Posts Tagged Inc.

Japan-US Collaborations in MedTech: 2014 WSGR Medical Device Conference

alRecently US medical device industry has faced some serious challenges due to lack of funding, strong regulatory hurdles, and lackluster job outlook.  On the other hand, for the first time in many years, the major Japanese companies are focusing on revitalizing their Medtech industry.  There is an interest and Government backing, from Japan, to invest in, and collaborate with US Medtech companies, incubators, and venture funds, many of them located in Silicon Valley.  For Silicon Valley startups, this may represent a great opportunity.  At the recent Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Medical Device Conference in San Francisco, a panel of experts discussed the possibilities for collaboration and the challenges and opportunities US-Japan Medtech collaboration may represent.


Japan (Photo credit: Yashar.Mans)

Jack Moorman, Principal, Le Vaunt LLC, moderated the panel.  Moorman opened the discussion by sharing some eye popping facts about Japanese medical device market.  It was hit hard during tsunami but still it remains a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.  This is a market that ranks 2nd highest in the world after US, pays for devices, nearly 100% of the population has coverage, and represents an aging population with greater medical needs.  Japan accounts for 10% of the total global market and will likely continue to expand, as the percentage of people over the age of 65 rises to 36% by 2050, even as it experiences dire shortage of caregivers.  Less than a 3rd of its GDP goes into healthcare, Japan imports more than it exports, and though it has held down costs to a large extent, a complex review and approval process makes it very hard to introduce new technologies.  But all that is poised to change.  Backed by Government, chief objective of NIH Japan now is to accelerate process for product approval.

Panelist Masazumi Ishii (“Masa”), Managing Director at AZCA Inc. has written about “dymystifying Japan” and he talked about cultural aspects that US companies need to understand when doing business in Japan.  Although now rapidly changing, Japan is a highly homogeneous society, where 95% of the population consider themselves to be middle class.  There is homogeneity in education and employment.  Belonging to and identifying with a group is extremely important to the Japanese.  “For instance, I would introduce myself as Masa Ishii of AZCA”, said Ishii.  In Japan, political preferences are connected to ties to a school but are not divided along liberal or conservative lines.  Also, women face many barriers in advancement in the work place.  Japanese market  traditionally has been impenetrable and very difficult to crack for the outsiders, often because outsiders lack the experience and skills in dealing with companies in Japan.  However, Japan is undergoing a rapid cultural shift.  For instance, the homogeneity is decreasing as the country is importing labor for South East Asia, as its own population is aging.  Japanese Ministry of Education is trying to bring in 300,000 students from abroad.  However, some things are harder to change than others.  For instance, indirect style of Japanese communication is very hard to change.  (I also offer  global inclusion & diversity trainings to companies and focus on helping employees navigate cultural communication challenges between direct and indirect communication styles and this part of the presentation was very interesting).

Ishii also talked about the fact that Japan is emerging out from a long dark tunnel and now has a stable Government (after going through 7 Prime Ministers during last 10 years).  The new Government is focused on fostering economic growth, supporting greater collaboration outside Japan, and Japanese businesses have a strong appetite to invest outside Japan.  Japan is still the 3rd largest economy in the world.  “Japan is not as open as many Japanese think, but it is not as closed as those outside Japan think”, said Ishii and its greater interest in opening up will be creating huge opportunities for US businesses.

Hajime Oshita, President and CEO, MedVentures Partners, Inc. manages investment fund in Japan with investment target of seed to early stage projects and start-ups in medical device arena.   In 2009, Oshita stated new venture fund, INCJ or Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, mainly funded by the Government, with an aim to promote innovation and enhance the value of businesses in Japan.  Medical device require precise manufacturing where Japanese companies excel, said Oshita.  Oshita also presented a strong case that Japan is greatly interested in collaboration outside US and for new ideas, new technologies, and new business partners.

Kenneth McDonnell, General Manager, Business Development at Terumo Medical Corporation, began by sharing the history of Terumo, which was started in 1921, by a physician scientist, with an immediate aim to design and make superior thermometers and a larger goal to promote healthier living with superior medial technology .  Terumo achieved almost $500M in growth, in 2013 and it focuses on three primary businesses, Cardiac & Vascular business, Blood Management business, and General Hospital Supply business.  The company has undertaken a large global initiative for pre-filled syringes.  Pre-filled syringes reduce drug mix-up errors and enhance safety and efficiency in healthcare.  Japan has a robust economy, longest life expectancy, longest “health” life expectancy, and less chronic diseases.  In fact, real issue for elderly in Japan is not healthcare, but care, said McDonnell.  Over 5M people over the age of 65, live alone.  The issue that is discussed is not so much about disease as a burden, but as a social responsibility.  But even the picture in chronic diseases is changing, with rates of diabetes rising, among the Japanese.  Cancers, particularly stomach, lung, GI and pancreatic cancers remain the largest causes of death.  All Japanese are covered by health insurance and patient only has to pay 30% of the cost, with a cap based on salary.  Japan has an excellent healthcare system but one that is going to be increasingly hard to sustain, with the aging population.  At Terumo, “we don’t take the first step, but we are fast followers and interested in partnership opportunities”, said McDonnell.

It seems clearly that the rapidly changing environment in Japan, with greater interest in investing in new ideas and collaborations outside Japan, represents a great opportunity for US medical device businesses, brimming with new ideas and looking for capital.  If they can effectively work through the cultural challenges, this synergy may open new doors and may create win-win synergy for US-Japan medical device industry.



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Fiona Ma (Assemblywoman & Campaigner against Hepatitis B) to speak at Health Technology Forum Conference

Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B Virus (Photo credit: AJC1)

Hepatitis B (HBV) virus is a very common virus worldwide.   Approximately, 1.2 million people in the United States are affected by this virus.  Almost 350 million people worldwide, are living with Hepatitis B.  Many people with Hepatitis B are likely to be infected at birth or in early childhood, and due to lack of immediate attention, have developed a lifelong chronic infection.   Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that is commonly spread through blood, semen, or other body fluids.  Most people do not experience symptoms until it is too late.  The virus causes 80% of all liver cancers, if left untreated.  Hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination.  And with immediate attention and monitoring with nutrition, fluids, and medical supervision, acute Hep B can also be effectively treated.

Fiona Ma, incumbent democratic candidate for State Board of Equalization, a reputed politician and a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, California State Assembly, is a tireless campaigner and spokesperson for “San Francisco Hepatitis B Free” campaign.  San Francisco has the highest concentration of Hep B in the country.  Ma herself learned that she had Hep B, when she was 22.  She acquired it from her mother, who had acquired it from her mother.  About 1 in every 10 Asian Americans, is infected with the virus.  Ma’s mother had developed liver scars and having caught that early, had it removed.

English: California State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma

English: California State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiona Ma will be giving keynote address at Health Technology Innovation Forum annual conference on May, 20 at Parc 55, Wyndham Hotel, SF.  The conference is focused on exploring pathways to sustainable health through various means including “best practices for globally underserved”, through “gamification” and “patient engagement”, and through “building resilient communities for better outcomes”.  Traditionally, this conference is heavily attended by physicians from UCSF, as well as entrepreneurs focused on healthcare breakthroughs.  Please register for the conference at , as my friend, with the discount code “HTF14-FriendOfOrganizer” and send me your first & last name at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com, to get $150 off the price of the ticket.


Please note other upcoming events below – dates & deadlines.

1) Register for #TiEcon at link  as my guest & enter promo code tievalue to get $100 discount. If you are an entrepreneur, I would say this is the conference, you don’t want to miss.  Check out great agenda, top notch speakers & panelists on #IoT, #bigdata, #cloud, and #Healthcare tracks at

3) Feel free to send me an email for any of these events at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com and you can follow my updates on Twitter @DarshanaN.  Also, do check out (in JOBS category on this blog), my job opportunities that include many Quality Engineering jobs in CA and MA and hot Software Embedded Engineer job and more.

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Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm to give Grand Keynote at TiEcon 2014

TiEcon, the largest entrepreneurship conference, will focus this year on four industry focused tracks, Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud Infrastructure, and Healthcare. (Please register through this link as my guest and enter promo code tievalue to get a $100 discount).

Steve Mollenkopf, President and CEO of Qualcomm, will give grand keynote address, on day 1.  With a background in electrical engineering, Mollenkopf holds patents in “power estimation and measurement, multi-standard transmitter system, and wireless communication transceiver technology.”  He has spent his entire 20+ year career at Qualcomm.  Previously, he led the chip set business at Qualcomm and helped make Qualcomm the world’s largest mobile chipset supplier and global leader in LTE technology.  Mollenkopf also led the company’s largest acquisition of Atheros, purchased at $3.1 billion, a deal that helped expand Qualcomm’s business beyond smartphones and enabled and speeded adoption of Qualcomm’s technologies and platforms in new segments.

Qualcomm logo

Qualcomm logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Qualcomm makes over $25 billion each year, in revenues, powering world’s smartphones and tablets.  Qualcomm may not be a lean and mean startup, but it is a technology driven company.  Mollenkopf is entrepreneurial in nature and a self-proclaimed gadget freak.  Entrepreneurs at TiEcon will be waiting to hear Mollenkopf’s perspectives on opportunities in mobile space.  Will he share any new industry leading innovations in the pipeline, at Qualcomm?

TiEcon 2014 is shaping up to be fantastic entrepreneurship focused conference, with awesome panels and speakers.  Please register through this link as my guest and enter promo code tievalue to get a $100 discount.


Other Life Science focused events

1) Register for Health Tech Forum annual conference on May 20, at  With a theme of “Pathways to Sustainable Health”, the conference will bring together physicians, entrepreneurs, payers, and providers with an aim to empower quality of health.
2) Michelle Chen from DNAtrix, Inc. will talk on “Developing Oncolytic Virus to Treat Glioblastoma” on Tuesday, April, 29, 8:30am.  This is a free event – all are welcome –
3) Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, founder of Pearl Therapeutics will talk on Tuesday, May 6 at Cubberley, PA  Pearl Therapeutics was acquired by Astra Zeneca last year, for $1.15 B and was a winner of TiEcon’s TiE50 awards, two years in a row.
4) Feel free to send me an email for details on any of these events at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com.  You can also follow my updates on Twitter @DarshanaN.  Also, do check out (in JOBS category on this blog), my job opportunities that include many Quality Engineering jobs in CA and MA and hot Software Embedded Engineer job and more.




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OncoProtein based Program for Early Detection of HPV induced Cervical Cancers  

Dr Johannes Schweizer, VP of R&D at Arbor Vita Corporation talked about Arbor Vita’s proprietary OncoE6™ Cervical Test that Predicts Development of Cervical Cancer at event.  Information on 3 great upcoming conferences EPPIC, TiEcon, and HealthTechForum with great speakers on healthcare tracks, is posted at the end of the article.

Arbor Vita was found by Dr. Peter Lu, in 1998 with an aim to apply discoveries of the role of PDZ proteins to the development of novel therapeutics and diagnostics.  Numerous pathogens have been found to cause diseases by binding to a PDZ protein and thereby disrupting normal cell signaling.  The ability to regulate PDZ/PL interactions represents new opportunities in controlling multiple signaling cascades in complex diseases and have recently been a focus for human drug targets.  Arbor Vita has identified nearly all of the PDZ domains in the human proteome and has decoded most of them.  Arbor Vita’s platform technology is targeted towards several diseases.  Its stroke treatment asset was recently sold to NoNO, Inc.  Avian flu Dx is the first FDA cleared rapid Dx test.  At this event, Dr Schweizer discussed Arbor Vita’s diagnostic and treatment technology for HPV induced cancers.

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of mortality, worldwide.  HPV induced cancers are transmitted through sexual contact and kill over 275,000 women, every year.  These do not receive as much attention because the mortality rates are lower in the US and other developed countries.  But mortality from slow progressive cervical cancers peak in developing countries.  In India for instance, every 7 minutes, a woman dies from this disease.  The current mode of detection is through pap smears, which have poor sensitivity and poor specificity.  In the US, out of 100,000 women tested, 23,000 are likely to be hr-HPV positive.  But from these, only 6 women are likely to have cancer.  This indicates that the current screening methods are sensitive but are not sufficiently specific to detect pre-cancerous and cancerous activity and low specificity leads to over treatment.  Pap tests give about 20% false positive and false negative results.  The only reason it still work is because of the frequency of testing in the case of this very slow moving cancer, said Schweizer.  Also pap tests require lot of infrastructure and set up that is often not easily available in developing regions.

Arbor Vita’s OncoE6TM Test is the only test that specifically identifies the viral E6 oncoprotein that causes cervical cancer.  And it is simple to administer with specimen captured with a polyester tipped cervical swab, which can also be captured by the woman on her own as well.  Elevated E6 oncoprotein correlates to cancerous activity and development of high-affinity anti E6 mAb is a key to feasibility.  There are 15 HPV types that cause cancer.  Among these, HPV 16 and HPV 18 are leading causes of cervical cancers, worldwide.  This test is specific to these two viruses.  Further this test is robust and lends to easy storage at ambient temperature.  The entire process from sample collection to getting the results can be completed in 2.5 hours.

Schweizer shared some of the data from its clinical trials.  The data indicates that in a head to head comparison with OncoE6TM, the DNA test results in nine fold over treatment including colposcopies and biopsies.   OncoE6 Cervical Test on the other hand, has high specificity for women with high grade disease cancers.  OncoE6 Cervical Test efficiently identifies women in need of clinical follow-up, among the many more with clinically irrelevant HPV infections.  In a one year follow up, E6TM promised to be a solid predictive marker as high specificity and high PPV are keys to lower referral rates and clinical follow-up.  This was very interesting talk and was followed by Q&A.


Please see below information on some excellent conferences and events coming up in the Bay Area, in next couple of months.

March 29, 2014 (day after tomorrow) EPPIC ( is hosting annual conference at SF, Westin.  Panels include Neglected & Rare Diseases –, Innovations in clinical Development of Novel Agents, Point of Care gold rush and there will be speed pitch and SIG networking opportunities.  Promises to be a great conference.

May 16, 17, 2014 TiE SV ( will host TiEcon ( , the largest entrepreneurship conference.  This year it will feature #healthcare track with focus on Disruptive Technologies in Healthcare.

May 20, 2014 HealthTech Forum ( will host annual conference around the theme “Pathways to Sustainable Health” at Parc 55 Wyndham, SF and will feature excellent panels and speakers on Medical Research in the Cloud, Patient Engagement in Behavioral Health, Improving Health in Global Underserved Communities and more. meets every Tuesday and next Tuesday Dr. Russell Pachynski, co-founder, CombImmune, will talk about “Novel approaches to Immune Therapy and Monitoring”.

Check out new job opportunities 1) Embedded Software Engineer – Mountain View, CA 2) Quality manager – Mt Laurel, NJ –


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