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Category Archives: BioEngineering

Destroying Humanity with Social

Bisphenol-A (BPA), known as the "gender bending" chemical because of its connection to male impotence, has now been shown to decrease sperm mobility and quality. The findings are likely to increase pressure on governments around the world to follow Canada and ban the substance from our shelves. BPA is used widely to make plastic harder and watertight tin cans

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Destroying Humanity with Social

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Faculty Interview | MIT Introduction to Bioengineering, Spri

Interview with Bioengineering faculty Prof. Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli View the complete course: License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA More information at More courses at

Faculty Interview | MIT Introduction to Bioengineering, Spri

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Bioengineering- Clemson Graduate School Dr. Karen Burg discusses how IBIOE educates people about their research

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Bioengineering- Clemson Graduate School

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The Acne Apps Scandal – how a select few make everyone suffer…

Lately, there has been so much yelling and screaming by concerned "non-profits" and their "friends" about how taxes kill innovation, patents kill innovation, regulations kill innovation and pretty much anything that the party they support does not endorse kills innovation (I don't care about your politics, but stop being so transparent, please!).

And yet, for all this noise they throw out, the signals in their brains appear too weak. On one end, they hark about taxes, and on the other end they hang on to aging, inconsequential CEOs. On the other hand, what the hell do people think when, 
1. They let people design and sell apps that "cure" Acne by pointing a cell phone at something? Why did the FTC have to intervene? What is fundamentally wrong with Apple and Google that they did not actively seek out this nonsense and stop it.
2. There were 15,000 downloads of the apps. I am hoping about 14,990 of these downloads were done for a joke? Yeah, I live in fantasy land. Well you know, if we weren't this silly, why would a Government need to regulate such fundamental things?
Irresponsibility - the origin of regulation
Pharmaceutical, device and now app regulations arise because companies act irresponsibly. Sometimes so gravely and with such transparency and ulterior motives that it causes one to pause. The two acne apps are excellent examples of such behavior.
The industry cannot condone such action on one hand, and continue to seek fewer regulations on the other hand. It is just not going to happen. There are more than the 15,000 geniuses that downloaded the apps, and some of us think! - And when we do, we think for all of us, just not some of us!
The few that ruin it for the many
If, among the whiners and complainers, there are ones that really want less regulation, they need to take on the few that ruin it for all of us. Don't simply stand by everyone that crosses your path. Take a stance, fight back and then maybe, we can get some of those regulations down. 
If you simply want to complain, good luck..


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There’s trouble ahead for Pharma…

Pharma, Drug Industry, or as many of us fondly refer to it as "Big Pharma" is headed for trouble. There are four main sources of trouble for the industry and while this is no uncommon knowledge, it is worth repeating here:

1. Size:

No one wants to admit it, but pharmaceutical companies have bloated to sizes that are unfathomable within the realms of meaning or logic. Once companies get this big, all they care about are Excel files in which employees are mere cells if not columns. Every effort to fight costs is seen as an exercise in employee reduction.

Recently, I came across a rather depressing rebuttal to Scientific American's "1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days", by Josh Bloom, a former employee of Wyeth, with a PhD in Chemistry and more than a few years of experience to boot, that complained about the jobs moving to cheaper locations.

While he paints a sobering picture and may create the impression that building careers in science and engineering may not help kids in the future, the point that the layoffs in big pharmaceutical companies have gotten out of control.

Consequences of size

The large scale of the organizations in question exponentially worsen the problems they face. Instead of taking responsibility, executives appear to stake out defensive walls and target large swathes of employees and lay them off. It is not surprising then that scientists like Josh Bloom appear disenchanted.

2. The buck-passing routine

Blaming the FDA or the federal government or pretty much any other entity but themselves has become a favorite with executives in some of these companies. With Senators and Congressmen acting as mouthpieces to their donors, the executives and the organizations, this has only become too easy. The Supreme Court has not helped with its irresponsibility in assuming that a laissez-fair state of donations is somehow constitutionally acceptable.

Company executives should exercise and assume strategic vision and indulge in creative solutions, not pass the buck and appear spineless.

3. Loss of exclusivity - the patent "cliff"

With many patents about to expire in the near future, about 110 drugs will lose their exclusivity between 2012-2014. This represents a significant loss of income for various pharmaceutical organizations. Before you herald your sympathy though, you should realize that the fact that the companies will be affected by the patent "cliff" was in open view, and should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Relying way too much on one and only one strategy - exclusivity to "blockbuster" drugs has led to the issue at hand, again something that these high priced bell-hops executives should have hedged against with alternates.

Simply acquiring companies and slashing jobs has of course been the only and ineffective alternate.

4. Conservative R&D

"Throughout the centuries, there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision." -- Ayn Rand

Cheesy? Yeah, maybe, but here is the deal. Drugs were released, not by MBAs equipped with pretty PowerPoint slides, but by people who struggled through starting companies and double mortgaged their homes. When these companies became acquired by larger organizations, R&D turned to becoming conservatives.

In trying to come up with new drugs, organizations have adopted the same age-old strategies, and used smoke-screens instead of real and deliberate attempts at innovation. This of course, has meant that only 21 molecules were introduced last year, as opposed to 26 the year before.

The Dendreon success story

When Provenge finally won approval, it should have served as an eye opener for many pharma executives that status quo is not a good R&D strategy. There are so many avenues available in genetic repair, personalized medicine and others that remain unfunded or under-funded because everyone wants "someone else" to do it, so that they can swoop in later on, acquire them and lay people off..

Companies that buck the trend and take risks to forge new paths will succeed while others will be left behind to acquire their way to oblivion.

5. Falling, falling, falling...

So, between 2009 and 2010, R&D investments fell over 3%, down from $70bn to $68bn. While that might seem small, according to Reuters, it is bound to fall more.

There are fewer IPOs slated for biotech organizations this year.

Investment in biotech start-ups is also down.


It is time that pharmaceutical companies got serious and set the right priorities. Companies need to trim fat, starting at the top. Stop passing the buck and take responsibility to make sure investors get positive returns on their investments. Make sure there is enough R&D funding and finally, remember they are in the business to improve people's health...


1. Some numbers:

2. On vanishing science jobs:

3. Scientific American's 1000 scientists in 1000 days:

4. Genetic Editing:

5. On passing the buck:

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On Scott Brown’s unfactual rant…

It is like a scene from a bad cowboy movie. Or, a Chuck Norris episode, with GMC trucks and everything. Scott Brown was probably "coached" by his friends at some of the Biotech companies which have impressed on how they have to "train" FDA officials who are regulating them.

Equipped with this, he went and stood in front of a whole bunch of his Biotech friends in some dog and pony show in Massachusetts in his probably inimitable style, that gives no credence to facts or reality.

Here is a dose of what he is purported to have set. "Whether it’s the FDA, EPA or the “ABCDEFG, you name it — there’s so much overregulation right now,” he said. “When you go overseas, the processes are down, they’re set.”".

Too bad, entry into the U.S. Senate is not even under-regulated you say?

Well, according to Scott Brown's constituents, you have to drive certain vehicles, and take money from donors and recite what they ask you to say. See, the process are down, they're set!

Fighting with facts!

You may not like how the FDA regulates things. And if you choose to do so, you can fight in a way that doesn't make you look like a special-plastic smelling aficionado! Just don't do what Scotty here has done - ranting so poorly that one of the FDA spokespeople who he might deem "lacking in mental capability" was able to come out and say that Scott Brown is mostly, if not completely wrong - without having to try hard! As to mental capabilities, what do they say about it taking one to knowing...

Given that more devices and drugs have been approved over the past decade than ever before, and given that the US is still one of the safest bets as far as medical standards go, Scott Brown's statements make him look very eligible to hire himself out to children's parties for some quality entertainment, which some cynical people might deem all politicians to be eligible for...


Armed with the unfortunate ability that renders any ill-minded person to register "non-profits" in the US, a couple of them have engaged in all kinds of cacophony about "over regulation", "loss of competitiveness" and other terms that they can express without developing even a superfluous understanding for.

While the people of a state should observe and regulate their regulatory agencies, it has to be done without rants and forged reports. Bring up the facts, and urge patient-oriented action, not profit or donor oriented action.

Consulting "Experts" - the wrong way

On the other hand, Senator Franken got too excited and has asked the FDA to consult "experts" in the device industry before making changes to device approval processes. Er., should the cop stop you on the freeway and consult you on whether you were speeding or how much the ticket should cost you?

The right way

Health advocacy agencies that don't take money from biotech and device firms; consumer non-profits and other members of the public who have an understanding that goes beyond the sound-bites handed to US senators should be the ones most actively engaged in discussing any industry's state of regulations.

Senators, biotech companies and others have a right to fight regulations too, if they plan to do it with facts, sanity and coherence. That day, pigs plan to fly...





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