The Hound of Baskervilles – Play Review

British authors, Steven Canny and John Nicholson have adapted Victorian thriller, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles, for the stage, as a spoof.  Whether you love the brilliant detective, Sherlok Holmes, or whether you find his arrogance stifling, you will agree that this material renders itself for parody, and Director, Robert Kelley has once again surpassed expectations.  When Holmes asks Watson (holding a walking stick), “what is it” and Watson responds, “I assume, it is a walking stick”, Holmes says, “Never assume anything, Watson”.  Laughter from the audience continued in the halls, long after the show was over.

View Show PhotosGreat kudos go to the Scenic Designer, Andrea Bechert, and Costume Designer, B. Modern, for superbly designed sets and costumes that lend themselves for quick changes, while adding to the humorousness.  Three men play over 20 different characters who are constantly interacting, and each of them come in their own zany, wacky costumes and props.  It is no small feat to pull off that level of theatricality.  It is absolutely hilarious to watch bold butler’s bushy beard pushed to the top of his head, as he comes out as the man’s wife.  There are lots of scenes where the props are masterfully utilized, like when Watson and Holmes go to speak with Sir Henry, while he is in the sauna, or when Watson and Holmes find the butler’s wife looking out of the window and they grab it from her hand and then try to get out of the tiny window.

But in the end it is the impeccably timed, perfectly synchronous, and absolutely zany antics of the three men with boundless energy, that carry the show.  Each of the three men, Darren Bridgett (primarily as Sir Henry Baskerville), Michael Gene Sullivan (primarily as Dr. John Watson), and Ron Campbell (primarily as Sherlock Holmes), play several other characters, in addition to one main character.  Jed Parsario serves as the stagehand.  These are brilliant actors, with improvisional talents, and this was a production that best showcased them.

While the three performers embody dozens of characters, they also tell the story that is full of wordplay and wit, at a breakneck space.  At the end, when Watson and Holmes come upon a dead body, they assume it to be Sir Henry’s and Holmes chides Watson, “Are you happy now Watson?  All you had to do was to keep Sir Henry alive”.  But the brilliant detective Holmes soon solves the mystery and the audience spills out of the theater with howls of laughter.  Elvis Presley’s “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog Cryin’ all the time” plays in the background. If you are looking for fun evening with plenty of laughter, to last the entire weekend, then don’t miss this show.

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Healthcare Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, CA

Life Science Industry gearing up for Innovation:  Code-a-thon (Health Technology Forum), TiEcon, EPPIC event

Code-a-thons are fun and also highly productive live events that bring together developers, designers, innovators and entrepreneurs, brimming with new and exciting ideas on applications and tools for any given problem.  Health Technology Forum in San Francisco was formed with a mission to improve healthcare through technology.  In 2013, HTF organized a very successful code-a-thon that focused on serving the needs of the underserved populations. This year again, HTF has organized a code-a-thon to precede (by about a week to 10 days) its annual conference focused around the theme of Pathways to Sustainable Health, on May 20, at Parc 55, Wyndham Hotel, SF.  Additionally, HTF has proposed a series of events to follow the weekend code-a-thon challenge, including a unique second phase to enable the winning team to be placed on-site at one or more safety-net hospitals.  

DC Health Week Code-a-Thon 13109

DC Health Week Code-a-Thon 13109 (Photo credit: tedeytan)

2014 HTF Innovation Conference: Pathways to Sustainable...So how do code-a-thons help spur innovation?  These short and focused events often result in the rapid development of breakthrough concepts and working prototype applications.  Code-a-thons highlight a problem in need of a solution.  This spotlighting of the problem, with clarity around its challenges and opportunities, helps the problem to remain the primary focus of innovation, and not the technology.  This is a good mental discipline for enthusiastic bright innovators who tend to fall in love with their own idea, and often fail to pay heed to the needs of the market.  The ideas and technologies that come out of code-a-thons often lead to creation of actual products that can be deployed in the marketplace.  Further, if these innovators would receive coaching from stakeholders within the hospital centers then it is inevitable that the positive impact will be enormous and immediate, in creating new innovative solutions, for sustainable healthcare. Few can argue that our healthcare system needs an overhaul, and something that will greatly impact the transformation in the healthcare system is the impact that Big Data will have.  For instance, Big Data can help empower patients to be in charge of their own health.  From providing access to their medical records, to enabling continuous health monitoring, it will help inform and empower patients to be proactive managers of their own health.  Similarly, mounds of clinical and epidemiological data can lead to greater insights in diagnosis and therapeutics of various diseases.  The requirements of this particular code-a-thon will be centered around developing and designing the prototype of an app that supports the collection and communication of health care data about key diseases and behaviors. Please stay tuned for more information, and sign up for the code-a-thon and for the annual conference at and follow them on twitter @healthtechforum.  You can follow me on twitter @DarshanaN.

Additionally, mark your calendar for 2 other interesting life science events.
May 16, 17 is #TiEcon 2014, the largest entrepreneurship conference, at Santa Clara Convention Center, CA.  The Healthcare Track on Day 2 will feature panels on exciting topics like “Harnessing Healthcare Data”, “Engaging Patients of the Future”, “Where the VCs are Investing in Healthcare” and more.  Register at .  EPPIC members will get a discount for TiEcon.
May, 6 EPPIC event – EPPIC frequently spotlights success stories of local entrepreneurs and on My 6 at Cubberley in Palo Alto, will host Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, Founder of Pearl Therapeutics which was acquired last year, by Astra Zeneca for $1.15 B.  Register at is a group that meets every Tuesday, in Sunnyvale and hosts speakers on a wide range of healthcare topics.  Pre-registration required for “Second Tuesday of the month meetings” and all other meetings are free and open for walk-ins.  For information on any of these events, feel free to send me an email at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com.

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Iliad – Play Review

Homer’s Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem, set during the Trojan war, a long ten year siege on the city of Troy, by Greece.  The poem is long and complex and centers more specifically around the short period of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the great warrior Achilles.  Setting this poem to a performance on stage, would seem like a challenge of epic proportion.  But it is effortlessly done at the current production of the “Iliad” running at, in San Jose, CA.

Based on Homer’s Iliad, writers Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, created the stage piece, over a period of 5 years, utilizing video, video transcriptions, improvisation, original music and diligent research.  It was translated by Robert Fagles.  Kenneth Kelleher is a brilliant director who has directed over 20 productions for The Stage, and once again he did a marvelous job, in The Iliad.

DAVE LEPORI/SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANYDavis Jackson, as The Poet, for the most part rises to the demands of "An Iliad," a 100-minute solo showJackson Davis in the role of the poet, gives a spell binding performance.  Although the story itself covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad alludes to the preceding events, including the cause of the war, the hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers who returned home to find their spouses and fashions changed, and those who kept fighting but had forgotten the true cause of the war.  Towards the end, it sets the stage for the sequel, the Odyssey, also attributed to Homer.  This poem is regarded as more or less a complete narrative of the Trojan War.  Davis holds the audience as he tells this complex tale, alternately playing various characters, and using the many props, to set the stage for the next sequence of events.

Paris, a wayward and handsome younger brother of prince Hector of Troy, abducted Helen, the most beautiful woman and wife of the Greek king Menelaus, and brought her to Troy, as his wife, and thus began the Trojan war, that lasted for 9+ years, and took tens of thousands of lives.  Towards the end of the war, where the poem begins, Agamemnon, the Greek leader has abducted Chryseis, a daughter of a Trojan priest, and he refuses to give her up, despite being offered wealth and riches by the father.  Chryseis prays to Apollo who causes plague on the city.  Agamemnon returns Chryseis back but abducts Briseis, Achilles’ captive, as compensation.  This angers Achilles and he refuses to support Agamemnon any more in the fight against Troy.  This sets the stage for the succeeding epic battle.

English: Triumphant Achilles: Achilles draggin...

English: Triumphant Achilles: Achilles dragging the dead body of Hector in front of the gates of Troy.details (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Without Achilles, the Greek side is enormously weakened, and is getting slaughtered, prompting his closest and most dear friend Patroclus to beg Achilles, to allow him to don the great Achilles’ armor, and fight in his stead.  Soldiers imagine Patroclus to be Achilles, and Patroclus inflicts great casualty, before he is found out, and killed by Hector of Troy.  Achilles is mad with grief upon hearing of Patroclus’s death, and in turn not only kills Hector, but drags and dishonors his body.  King Priam of Troy comes to Achilles to beg for his son’s body.  Achilles is deeply moved, and not only returns Hector’s body, but halts the war for 9 days, allowing Troy to mourn Hector’s death.

Like any war, this is a classic tale, with all critical ingredients, like politics, regret, deep losses, innocent victims, and women taken as captives, against their will.  Like any war, time and again, the fighters, winners and loosers alike, appeal to the higher power, for mercy, for compassion, for winning.  This is one of the greatest stories ever told and Jackson Davis does a fabulous job of conveying this complex narrative.  There is a point when he puts this war into larger perspective and names every single war fought and recorded in history.  Wow, wow, wow!  Sickened by war and the destruction it inflicts, the poet says, “Every time I sing this song, I hope it’s the last time”.




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Rapid Non-Invasive Treatment for Stroke

Dr. Mark Borsody, Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Nervive Inc, spoke about stroke healthcare, at event.

Stroke has been a #1 cause of severe disability, #2 cause of death in the world (responsible for more than 5 million deaths, each year), and it is 4th leading cause of death in the US.  About 800,000 people in the US have stroke, each year.  One American dies from stroke, about every 4 minutes.  In fact, stroke is responsible for putting the biggest healthcare burden, worldwide and the burden is likely to increase in the foreseeable future, said Dr. Borsody.  Stroke results from “plumbing problem”, in the brain.  Ischemic stroke is caused by blockage of a blood vessel due to reasons like thrombosis or arterial embolism.  Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding of blood vessels of the brain, either directly into the brain or into the surrounding brain tissue.

While treatment options for hemorrhagic stroke are limited, current treatment options for ischemic stroke include intravenous “clot busting” through tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or through endovascular catheter devices for blood clot retrieval.  Worldwide, an estimated 180,000 tPA treatments are done every year and 22,000 clot retrieval treatments are done.

Microphotograph of HE stained section of human...

Microphotograph of HE stained section of human brain tissue upon acute ischemic stroke. Orgininal magnification 400x (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Honing in on the major problem, Dr. Borsody discussed why do so few patients with stroke receive timely treatment.  Timely intervention is the key for treatment of stroke.  Like all cells in the body, neurons and other brain cells require oxygen and glucose delivered through the blood in order to function and survive.  A few minutes of oxygen deprivation can kill millions of neurons.  Additionally, stroke can provoke inflammation, swelling (edema), and other processes that can continue the damage for hours or days after the initial attack.  However, often treatment of stroke within 60 minutes is very rare due to the time required for patient transportation and in-hospital evaluation.  Effective treatment for stroke can be simple, but it needs to be immediate.  So how come there aren’t many innovations to bring the treatment to the patient, even to buy them some time?

Nervive’s Vital Flow Stimulator is a simple device that is aimed at targeting the facial nerve behind the middle ear.  The objective is to control the cerebral arteries through the facial nerve, which regulates the function of the arteries.  It is comprised of 3-4 cm coil placed over the ear.  Magnetic fields readily penetrate any tissue and creates electrical currents in neural tissues, leading to axonal and soma depolarization.  Early indications are that it is effective in treating ischemic stroke and it is safe in ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.  This device is moreover, simple enough to use without any special training.  Vital Flow complements other therapies and bring exponential benefits of rapid treatments.  The device will be inexpensive, portable, and extremely easy to transport in the ambulance.  The treatment can be administered within a few minutes.  Animal studies show increased blood flow after facial nerve stimulation and improvement in several measures after stroke.

Ending his talk, Dr. Borsody said, Nervive has a strong IP position, the technology is targeting a market with huge potential, and it is substantiated by preclinical and clinical science.  They are starting fund raising for series A round.  To emerge from the dark ages of stroke healthcare, we need some disruptive, out of box (out of hospital) thinking, said Dr Borsody.
Mark your calendars for following events……..

May, 6 – EPPIC will host Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, Founder, Pearl Therapeutics that was acquired by Astra Zeneca for $1.15B, last year.  Register at, @EPPIC_GLOBAL
May 16, 17 – #TiEcon 2014 will feature Healthcare Track to showcase and discuss new innovative technologies in Life Science and healthcare industries, @TiEcon
May, 2014 – Healthcare Code-a-thon will be hosted by @HealthTechForum
May 20, 2014 – “Pathways to Sustainable Health” conference hosted by
You can follow me on Twitter at @DarshanaN
Every Tuesday exciting speaker –


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Joseph Haydn (Chamber Music) by Saint Michael Trio at Villa Montalvo Arts Center

This trio of super talented ensemble, entertains and enthralls, delights the audience, and delineates the music of diverse range of composers and genres.  In addition to the classical masterworks, they perform jazz and even rock tunes.  The artists (Daniel Cher, Russell Hancock, and Michael Flexer) make the concerts informative, educational, interesting, witty, and funny.

I attended the performance titled “Haydn on Trial”.  Franz Joseph Haydn, one of the most prominent and prolific composers of the classical period (1732-1809) has also been accused of being simplistic, mechanical and at times, also trivial.  Rising to his defense, the trio performed various pieces of Haydn’s music, interspersed with interesting commentary.  Speaking as if to a jury, Russell Hancock made a strong case to get Haydn acquitted, from the unfair accusations.

Haydn was one of the first composers to write ...

Haydn was one of the first composers to write a pitch change as well as a written out solo for the timpani in a symphonic movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joseph Haydn pioneered the sonata form of music that would dominate the world of classical music, for over 200 years.  Unlike Bach whose music is precise, controlled, and mathematical, Hayden’s music is a story-telling enterprise.  Hayden introduced narrative aspect to the music.  After the stage is set, the tension is built up to introduce additional themes (like characters in a story), then it is developed further, eventually leading to reconciliation, and finally there is coda or the end with recapitulation.

Haydn was a prolific composer.  He has written 104 symphonies, 54 piano sonata, 24 operas, 76 quartets, 31 concertos, 16 masses, 3 oratories, and 30 songs.   Haydn needs to be compared to the context and the constraints of his time.  Haydn spent nearly 80% of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterhazy family, at their remote estate, in Austria.  He did not enjoy the kind of liberty in composing his music, like Beethoven, for instance.  Haydn wrote pieces requested of him.  Haydn was instrumental in the development of chamber music, such as the piano trio and he is also widely recognized as the pioneer of Symphony and String Quartet.  Haydn was born on the border of Austria and Hungary and he brought the Hungarian folk music elements into his music.  Haydn was also a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

St. Michael Trio performed fantastic pieces of Haydn’s compositions and made a brilliant case on behalf of Haydn.  They proved unequivocally that Haydn if not held to contemporary standards, was a brilliant composer, who also introduced “surprise” elements into his music.

Russel Hancock (Piano), Daniel Cher (Violin), and Michael Flexer (Cello) performed beautifully, presenting the music in highly engaging and interesting manner.  Each of the artists hold high profile careers in the private sector and balance their professional roles with their passion for music.  They are artists-in-residence at MenloCollege, perform frequently at StanfordUniversity, and are artists-in-residence at the VillaMontalvoArtsCenter.  What San Jose Mercury News says is right on the money, “If these guys were a company, I’d buy stock”.  For further information or for tickets to their performances, go to .

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ગુજરાતી ગઝલ ની બેઠક

ગુજરાતી ગઝલ ની બેઠક

ગુજરાતીના ગૌરવ ને બે અરિયા માં ટકાવી રાખનાર અને ગુજરાતી ભાષા ને જીવંત રાખનાર બધાના લાડીલા પ્રજ્ઞાબેન દાદભાવાળાએ હમણાં જે બેઠક યોજેલી તેમાં હ્યુસ્ટનથી આવેલ દેવિકાબેન ધ્રુવ અને બે એરિયાના મહેશભાઈ રાવલે ગુજરાતી ગીત, કવિતા, અને ગઝલ વિશે માહિતી આપી અને સુંદર ગઝલો બોલી બધને તરબોળ કરી દીધા.

pen and ink

pen and ink (Photo credit: Cast a Line)

દેવિકાબેને તો શબ્દો સાથે વ્યાયામ કર્યો છે,પછી સોનેરી સાંજે એ એક નહિ અનેક વાતો લાવી શકે તેમ છે. એમણે ગઝલ ઉપર માહિતી આપતા કહ્યું “લખવાનું ચાલુ રાખવાથી કલમ ની કસબ કેળવાય છે અને પછી તેમાં સંવેદના ઉમેરાય ત્યારે ગઝલ બને છે. ગઝલ ના નક્કી થયેલ સ્વરૂપ જાણવા પડે અને સતત પ્રયાસ કરતા રહેવું પડે.” તેમણે ગઝલ સંભળાવી:

જેવી મળી આ જિંદગી, જીવી જવાની હોય છે
સારી કે નરસી જે મળી, શણગારવાની હોય છે.
જુઓ તમે આ આભને કેવી ચૂમે છે વાદળી,
કોને ખબર ક્ષણ માત્રમાં, તરછોડવાની હોય છે.

પ્રજ્ઞા બહેને કહ્યું “હું લખવા બેશુ છું તો ક્યારેક ગઝલ ની બદલે જોડકણું બની જાય છે.” દેવિકા બહેને સમજાવ્યું ગઝલ માં બહાર નું અને અંદર નું સ્વરૂપ હોય છે. અને રદીફ એટલે છેલો શબ્દ મહત્વનો હોય છે. અને તેની આગળનો શબ્દ છે તેને કાફિયા કહેવાય છે. રદીફ અને કાફિયા ગઝલની અંદર ના ભાવ વ્યક્ત કરવામાં વજન આપે છે. કુલ મળીને ચારસો જેટલા છંદો છે . પરંતુ મોટા ભાગ ની ગઝલો માં થોડા છંદો જ વપરાય છે. થાળી માં રંગબેરંગી ફૂલો હોય તે સુંદર દેખાય પણ તેમાં પેટર્ન ગોઠવી અને હાર બનાવીએ તે પ્રમાણે શબ્દો માં થી ગઝલ બને. રંગબેરંગી શબ્દોમાં ભેળવવાની વાત ની ગંભીરતા, કહેવાનો મિજાજ, સવેદના ની લાગણી અને પછી કરવાની શબ્દો ની ગોઠવણ. ત્યારે મહેશભાઈ રાવલે સંભળાવી ગઝલ ઉપર એક જાજરમાન ગઝલ.

સંબંધ ના ઘેરાવા વચ્ચે થી ટપકવાની ગઝલ
અંગતપણાની આડ વચ્ચેથી ટપકવાની ગઝલ
ડૂમો બની ઘૂંટાય ભીતર લાગણી સંજોગવશ
તો, પાપણોની ધાર વચ્ચેથી ટપકવાની ગઝલ
જ્યાં બોલવા જેવું કશું બાકી રહે નહીં, એ પળે
નિઃશબ્દતાનાં તાણ વચ્ચેથી ટપકવાની ગઝલ

હૂં તો કહું છું આ હતી સાંજ વસુલ થઇ જવાની ગઝલ. પરંતુ આ તો હતી માત્ર શરૂઆત. મહેશ ભાઈએ બે ચાર ગઝલ સંભળાવી અને દેવિકાબેને કાવ્ય તથા ગઝલ સંભળાવી. દેવિકાબેને અમેરિકા ઉપર ની ગઝલ સંભળાવી પછી અમેરિકા ના શિસ્ત ને અનુસરી ને સમય પૂરો થયો તે પ્રમાણે ધર્યા કરતા જલ્દી બેઠક નો અણધાર્યો અંત આવ્યો।

શિસ્તના શાસન થકી આ ચાલતું નગર જુઓ,
આભની વીજળી સમુ આ આંજતું નગર જુઓ.
પૂર્વની રીતો અને વે‘વારથી જુદું ઘણું,
માનવીને યંત્ર માંહે શારતુ નગર જુઓ.
રાત દી‘ આઠેપ્રહર ડોલરની દોડધામમાં,
આદમીને હર પળે પલ્ટાવતું નગર જુઓ.

તો મિત્રો પાછા મળશું આવતા મહિનાની બેઠકમાં। ત્યાં સુધી લખતા રહેશો, વાંચતા રહેશો, અને નીચેના બ્લોગ ને જરૂર માણશો।

દેવિકાબેન ધ્રુવ –
મહેશ ભાઈ રાવલ –
વિજયભાઈ શાહ –
પ્રજ્ઞાબેન દાદભાવાળા (શબ્દોનું સર્જન) –


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“Every Five Minutes” by Linda McLean – Play Review

“Every Five Minutes” is not for the faint of the heart or someone unwilling to look at harsh realities staring us in the face.  Linda McLean is an award winning playwright from Scotland.  Extensive list of her award winning plays include Any Given Day, Strangers, Babies, Shimmer, One Good Beating, Riddance, Herald, What Love Is, This is Water, Uncertainty Files, Cold Cuts, Doch An Doris, Word for Word, andSex & God.

In “Every Five Minutes”, she lays before the audience, the harsh realities of political dissidents, imprisoned for years, and how the experience can forever alter their life.  This is however, not a political play.  To make it a political play would diminish the fragile reality of Mo’s life.  Mo (Rod Gnapp), a political dissident is released after 13 years of imprisonment.  When in prison, he was frequently in solitary confinement, and was water boarded and tortured.  Mo comes home to his wife, Sara (Mia Tagano) and is spending an evening with his close friends Ben (Sean San Jose) and Rachel (Carrie Paff), later joined by Ben and Rachel’s teenage daughter, Molly (Shawna Michelle James).

Nothing after the opening scene where the two couples are enjoying the drinks, proceeds in a logical, linear fashion.  The fragmented scenes that mirror the fragmented reality of Mo’s fractured mind, feel initially overwhelming.  It is only when one quits trying to make any logical sense that the obviousness of PTSD or the post traumatic stress, becomes apparent.  The brilliance of the play lies as much on the tough subject matter it tackles, as in what it does not focus upon and the closure that it does not provide to the audience.  The play does not dwell on the fact that Mo is seized from his home, without due process of the law and held for 13 years, or that he is tortured, perhaps outside the boundaries of legal and ethical, or the brutality of his captors; the play does not concern itself with providing a linear story line or explaining the details.  Rather, it dunks the audience into an emotional experience of a fractured, tormented mind, an experience so intense, that it requires surrendering; for a short while, it requires living inside Mo’s mind, living his reality, plagued by the demons that taunt him and haunt him, including the clowns (Patrick Alpatone and Jomar Tagatac), the Almighty who talks to him, his sisters, and the towering ghost of his father.  One walks away with a powerful experience.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This play may not unfold in a logical fashion, but nothing about it is incidental.  For instance, the title alludes to the fact that perhaps during interrogation, Mo might have been awoken every five minutes.  It may also point to the fact that a PTSD mind weaves in and out of sequences and events, excitement and despair, every few minutes, often dragging the loved ones along.  At the end of the play, if the lack of clarity leaves one with more uncertainty and questions than answers, the intensity of the experience leaves no doubt of its emotional impact.  Like the writer of the play, the director, Loretta Greco has done a brilliant job in putting together the entire carefully crafted but completely fragmented sequence of scenes, including the captors preparing Mo for his release.  The ritualistic preparation feels almost akin to preparation of a dead body, for the final burial.  On the other hand, it may point to the fact that while the captors were doing their job, they were not entirely cruel people.  Or it may allude to the fact that they wish to wipe out any trace of how Mo was treated during his imprisonment.  And only truly stellar actors like Rod Gnapp and Mia Tagano can pull of such intensely powerful acting required in this production.


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And that is how her beautiful day ended…….

The poem below is a repost of my poem posted on International Day for Violence against Women.  After I saw the little Google Glass clip, tears filled my eyes.  Here is link to the clip – watch till the end -

Google Glass Explorer Exchange 36287

Google Glass Explorer Exchange 36287 (Photo credit: tedeytan)

All across the world, in one form or another, she’s mutilated
Someone’s daughter, sister is raped, murdered
Often she has fewer rights to property, inheritance, equal pay
She remains as a story between the binders, can’t have her say
Sometimes it’s a challenge simply being a woman, she’s often tired

Around the world, at least one in three women has been abused
Her voice is stolen, often of her rights, she is deprived
In the US, every 15 seconds, a woman is assaulted, beaten
Thank you Google Glass for giving a voice to this woman
Hope people will always join together for such abuse to end

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“Entrepreneurs must Focus on Market Pain” – Norman Winarsky, SRI

EPPIC organization was found in 1998, with a mission to promote networking, entrepreneurship, and mentoring for life science professionals.  Each year, EPPIC Annual Conference provides a wonderful forum to realize this mission. EPPICon on March 29, 2014 was held at Westin, SF and began with opening remarks by Dr. Norman Winarksy, Vice President at SRI Ventures.

SRI or Stanford Research Institute was found in 1946 to help Stanford University professors make an impact in the world.  It has a staff of 2500, of whom 1000 have advanced degrees and current revenue is in the range of $600M. InvestorPeterGerber&InventorDougEnglebartMany revolutionary technologies like the mouse (invented by Doug Engelbart whom I had an opportunity to meet, before he passed away, when I took his picture inserted here with the first red mouse that investor Peter Gerber is holding), electronic banking, robotic surgery (which spun out as Intuitive Surgical), and SIRI to name a few, have come out of SRI.  All SRI personnel are taught to identify the value proposition and work towards that goal, said Winarksy. SRI is a non-profit organization but gives 34% of royalty to the individual or the team that worked on the specific technology and that is how SRI competes with high salaries in Silicon Valley.  SRI process always begins with identifying the market pain, ideally a larger market opportunity.  Out of about 2000 opportunities identified, about 3-4 get funded and get about 10X return; many of the others become licensing deals and the rest die.  Currently Tempo, a smart calendar is showing a lot of promise, said Winarsky. This was a great start to a day that proceeded with excellent panels, speed pitch sessions and SIG networking opportunities.

Next EPPIC event will be held on May 6 at 6pm at Cubberley Theater, 4000 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto.  Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, CSO at Pearl Therapeutics will talk about the entrepreneurship journey that took him and his co-founder to build from a tiny spin out, from Nektar Therapeutics, a world class multi-site organization.  Pearl Therapeutics was bought by Astra Zeneca last year, for $1.15 B.  To register for the event go to .

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Novel Approaches to Immune Therapy & Monitoring for non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Dr. Russell Pachynsky, co-founder and CSO at CombImmune, spoke about their unique approach to immune therapy and monitoring for aggressive non-Hodgkins lymphoma patients, at event.  One of the clinical pain points with large B cell lymphomas, also called DLBCL is patients often do poorly after chemotherapy and current methods to identify high risk patients often lead to variations in patient outcomes, said Pachynsky.  Currently the standard method used is the IPI or International Prognostic Index but it is far from perfect where clinical outcomes are often discordant to risk prognosis. The IPI  is based on clinical assessments during the initial work-up of the patient which include age, Ann Arbor Stage, Serum LDH level, number of extranodal sites of the disease, and performance status.  Based on these, a patient receives the total score and higher the total score, higher the chances of them being at great risk of relapse and disease reoccurrence.  The challenge however is that the IPI does not capture the molecular heterogeneity of DLBCL.

English: Monoclonal antibodies for cancer. ADE...

English: Monoclonal antibodies for cancer. ADEPT, antibody directed enzyme prodrug therapy; ADCC, antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity; CDC, complement dependent cytotoxicity; MAb, monoclonal antibody; scFv, single-chain Fv fragment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CombImmune offers a unique molecular diagnostic test that accurately identifies high risk patients.  After running FFPE tumor tissue through rt-PCR and based on certain algorithms the assay can identify patients who may be in need of more aggressive treatment.  Currently, first line therapy that is generally administered is R-CHOP therapy.  About 75% of patients with DLBCL respond to the standard R-CHOP therapy.  However, 50% of patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients die despite receiving the therapy.  And there is nothing approved for maintenance therapy, for DLBCL patients.  Standard second line therapy consists of R-DHAP or R-ICE therapy and those who do not respond to that may go for bone marrow transplant.  Although it is more toxic, the Dose adjusted EPOCH or DA-R-EPOCH chemotherapy is currently in a Phase III CALGB trial 5303 ( vs R-CHOP in newly diagnosed DLBCL patients. If more found to be more efficacious, DA-R-EPOCH may offer DLBCL patients another option for first line therapy. There are also other combination therapies with R-CHOP in Ph2 and Ph3 trials including lenalidamide, bortezomib, GA-101, ibrutinib, idelalisib, and many others. According to Dr. Pachynski, there are over 100 programs currently evaluating new DLBCL therapies and it will be important to understand which patients will become Rituxan refractory and relapse earlier in their disease. All patients do not require this aggressive treatment and a molecular diagnostic assay will minimize the unneeded additional therapies and over treatment.

CD137 - JasonYonehiroCombImmune’s unique assay the Two Gene Score or TGS has been validated in 692 DLBCL patients.  One of them is a measure of the tumor (LMO2) and one is a measure of immune response (CD137).  LMO2 and CD137 are robust, independent, and prognostic determinants of DLBCL.  This technology has come out of work at Ron Levy’s lab, at Stanford.  Compared to TGS the IPI captured only 7% of high risk patients, while the validation cohort, the TGS captured 28.5% of high risk patients.  Based on this test, high risk patients can be administered more aggressive first line of treatment, while wait and watch approaches can be taken with low risk patients.

Additionally, CombImmune’s TGS test is useful in monitoring and enhancing immune response to cancer.  Energizing the immune system to illicit a more robust response can be a key to more efficacy of treatment.  It is already known that new DLBCL patients have impaired immune mediated NK cell cytotoxicity and lower CD137 expression.  DLBCL patients have a compromised immune system, at the time of the diagnosis.  It is also known that increased tumor infilterating leukocytes are prognostic and predictive.  Clinical outcomes are generally good with increased counts, and poor, when lower.  It is also known that active monitoring of patient immune system may improve clinical outcomes.  The TGS diagnostic test and PF05082566 (anti CD137 mAB) can capture true high risk patients who are Rituximab non-responders.  Rx may play synergistic role with antibodies to stimulate CD137 expression in NK/T cells.  Sequential dosing of co-stimulatory agents have anti-cancer synergy.  Currently, there are a number of pathways and co-inhibitation therapeutics under investigation.  Many of them will likely increase CD137 expression.  Dr. Pachynski said, TGS is a powerful way to monitor immune response of the tumor.  The event was followed by Q&A.



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