The 113th Congress and Medical Research Funding: A Perfect Storm Approaching? | Subscribe to the FasterCures blog | Knowledge bank grows as genome sequencing becomes mainstream
February 19, 2013
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What life sciences talent gap?
Drugmakers and biotech companies laid off some 150,000 employees from 2009 through 2012, but now they say they are having trouble attracting top talent, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report. New drug development models need people who can handle partnerships and collaborative arrangements, as well as skills in biomedical engineering, systems biology, bioinformatics and data analysis, and health economics and outcomes research, according to the report. "What is the industry doing to develop its own people to fill these jobs?" asks Luke Timmerman. "Why can?t at least some of these 150,000 axed people fit into the current openings?" he adds. Xconomy (2/18)
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News from FasterCures
The 113th Congress and Medical Research Funding: A Perfect Storm Approaching?
Wednesday, Feb. 20
1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern
This is no garden-variety budget year in Washington: a tsunami of budget and fiscal issues threaten federal science programs, including the postponed "sequester," the drafting of the fiscal year 2014 budgets and likely fights over the debt ceiling. This FREE webinar will tell you what you need to know about what could happen on Capitol Hill, when and who the important players are, including some new faces. Register today. Speakers include:
  • Ceci Connolly, managing director, Health Research Institute, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
  • Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., vice president and director, Center for Analytics & Public Health, Battelle.
  • Carrie D. Wolinetz, Ph.D., associate vice president for federal relations, Association of American Universities.
  • Moderator: Margaret Anderson, executive director, FasterCures.
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Science and Technology
Knowledge bank grows as genome sequencing becomes mainstream
As the price of sequencing the human genome has fallen, parents of children with undiagnosed or rare diseases have become more willing to have their children's genomes sequenced, thus adding to the available data on genetic mutations. Expectations are high, but the technology leads to beneficial treatment in only about 1% of patients. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (2/18)
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Role as a patient sharpens researcher's focus
Well-known breast cancer doctor, author and foundation president Susan Love was recently diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. After chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and weeks in the hospital, Love's disease is in remission. She says the experience sharpened her focus as a breast cancer researcher and has made her more determined to concentrate on the causes of cancer rather than looking for new drugs to treat it. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers)/Well blog (2/18)
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Finance and Economics
Sequestration could force painful research spending cuts
Scientists are being forced to make difficult decisions about whether to continue innovative, potentially life-saving research in the face of deep spending cuts that will be enacted if sequestration is not prevented, former congressmen John Edward Porter and Kweisi Mfume write in this article. Sequestration would also hinder the U.S. in the scientific innovation race, with the economies of China and many European countries making research funding a priority while the U.S. scales back. Roll Call (free content) (2/1)
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Genomics might be reaching a "cell phone moment"
The genomics industry is poised to take off in much the same way as the mobile phone industry, with inexpensive hardware and revenue driven by software, applications and diagnostics, some industry experts say. As data storage and analysis problems are solved and sequencing costs have dropped, scientists have become more able to focus on diagnostics. As prices continue to fall, genomics sequencing and personalized medicine will become more mainstream, experts say. (2/14)
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Leukemia & Lymphoma Society launches ad campaign
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society aims to build brand awareness, make an emotional connection with the public and raise donations through its first major national ad campaign, says Lisa Stockmon, the organization's senior vice president of marketing. Led by Interplanetary, the campaign includes a website; paid television, print and outdoor ads; and public service announcements. The society funds academic research and collaborates with drugmakers on more advanced research through its Therapy Acceleration Program. Medical Marketing & Media (2/14)
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Policy and Regulation
Obama administration to unveil 10-year brain-mapping project
The Obama administration is looking to unveil next month a 10-year project to map the active human brain, called Brain Activity Map. Scientists say the project may pave the way for the development of technologies that will help improve understanding of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The project, which may be worth $3 billion over 10 years, may also allow for the creation of national brain "observatories," akin to astronomical observatories. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (2/17)
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Society and Ethics
ALS clinical trials exclude too many people, patient says
Clinical trials testing drugs for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, exclude patients who have had the disease for more than two or three years. The policy is detrimental to patients who could benefit from participation and to researchers who, by excluding such patients, fail to gather data on disease progression, writes Catherine Wolf, an expert in the field of human-computer interaction and a long-time ALS patient. The FDA will hold a public hearing next week on ALS drug development, and patients and advocates can submit comments via Facebook page or the ALS room at ABC News (2/15)
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Families push researchers to share rare disease data
Families of children with a rare genetic disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome are joining the chorus of voices asking researchers to open access to data on rare diseases. Three family foundations have offered to raise $550,000 to pay for a national natural-history study on the condition that researchers would make data available to other qualified researchers. The families hope that sharing data would cut down on the number of studies on the disease and spare families the fatigue and difficulty involved in participating in multiple studies. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2/18)
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List of biopharma's most influential leaders is released
The FiercePharma list of the 25 most influential people in biopharma includes representatives from the big drugmakers, including Sanofi, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as individuals working at smaller drug companies. Also present on the list were philanthropist Bill Gates, investor Dietmar Hopp, and researchers Craig Venter and Bob Langer. Forbes (2/19)
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FasterCures is an action tank that works across sectors and diseases to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the medical research enterprise. FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is nonpartisan and independent of interest groups.
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