Posted by Darshana Nadkarni in Big Data, Cloud, Software, Mobile & Entrepreneurship, Biotech, Medical Device, Life Science, Healthcare on March 10, 2014
Google and Apple have both fueled an ecosystem of apps for smartphones and tablets. Now Google has unveiled new software tools to help developers make apps for wearable devices. So how big is the market potential for wearable devices? According to Business Intelligence Research, wearables will transform the way we interact with our devices and they will become indispensable for monitoring body’s vital signs. According to their conservative forecast, this may be a $12 Billion market. Other estimates forecast the market for wearable computers to reach $20 billion in sales by 2016.
The vision of wearable sector is to interweave technology into everyday aspects of life. Besides sports, athletics, and chronic disease monitoring, of particular interest is also the aging market. Consider the US population demographics. An American turns 50, every 7 seconds. More people were 65+ in 2010 than in any previous censors. As people age, there is greater likelihood of chronic diseases, falling, forgetting, medical adherence challenges and so on. Also people prefer to live independently. Wearable devices however, may not be panacea, if not designed and developed appropriately. There are many challenges to developing these products. Here is a link to my earlier post on “Challenges & Opportunities in Developing Products for Older Adults” - http://bit.ly/MqiC9E .
Healthcare system is undergoing a massive transformation. Engaged consumers and better informed healthcare personnel will be an integral part of the new healthcare system. Wearable computing devices will become absolutely necessary aspect of the changing healthcare landscape. At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, wearables was one of the hottest sector. While Fitbit, Basis, Jawbone smart watches and Google Glass have been in the news, there are many werable devices in various stages of commercialization. Innovators are working on putting sensors in socks, on wrists, in jewelry, even in a bra. A new bra from a Japanese company Ravijour unhooks when you are in love (the embedded sensor analyzes the heart rate and springs open at the right moment). But more importantly, a healthtech company, First Warning Systems, is getting ready to go into clinical trials with its wearable bra, designed to spot early signs of breast cancer.
Indeed the future of wearable technology is a wide open landscape right now and much will be painted on it. Healthcare track at TiEcon 2014 on May, 17 will focus on the future of wearable devices. Register at www.tiecon.org. Early bird price is available till midnight of March 10.
Theatreworks Artistic Director, Robert Kelley has done a stunningly job in directing the musical, “Once on this Island”, originally from the Tony Award winning creators of Ragtime. This musical springs from a Caribbean legend about a little orphan girl, Ti Moune (Khalia Davis), whose parents die in a horrible storm that she survives. She is adopted by the peasant couple, Mama Euralie & Tonton Julian (Dawn L. Troupe & Berwick Haynes) and raised in the village where everyone dances with abandon, sings with everything they’ve got, uses herbs to heal, lives in harmony with nature, and seeks to appease the Gods of death, earth, water, and love (Max Kumangai, Safiya Fredericks, Omari Tau, and Adrienne Muller). Entire cast is superb and performs beautifully. I, particularly loved Adrienne Muller.
Ti Moune grows into a gorgeous and spunky young lady (Salisha Thomas). She continues to be haunted by the death of her parents and wonders what her purpose in life might be for which the Gods might have meant for her to live. She rescues a wealthy aristocrat from a near fatal car crash. She cleans his wounds, applies ointments, and keeps steadfast vigil, for him to recover. She regards him as the love of her life and comes to believe that the Gods kept her alive, so that she may help him heal and survive.
This timeless tale is filled with joy, romance, adventure, entrenched prejudices, and heartache. All human feelings find expression in amazing lyrics (by Lynn Ahrens) with heart pulsating, irresistible Caribbean drum beats, (by Stephen Flaherty). William Liberatore is the Musical Director. He was also musical director for absolutely fabulous production of “Little Women” http://bit.ly/1cmVLl6 at Theatreworks, in December, 2013.
The credit for making this musical a spell binding on-stage performance, goes to the Stage Manager Randall K Lum, Assistant Stage Manager Jannette Cote, Scenic Designer, Joe Ragey, Costume Designer, Cathleen Edwards, and Lighting Designer, Pamila Z. Gray. Together they have created magic, on stage. The scenes come alive with ferocious storm, enchanting jungle with frogs and trees, and beautiful village with little lanterns that contrasts with the life of the aristocrat lover, in the city. For tickets, go to www.theatreworks.org
A husband and wife team, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, had produced a mini-series called “The Bible” that was aired on the History Channel, about a year back. “Son of God” is the part about Jesus from the mini-series. The mini-series was nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys and the audience had rated it highly. I have not seen the mini-series, but I found the movie somewhat interesting but more on the simplistic side. This movie is not anywhere in the same league as “The Ten Commandments” or other historical fictional films like “Cleopatra” or “Passion of the Christ”. This is not a great film. It is not able to powerfully narrate the history of the time when one of the greatest religious leaders walked upon the earth. It is a fairly decent narration of Jesus and the challenges he encountered, and is told from a spiritual perspective.
After showing the birth of Jesus, about 30 years later Jesus (handsome Diogo Morgado – also dubbed “hot” Jesus) approaches despondent Peter (Darwin Shaw), the fisherman. Peter is not able to find many fish, to make a living as a fisherman. Jesus tells Peter “just give me an hour and I will give you a whole new life”. Jesus joins Peter in fishing and Peter finds many fish. Peter is now convinced of Jesus’ powers and travels with Jesus, as Jesus acquires more apostles including Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah), and goes around spreading his message of love, kindness, abundance, and forgiveness. When he notices a group of men ready to condemn a “sinner woman” to death by stoning, he says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” When a Jewish man confronts him that he is disobeying the rule of law and that he has no authority to forgive, Jesus says, “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. Jesus is asked how one should picture the kingdom of God, and he replies, “the kingdom of God is like the mustard seed, a smallest of seed that a man can plant would grow into a big tree”. To the people worrying about food and clothes, Jesus says, “God will provide. Put God first and everything else will follow”.
The film places Jesus right in the midst of the authoritarian, dogmatic Jewish traditions and the oppressive Roman regime. The Jewish leaders constantly tried to placate the Romans, both to hold on to their tenuous grip on power and to save the Jewish people from being crushed by the oppressors. The average Jewish people however, are not happy living under strict traditions that have no margin of error and being squeezed by the Jewish money lenders. They also frequently suffer the wrath of their whimsical Roman oppressors. Jesus’ message appeals to them. As the tension between the Romans and average Jewish people builds up, Jesus decides to take his message to the people, in the heart of Jerusalem, and rides to the city on a donkey, on the day before the Passover. In his message to self serving, narcissistic people, Jesus says, “anyone who praises himself will be humbled and anyone who humbles himself, will be praised”. Jesus refuses to be drawn into physical fights. He also implores Peter to “turn the other cheek”, instead of responding with aggression.
Gradually the city is getting worked up into a frenzy over excessive taxes levied by the Romans. At one point, the demonstrators ask Jesus, in full view of the Romans, whether people should pay the taxes or not. If Jesus advices the people to pay the taxes then the people would revolt against him and if he advises them to not pay the taxes then the Romans would take out their anger on him and his followers. Jesus masterfully avoids being trapped. He asks, “whose face is on the coins?” The people respond, “Caesar’s”. “Well then”, says Jesus “give to Caesar, what is Caesar’s, and to God, what is God’s”, meaning offer your soul to God, even if you have to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ message begins to sink in. Jewish leaders are not only fearful of loosing their grip on power but they are also fearful that if Jesus creates any more ruckus then the new Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks) may close down the temple on the big religious day of Passover. They tap Judas (Jow Wredden) to betray Jesus. Very soon thereafter, they arrest Jesus and he is condemned to death.
Up to this point, even though Jesus’ miracles come across in the film as cheap magic tricks, his parables and messages give meat to the story. I would have liked to see much more of Jesus’ preachings. Once Jesus is condemned then there is a long drawn out period of his carrying the crucifix, his being crucified, and his final resurrection. But all this happens mostly in absence of his messages. At this point, the film completely looses any depth it might have had. At this point, an impartial observer becomes critically aware of the opportunity lost to tell how magnificent, yet simple Jesus’ messages were, how critical his influence at that period in history was, how extensive, broad and forever lasting was the impact of his simple preachings. In one final scene, the apostles have a vision of Jesus and hear him say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations”. But a point of powerful significance is that Jesus lived a short life of 33 years. Born in a manger in the tiny town of Bethlehem, he taught in Nazareth, and he preached in Galilee, before riding to Jerusalem; all in a short radius of less than 50 miles. But his message has lived on for over 2000 years, and has spread to every corner of the world. Perhaps his story is not easy to tell. Perhaps it could be better told. I am giving this movie a rating of 3.4 on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being excellent.
For the opportunities below, please send resume at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com. Please indicate in the email how closely the job description matches your background and identify gaps, if any. Also, indicate your current compensation and compensation expectations. Please note: All below opportunities require several years of industry experience and are only for local candidates, with valid US work visa (when need arises for applicants with other types of visas, I will mention that under that specific opportunity). Also note, opportunities at the top are hot and the ones lower down may be at various stages of being filled or not burning needs.
Director of Quality Assurance – San Ramon, CA
There is an opening for Senior Director for QA at medical technologies company that provides a broad range of mechanical circulatory support portfolio targeted towards treatment of a range of clinical needs, including chronic heart failure.
Requirements include BS in technical/ science area plus minimum of 15 years experience in the medical device industry, including medical device design, manufacturing & management experience in a complex quality assurance/ quality systems field. Knowledge & understanding of the Quality System Regulations (QSR), ISO 14385:2003 requirements & other related regulations. Extensive experience working with International regulatory bodies & with the FDA is required. Also required, competence in basic statistical methodologies & tools for analyzing data & identifying & communicating the frequency, severity & distribution of trends and a strong scientific and technical background to establish credibility with senior management as well as manufacturing & product development teams. ASQ certification (CQE/CQA/CRE/CQM) or equivalent formal training & experience and proficiency with personal computers, business software (e.g., MS Office) and technical software (e.g., Quality Management System (QMS) software), including software programs generating reports and statistics, highly preferred.
Responsibilities: Provide QA strategy & direction, with a good understanding of technical, scientific & regulatory issues. Supervise exempt department personnel at the director & managerial level & exercise general supervision over 100+ employees in the QA team. Manage the operating budget for QA. Receive inspection, supplier QA, In-Process QA, may lead FDA & other agency factory inspections and respond to nonconformities identified in internal & external audits & to CAPA actions. Provide Quality Engineering input during the Design Control, Design Review & Design Transfer processes. Participate in new product development team meetings & lead quality planning activities for new product development. Maintain oversight over sterility assurance & microbiology for new & current medical devices to assure quality compliance.
Post Doc Opportunity – TX & CA
There are immediate exciting opportunities that can lead you a fantastic career path in medical device engineering. A medical device company, found by a veteran leader of several successful companies, has several post-doc openings in Biomedical with Electronics/ Electrical Engineering – with experience in heart/ brain related implantable devices in Texas and couple of opportunities with broad Biomedical/ Mechanical and/or Chemical Engineering background. Hands-on experience is essential. For Electronics Engineering, experience with hands-on circuit design, embedded systems design, prototype building or experience with battery-powered, low powered systems, etc. may be desirable. The company is working on exciting cutting edge technology to deliver large drug molecules orally. That and other research products pertain to solutions that are a unique blend of traditional device technologies such as electronics, software, mechanical engineering, and material science, as well as pharmaceuticals, protein chemistry and cell biology. Focusing on a broad range of technology and scientific disciplines, the company is seeking to address most complex unsolved or poorly treated clinical needs with highly innovative novel solutions.
Director Quality Engineering – San Jose, CA
There is an exciting opportunity for Director Quality Engineering with strong capability and experience developing quality innovative medical devices. This position is responsible for effectively leading multi-project quality engineering efforts of the organization through technical expertise, interpersonal skills and a clear vision for execution.
Responsibilities: Manage resources to accomplish multi-project product research, development and manufacturing; Contribute to strategy and management of GMP/GLP operation; Provide Quality Engineering support as necessary to meet organizational objectives; Maintain quality management systems necessary for development, including clinical evaluation; Develop quality plans and data analyses for execution and review with leadership team; Develop test strategies DOEs and test protocols to test developmental medical devices and manufacturing processes; Work with R & D and Operations to establish quality requirements at all phases of product/process development and manufacturing; Design, schedule, and if necessary, performs specific testing for existing and new products including supporting design and process validations, qualifications and first article inspections; Conducts supplier evaluations including supplier audits; Ensure that appropriate level of quality/reliability in purchased components is specified; Identify product/process problems and ensure appropriate corrective actions are taken and verified to be effective in eliminating problem; Remain current on developments in field(s) of expertise and industry trends; Mentor junior staff members
Skills Required: Demonstrated leadership of technical teams in medical device field; Demonstrated aptitude for and mastery of Quality Engineering principles; Demonstrated problem solving skills in a multidisciplinary environment; Exemplary analytical, organizational, written and oral communication skills; Proficient with statistical analysis for engineering and manufacturing; Strong ability to operate independently and as a team member; Teamwork: ability to work closely and effectively with team members and colleagues across engineering as well as non-engineering disciplines such as biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology and chemistry; Knowledge of implantable medical device design control and manufacturing processes ; Deep experience in safety standards for a variety of medical device types; Knowledge of biocompatibility, packaging and sterilization quality assurance; Demonstrated ability to interface effectively with professionals in the medical and biological sciences; Demonstrated knowledge of sound design principles, regulatory requirements, and product and process validation procedures; Demonstrated proficiency with computer aided design software and hardware familiarity. Formal training on systems and software is desired.
Also required: Bachelor’s degree or higher in Engineering; Ten years minimum experience in medical device engineering (Quality, R&D and Manufacturing) with demonstrated capability and thorough understanding of quality management; Three years minimum direct personnel management and related leadership experience; ASQ Certified Quality Engineer certification preferred; Must have experience in GMP electro-mechanical product design and manufacturing; Requires highly developed leadership skills and experience, including the ability to map task interdependencies, multi-task, prioritize such tasks, meet deadlines, and develop, monitor and live within budgets as well as the demonstrated ability to forecast major milestones. Must be skilled at delegation, follow-up, and team building.
Research Engineer – San Francisco, CA
A company that has developed advanced consumer health sensing technology, has an immediate opening for research engineer. Responsibilities include, research and implement cutting edge physiological sensors and algorithms and work closely with research and device teams to integrate research into company’s consumer product portfolio.
Requirements: MS or PhD in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, or related discipline; Minimum of 2-4 years (or academic equivalent) experience in physiological data collection, interpretation and analysis; Proficient in common signal processing techniques including time series analysis, adaptive filters, and noise cancellation; Demonstrated ability in a scientific computing language (e.g. Python, R, Matlab).
Also preferred: Experience developing algorithms for physiological signals such as heart rate, temperature, perspiration or body motion accelerometry; Proficiency with machine learning and statistical modeling; Experience with data handling and storage, e.g. NoSQL database systems.
Posted by Darshana Nadkarni in Uncategorized on February 28, 2014
The film “Inequality for All” premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking. Huffington Post calls it a “must-see movie” and according to Variety, this film “does for income disparity what “An Inconvenient Truth” did for Climate Change”; a deeper understanding of the issues and meaningful conversations around some action. How cool that our local community college hosted the screening and fabulous panel discussion, following the film! DeAnza College at Cupertino is a model in providing top notch all-rounded education experience, with opportunity for civic and community engagement. Economic disparity is a very real problem in our society and here is a link to my previous blog on this issue and the huge fragmenting impact of economic disparity on the fabric of our families and communities – http://bit.ly/AwLq7G .
In “Inequality for All”, economist, author, professor and former labor secretary, Robert Reich examines the widening income disparity in the US, and discusses its impact on our society, and on our democracy. So how wide is the gap? In 2011 broadcast of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart cited a CIA Gini Index in which the United States ranked 64th in income inequality (worse than Cameron, but just above Uraguay). Later CIA revised the figures, but as Robert Reich explains in the film, 400 people in the US have more wealth than half the population of the US. Reich examines the years leading up to the crash in 1928, and in 2007, and finds striking parallels.
President Reagan’s economic policy was based on reducing growth of government spending, reducing federal income tax, reducing capital gains tax, reducing government regulation, and tightening the money supply to reduce inflation. The very wealthy often made their money in capital gains, and at 15% rate, frequently pay less in taxes than the average Americans. When wealthy do not pay higher taxes, the middle class gets stagnated. When middle class is squeezed, it stops spending, stops buying, and there is less revenue for states, for public institutions. This results in cost of higher education going up, higher school dropout rate, less skilled workforce, more jobs going abroad, higher unemployment and so on.
It is a misnomer to believe that when the very wealthy have more money, they would spend more and hire more. They may buy 3 more cars or 5 more pairs of jeans. But in the end, there is only so much they can buy, compared to a mass of middle class people. The more wealth they accumulate, the very wealthy invest in speculative assets, in gold, housing, and/or invest it abroad. That is exactly what happened in the years preceding the crash in 2007. The financial sector ballooned and greater deregulations helped the speculative assets to grow.
Meanwhile, the average American worker was struggling to keep up. Not wanting to get locked out of the American dream, middle class families too were buying homes. While middle class salaries had stagnated, two income families grew, and many people were working two and three jobs, in addition to borrowing heavily (often against the equity in their homes), just to make ends meet. With greater deregulations, union bashing, and union squashing, increasingly their voices were not heard. In 1992, President Bill Clinton promised to cut taxes for the middle classes, and make the very wealthy pay their fair share. He also promised to contain outrageous executive pay. Many executives then began to get paid in stock options which further fueled the growth of speculative assets. Government sets the rules by which the markets function, says Reich.
Big corporations are simply not designed to generate jobs. They operate with focused objectives of making profit and delivering value to the shareholders. Technology and globalization enable big corporations to take the jobs away from average American workers and go to the regions of the world, where labor supply is cheaper. Who looks out for the average American worker? The answer is “nobody”, says Reich. President Clinton’s policies did nothing to stop the downward spiral of the middle class. The eventual economic crash further harmed the middle class families. Many of them cannot afford to stay in their homes and resulting pressure often fragmented or broke up families. Please do check out my previous blog on its devastating impact on our families – http://bit.ly/AwLq7G . The very wealthy do not benefit when things get so dire for the majority. Reich makes the points emphatically, citing data and sources to bolster his perspectives and with appropriate amount of humor.
This much is clear from the film that this growing income disparity is lethal for a society and for the democracy. People are polarized and on edge. No one benefits from it. In the end, it also hurts the very wealthy. What communities would they live in when the teachers, the grocery store clerks and others cannot afford to live in the same communities? But how can average Americans take back their voice and get heard? What can they do? The panel discussion that followed the film was enlightening and heart warming. The panelists included Professor Ben Pacho, Professor Jim Nguyen, President of De Anza College, Dr. Brian Murphy, Dr. Crystallee Crain, and Dr. Cynthia Kaufman.
Dr. Murphy advised that we not just focus on marginal shifts but focus on the big picture and reclaim public institutions. He suggested we learn about power and leverage the capacity to build coalitions by forging connections across diversity of race, gender, and cultures, to focus on the true cause. It might be a long struggle but with unity, we can counterbalance the power of money. Dr. Kaufman (author of “Ideas for Action” and “Getting Past Capitalism”, added that we need to focus on building deep, authentic relationships with each other and with “stuff” so that we end up requiring less stuff. According to Dr. Crain, we need to overcome apathy and Professors Pacho and Nguyen emphasized the need to get involved in the community. All panelists emphasized they would not want to see the students getting burnt out. In fact, Dr. Murphy talked about the power of “random episodic silent thinking” or rest! He said, no one can do any kind of community or activist work, if they do not deeply love. This love may be for someone or something but deep affection anchors the values and purposefulness and provides the drive to be involved in things one cares about. It may not be everything that we all can take on. But apathy just won’t do. Each of us can take on and contribute to something we deeply care about so we can leave the world a better place.
Posted by Darshana Nadkarni in Big Data, Cloud, Software, Mobile & Entrepreneurship, Biotech, Medical Device, Life Science, Healthcare on February 27, 2014
Al Gicqueau, CEO & President at Clinovo talked about Cloud-based eClinical Systems to make clinical trial process more efficient and cost-effective, at www.bio2devicegroup.org event.
Cloud has been a big buzz word, significantly impacting the economy, in the last few years. Cloud is growing 3X faster than traditional internet infrastructure, said Gicqueau. Worldwide public cloud services market will total to over $73 billion, by 2017. There is also simultaneous cloud-bashing. According to Citrix research, majority of the Americans don’t understand it and over 51% think it has something to do with the stormy weather. Most also believe they have never used it but over 95% of us have used cloud based services.
It is therefore important to understand what constitutes cloud based services. There are 5 essential components of cloud based services.
Self Service, On Demand: Cloud based services are available, when the consumer needs them. Further, for the most part they are autonomous and the user can perform the actions without going through the IT department. They are easy to use and on-site training will increasingly become a thing of the past. Any training required has to be available on-line and has to be very short and for the most part the service has to be intuitive and should not require training.
Broad Network Access: Cloud based services provide a broad internet access. For instance, consider gmail. It can be accessed through desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone etc. Cloud based services enable an ability to easily synchronize information over multiple devices.
Resource Pooling: Amount of traffic over the internet is rapidly growing. Because of the distributed nature of the internet, there is no single point of measurement for total internet traffic. But it is a fact that the total global IP traffic will pass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2015. By the year 2017, the total internet traffic is expected to reach 5.3 zettabytes. To put it in perspective, if the 11 oz coffee on your desk equals one gigabyte, a zettabyte will have the same volume as the great wall of China! Cloud based services enable customers to pool their resources and save cost.
Rapid Elasticity: In the world of internet activity there are lot of peaks and valleys. Cloud can scale based on demand peaks, without incurring penalty for the period of low traffic.
Measured Service: Cloud offers and ability to pay as you go. People can pay for the internet infrastructure as they pay for electricity.
Some of the examples of cloud based services include, SalesForce, Netflix, Gmail and Amazon.
Clinical Data Trends
Spiraling costs have been a grave concern in healthcare. Typically, efficiency has not been very high in the area of healthcare. Costs of clinical trials is likely to increase even more significantly, in future, on account of increasing costs of medical research and changing and tightening regulations, among other things. Increased costs for clinical trials will push the cost of drugs higher. On the other hand, there is strong public criticism of higher costs of medicines and there is a lot of pressure on drug companies to contain costs. Companies have pressure to cut the middle layers and manage clinical trials on their own. Citing CISCRP (Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation) study, Gicqueau said, currently, only 6% of clinical trials are completed on time, whereas 72% run late by over a month.
Compliance issues and regulations specified in 21 CFR, part 11, prohibit use of public cloud, for clinical data. Clinical data has to be stored in a private cloud. Clinovo’s ClinCapture is a cost-effective EDC (electronic data capture) system. It is tailored to specific clinical studies teams and offers intuitive navigation and one-click access to routine functions. It reduces time for data entry. ClinCapture is also flexible and can be customized and deployed rapidly. “We validate our software like medical devices are validated”, said Gicqueau.
Mobile is next major trend, as more data entries are happening through tablets and smart phones. Tables are also very useful in remote regions of the world where cell phone reception may be spotty or non existent, where information can be easily synchronized later. Data entries can also be structured by getting patients involved. Data integration is another big challenge. Everyone hopes to make sense of the data and make meaningful use of the data. However, making sense of the data and putting it to good use remains expensive. Gicqueau said, meaningful data integration is another promise of the cloud.
Clinovo is launching CloudClinica, next generation, cloud-based eClinical platform. With its easy to use, pay as you go platform, CloudClinica will eliminate IT dependency and allow small companies to manage clinical studies in a sophisticated manner, without high level programming skills. About 30% of cost and 60% of time associated with clinical trials is about data management, and almost 80% of clinical trials are still conducted on paper, said Gicqueau. Paper has many pitfalls. Paper can get lost, it is inefficient, there is challenge of mis-reading someone’s handwriting, it has regulatory risks and other hidden costs. CloudClinica is FDA compliant and it can scale.
Clinovo had revenues of over $4 million in 2013 and raised $500,000 from business angels over the last few months to execute on their business strategy. The company is profitable, and has 30+ clients that include Gilead, Roche and others. Clinovo is now targeting small to mid-size companies, said Gicqueau. Current market of $2.3 billion can be rapidly growing in the coming years. MediData and Oracle are two dominant players but are relatively more pricey. Clinovo’s CloudClinica will fill in the gap and broaden the use of eClinical systems and will empower and bolster the biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies, said Gicqueau. The event was followed by Q&A.
EPPICon 2014 (www.eppicglobal.org) will address the important topic of developing therapeutics for rare and neglected diseases. So what are rare and neglected diseases? Rare diseases are diseases that affect a small percentage of the population, most of them are genetic, and may be present throughout a person’s life. In the United States, rare diseases are defined as those that affect fewer than 200,000 people. About 7,000 diseases have been designated as rare and as many as one in ten Americans may suffer from a rare disease. More rare diseases are discovered ongoingly. Despite the growing numbers of rare diseases, the overall numbers are small and therefore they had not been a focus of research and many do not have treatments available.
Neglected diseases have also not been a focus of great deal of research and many of these diseases also lack viable treatment options. These include tropical diseases like Tuberculosis and Malaria and affect over 1.4 B people, worldwide. Often these affect the most vulnerable populations in the developing world, who lack access to basic sanitation, healthcare, and clean water.
A panel moderated by Roopa Ramamoorthi will discuss how companies and researchers can engage and bring forward cures for these diseases. Rmamoorthi is an experienced scientist with extensive background in global health, drug development, biotechnology, bacteriology, and engineering. As an Associate Director for Partnering and Scientific Affairs, at BioVentures for Global Health, Ramamoorthi leads the efforts to match researchers with pharma and other contributors, with an aim to accelerate product development for neglected tropical diseases like TB and Malaria.
Panelists include David Swinney, CEO of iRND3 (Institute for Rare and Neglected Diseases Drug Discovery). Swinney has 20+ years of broad experience in preclinical drug discovery. He founded his current non profit, in 2010, with a mission to help discover new medicines for rare and neglected diseases. The equipment for its lab in Mountain View was donated by Roche, and three early stage drug discovery programs at iRND3 have focused on pediatric cancers and parasitic diseases.
Eric Easom is the VP of neglected diseases at Anacor Pharmaceuticals, and Vimal Srivastava, is VP or Product Development, at Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals. Anacor is focused on discovering, developing and commercializing novel small molecule therapeutics derived from its novel boron chemistry platform. Ultragenyx is committed to bringing to market novel products for the treatment of rare and ultra-rare diseases, with an initial focus on serious and debilitating, metabolic genetic diseases. On the panel, they are likely to add the big pharma perspective regarding focusing on neglected and rare diseases.
Ponni Subbiah, MD has an extensive experience in global medical affairs and clinical development across multiple therapeutic areas in the pharmaceutical sector. Currently, in the role of Global Program Leader, Subbiah is leading drug development efforts, at PATH, a nonprofit organization, with a bold vision for improving health, worldwide. PATH seeks to blend the entrepreneurial side of the business and the scientific expertise of a research institution with on-the-ground experience of an international NGO.
Other interesting panels at EPPICon include, “Innovations in Clinical Development of Novel Agents” and “Point of Care Gold Rush – Hype versus Reality”. Besides keynotes and networking opportunity, the conference will also feature a Speed Pitch session where entrepreneurs of early stage companies in the life sciences, are invited to give a five minute pitch about their technology and receive a quick feedback from a distinguished panel of VCs.
EPPIC is a volunteer driven organization, with a mission to promote networking, entrepreneurship, and mentoring for life science professionals. All day EPPIC conference will be held at The Westin, San Francisco Airport, in Milbrae, CA, on March 29, 2014. For more details and to register for the conference, go to www.eppicglobal.org . Please note: Early bird registration is extended to March, 7. EPPICon has an excellent lineup of great speakers and panels. This is not a conference to miss for any life science industry professional. Hope to see you there.
Naatak company is formed by a group of theater enthusiasts of Indian origin, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since it’s founding in 1995, Naatak company has made huge strides in prominence and stature by bringing quality live theater, with Indian and Indian-American themes, on stage, in the bay area. Naatak has now introduced season passes to enable regular theatergoers the convenience and price deal, for its outstanding performances.
The current play “Party” is based on original Marathi play, written by Mahesh Elkunchwar, in 1976. Directed by Ravi Bhatnagar and Alka Sippy, the play is meant as a satire, aimed at India’s urban elite. Based on some comments from my friends who have seen the original play in Marathi and/or the Hindi movie that came out in 1984, it was a highly intelligent satire of the pseudo-elite, the patrons of the arts and literature who nevertheless lived hypocritical lifestyles and held conflicting values.
The acting by a big cast of almost a dozen people in this play is fantastic, as has been typical in all Naatak plays. The scene is the party hosted by Damyanti Rane, in honor of a well known playwright, Diwakar Barwe, who is at the pinnacle of his success. Basab Pradhan, as doctor who is attending the party because he is Rane’s friend, has done a beautiful job of delivering his satirical lines, with a straight face. Referring to Rane’s guests, he tells Rane at the beginning of her party, “why must you go on collecting these nut cases?” Sindu Singh and Vijay Rajvaidya are fabulous as Rane and Barve, respectively. Only as the party progresses, the skeletons and the hidden agendas, the fears, and the disillusions harbored by these party-goers become apparent. Barwe confesses to Rane that his work has not had much originality and he has held his top spot only because he defends his turf and discourages other budding writers. His gorgeous live-in girlfriend, Mohini, a former actress (nicely played by Priya Satia), is in fact, addicted to alcohol and lives in the imaginary world of being deeply in love with Barwe, though he does not love her any more.
Snigdha Jain has done a great job with superb set design. Manish Sabu and Anubha Prakash’s work with English sub titles is excellent. If you are not well versed in Hindi, you won’t miss the fun because English sub titles appear in a timely way, right above the stage. Asheesh Divetia is perfect in his role as Bharat, a budding writer, who is plagued by insecurities, interspersed with moments of great insights and clarity. Nandita Kant, in the role of Vrinda (Rane’s plain looking daughter and an unwed mother) seems to be the only genuine person at the party. She spurns unwanted advances from her mother’s friend and suitor, Agashe, played by Puneet, before she confronts her mother about her superficial world that feels so alien to her.
The problem however, is that none of these interactions seem like extraordinary events that make a great story. They also don’t feel like immensely ordinary events that the audience would deeply identify with and would move the audience. They sort of just hang in there. The satire in this play seems to fall flat, the dialogs are not supremely witty, jokes are not rip-roaringly hilarious, and none of the characters display huge depth or intensity. I went to see the play with my friend and her smart, literature enthusiastic daughter, Sonia Mahajan, who is a freshman at a local high school. After the play, I asked her what she thought of the play. “Nothing happened”, she said. I think that about sums up how this play came through.
The only things that happen of any consequence, were with a character who is absent from the stage, and whom we hear about from Joginder (Ishmeet Singh), a local reporter. Amrit, a promising writer-poet, is concerned with the plight of the tribal people and in stark contrast to these elitist party-goers, he indicates his commitment to the society through his actions, residing and fighting on behalf of the tribal people, seeking justice for them. Despite fabulous acting by a brilliant cast, the play is not riveting. Perhaps some brilliance was lost in translation. More specifically however, these pseudo-intellectuals or elites in 1970s India, just seem like ordinary people, with ordinary concerns, and ordinary hypocrisies, in the 21st century, America. At best, “Party” feels like an annoying party one is attending out of obligation and can’t wait to go home.
I want to give credit to the NAATAK company for bringing a wide variety of topics, on stage. Not every topic or theme can be perfect and resonate with every member of the audience. The diversity and variation of subject matter serves to enhance the perspectives of Bay Area theater-goers, particularly those interested in themes related to the Indian sub-continent. I have seen the play “Disconnect” when it was performed at San Jose Rep, that will be presented by NAATAK in June. Here is a link to my review -http://bit.ly/14uuKgm and I would absolutely highly recommend it. With NAATAK casting and direction, it is likely to be absolutely brilliant. There will be one or two more shows of “Party” and tickets and/or season passes can be purchased at www.naatak.com.
Virgil Thomson has called Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” “one of century’s most powerful creations” and Bob Dylan said about the music “I was aroused straightaway by the raw intensity of the songs”. Powerful lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, were originally set to music by composer, Kurt Weill and it was Elisabeth Hauptmann who maintained the raw intensity of the lyrics when originally translating them into English. The translation of the dialogs and lyrics for this production was done by Robert MacDonald and Jeremy Sams. It is absolutely incredible that the musical that was originally produced in Germany, in 1928, as a scathing social and political critique about the clash of the haves and the have-nots, echoes true today.
Tattoo covered Jonny Moreno, as Macheath, with the words HUSTLER tattooed on his chest, is the fierce king of the 1930s Berlin’s underbelly, where the women admire him and cops make deals with him. Moreno’s acting is fantastic and his voice commands respect. The bagger king Peachum also runs his little kingdom where he trains the baggers on concocting tales of woes, to generate maximum sympathy from the donors. No one can bag on his turf without prior permission from Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, who get a commission from all bagger earnings. Paul Myrvold and Susan Gundunas last seen together at The Stage, in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, are fabulous as colorful Peachums. With all the respective turfs well defined, there is a functional system that keeps things organized, up to a point. But in the end, Macheath’s undoing happens because of the women. With two wives and his visits to the whore house, his women love him and hate him, in equal measure. Monique Hafen is fabulous in the role of innocent Polly Peachum (the bagger king’s daughter). She marries Macheath, unaware of his prior marriage and other passing interests. Halsey Varady as astute heroin shooting druggie, Jenny Diver, is superb.
Director Kenneth Kelleher, Musical Director Richard Marriott and Vocal Director, Allison F. Rich have done a marvelous job in capturing the underbelly of 1930s city streets of Europe, where alliances shift rapidly and the downtrodden have their own code for survival, where you gotta watch your own back.
This absolutely spell binding performance is undoubtedly “not to miss” play of this quarter. Kudos to Artistic Director, Randall King and Executive Director, Cathleen King for bringing such evocative, edgy, intense productions to San Jose Stage. For tickets, go to http://www.thestage.org.