Home Biotechnology Book Reviews

Logos Press has just published a new book by Randall Mayes.

Revolutions: Paving the Way for the Bioeconomy is an in-depth look at the increasing impact of biology primarily due to the potential of genomics.

The book focuses on four revolutions:

Industrial Revolutions

Genomics researchers hope to launch personalized medicine and cure diseases by identifying drug targets and create novel therapies such as DNA vaccines by discovering gene variants that are risk factors called biomarkers. This new approach to medicine will ideally provide a boost to the biotechnology industry. So far, genomics has provided new tools for conducting biological research and more powerful tools for managing and interpreting data (bioinformatics). Synthetic genomics more commonly known as synthetic biology is poised to emerge as the next industrial revolution.

Scientific Revolutions

We are currently amidst a Kuhnian (scientific) revolution brought about primarily through discoveries in genomics. A Kuhnian revolution describes a change in how a majority of scientists view the world. By revolutionizing biology and medical research, genomics has provided scientists with a new understanding of the concept of a gene. It has provided a systems approach to the experimental design of research. Using DNA, evolutionary anthropologists have demonstrated that in addition to genes and the environment, culture and technology also contribute to phenotypes.

Cultural Revolutions

Although Darwin was unable to provide a mechanism for evolution via natural selection, science historians credit him with making evolution a believable concept. Genomics and synthetic biology are currently facing regulatory policy issues in the areas of risk assessment, intellectual property, and bioethics. Whether or not citizens reap the social goods and economic benefits from these industrial revolutions will depend on the actions taken by activists, lobbyists, scientists, and the government. To receive the social goods and economic benefits from genomics and synthetic biology, public acceptance is critical. It is important that the public understands and accepts that culture and technology have played an important role in what makes us human.

Schumpeterian Revolutions

Using genomics to discover potential treatments and subsequent cures for diseases is more complex than originally thought. Without genomics providing a proof of concept for medical cures, a paradigm shift for understanding diseases, an economic (Schumpeterian) revolution in the pharmaceutical industry has yet to occur. Synthetic biology has provided revived optimism.

Full details on the book are available on the Logos Press website, and the book is available at Barnes and NobleAmazon.com, and elsewhere.

Looking for biotechnology industry reference information? You could hop on the Internet and search among the myriad sites, figure out which ones are credible, then try and find a consensus, or you could grab a copy of Plunkett’s Biotech & Genetics Industry Almanac. This book is essentially a reference librarian in a box. I reviewed an earlier issue of this book several years ago (my endorsement is on the front cover), so I wondered how useful it might remain despite the advancement of search engines and new web resources. In short, I think the book is still very valuable.

Plunkett’s Almanac profiles the top companies and has statistics and trends in the areas of genomics, proteomics, biopharmaceuticals, research, business development, and commercialization. The book is split into several sections:

  1. A biotechnology and genetics industry glossary
  2. Major Trends Affecting the Biotech & Genetics Industry
  3. Biotech & Genetics Industry Statistics
  4. Important Biotech & Genetics Industry Statistics
  5. Profiles of Plunkett’s “Biotech 350″

At > 500 pages, the book represents a significant resource. A great deal of effort has gone into selecting valuable information and assembling it into a useful, objective, format. I recommend this book for biotechnology service firms needing the indexes of companies and knowledge of major trends, as well as for individuals in finance, market research, or other broad industry roles.

I’ve just published the Pocket Biotechnology Industry Primer and Glossary as an ebook. This book, which was previously only available as a printed book, is now available in digital format, which means greater convenience and a significant price reduction. This primer and glossary presents a broad, accessible, and comprehensive overview of the biotechnology industry and the factors shaping it, enabling readers to understand and profit from the expanding influence of biotechnology.

For more information, see Building Biotechnology, the leading textbook in biotechnology management programs, from which this primer was derived.

What does selling bacon on the Internet have to do with biotechnology business development? Almost nothing! But, that is what makes this book so valuable.

From Idea to Web Start-up in 21 Days: Creating bacn.com describes a shoestring venture to develop a simple web store. The founders decided to sell bacon due to the strong market draw (everybody knows what bacon is, and many people like it). The challenge is to differentiate a universally-available product, market it, and distribute the perishable good while making a profit.

The relevance of this book to biotechnology business development is that it focuses on all the things that many biotechnology entrepreneurs don’t (but should) think about. There are no patents, there is minimal R&D — the emphasis is on marketing and distribution. Even more, the authors frankly describe their many mis-steps. They struggle to buy inexpensive but effective infrastructure (freezers), they make bad co-promotion deals, and they search for ways to exit the business. These types of challenges are shared by biotechnology companies.

The simple nature of the bacn.com business, and the focus on elements that many early-stage biotechnology founders ignore, make it an excellent resource. I recommend this book for any early-stage entrepreneur.

I often like to read books from technology-based companies outside of the biotechnology space because they can yield insights relevant to biotechnology business development. This book’s attention-grabbing title comes from the author’s experience working as a ranch hand prior to co-founding a computer hardware company.

How to Castrate a Bull describes the growth of NetApp, a disruptive entrant in the data storage business that developed a lower-cost data storage product and fought to gain customers from larger firms while simultaneously proactively defending themselves against other small entrants. The author’s style presents a compelling story, sprinkled with vignettes making analogies to his prior experience in raising cattle. One story, very relevant in any growing company, is the fate of an alpha bull who veers off path when leading a cattle drive: “… sometimes this leader had a tendency to veer off to the side, taking the herd with him. Getting the herd back on track was hard work for the cowboys, so if the lead steer swerved too often, there was no choice but to shoot him in the head.” A sentiment echoed in “When should you fire the founder.”

Another excellent story is when NetApp decided to aim for 100% growth. Hitz explains that failure to out-grow the competition can be detrimental, as a larger, faster-growing, competitor can effectively out-develop, out-sell, and ultimately eliminate a slower-growing company from a market. So, sometimes aggressive growth must be baked into business plans. This requires aggressive sales and R&D efforts to ensure sufficient revenues to support the growth. It also creates growth opportunities for employees. If a manager is promoted and is not able to effectively manage their larger team, an new manager can be hired to replace them and they can try their expanded management role again in a few months as their department continually grows.

The lessons in How to Castrate a Bull are relevant to most biotechnology companies. I recommend it highly for founders, managers, and new employees of growing companies.

Founders at Work provides a rare glimpse into the early thinking that spawned many of today’s most prominent start-ups. Going beyond the glam articles found in many other sources, Founders profiles founders who have achieved sufficient success that little time needs to be spend justifying their inclusion. Rather, the focus is on how they conceived of their ideas and how they were able to implement them.

Author Jessica Livingston is a founder at Y-combinator, which helps explain how she was able to obtain access to so many accomplished founders. An interesting feature of this book is that she spends little time trying to identify themes or best practices between the individual profiles. As a reader I enjoyed this exclusion, as it enabled me (and forced me) to draw my own conclusions.

The depth of the investigation is what truly sets this books apart. For example, in profiling Steve Wozniak’s role in founding Apple, the reader learns that young Wozniak was a relentless optimizer, continuously striving to find ways to eliminate costly chips and circuits from early computers. His contributions were driven by a desire to own a then-unaffordable computer, and eventually gave rise to the personal computer industry. In another example, one learns that the founders of PayPal started with the goal of developing high speed encryption-decryption technology, not on developing an e-commerce platform as might be fairly (but incorrectly) assumed. It was only after refining the technology that the founders began to seek out applications and found themselves in the payment business.

This focus on developing core technologies, and only then searching for market opportunities, is a central theme in the book and seems well suited to biotechnology companies. The strong technology-development component of biotechnology business necessitates a business model that accommodates a technology push while still enabling market demands to help refine development paths and enable profitable sales.

I really enjoyed this book, and would encourage it for anyone seeking to ‘take a step back’ and look at the underpinnings of successful companies — many of the founders acknowledged that strategic positioning, excellent execution, and a measure of good fortune were key to their success.

I’ve just published a new book, by Michael L. Salgaller, PhD. In Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: From Science to Solutions Michael combines the voices of a diverse set of industry insiders with extensive experience in biotechnology commercialization to prepares nascent founders, managers, investors, and other biotechnology company stakeholders to position themselves and their companies for commercial success.

    Topics covered include:

  • Why Start a Biotechnology Company?
  • Company Formation and Organization
  • Building Your Team
  • Intellectual Property Protection Strategy
  • Financing Your Company
  • Partnering With Industry
  • Licensing and Technology Transfer
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Roadmap to Reimbursement and Access
  • Working Toward a Successful Exit

Full details on the book are available on Logos Press’ website, and the book is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and elsewhere.

Now available, a new textbook from Logos Press:

Building the Case for Biotechnology: Management Case Studies in Science, Laws, Regulations, Politics, and Business

Available from Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere.

Mark J. Ahn, Michael A. Alvarez, Arlen D. Meyers, Anne S. York, editors
Foreword by G. Steven Burrill
First Edition, July 2010
Perfect Bound, 416 pages, US$79.95
ISBN: 978-1-934899-15-1

Building the case for biotechnology: Management Case Studies in Science, Laws, Regulations, Politics, and BusinessThis volume helps to fill the void in life science entrepreneurship and management case books and provides faculty and students with not only the charts, but the simulated experience of sailing the turbulent and exciting oceans of the biomedical industry toward creating significant value for patients and society.

Building the Case for Biotechnology features:

  • Foreword by G. Steven Burrill
  • Introductory chapter on how to teach bioscience using the case method
  • 22 case studies in science; laws, regulations, politics; and business
  • Ample figures, graphs, and tables to complement the text
  • Resources for further reading

Contents

Foreword
G. Steven Burrill
Burrill & Company

Preface
Mark J. Ahn, Michael A. Alvarez, Arlen D. Meyers, Anne S. York
Introduction
Yali Friedman
thinkBiotech LLC

How to Teach Bioscience Using the Case Discussion Method
Trent Wachner and Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Part I: Science

Medarex, Inc.: Realizing its Potential?
Mark J. Ahn, Alan Leong, Wei Wu1, and Masum Rahman
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; University of Washington, Bothell

FoxHollow Technologies: The SilverHawk® Cuts Open a New Market
Erik Miller, Dina Finan, and Michael Alvarez
Stanford University

OraPharma, Inc: Reformulation of an Existing Product
Payam Benyamini and Mark J. Ahn
University of California, Los Angeles; Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

DesignMedix, Inc.: Maintain Product Focus or Leverage Technology Platform?
Elizabeth R. Bivins-Smith , Bettina M. Frana , and W. Kellogg Thorsel
School of Business Administration, Portland State University

Oxigene, Inc.: Realizing Value from Multiple Technology Platforms
Mark J. Ahn, Anne S. York, David Ackerley and Rebecca Bednarek
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; College of Business, Creighton University; and Victoria University of Wellington

Part II: Laws, Regulations, Politics

Tysabri Re-launch Decision: Promise and Perils of Addressing Unmet Needs
Mark J. Ahn & Laura Ueki
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

XDx: Navigating Regulatory & Reimbursement Challenges
Laura Elias and Michael Alvarez
Stanford University

Dyadic International, Inc.: From Doom to Dawn—What’s Next?
Polly S. Rizova, Adelaida Patrasc Lungu, and Mark J. Ahn
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

The Prince Edward Island Bioscience Cluster: Creating a Knowledge-Based Economy
Steven Casper, Juergen Krause, and Adelee MacNevin
Keck Graduate Institute and University of Prince Edward Island

The Founding and Growth of On-Q-ity: Developing Advances in Personalized Medicine
Daniel Dornbusch and Mark J. Ahn
Novartis International AG; Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Airway Tools Company Inc.: Changing Medical Device Standards of Care
Andrew Maxwell, Bahram Behnam, Michael Alvarez
University of Toronto; Stanford University

Part III: Business

Genentech Acquisition by Roche: Will Innovation Wither?
Mark J. Ahn, Anne S. York, David Ackerley and David Lee
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; College of Business, Creighton University; and School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

Myogen, Inc.: Are We There Yet?
Mark J. Ahn and Travis Cook
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Compression Dynamics: In Search of Sales
Anne S. York and Martin Winkler
College of Business, Creighton University and University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University Medical Center

iKaryos Diagnostics: The Rocky Road from Concept to Startup
Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Biocon: From Local to Global
Ashish Hajela, Shad Shahid, & Mohammad Akbar
Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, India

Adnexus: Strategic and Resource Considerations When Developing Novel Biotechnology Medicines
Susan Sieloff, Tucker Marion, John Friar, and Raymond Kinnunen
College of Business Administration, Northeastern University

Gardasil: From University Discovery to Global Blockbuster Drug
Alan Collier, Mark J. Ahn and Brendan Gray
University of Otago; Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Guru Instruments: Bootstrapping a Bioscience Device Startup
Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Growing Pains at Camelot Biopharmaceuticals
Lynn Johnson Langer
Johns Hopkins University

Sandhill Scientific: Where to Manufacture?
Staci D. Sanford and Arlen Meyers
University of Colorado Denver

Lumina Life Sciences: The Challenges of Raising Capital to take to Market a Promising Technology Innovation
Magda Choruzy, Andrew Maxwell, Michael Alvarez
University of Toronto; Stanford University

Resources

Announcing a new textbook from Logos Press:

Building the Case for Biotechnology: Management Case Studies in Science, Laws, Regulations, Politics, and Business

Mark J. Ahn, Michael A. Alvarez, Arlen D. Meyers, Anne S. York, editors
Foreword by G. Steven Burrill
First Edition, July 2010
Perfect Bound, 416 pages, US$79.95
ISBN: 978-1-934899-15-1

Building the case for biotechnology: Management Case Studies in Science, Laws, Regulations, Politics, and BusinessThis volume helps to fill the void in life science entrepreneurship and management case books and provides faculty and students with not only the charts, but the simulated experience of sailing the turbulent and exciting oceans of the biomedical industry toward creating significant value for patients and society.

Building the Case for Biotechnology features:

  • Foreword by G. Steven Burrill
  • Introductory chapter on how to teach bioscience using the case method
  • 22 case studies in science; laws, regulations, politics; and business
  • Ample figures, graphs, and tables to complement the text
  • Resources for further reading

Contents Foreword
G. Steven Burrill
Burrill & Company

Preface
Mark J. Ahn, Michael A. Alvarez, Arlen D. Meyers, Anne S. York
Introduction
Yali Friedman
thinkBiotech LLC

How to Teach Bioscience Using the Case Discussion Method
Trent Wachner and Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Part I: Science

Medarex, Inc.: Realizing its Potential?
Mark J. Ahn, Alan Leong, Wei Wu1, and Masum Rahman
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; University of Washington, Bothell

FoxHollow Technologies: The SilverHawk® Cuts Open a New Market
Erik Miller, Dina Finan, and Michael Alvarez
Stanford University

OraPharma, Inc: Reformulation of an Existing Product
Payam Benyamini and Mark J. Ahn
University of California, Los Angeles; Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

DesignMedix, Inc.: Maintain Product Focus or Leverage Technology Platform?
Elizabeth R. Bivins-Smith , Bettina M. Frana , and W. Kellogg Thorsel
School of Business Administration, Portland State University

Oxigene, Inc.: Realizing Value from Multiple Technology Platforms
Mark J. Ahn, Anne S. York, David Ackerley and Rebecca Bednarek
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; College of Business, Creighton University; and Victoria University of Wellington

Part II: Laws, Regulations, Politics

Tysabri Re-launch Decision: Promise and Perils of Addressing Unmet Needs
Mark J. Ahn & Laura Ueki
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

XDx: Navigating Regulatory & Reimbursement Challenges
Laura Elias and Michael Alvarez
Stanford University

Dyadic International, Inc.: From Doom to Dawn—What’s Next?
Polly S. Rizova, Adelaida Patrasc Lungu, and Mark J. Ahn
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

The Prince Edward Island Bioscience Cluster: Creating a Knowledge-Based Economy
Steven Casper, Juergen Krause, and Adelee MacNevin
Keck Graduate Institute and University of Prince Edward Island

The Founding and Growth of On-Q-ity: Developing Advances in Personalized Medicine
Daniel Dornbusch and Mark J. Ahn
Novartis International AG; Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Airway Tools Company Inc.: Changing Medical Device Standards of Care
Andrew Maxwell, Bahram Behnam, Michael Alvarez
University of Toronto; Stanford University

Part III: Business

Genentech Acquisition by Roche: Will Innovation Wither?
Mark J. Ahn, Anne S. York, David Ackerley and David Lee
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University; College of Business, Creighton University; and School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington

Myogen, Inc.: Are We There Yet?
Mark J. Ahn and Travis Cook
Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Compression Dynamics: In Search of Sales
Anne S. York and Martin Winkler
College of Business, Creighton University and University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University Medical Center

iKaryos Diagnostics: The Rocky Road from Concept to Startup
Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Biocon: From Local to Global
Ashish Hajela, Shad Shahid, & Mohammad Akbar
Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, India

Adnexus Theraputics, Inc.: Arranging Resources Needed To Move Through Development
Susan Sieloff, Tucker Marion, John Friar, and Raymond Kinnunen
College of Business Administration, Northeastern University

Gardasil: From University Discovery to Global Blockbuster Drug
Alan Collier, Mark J. Ahn and Brendan Gray
University of Otago; Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Guru Instruments: Bootstrapping a Bioscience Device Startup
Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Growing Pains at Camelot Biopharmaceuticals
Lynn Johnson Langer
Johns Hopkins University

Sandhill Scientific: Where to Manufacture?
Staci D. Sanford and Arlen Meyers
University of Colorado Denver

Lumina Life Sciences: The Challenges of Raising Capital to take to Market a Promising Technology Innovation
Magda Choruzy, Andrew Maxwell, Michael Alvarez
University of Toronto; Stanford University

Resources

Get to Market Now! Turn FDA Compliance into a Competitive Edge in  the Era of Personalized MedicineNow available: a book by frequent BiotechBlog contributor, John Avellanet. In this new book — Get to Market Now! Turn FDA Compliance into a Competitive Edge in the Era of Personalized Medicine — John teaches you how to take advantage of evolving FDA compliance requirements and cutting-edge new product development techniques to bring your new medicine to market faster, easier, for less cost and less risk.

Full details on the book are available on Logos Press’ website, and the book is available for order at Amazon. You can read more about John at his homepage and blog.