Our Thoughts

Diversigen, Baylor Miraca Form Partnership

February 26th, 2016
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The recent partnership between Diversigen and Baylor Miraca Genetics highlights the importance of both human genetics and the microbiome in drug development and ultimately in clinical decision making.

We are in the early days of understanding the scope of the impact of the microbiome but we already know of powerful associations in diseases as diverse as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and cancer.

We are excited about this partnership as it leverages real technical and interpretive expertise across across a broad array of genomes relevant to human health.

Read more about their partnership.

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Posted in biomedical research, Diagnostics

When Shooting at the Moon, Take Careful Aim Before Firing

February 23rd, 2016
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During his final State of the Union address, President Obama announced he is charging Vice President Biden with leading a new “moonshot” program to accelerate the pace of improvements in cancer care. While the goal is certainly laudable, I share the “sense of déjà vu” that was eloquently expressed by Vinay Prasad in his recent editorial1 in which he recounts the limited progress seen in the Nixon-era War on Cancer, and even more recently in the G.W. Bush era, when then-NCI Director Andrew Van Eschenbach testified that we could rid the world of cancer by 2010 for just $600 million per year.
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Posted in biomedical research, Diagnostics, Digital health, Our Views

Congratulations to Withings!

January 22nd, 2016
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Congratulations to our client, Withings, for being honored with the 2016 CES Innovation Awards in two categories, as well as being given the ‘Best of CES’ Awards from many major publications. Withings hit the press jackpot with their two latest innovations:
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Posted in Diagnostics, Digital health, Our News

Single Cell Biology: A Step Toward Precision Diagnostics

January 21st, 2016
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The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in the ability to isolate and characterize single cells – leading to advances in diagnostics, drug discovery, stem cell biology, cancer, and many other areas of biomedical research.

These advances have arisen thanks to growing capabilities in various single cell “omics” technologies – which have enabled RNA and DNA sequencing on a genome-wide scale (the interrogation of proteins, metabolites, and many other types of molecules that provide information about cellular growth, differentiation, and the underlying molecular basis of disease).

And why has single cell technology become so attractive within the biomedical research community? Because most studies are currently hampered by sample heterogeneity.

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Posted in biomedical research, Diagnostics, Our Views | 1 Comment »

What Good Is Digital Health If Patients Won’t Use It?

January 5th, 2015
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Our team often talks about the promise of digital health and how it can help empower patients over their own health. From Fitbits to ECG-equipped smartphones to remote telehealth clinics, this new technology is touted as a revolutionary change in medicine.

But what if a patient doesn’t use the technology? What if, like the legendary January gym membership, the wearable’s shine wears off after about three months? A recent Juniper Research study in the United Kingdom predicted that fitness monitoring wearables would dominate the wearable market until 2018—but only for fitness applications. An article in Forbes was itself dominated by quotes from various experts who claimed that digital health would not hold a patient’s (or doctor’s) interest until the technology could demonstrate the value of counting steps, breaths or pushups. And yet another study showed that patients thought digital fitness monitors could help improve their health, but they didn’t want to pay for the technology.

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Posted in Diagnostics, Digital health, Our Views

Popper and Company Ponderings on the Year Ahead in Healthcare

December 22nd, 2014
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At this time of year, many folks look back at the year that was. And indeed 2014 was an interesting year in healthcare.

We, however, prefer to look forward. Every fortuneteller brings her point of view to table. We do, too! We believe that healthcare can be improved by taking a macro and a micro view…one innovation at a time…but always focusing on improving overall efficiency and increasing customer satisfaction. Healthcare is rapidly adopting the imperatives of other markets…so maybe it’s not such a unique industry after all!

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Streaming ECG Technology Could Keep Athletes’ Heartbeats Going

November 21st, 2014
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According to Running USA’s annual marathon report, in 2013 more than 541,000 runners finished over 1,100 marathons, which is a 140% increase in participation since 1990. Increasingly women are joining this running class and now represent almost half the participants. Also adding to this group is a growing number of older runners— those ages 40 and above.

The benefits from running are endless, including reduction of heart disease, increased lung capacity, weight loss, improved bone density, stress reduction and improved mental health. With all of the good news associated with running, there is also a bit of bad news – a small risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). We are often shocked to hear of an athlete’s death during a race or game. During the 2009 Detroit Marathon, for example, three men died of SCD. The youngest SCD victim was 26 and the oldest 65. SCD events are rare in athletes – about 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 200,000 annually. These deaths generally occur during or after short intense bursts of energy. SCD events effect more men and more non-Caucasian individuals. Sports that require short bursts of activity — basketball, football, soccer, etc. – seem to pose a higher risk of SCD.

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New Biology Fosters New Business Partnerships

November 6th, 2014
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You may have read the announcement this week of the joint venture between the preeminent medical genetics lab of Baylor College of Medicine and Japan-based Miraca, a holding company operating in the healthcare sector.

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to shape the strategy for this relationship and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping with the implementation.

Why do I think this is so exciting and interesting?

Through this venture, world-class academic science meets the commercialization capacity of a global multinational business organization.

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Posted in Our News

Johns Hopkins mHealth Report Shows Technology’s Impact in Developing Countries

October 20th, 2014
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My friend Alain Labrique, director of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Global mHealth Initiative, recently issued the initiative’s 2014 Annual Report, and I’m not at all embarrassed to share my initial response upon opening it:


From its work with Maiti Nepal to use mobile technology to prevent human trafficking; to improving maternal health by providing remote education, advice and services; to collaborating with policy leaders in South Asia to enable evidence-based mhealth innovations – all 130 projects supported by the initiative are inspiring. The JHU report provides proof that digital and mobile technologies can indeed help resolve what had been seen as intractable health problems, in resource-constrained countries. For infectious disease, nutrition, and social issues that are enormous problems in the developing world, digital tools can enable fundamental epidemiology research, and begin to overcome persistent problems of unequal access to healthcare.

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Dodging Product Development Failures, Part 3 – Integrated Team Work

October 16th, 2014
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There are many elements that lead to a successfully developed product; we’ve already covered two important factors: 1) Assessing all risks and going beyond prototype development and 2) developing an uncanny customer insight. In this post, I’ll discuss a third key element, the importance of teamwork.

Pitfall: Team activities that are not integrated
Product development depends on many different disciplines, including engineering, regulatory, marketing, manufacturing, finance, sales, and quality control. While these specialists bring a depth of expertise, you’ll need to integrate all of them. While a specialist will certainly be able to identify a task and complete it, she or he may balk at attending team meetings where the discussion is far outside her or his specialty. But the best teams are made of people who know how every discipline connects to the product. Only with an integrated team will you know what a customer really wants, have a superior sense of priorities, and gain the ability to shift attributes like price, time to market, or specific product features. Unfortunately, many groups who call themselves teams don’t have this level of connectedness.

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