austria-based Croma-Pharma becomes the only second European producers of intradermal fillers approved in China. Intradermal fillers (biodegradable – like different forms of collagen and hyaluronic acid, semi-permanent – like different polymers and permanent – like silicone) help in skin aging management by restoring facial volume or treating wrinkles.

Croma-Pharma (CP) has registered Princess® VOLUME, a hyaluronic acid based filler in China by joining hands with Sihuan Pharmaceutical (SP)  – CP brings in its products, experience and related intellectual property rights, whereas SP will provide its multi-channel distribution and marketing knowledge, being one of the largest pharma corporations and drug franchises in China. This joint venture aims to compete against the local manufacturers in the country and increase the quality of beauty products in China. (Croma news, Bloomberg)

MedNess: China has the largest market for aesthetic medicine in Asia-Pacific region growing at 20% annually, with its aging population, increasing awareness about aesthetic treatment and rise in disposable incomes. By taking advantage of a Chinese company’s distribution channels, Croma-Pharma hopes to reach a considerable market share, by competing against local manufacturers – an issue that has been bothering most foreign manufacturers in China.

Generic anticoagulant launched by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories for US market

Indian multinational pharma company Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories launched bivalirudin, a therapeutic equivalent generic version of Angiomax® by the Medicines Company. Approved by US-FDA, it is to be used for injection as a blood anticoagulant.

Angiomax, a direct thrombin inhibitor (DTI) structurally similar to hirudin, is used for acute cardiovascular care. DTIs show a higher specificity in reaction with thrombin and lesser complications arising from its use, and hence are preferred over indirect thrombin inhibitors like heparin . Angiomax and its generics registered US sales of around $198 mn over the last year till March 2017. (Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories press release, The Medicines Company)

MedNess:  The anticoagulants market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 6% by 2020. Within a week after the launch (on 6th June) by Dr. Reddy’s its stock prices went up by 4.5%.

 

Featured Image: Vinita Bharat

About the Authors:

 Imit Kaur, Ph.D. is a freelance scientific advisor, medical writer, editor, and an active science blogger. She pursued her PhD in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah. She is experienced in the field of oncology, hematology, pharmacology, nanotechnology and drug development. Follow Imit on LinkedIn (Imit Kaur) or Twitter (@imit_kaur)

Somdatta Karak, PhD is interested in pharma and healthcare sector in Asia. She also works with PhD Career Support Group / Club SciWri as its project coordinator. She aims to make a more and better informed world for all, and hence experiments with making effective platforms of education. She can be reached here.

Vinita Bharat Ph.D., is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at European Neuroscience Institute, Göttingen, Germany and had been an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) student here. Her research area focuses on cellular and molecular neuroscience. Other than enjoying ‘being a scientist’, she has also been working on science education. Presenting science in easy and fun way is what she loves doing through her platform “Fuzzy Synapse” (one can find fuzzy synapse on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). She is a fun, enthusiastic and curious person, passionate about traveling, loves celebrations and bringing smiles around her.

 

 

The week that it was : 12th -18th June, 2017

in ClubSciWri by

Hola summer-lovers. This week as the sun shines down graciously on Queensland, very many scientific discoveries and traditional approaches faced the heat of scrutiny and re-investigation at various levels.

The therapeutic tug-of-war gets CrispR

CrispR companies respond and raise concerns over flaws in the data in a recent publication over the pitfalls of this popular genome-editing technique. Bench scientists might consider weighing the pros and cons of this technique as Nature discusses these concerns with the authors.

The HIV detection assay ‘Quantitative viral outgrowth assay’ is outcompeted by a gene-expression based novel HIV test –‘TZA’ that enables early detection of the dormant virus. The test is quicker than the traditional assay and might potentially be a step in the right direction for HIV diagnosis shows studies at Pitt Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology. On the other hand, the failure of anti-estrogen therapies in endometriosis is attributed to estrogen not being the causative hormone for the condition in the first place!! Scientists at National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showed that presence of estrogen does not promote the growth of these tissues outside the uterus.

The power (house) production

Mitochondria, also know as the powerhouse of a cell has always been known as the energy (ATP) production house. However, recent studies show that this organelle might be doing much more than that, as it produces metabolites and control hematopoietic stem cell fate. Now that’s what we call multi-tasking.

Tinder for science 😉

Yes that’s right! We now have a tinder-look-a-like app called Papr for the scientific community to show appreciation towards our fellow researchers’ work. It allows life scientists to rate fellow researchers work by swiping right on pre-prints as also make connection via twitter account that could be linked to the app. So people get ‘swiping right for science’.

Recently initiative by he NIH called the Grant Support Index (GSI) was a promising venture to cap funding at the top level and facilitate funding for new labs. However, this initiative has now been withdrawn. If you wish to support and wish to implement it for betterment of future scientist please sign the petition here.

Story of the week: Parenthood special

As we celebrate Father’s day this week, a new father talks about the challenges of balancing work and parenthood for working dads.
The science heroes for this week are also parents Sharon Terry and her husband Pat who turned citizen scientist to study a rare genetic condition PXE their children faced. In this TED talk, Sharon narrated the story of their journey of becoming a bench-scientists and making considerable contribution to understanding the condition. She urges the scientific community to focus coming together to make a difference than being a part of the rat race.

 

Also, read here various contributions of cancer cells from Henrietta Lacks to various key scientific breakthroughs from eradicating polio to mapping the human genome. The controversial HeLa cells have now made it to the silver screen- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in addition to being a household name among life-scientists.

BioSpace invite female life-scientists to share their unique experience in science while CSGian Viswa Nadham urges fellow CSGians to share your thoughts and experiences about biotech dreams and how the education system and opportunities a can be improved. Follow and contribute to the discussion here. Share your stories to inspire and educate the future researchers.

Immigration info-desk

For US post-docs, Kasthuri Kannan advises on green card policies in a CSG post in addition to the brief summary of the Immigration Info session held at Columbia University Postdoctoral Society.

CSG: the new Hogwarts

SciWri invites new interns to contribute to translating the statistical article to biologist-lingo while the current writers can improve their blogs using these tips and tools. Follow the discussion here. As the second round of applications open for the CSG Consulting Club, here are few tips for a strategic approach to solving case studies.
For the data science enthusiasts, CSG Data Science club hosts its first in-person classes by Kasthuri Kannan on July 22nd, from 2pm to 3.30pm at the Translational Research Building of NYU. The classes will be accessible on FB live as well. Also, for the self-learners heres an interactive tool to learn coding for free!!
A MSL discussion will be hosted by CSG for PhDs aspiring to follow this career path. Please join the discussion by signing up here while future policy makers can gather a few tips from Debra Cooper from the California State Senate Office of Research as she narrates her story of transition to Science policy while enlisting the various roles in that area.
For all the creative thinkers out there, CSG is looking for a ‘name’ for the first ever Asian-scientists networking event hosted by CSG: The Annual meet-up. So let your ideas flow in!!
CSGians in NJ area are invited to signup for a CSG-Meet up on June 24th 2017. And finally here’s some advice for our mentors at CSG as they gear up for the June-Dec 2017 cycle of the Mentor-Mentee program. Good luck and kudos to your effort!

Resume roadmap

This week in this section Ananda explains the importance of planning an effective post-doc application and how CSG can help you get your dream job.
A successful CSGian Richa Jaiswal writes about her transition as a Senior Scientist in the Protein Sciences division of a CR). Smita Salian Mehta points out a few differences in academia and industry while sharing a list of world’s most reputable pharma companies in 2017. If you are prepping to make the move, read how to gracefully walk out of your current position, but remember to plan your transition in advance and seek advise from our experienced fellow CSGians.
For those happily settled in your new job , do consider Individual Development Plans(IDPs) exercise with you PI or boss to identify career objectives and achieve professional development.

Funding calls

For data science fanatics, apply for the INSIGHT FELLOWS PROGRAM
We have some new funding opportunities for European scientists and Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology (LSP) Fellowship in Scientific Project Management at Harvard to learn project management while supporting a federal grant. Those with the entrepreneurial ambitions here’s an opportunity for ‘technopreunership’ from USA and India.

Opportunities from our Pandora box

Some of the opportunities featured this week were:

Jobs at Biogen
Proposal Development Manager New York
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Postdoctoral fellow at University of Cambridge

And signing off with a tickle to your funny bone with a song, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sang to graduating SMU students during his Commencement address at a graduating ceremony.

Have a productive week!!

About the cover image 

This week’s cover image titled ‘CrispR : Good or Bad ’ is an illustration by Vinita Bharat at Fuzzy Synapse.

About the author

Nisha Peter is a Post-doctoral fellow at Sussex Drug Discovery Centre,UK and has done her PhD  from Genome Damage and Stability Centre,UK . Her research interest involves cell biology (I’ve spend a lifetime admiring mitotic cells during my PhD!!) and oncology. She works for Club SciWri as a freelance writer to pursue her love for “words”. Apart from being bench scientist she actively participates in science communication events, enjoys teaching, globetrotting and experimenting with music.

A Date with Science

in Sci-Pourri by

We, scientists,  when wanting to communicate science always end up either presenting a talk in conferences, seminars or giving ‘progress’ reports in our laboratories. Believe it or not, we all feel comfortable in our tiny worlds surrounded by pipettes, lab journals and computer screens. However,  due to recent amendments in science policies, restricted funding issues and problems like climate change, its high time to come out from our small cocoon and raise awareness about science to general public. In fact, we did- millions marched together on the streets around the world on the earth day just for a better future.

On the same line, Pint of Science, a non-profit organization which was first initiated by two young researchers from Imperial College London in 2012, has the aim to bring science closer to the society. Within the span of a few years, the idea spread and currently 155 cities in 12 countries from all over the world have joined the same motto. The event is organized by enthusiastic volunteers and always takes place in the relaxed atmosphere of a bar which stimulates a more dynamic and direct interaction between speakers and audience. This makes Pint of Science, a unique platform for scientists to share their current research to the general public in the city.

For more Pint of Science videos click here

We, a group of four PhD students, hosted the event “Pint of Science festival” for the very first time in our lovely and student-friendly city of Münster, Germany. To begin with, we faced many challenges! It was a learning experience that left many memories to cherish. Our great relief was us “The team”, and having support from each other. Truly, while organizing this event, I once again realized the importance of great team work that seem to be able to build empires from scratch. We became almost regular customers of coffee shops during our tea breaks and had lot of fun while discussing about the upcoming events. Our discussions would even extend over dinner, even after full workday in the lab. We divided the event into three different topics namely: Insights into disease models, Society-from past to future and Atoms to galaxies, in order to attract a diverse audience. Soon, it was the time to invite speakers. In Physics and Biology it was rather easy to get confirmed speakers as we ourselves have our backgrounds from these fields. However, during that time we also realized the big gap between natural science and humanities studies, that need to be filled. It took us quite a while to arrange speakers for our society session.

After the program was finalized, the second step was to announce the event! We spammed everybody with emails, our graduate school newsletters, posters all over the city and the world via human inventions of social media like Facebook and LinkedIn posts. We also created a Facebook event and I still remember how we checked Facebook notifications everyday and celebrated each like on the page. We had our own official photographer and also a special violin duet as a musical intermission. Days and months passed and time for the final show came.

On the day of the event, we reached the venue first to set up everything and so did our speakers and finally the talks were projected on the screen. Together, we were all curiously awaiting people to show up. Our minds were full of random thoughts, ‘What if no one comes ? ’ ‘What if we have made a mistake?’ After waiting for few minutes, few of our friends arrived first. That was a very different feeling, seeing them at that moment compared to our general hangouts. We were more boosted up now and within few minutes the whole venue was full and we were looking around for an extra chair to fit in. Talks began with the clinking of the beer mugs. During the three days of science festival, we witnessed great interactive talks ranging from drug screening for Parkinson, to energy and climate change policies, from archaeological excavations and to solar meteorites. It was a totally different environment. We all felt more connected to the speakers and their projects compared to our typical science conferences. To be frank, I also asked a lot of silly questions during the talks and during the breaks which I hardly remember doing in previous conferences that I attended. Last but not the least, for the first time in my life, I touched a real meteorite, that was just an amazing experience.

If I read out loud some of the feedback comments from our audience, I feel that everyone very much appreciated our effort and was very glad to get an opportunity to hear talks from different fields, to get more involved. And of course, we all enjoyed the beer! In fact, we already have a list of interested volunteers who would love to be the part of our team for next year. Not only, the audience but also the speakers admired the concept and were glad they participated. However, during one of the days of the event, one speaker turned to the audience and asked ‘How many of you are not students ? ‘.  Surprisingly (or not-surprisingly) we had very few hands up in the air but I was extremely happy to see one of the waiters from the bar sitting among the audience, even though it was his free workday. Certainly, the event created whispers and ripples of curiosity in the surroundings of the bar. But we are still miles away from bringing science closer to the major chunk of public audience, to motivate them, and to make them understand what we are doing inside these fancy laboratories. We also realized the dilemma of the language barrier, and wondered if talks in German would have been more appealing to the local people of the city, although not the best option for the international students. We will need to think about it and come up with better strategies to attract and entertain a diverse audience: locals and internationals, science people and a general interested public.

Overall, we had a great experience, thanks to the idea of Pint of Science! As PhD students,  we had a great opportunity to actually execute and practice networking, team building, problem solving, risk management, project management, science communication that already makes a whole business management book. Well, I have already made a new folder on my computer named “Pint of Science-2018” so, stay tuned!

Just for the Laughs….

via GIPHY

About the Author:

Abhiyan is currently pursuing his PhD at University of Muenster, Germany. He considers himself a very social and international person, who is trying to find and establish harmony between science, society and arts. He loves connecting with different people and learning, sharing ideas with them.

Edited by: Neha Bhutani

Featured Image by: Vinita Bharat

Disclaimer- the logo in the cartoon is a registered trademark of Pint of Science.

 

Creative Commons License
This work by ClubSciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

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