Monday, May 31, 2010

40 Under 40 in Idaho — Jason Schultz receives 2010 award

We just learned that a friend and supporter of our company has been named by the Idaho Business Review as a 2010 recipient of the Idaho Accomplished Under 40 award.

Jason Schultz, director of programs and small business at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, was recognized for his professional accomplishments, leadership, community involvement and long-term goals.

Congratulations, Jason, and thanks for all you do for us and other businesses in Idaho.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A more perfect union: Basic Science meets Public Health

If public health is science painted with broad brush strokes, basic science is pointillism — the art of connecting infinitesimal dots.

Public health engages with populations of people; basic science pores over populations of mosquitoes, cells and enzymes. But in a public health setting, the endgame for these bedfellows is the same—large-scale prevention of disease.

So how does the study of mechanisms in cells and tissues at their most fundamental levels complement the public health mission to protect millions? The answers are myriad, all hinging on translation.

As you’ll read in this case study from the Johns Hopkins Public Health journal, disciplines such as toxicology, biochemistry, molecular and microbiology, epidemiology, and biostatistics can endlessly inform each other, and lead to cross-fertilization, clues, predictions — and ultimately — solutions to the world’s most vexing health problems.

Virus Plus Toxin Equals Cancer

In China’s Jiangsu province, the rates of liver cancer far outpace the global averages, and its victims are far younger than elsewhere. At a population level, Jiangsu is an obvious outlier. “Any time you see a lack of uniformity in disease, it smacks you in the face, and you realize that there must be dramatic exposures to something in the environment,” says chemist and toxicologist John Groopman, PhD, chair of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS).

Thirty years ago, Thomas Kensler, PhD, a toxicologist and professor in EHS, considered the questions posed by the epidemiological research in Jiangsu, and he began to look for answers on a molecular level. Hepatitis B (HBV), which is four times more prevalent in Asia than in developed nations, was part of the explanation.

Could there be a chemical agent, a “DNA damage product,” operating in conjunction with HBV? Kensler and Groopman identified just such an agent, which works with HBV to create mutations in a tumor-suppressor gene known as TP53—the most commonly mutated gene in all human cancers. The agent, aflatoxin, is a product of moldy crops such as peanuts and corn, is ubiquitous in Jiangsu, and can’t be cooked out of food. By itself, it can mutate cells in small measure. But a person who has biomarkers for both risk factors—aflatoxin exposure and HBV—has 60 times more risk of developing liver cancer than someone who has neither biomarker.

The translation of these basic science discoveries is a two-pronged population-wide prevention plan that incorporates vaccinating against HBV at birth, and communications programs that help Jiangsu residents to consume less aflatoxin. Both efforts are now under way.

The toxicologists are also exploring ways to diminish the impact of unavoidable exposure to aflatoxin. With a clear molecular target—the antioxidant signaling pathway Nrf2, which eliminates toxins and protects against mutations to TP53—they’ve conducted clinical trials involving drugs and compounds that include oltipraz, chlorophyllin, sulforaphane and tea made from broccoli sprouts. All compounds were found to significantly reduce DNA damage. “And even a modest reduction in DNA damage,” says Groopman, “can confer quite a large reduction in cancer.”

Story by Christine Grillo
Illustrations by Brad Yeo

Click here to read more.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

20 top brand websites of last year by physician specialty

Thanks to Jairaj Mashru, brand engagement manager at Stinson Brand Innovation, for today’s blog post.

Manhattan Research, a global pharmaceutical and healthcare market research and strategic advisory firm, conducts an annual survey among physicians to determine their most popular destinations for information about pharmaceutical products on the world wide web.

In 2009, Shire was in the lead with a website for its ADHD product, Vyvanse®. Merck represented ‘big pharma’ with three appearances with its product for Type II Diabetes, Januvia® as the most popular among endocrinologists and PCPs. Genetech’s Avastin® made it to the top of the list among hematologists and oncologists. Other noteworthy mentions include GSK’s Advair®, and Crestor® from AstraZeneca.

While product sites are only part of the mix today, understanding how these resources are being used by physicians can make a huge difference in their effectiveness as a medium to communicate and share information. It is also important to note that the content and navigation of a website are just as important as the marketing of the website.  That is, reach and relevance are equally important.

Here’s the full list of the top sites across 20 specialties.

2009 Top Product Sites Among U.S. Physicians
Ranked by number of physician visitors 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2010 Trends: A pulse check as we approach mid-year

Recently, our friends from TCG conducted workshops in Cambridge, England, and Frankfurt, Germany, sharing insights and advice on how medical device and pharmaceutical companies can successfully launch in the United States.

The workshop in England was co-sponsored by ERBI Ltd., a non-profit organization for international life science and healthcare companies.

Approximately 70 people representing 40 European medtech companies attended the workshops led by Dr. Robert C. Keefer, TCG managing partner, and Dr. Reinhard Merz, TCG director of European operations. Other presenters were Steve Lang, president of Argo Consulting; Kurt G. Waldthausen, president of Waldthausen & Associates, Inc.; Albrecht Windelband, CEO of Abtswinder Naturheilmittel GmbH & Co. KG; and Maureen Garner, president, and Glenn Neuman, director, of New World Regulatory Solutions, Inc.

Here are some of the insights they shared on trends affecting our markets:

Medtech Industry Continues Strong Growth
The pharmaceutical and medical device industries are projected to grow 6.1 and 8.9 percent respectively.  Growth remains strong because of demographic trends and in spite of expected declines in the number of new product FDA approvals, pharmaceuticals losing patent protection, and the recession-driven decrease in hospital budgets and elective surgeries.  Since individual sectors are, more or less, affected by buying patterns and other market dynamics specific to each sector, it will be crucial to obtain a timely, critical understanding of the markets you will be doing business in before you launch products.

Mature Companies Will Thrive

Venture capitalists have shown declining interest in younger companies the last few years.  Mature, innovative companies that capitalize on the situation and use their foresight and flexibility will thrive in the next two years.   The reasons are tied to the following factors.
  • Perceived market and regulatory risks are high, and uncertainty in reimbursements and the impact of US healthcare reform are both more significant risks for earlier stage companies. More experienced companies will have the motivation and opportunity to deal with the risks and position themselves for the future. Their management teams will be most attractive to Wall Street and to corporate partners needing deals to stay afloat and get their products on the market.
  • Potential exit/liquidity has been limited by the absence of the IPO market and dramatic downturn in M&A activity this past year. In a market with poor liquidity and IPO possibilities, companies with relatively secure market shares will be prime investor targets.
Weaker Dollar Presents Opportunity in US
Massive US government spending and low US interest rates will continue to depress the dollar in 2010, compared to other currencies.  History shows the dollar has been very cyclical in comparison to the Euro, and a reversal of US dollar weakness is only a matter of time.  Because we will be at the bottom of the cycle in 2010, this represents a good time for European companies to enter the US market. They will be spending market development dollars when the Euro is strong, and reaping the rewards in a few years when the dollar is stronger.

New Medical Device Directives Helps EU Companies Enter the US Market
The Medical Device Directive goes into effect in March of 2010 and will have an impact on both European and US firms.  To comply, European companies will have to follow more stringent and well-defined standards.  For example, some devices previously classified as "lower risk" will be reclassified as higher risk Class III devices.  Devices may also be subject to post-market surveillance, and software validation will be required in more devices. The most significant change is that some level of clinical evaluation will be required for all devices.  While companies might have to work harder to get their products approved for the European market, they will often be better prepared for submission to the FDA, thus easing the cost and time of US market entry.

US Healthcare Reform Expands Insurance Coverage and Increases Size of Overall Market
Companies will use 2010 to prepare for changes that will be coming because of US Health Care Reform. These laws will mainly change the way insurance is purchased in the United States.  They will do very little to change the cost, delivery, or overall healthcare.  The actual impact will be a significant increase in insured individuals — up to 30 million more patients. This means an even larger market for medical device and pharmaceutical companies.  And, because insurers will not be allowed to discriminate against unhealthy individuals, there will be a greater emphasis on preventing disease, thus creating markets for cost-effective preventive products and services.

Regenerative Medicine Market Excitement
Tissue regeneration products rank at or near the top in terms of growth potential.  The most significant opportunities for the next couple of years will likely be in orthopedics and spinal devices. Numerous biomaterials that promote growth in bone and soft tissue have debuted in the last year and more are expected. Perhaps the biggest opportunity is in cartilage repair where no single product has proven to be very effective, and a huge unmet need exists.  We agree with Robin Young's comments in the June 23, 2009, issue of Orthopedics This Week that adult stem cells will play an increasing role in various tissue regenerative modalities.

New Biosimilars Approval Pathway Creates Opportunity
A few years ago, large international pharmaceutical companies began developing and marketing lower-cost versions of their rivals' biological medicines (biosimilars) to compete as soon as patents expire.  In 2010, we will see White House signature of the new product approval pathway for these products.  Both the Senate and House versions of the bill provide for 11-year exclusivity, which will help ensure good returns on research investments.  This will help decrease development risks, spur more product development and increase investor interest.

US Economic Slowdown Offers Opportunity
The great recession of 2009 may have hit bottom, but a slow recovery will continue throughout most of 2010.  Many companies have cut back on their advertising, promotion and product development.  The good news is that for companies with the resources and courage to invest in new products and marketing programs, 2010 will offer an excellent opportunity to gain share from more cautious and less well-financed competitors.

Tougher FDA Enforcement will Help Innovative Products
FDA has new staff in key positions and has vowed to move away from yesterday's hands-off policies, particularly as they apply to product recalls and suspected adverse effects. Companies will need to update monitoring programs and re-evaluate their filing strategies especially for products being reviewed under the 510(K) process.  This presents an excellent opportunity for companies whose products have strong clinical (and cost) data.  These products will move through with minimal delays.  Those that are "me too," with weak data, can expect delays.

International Policies Drive Adoption of More Electronic Data Management
The recent health care debate has focused increased attention on the chaotic state of US medical records and is driving efforts to reduce administrative costs and errors.  Hospital IT systems, as well as private medical offices, will be moving even faster toward Electronic Medical Records (EMR), funded in part by $2B in grants from the Obama administration. FDA will also push the effort, requiring manufacturers to file adverse event reports by EMR. Meanwhile, more countries (such as Germany) will explore digital signatures and uniform insurance cards to better synchronize patient information.

Comparative Trials will be Required
Both FDA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are pushing for more comparative trials to improve safety and reduce costs. Efforts to test Class III devices and drugs against the current "standards of care" will start in 2010 and the final US health care reform bill will establish either a private or governmental institute to enforce and oversee these efforts.  Companies that are planning clinical trials for the next year can get an advantage over their competition by considering the implications of these new requirements.

TCG will conduct more workshops this year on entering the US market -- including an overview session at the EuroMedtech 2010 in June in Leipzig, Germany. Details are posted on the TCG website. Click here for more information

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2 links to cancer – nutrition and exercise: what can be done to expand the war on cancer?

This blog entry was contributed by Robb Hughes, director of finance and operations at Stinson Brand Innovation.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer. But even today, cancer still has the upper hand – as the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., with nearly 562,000 casualties annually,

According to a new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the past 40-year war against cancer has only reduced death rates by 16%. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, the costs have more than doubled since 1990 - this despite a $100 billion dollar investment by the government in research. With inflation, the costs to fight “the war” have increased to $90 billion per year with some patients paying as much as $100k per year for drugs like Roche’s Avastin and Lilly’s Erbitux. The reduction in deaths have been attributed to anti-smoking campaigns, better disease detection, and also those expensive drugs.

With obesity on the rise, and 30-35% of cancers attributed to nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity, mortality rates may not trend in the right direction any time soon.

If anti-smoking campaigns made a good dent in the mortality rate, I wonder if awareness campaigns linking nutrition and lack of exercise to cancer might have a similar effect.

Who would pay for it though?

Is there incentive for pharma companies to invest in “diet and exercise” campaigns? And so long as we have a multi-payer system, would insurance companies take such a long-term outlook and make the investment.

What are your thoughts?  How could this be done?

Monday, May 24, 2010

5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today — what does tomorrow hold? Is IVIG a part of the future?

In her powerful novel Still Alice, Lisa Genova, a Ph.D. in neuroscience, writes extensively about Alzheimer’s.  The book is about a woman who learns she has early-onset Alzheimer’s. The story describes how Alice, an educated woman in her early 50s, discovers the disease, how she deals with telling her family and, most difficult, her colleagues, and how she pares down her daily activities to accommodate her diagnosis and increasing limitations.

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; therefore cancer has become a more hopeful diagnosis than Alzheimer’s. In the book, Alice expresses this so well:

“She wished she had cancer instead. She’d trade Alzheimer’s for cancer in a heartbeat. She felt ashamed for wishing this, and it was certainly a pointless bargaining, but she permitted the fantasy anyways. With cancer, she’d have something that she could fight… There was the chance that she could win… And even if defeated in the end, she’d be able to look them [her family and the Harvard community] knowingly in the eyes and say goodbye before she left. …Alzheimer’s Disease was an entirely different kind of beast. There were no weapons that could slay it…. The blazing fire consumed all. No one got out alive.”

Alzheimer’s not only impacts the person with the disease, but the entire family.  Katie Stevens, a contestant on American Idol, dedicated her auditions to her grandmother “so she can see me succeed in my dream before she forgets who I am.”  When there’s a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, families either come together, or they fall apart. 

Northwestern provides support groups for Alzheimer’s victims and their families. The clinical and research professionals at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, based at the Feinberg School of Medicine, describe their work as “from cells to social work.” They are conducting studies on causes and effects of dementia and seek to make patients and families the beneficiaries of that research. 

Because of our years of involvement in the IVIG market, we’re following the research of several companies, including Baxter, studying the impact of IgG therapy as a possible prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Last month Octapharma had a press release reporting, “The conclusion of the Swedish research group was that this observation may support previous indications that IVIG administration might be a path to prevent AD.”

In 2009 5.3 million people in the United States were known to be living with Alzheimer’s or a variant; in 2010 a half-million new cases will be diagnosed, and by 2050 there will be a million new cases annually, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, based in Chicago. 

A few new drugs can slow the disease’s path, however, to date there is no proven prevention of this disease. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Where are you contributing?"

In today’s blog, our director of Brand Engagement, Melanie Stinson asks, “Where are you contributing?”

Innovation happens when we uncover the strengths in the differences between us.

I don't know where I got this image, but it beautifully illustrates our collective responsibility for making meaningful contributions to the world’s innovation strategy.
  • Where do you fit in?
  • How many of these bubbles do you identify with?
  • Are there bubbles missing?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and continue collecting these types of graphics. Leave a comment or send me a link to a graphic on Twitter @melaniestinson.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5 steps to deciding what you want for yourself this year

In order to get what you want, you must first decide what you want.

Most people really foul up at this crucial first step because they simply can’t see how it’s possible to get what they want — so they don’t even let themselves want it. What scientists now know about how the brain works is that you must first decide the 'WHAT' before your brain can figure out the 'HOW.'

My friend and mentor, Jack Canfield, encourages us to lock-in our desires, so that than your mind and the universe can step in.  Are you ready to get started?  Here are Jack’s tips --

STEP 1: Decide to Dream BIG and Be Willing to Dream BIG Dreams
Big dreams not only inspire you, but they also compel others to want to play big, too. Don’t think you should only dream big during economic heydays. Dream big every day, especially during tough times.  As soon as you commit to a big dream and really go after it, your subconscious creative mind will come up with big ideas to make it happen. You’ll start attracting the people, resources, and opportunities you need into your life to make your dreams come true.

STEP 2: Set Goals That Will Stretch You

Another value in giving yourself permission to go after the big dreams is that big dreams require you to grow in order to achieve them. In fact, in the long run, this is the greatest benefit you will receive from pursuing your dreams — not so much the outer trappings of fulfilling the dream (an expensive car, impressive house, loads of money and philanthropic opportunities), but who you become in the process.   As I’ve seen many times over, the outer symbols of success can all be easily lost. Houses burn down, companies go bankrupt, relationships end, cars get old, bodies age and fame wanes, but who you are, what you have learned, and the new skills you have developed never go away. These are the true prizes of success.

STEP 3: Service to Others
As you pinpoint what you want to go after, think about how you can be of service to others. When your dreams include this element, you’ll find yourself speeding along the path to accomplishing that goal. People want to be part of something that makes a difference.

STEP 4: Turn Your Dreams into Goals and Objectives
Once you are clear about what you want, you must turn each item into a measurable goal. By measurable, I mean measurable in space and time, how much and by when. Don’t just say that you want to lose weight, for instance. Be specific, push yourself to higher limits, and set dates. Say something like, “I want to lose 50 pounds by summer and participate in my community’s 10K for charity by the 4th of July.”  Similarly, your boss, your friends, your spouse, your brain — God, or the Universe — can’t figure out what you want unless you specifically tell them what it is. What do you want — exactly — and when do you want it by?

STEP 5: Write Your Goals Down
Write your goals down in detail, and read your list of goals every day. This will keep your subconscious mind focused on what you want. For an even more powerful approach, close your eyes and focus on each goal and ask yourself, "What is one thing I could do today to move toward the achievement of this goal?" Write down your answers and take those actions.

Jack recommends writing down a minimum of 3 goals in each of the following 7 areas:
  1. Financial Goals
  2. Career/Business Goals
  3. Free Time/Family Time
  4. Health/Appearance Goals 
  5. Relationship Goals
  6. Personal Growth
  7. Making a Difference/Contribution
If you want help getting started, Jack has some handy worksheets and even more guidance for you that models this formula, including examples. Click here to access this FREE Audio Training and Action Guide to start creating all that you deserve in your life!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nikon Ashton’s COOLPIX - The COOLPIX Touch Panel OLED provides fingertip shooting control

I don’t know anyone who didn’t want to try Tom Cruise’s virtual desktop interface in the film Minority Report, and the new Nikon COOLPIX web site has us one step closer to that dream. The Virtual Touch Experience allows simple navigation without a keyboard or a mouse. The site enables your web camera in a way that allows you to control, explore and manipulate your photo libraries on the site with various hand gestures. You simply wave your hands or move your fingers to interact with elements on the screen. These hand gestures are very similar to what you would exercise on the COOLPIX camera touchscreen, which is amazingly similar to the ones you use on the iPhone.

Another feature that stands out is the option to sync this technology for use on other sites like Flickr through a simple bookmark. It’s a really nice tie-in from the product to the interactive experience and it creates exposure to the camera’s functionality without ever having one.

Monday, May 17, 2010

“Adaptive Communication” -- Is it your next business innovation?

Today’s blog was submitted by Brandy Gonsoulin, one of our project and operations managers at Stinson Brand Innovation. 

“I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

My English teacher would turn her nose up at the sentence above, but the point is all too familiar. Communication in all its evolution from the ritualized and repetitious songs, calls, or gestures that we have advanced into a complex linguistic system somehow, still isn’t working.   Your last meeting or project may remind of just such.

Human communication and more importantly, human communication in a group, can be the most intriguing study.  And further globalization has just made it even more challenging. Effective communication is at the heart of every successful project. And since we are and always will be a group of people with our own self-interests, motivations and personalized systems through which we interpret information, effective communication shall and will continue to be challenged. 

Adaptive communication has been a way that we as natural communicators have developed creative systems to extend the conversation. This idea is most obvious in sign language and another most of us do frequently without even knowing, is computer chatting, the most familiar being Facebook.

Maybe we need to look to the theories of adaptive communication and turn this idea inside out (or is it upside down). How we can be more creative in our professional communication, and even further, how can we use the tools and technology to change the face of human communication in our projects and in our businesses today?  One thing is certain, how you communicate today, may not be the way you communicate tomorrow.

I like what the company DynaVox has started.  Click here to check out what they do with the idea of adaptive communication.

And to extend the conversation further on connecting to consumers in different ways, read this Fast Company article.

Finally, here’s a link to a cool image of “multi-sensory” furniture.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

400 to 500 McDonald's restaurants to be "reimaged"

Q What are the first things customers will notice when they walk into a reimaged restaurant?

A Hopefully, you're noticing that is does feel modern and contemporary and very forward-looking. … For me, it's the colors, the comfortable furniture, the modern furniture, and some more-dining-conducive lighting.

Q Is the goal to have a coffee shop feel?

A No. … We have zone-seating areas, so the customer has the opportunity to use the restaurant in the manner that fits their lifestyle best. So if a customer is coming in by themselves, who wants to flip open a laptop and have a cup of coffee, great. If it's a quick lunch with a couple of friends, and they have to get back to work in an hour, we have an area more conducive to getting in and out quick.

Q Is every restaurant going to look the same?

A On interiors, we have a portfolio of designs. We have flexibility to tweak them a bit to localize them. … On the outside, we've got a branded look. … The flexibility we have is really to adapt locally to municipal requirements and regional materials. Stone works better in some parts of the country and may be more cost-effective. They'll be brick on some. They'll be stucco on others.

Q Are you doing away with Playlands?

A We're working with our franchisees to assess if they still need to be there. Markets change, and where it makes sense to have play places, we'll have play places.

Q About half of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants have had some sort of reimaging. How is this year's effort different?

A From 2003 to 2006, we only did the interiors and we did very little on the exterior. We might have painted some buildings, new lighting, but no true reimaging. From 2006 to 2010, the current building design, which we probably have about 1,200 throughout the U.S. at this point, was mainly executed on new restaurants. (That figure includes relocations and rebuilds.) Now, here's the opportunity to reimage existing locations.

Q What's in store for 2011?

A We're focused on getting the 400 to 500 done, and to a large extent that will dictate what we do following 2010. (Franchisees have signed letters committing to the reimaging of these restaurants, which cost between $400,000 and $700,000 per remodel, Carmona said. Media outlets have reported the price ceiling at $1 million.) … How we do things, what we do, do we change some parts of what we're doing now — that's all to be determined through the year.

Friday, May 14, 2010

9 new functional navigation and design features of Total Sleep™ online brand experience

The team at Stinson Brand Innovation rebranded and relaunched Total Sleep.

The new site offers background information on sleep apnea and why treatment is important. And, it gives the patients a practical 9-step guide that details what to expect at a Total Sleep lab. For health care professionals, it outlines the company’s clinically validated approach to the screening, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders branded as Total Sleep Management™.

Most health care organizations specializing in sleep disorders focus on either the diagnosis or treatment portion of care. Total Sleep™ is unique in that it combines both elements to enhance patient care and outcomes, ensuring their patients have an opportunity to “sleep well.”

Now, offers:
  1. Clean, dynamic homepage
  2. Three unique user pathways
  3. “Schedule an appointment” form 
  4. Real-time sleep health screening questionnaire
  5. Nine-step “sleep well experience”
  6. “Find a sleep lab near you” interactive map
  7. Downloadable patient forms 
  8. “Refer a patient” form
  9. Downloadable screening and diagnostic tools
Daryl Risinger, Total Sleep vice president of sales and marketing, said, “We’re very pleased with the distinctive verbal and visual messaging of the new site. We’re confident the new is an improved platform for addressing the questions and needs of all our constituencies while providing tools for better screening and testing.”

Total Sleep is a sleep diagnostics and therapy organization committed to improving s the quality of life and attaining superior clinical outcomes for those suffering from sleep disorders. Total Sleep Management™ is a comprehensive disease management program which utilizes an algorithmically driven model to incorporate diagnostic testing, prescribed therapy, and outcomes reporting. Since 1993, Total Sleep has completed more than 250,000 sleep studies and operates more than 70 Joint Commission accredited labs throughout the United States, providing health care providers with unparalleled service and patients with improved outcomes. More information is available at

Thursday, May 13, 2010

6th Anniversary of Our Company — and a song to express my passion for its future

I want to live in the world,
            not inside my head
I want to live in the world,
            I want to stand and be counted

With the hopeful and the willing
With the open and the strong
With the voices in the darkness
Fashioning daylight out of song

And the millions of lovers
Alive in the world

I want to live in the world,
            not behind some wall
I want to live in the world,
            where I will hear if another voice should call

To the prisoner inside me
To the captive of my doubt
Who among his fantasies
Harbors the dream of breaking out

And taking his chances
Alive in the world

To open my eyes and
            wake up alive in the world
To open my eyes and
            fully arrive in the world

With its beauty and its cruelty
With its heartbreak and its joy
With it constantly giving birth to life
And to forces that destroy

And the infinite power of change
Alive in the world

-- © Jackson Browne

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

$1.9 billion in venture capital funding for U.S. life science firms

U.S. life sciences companies secured $1.9 billion in venture capital funding in the fourth quarter of 2009, led by the $55 million second-round haul of Durham, NC, medical device company TransEnterix, according to a report by online venture capital database VentureDeal.

The $1.9 billion represented almost no change compared to the third quarter and continued a stable trend of funding for companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical-devices fields.

Biotechnology received the most money, $871 million among 69 companies. Medical devices followed with 78 companies raising $572 million in the quarter. 45 pharmaceutical companies raised $460 million.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Going “Above the fold” with Google Labs Browser Size Tool

Our blog today was submitted by creative CHEMist, Greg Dosmann.

Google Browser Size is a visualization of browser window sizes commonly used by Google’s visitors. In the image below, the "90%" contour means that 90% of people visiting Google have their browser window open to at least this size or larger.

This tool is useful for ensuring that key content of a page’s interface is visible by a wide audience. The print design term “above the fold” refers to the location of important news stories or a visually appealing photograph on the upper half of the front of a newspaper. So, the Google tool is an interesting new take on the term “above the fold” as it illustrates just how important it is in web design as it is in print. Although many argue that folds do not exist on a web page, the principles of “above the fold” do.

Here’s how it works:

The Google tool allows you to input a URL and the site is quickly displayed under a colored graph that shows what percentage of your audience will be able to see important content without the need of scrolling. Depending on the contrast of your site, it is a good idea to adjust the opacity of the overlay so you can really see where the lines fall on the interface. I explored this tool, applying it to a few different sites I have designed, and the only problem I found was that it only works effectively for left justified sites. With some slight adjustments you can get a rough idea of percentages surrounding a center justified site although it isn’t quite the same.

It’s critical in the early stages that web designers understand where important information is displayed and what the audience will see within a fraction of a second upon landing on a page. I hope the next version of this tool would be offered as a downloadable application as it would be extremely beneficial to web designers who want to test their sites in the earliest stages.

Monday, May 10, 2010

5 common reasons for insomnia — and 6 tips to help you sleep better

Cindy Brumm takes care of a lot of things in our office. In today’s blog, she offers way for us to take care of ourselves, too.

We live in a chronically stressed society and often lie awake at night, “to do” lists running through our heads.  Cultural norms have us believing that we need to be constantly productive and on the move, and that sleep is for sissies.  Unfortunately, our bodies weren’t built for non-stop action, and restful sleep is our best tool for distressing and healing our bodies and minds, and boosting our immune systems.

Experts like Dr. Frank Lipman, author of REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009), estimates that as many as 70% of Americans suffer some sort of sleep deprivation.   Even mild deprivation can interfere with our bodies’ natural circadian rhythms and result in serious health issues, if prolonged.  High blood pressure, heart attacks, hormone imbalance, diabetes, depression and even weight gain can be correlated with sleeplessness, as can a loss in productivity, lack of attention to detail, and impaired motor skills.

What causes poor sleep?  Many factors can contribute, but a few common reasons for insomnia include:
  • Too much stress, which sends our nervous system into overdrive
  • An unhealthy diet, especially one heavy in stimulants (caffeine, alcohol), processed foods, fat and sugar
  • Gastrointestinal issues, like acid reflux (often caused by stress and/or fatty and acidic foods)  
  • Breathing problems, including sleep apnea 
  • Chronic pain
While drugs are available to help alleviate insomnia, it’s best to identify causes of sleep loss and adjust habits and behaviors first.  

There are many tips to help you sleep better – here are a few simple ones that can yield big results, if practiced consistently:
  1. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, including colas, teas and chocolate. And watch your sugar intake. If you must indulge, try to do so at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  2. Double-check medication side effects with your physician.  Some drugs, especially those for blood pressure, asthma, depression, and allergies, can cause sleeplessness.
  3. Go for a walk in the sunshine.  Now that spring is here, get out in the fresh air and sunlight.  Not only will the exercise help your body relax and loosen up, but the sunshine will help you build up natural amounts of vitamin D, which also boosts your energy levels.  (This is especially important because many of us work inside under artificial light.) 
  4. Turn off the news.  You don’t need to absorb the world’s problems right before bed.  If you need a news fix, Tivo it and watch it in the morning.
  5. Set a regular routine.  Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet, and go to bed around the same time every night.
  6. Just breathe.  Yes, sounds simplistic, but taking time to focus on your breath can make a difference.  During the workday, try to take a couple of 5 minute breathing breaks to relieve stress.  In the evening, set aside 5-15 minutes of “quiet time” at the end of each day for deep breathing.  By focusing on your breath, you help your mind and body slow down and relax which, in turn, can help you fall asleep faster and rest more fully.  An easy breathing exercise: breathe in for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts.  Just focus on the breath and let your thoughts go.  It’s okay – you’re worth the 15 minutes.
Tweaking some of your habits doesn’t cost a thing.  I’ve noted 6 habit-busters above.  Why not pick 2 and give them a try?  You may just find that you’re sleeping better and have more energy than ever.  

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Endo Acquires HealthTronics urological products and services

Endo Pharmaceuticals is buying urological products and services firm HealthTronics for $223 million in cash plus the assumption of around $35 million in debt. Endo said the acquisition will provide it with new urology products including benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer therapies, as well as lithotripsy and anatomical pathology services for the diagnosis and detection of cancer and other diseases.

Endo focuses on the research, development, sale, and marketing of branded and generic prescription pharmaceuticals for the treatment and management of pain, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and the early onset of puberty in children.

The firm said that acquiring HealthTronics will diversify its revenue base and boost its position as a provider of multiple medical solutions and delivery mechanisms in urology. “This strategic acquisition immediately elevates Endo from a pharmaceutical company to a diversified partner to physicians and payers in the treatment and diagnosis of urological and pain-related conditions,” stated Dave Holveck, president and CEO.

Friday, May 07, 2010

8 steps to more meaningfully engage your brand customers

Life for marketers was once far more simple (i.e., we talk and you listen).  In contrast, today’s brand practices have shifted to conversations.

Here are 8 actions steps that originally appeared in Accenture’s Outlook online journal that you can take immediately to more meaningfully engage — and create more value for — your customers:
  1. Monitor and measure sentiment. Gauge your customers’ needs, how they feel about you, their level of satisfaction, what competitors are up to. There’s absolutely no reason anymore to wait for the “annual market survey” to find this information out.
  2. Embrace video as a communications medium. Chances are that you have a ton of instructional and procedural material that never gets read. Much better to be able to show them than tell them.
  3. Create an online community of friends, fans and fanatics. Let them converse with you, and with each other through you. Facilitate, but don’t dominate, the conversation. This kind of third-person publicity is also more genuine and credible than any ad campaign you can run.
  4. Cultivate brand ambassadors. The bigger your community, the more vulnerable you become. Brand ambassadors will proactively sing your praises, criticize if they feel its deserved, but also defend you when you’re back’s up against the wall.
  5. Turn your people into a marketing asset. Enthusiastic customers want to hear from the people who create and design your products and programs and deliver your services. They humanize your company and strengthen the connection between you.
  6. Credibility and authority are not necessarily linked. An important dynamic of communities is that credibility does not automatically accrue from authority. People want to hear from customer service, the engineers, the designers. Those people who are better equipped and more genuinely able to address their comments.
  7. Generate traffic beyond your website. It’s no longer their portal to your company. Instead, reach them through social media – when, where and how they want.
  8. Don’t forget your investors. Beyond your disclosure requirements, be their trusted, neutral and transparent source of relevant information about customers, competitors and trends.
Click here to read the full article.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

3 ways to take care of our health in the age of personalized medicine

Watch this video featuring Wired magazine editor, Thomas Goetz, with highlights from his book, The Decision Tree:
  1. Mindfulness is the most important health decision we can make
  2. How personal health trackers can help us to pay attention to our health
  3. How decision trees will lead to better outcomes

Thomas Goetz: Decision Tree: Smarter Patients, Better Choice
Uploaded by kruresearch - Videos of the latest science discoveries and tech.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On a plane headed to Costa Rica...and forgot to turn off the lights?

Yep, there’s an app for that. It is called “Schlage Link.”

Here are some thoughts about it from Melanie Stinson, director of Brand Engagements at Stinson Brand Innovation.

It is a free download, and it can control several Schlage home devices. The “free” aspect is a little misleading because, as you might guess, that would be impossible without some technology on the other side.

That technology is the Z-Wave home automation module which requires a $12.99 monthly service plan and purchasing the Schlage LiNK Starter Kit for $299.

Z-Wave is a next-generation wireless ecosystem that lets all your home electronics talk to each other, and to you, via remote control. It uses simple, reliable, low-power radio waves that easily travel through walls, floors and cabinets. Z-Wave control can be added to almost any electronic device in your house, even devices that you wouldn't ordinarily think of as "intelligent," such as appliances, window shades, thermostats and home lighting.

If my refrigerator had something to say to me, would I want to know what it was?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Involving Patients in the Pharma Decision-Making Process?

Here are some thoughts shared by Brandy Gonsoulin, project and operations manager at STINSON.

Marketing 101 says that you should know who your customers are and know what they want.  In healthcare, those customer audiences are usually patients or health care professionals.  And the healthcare marketers' challenge is figuring out which side has the most influence on therapeutic advances.

Extending the idea of listening to the customer, most of us know the concept and value of shared decision making in an organization – the idea that most organizations get better productivity and greater ideas from employees who are able to voice opinions and be a part of the decision making process. 

It’s no big secret that the public opinion of the pharma industry isn’t as sweet as it could be. And since every consumer will be a patient at some point, this is bad news for the likeability category that pharmaceutical companies would like to find space in. This makes me wonder how the pharma industry could benefit from this management model.

What if pharma went a step beyond the immediate consumer (doctors) and involved the patient audience in the decision making process, ranging from anything such as R&D to drug launches to marketing programs. Can you imagine the campaign that would solicit future customer opinion on R&D spending?  Or perhaps, campaigns that would involve the end-user in the strategic development process of a marketing or customer support service program?  Would this collaboration create a happier/more loyal consumer?  And if consumers are happier wouldn’t they in turn be . . . healthier?

What if the scenario above read something like this: “Extending the idea of listening to the [patient] . . . most [pharmaceutical companies] get better productivity and greater ideas from [patients] who are able to voice their opinion and be a part of the decision-making process.”

Patients helping run pharmaceutical companies? 

Setting aside all regulatory arguments against the idea, it may not be logical - it may not even be feasible . . . but most innovations never were in their time either.

Click here to read more in an article in Ad Week entitled "Big Pharma: Tough to Swallow."

Monday, May 03, 2010

BIO 2010 exhibits the successes and opportunities in moving lab innovations to marketplace brands

Today the BIO International Convention returns to Chicago.  So, we're reminded that our city, state, and region enjoy a broad range of biotechnology companies and research organizations: ag-bio, industrial applications, biodefense centers, food safety, renewable fuel technologies, biologics, molecular diagnostics, and devices.

The Chicago region is a hub for the biotech and life sciences industries, with more than 57,000 biotech employees and 1,500 biotech businesses.

Our two largest diversified health care companies, Abbott and Baxter, each would be among the world's largest biotechnology enterprises based on their annual sales of biotech-related products. Takeda and Astellas, Japan's top two bio-pharma companies have expanded their operations here, as has Sumitomo, which owns Valent BioSciences. And the Dutch firm Lundbeck recently made Chicago its base for growing U.S. operations through its acquisition of Ovation pharmaceuticals.

Other companies we expect to see at the BIO2010 exhibition include Fenwal Blood Technologies, Hospira, Dade-Behring, and Thermo-Fisher.

We also have a vibrant startup environment in top research universities, from the University of Chicago to the Illinois Institute of Technology. There are world-class medical centers, including the institutions in the Illinois Medical District. Northwestern University hosts one of the top nanotechnology research centers in the world.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will keynote this year's convention. Additionally, Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and world-renowned climate change thought leader, will deliver a keynote.

Like the convention's theme, next month's issue of our ACCELERATE newsletter will highlight how we're working with clients to fulfill the promise to heal, fuel, and feed the world by developing life sciences in vital areas.

We will also report on our attendance to partner, network, and learn from the forums with some 4,000 business development and licensing professionals, representing 1,800 companies from more than 35 countries.

We'd love see you this week at BIO2010.