Friday, July 29, 2005


And now for some weekend light reading

I thought owning an Iquana with a bad attitude was tough, always trying to tail-whip me. But, a fowl-mouthed bird? News from Britain comes today of a parrot banished from public areas of an animal sanctuary for his language. The bird had previously been owned by a "lorry-driver" (thats a truck driver for those of us who don't speak English-English) and was turned over to the sanctuary after the owner moved. Hey, I wish I could get away with such a light sentence for swearing at a policeman. So, how many sites do you know of that you can get information on swearing birds, tattoed pigs and transgenic flax all in one stop?


Biolex acquires Lemnagene

Biolex announced today that they were acquiring a small French startup called Lemnagene. Both companies work with Lemna, a small aquatic plant. Biolex has some pretty good capital backing from entities such as the Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (J&Js venture capital arm). Biolex is currently involved in an alliance with Centocor to produce a number of proteins using their LEX system. This is not the first acquisition made by Biolex, as they swallowed Epicyte, another PMP company, in May of 2004. Consolidation is definitely a good thing for this young industry as some startups begin to acquire a critical mass of talent and technology to be successful. Since all of Biolex's manufacturing scheme will be in a controlled environment, they will not have to deal with hurdles from the USDA to get permits to grow their plants outdoors as some other related companies are doing now. This acquisition is definintely a "heads-up" call to the industry, Biolex is here to play ball.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Further evidence supporting my claims about NASA

I have previously stated my opinions on NASA here. So with the successful(granted) launch of Discovery and $1 billion in supposed safety improvements what progress has the shuttle program made? I'll admit, chunking 15+ tons of equipment into space at speeds of 17,000 mph is no small feat. But its time for the shuttle to retire. Lets take the $1 billion (maybe $2 billion, $1 billion was not enough last time) they will inevitably be given for further repairs and spend it on development of a new "shuttle style" vehicle in the private sector. The NASA Shuttle program has shown us what engineering feats they can (or can not) accomplish, its time to start shopping around! Alright, enough ranting, back to work!


Possible transgenic weed hybrid?

Conincidently, this post is somewhat relevant to my last post. Nature news reports that a couple of British researchers have found a couple of plants that appear to be hybrids between a weed species and a transgenic plant. The researches examined weeds found in a plot of transgenic Rapeseed and weeds found in plots of non-transgenic rapeseed. The transgenic rapeseed contained the gene conferring resistance to Liberty herbicide. DNA from the weeds was sampled using PCR. One fertile weed tested positive for the tolerance gene along with one infertile weed from a non-transgenic crop. Here is a link to the original research article. My thoughts: PCR is a funny thing. It only takes one molecule of contaminating DNA to create a false positive. Could this hybridization and gene transfer with Charlock occur? probably. Will this have an environmental impact? It will when other plants evolve to produce Liberty.


Flax crop catching flak

I ran across another PMP company that I had not discovered before. This one is called Agragen (it is in the pre-website stage of startup, if you can find their website, let me know). From what I understand, they are originally based out of Cincinnati, OH. Their first product focus is the production of albumin and omega-3 fatty acids in transgenic Flax (an aside - I admit I know nothing about Flax). Their plans call(ed) for them to set up production in North Dakota, which I assume is prime territory for growing flax. However, they seem to be running into a little trouble, much like Ventria did with their transgenic rice from the local farmers. I promise, I'll have more on the Ventria rice deal later. In this article in the Grand Forks Herald, Ernie Hoffert, a farmer and secretary-treasurer of Ameriflax lays out some strong criticisms against Agragen. The criticisms are pretty standard (not to say that they aren't serious), with the main concerns being cross-pollination and control of gene flow.Here is another article from the same paper but from an earlier date basically saying the same thing. Are the farmers right to be concerned? You bet. I think most farmers are well educated and understand the what the real risks associated with transgenic plants are. However, the general public is another concern. The general public has not been properly educated to the risks and advantages associated with transgenics. Therefore, if you are a farmer and there is a possibility that people will stop buying your food or fiber because of their fears of contamination from transgenic sources, then you have to take measures to protect your income. There is definitely a split growing in the farming community, as some communities embrace these technologies while other's reject it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Daily required biotech news

Is a daily post focused on biotech news required around here? Man, I'm getting pretty hard on myself. Oh well, here goes how about a 2Q earnings round-up from some of the big guys in biotech. Amgen has a "blowout" quarter according to The Fool. Biogen beats expectations Biosite's earnings up 29% (one of the best run biotechs in my opinion) Genentech's profits rise 73% Genzyme's profits jump Gilead's profits are up 76% (take that DNA) Imclone earnings are up, but not enough (how many creative ways can you come up with to say that profits increased?) All-in-all, it looks like one heck of a quarter for the big biotechs out there. Will this lead to more expansions and acquisitions?


Hey, Sony, I'll mention an artist for a Plasma TV

As if it was a big suprise, Sony/BMG agreed to $10 million for bribing radio stations to play the latest "hit single" from their stable of artists. My recommendation, turn off the radio, this isn't going to be the end to the bribery, and go enjoy a live band at your local bar, theater, city sponsored festival, or where ever there may be a few starving musicians trying to make a dime. By a CD from them, there are some pretty good independently produced albums out there and the band will get a bigger cut if you buy directly from them. Enjoy music because you enjoy it, not because some corporate label tells you to. And while you are on your quest for some good live music - go see a Shannon Lawson concert.


Common Sense on your Google homepage, its common sense!

In case you haven't heard or noticed, Google now offers you the opportunity to customize your Google homepage here. This service is similar to My Yahoo!. However, the interface, as customary for a Google product, is very clean and easy to use. You can even add a feed direct from Common Sense for the Biochemist to this site! Its so easy, even I could do it. Here's how: Go to My Google (if you don't have an account, you'll have to create one)
On the left side of the page, you will see a button that says "Add Content", click it and a selection of things to add will open. Click on "Create a Section" - you will be given a space to enter the URL that points to the feed you want (in this case, the Common Sense feed). In that space enter (or copy and paste) the following url: Click on "Go" and you will have as much Common Sense as I do! This customizable Google homepage is a really neat idea and should be pretty fun to play with. For those of you using My Yahoo, I'm working on how to get my feed added, if anyone has any advice, please let me know (I do have a feedburner feed for this si te if this helps).

Monday, July 25, 2005


A few PMP articles to review

Here are a few more articles relating to PMP. Nothing groundbreaking. I just haven't had much content on Ventria so I thought I would provide some. You know, this Budweiser thing is a pretty big issue, I should probably work up some more content on this. #1 - Business Weekly reviews the Ventria-Budweiser conflict (Lead for this story from #2 - From the St. Joseph Press - Ventria Chief says bioscience will amaze


Back to the salt mines!

Alright, the weekend is over, no more Tattoed pigs or Dukes of Hazzard or Out of work search engine butlers. Let's get back to some biotech news! First to bat for the week - Teva buys Ivax for $7.4 billion. This will give the crown back to Teva as the largest manufacturer of generic drugs. Teva has been on a growth spurt lately. Nature Biotechnology reported in its July 2005 issue that Teva will acquire a Chinese generic biologics manufaturer. This last play is a pretty interesting one. There has been a bit of controversy in the U.S. recently about the approval process for generic biologics. Basically, the question arises as to whether the generic product is equivalent (both structurally and in activity) to the product coming off-patent. This manufacturing plant in China will give Teva the opportunity to hone their manufacturing procedures for generic biologics in an environment that is less restrictive so that when the U.S. comes up with an acceptable set of guidelines for the approval of generic biologics, Teva will have the upper hand. This may be the end of the growth for Teva for a while. After this last acquisition, they will be $3.5 billion in debt and S&P will be reviewing their credit. Is a generic drug manufacturer such as Teva a good investment? After all, there is no doubt that there will be an exceptional amount of growth in the generic drug market as more and more blockbuster drugs come off patent. James Cramer of CNBC's mad money doesn't think so. His reasoning stems from the Able Labs blowup. When a generic manufacturer runs into troubles with the FDA, they have no other IP to fall back on. When a biotech or pharmaceutical company runs into trouble with the FDA, it usually only concerns one drug. Case in point, Biogen-IDEC and Tysabri. Biogen is going to bounce back, Able has a longer road to travel.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Cooter says no to the new Dukes of Hazzard

I am a big Dukes of Hazzard fan. I guess it just comes with the territory, you know, growing up in the country and being a member of Farmhouse Fraternity. I was pretty much required watching during my old college days. So when the announcement of a new Dukes of Hazzard movie came out, I thought it would be nice to see it. Then I learned that the cast included Johnnie Knoxville as Luke Duke and Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke. Okay, so thats one strike against the movie but hey, you never know, they may actually be able to bring a fresh perspective to those characters. Willie Nelson as Uncle Jessie is a big plus. However, Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg just ain't going to cut it. Now, Cooter from the original cast is recommending folks not go see the movie. I think I'll wait until its released and see what other people are saying before I make up my mind.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I am definitely in the wrong business

Alright, what the heck am I doing slaving away in a lab under fluorescent lights all day long. No really. I guess I should have been an "artist" Apparently, a Belgian "artist" has taken to tattooing pigs in China and calling it art. You can buy the tattooed pigskin after the pig passes away from natural causes. Wait a minute, I think I've got it, I'll start my own "art", I'll tattoo iguanas! Yeah, thats the ticket. Goodbye lab, hello a life full of bites and tailwhips as I wrestle with tattoed iguanas. Thanks to Arc Said What for the lead.

Friday, July 22, 2005



Finally made it to Friday! I've been hitting the biotech stuff pretty heavy this week so I thought I would end the week with something a little lighter. The folks over at SatireWire have attempted to interview Jeeves of for a job. Man, Google must really be hurting the competition if Jeeves is hunting for a job. Thanks to Jeremy Zawodny for the lead. I attempt to read his blog as often as it is updated.


Adsense for Ramen Noodles

I finally added Google ads to my blog (replacing the Pheedo adds). I figure if this guy can make a million dollars a year, I can make take a little from Google's 1.384 billion in revenues this last quarter. No, I am not looking to make a million, I just want 15 cents for my next package of Ramen noodles. So hey, help a starving grad student out, click on an ad on the left side of my blog. By doing so, one more grad student won't go to bed hungry!

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Big-Pharma is finally catching on

Derek Lowe over at In the Pipeline has some interesting comments about Schering-Plough's announcement of new tutti-frutti Clarinex:
The devil does indeed find work for idle hands. And those hands are capable of most anything, even. . .tutti-frutti Clarinex.
Well I say, its about time the pharmaceutical industry caught up with the biotech industry. Case in point: Golden Rice (maybe William Burke would even like this one). While big pharma is adding natural flavors (is tutti-frutti a natural flavor?) to their product, biotech is years ahead by starting with a natural food with a natural flavor, (okay so rice is pretty bland) and adding their product to it. Of course, I say all of this in jest. Hopefully, this product won't become like Dimetapp were you have to make the taste worse so kids aren't slurping down more than they should.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


A follow up on underground pharming

I commented a few weeks ago about a company, Controlled Pharming Ventures, who was developing a system for growing plants in underground mines. It turns out, there is another company in Canada who has done this same thing for several years now. The company is called Prairie Plant Systems. They are currently growing medicinal marijuana for the Canadian government. They also have a U.S. subsidiary set up in the U.P. of Michigan called Sub Terra.


Icon Genetics and KTRDC to start field trials

According to a press release from Icon Genetics, the company has started field trials for one of their transgenic lines in Lexington, KY with collaboration from the KTRDC (Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center).. According to the release permits, this will be at most a 0.25 acre plot. Remeber, Robert Irwin, who is chairman of the supervisory board for Icon is also the Chairman of the Board at Large Scale Biology. I would look for production of larger quantites of this line to be shifted to Owensboro and processed at LSBC's manufacturing plant there in the next year or two. The University of Kentucky has an interest in LSBC through their for-profit economic development arm, Kentucky Technology, Inc, who loaned LSBC 2.9 million back in December. LSBC used their manufacturing plant as collatoral for this loan. It doesn't look like ICON will be using their new Magnifection technology for this trial. According to the press release, this gene of interest is being expressed behind a native promoter in the chloroplast(as part of a polycistronic transcript, those primitive chloroplasts!) . The product being produced is a phenylalanine ammonia lyase from Arabidopsis that has commercial value as an enzyme used in the production of chiral chemical compounds and can also be used to treat the disease, phenylketonuria. I am having trouble pulling up the release permit for this trial at this time but I'll have more (hopefully) in a few days. Note added in proof: Here is a link to the USDA-APHIS permit review

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Develop a cancer fighting cure in just two days!

You know, I am all about the promotion of the biotech industry. Sometimes, though, I just think it goes too far. The hospital in my hometown of Owensboro, KY, just added a new center for the treatment of cancer. Included in this center, as an added bonus, will be a research facility that houses 4-5 investigators. That is all good for Owensboro, its about time more high-tech jobs were created there. However, the story in the Messenger-Inquirer goes on to state that (and I paraphrase):
-- Researchers will explore tobacco-produced cancer medicines.

-- Large Scale Biology, a biopharmaceutical company in Owensboro, will probably be involved in the manufacture of products used in the research center in the hopes that a tobacco-based vaccine can be created.

-- Local tobacco growers may be asked to produce leaf for the research.

Hold on here. . .the lab benches have not even been filled yet and the paper (or the sources behind the article) are already suggesting that local tobacco growers MAY be needed to produce leaf. Holy crap! The general public and local farmers have no idea as to the development process of a biologic drug. If a layfarmer reads this, they are going to be plowing their fields in anticipation. All this is doing is just getting the farmers excited about something that in all reality, has a slim chance of becoming a reality and if it does become a reality, is AT LEAST five years off. By that time, who knows who will be the major PMP industry players in Owensboro, so why suggest that it would only be one company involved in the manufacturing? Like I said, there is a certain amount of hyping that goes on within the biotech industry that is necessary (to recruit investors, to build confidence within the public, etc. . .), however, too much hype and not enough action can lead to the exact opposite of what is intended. Lets hope for Owensboro's sake that this cancer center can accomplish what they say they will.


A bit of common sense for the Biochemist pt. 5

They say that to make money by gambling professionally, you should write a book about it. To make money as a biochemist, you should also write a book about gambling. -me


The MSU Ag Expo

Had the chance to go and tour the MSU Ag Expo today. It is a pretty nice, medium sized, show. Unfortunately, agriculture is really on the decline here in Michigan as it is everywhere else in the United States, but I won't get into that. My question to ya'll out there is this, what the heck do you do with a 25 gallon manure spreader?

Pretty interesting silage chopper, I'll have to do more research on it.

P.S. check out my Flickr account for all of my photos.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Phyto escapes!

Ain't it great to come home and find a lizard perched atop your living room window shades? Forgot to shut the door to Phyto's room (my office) on Friday.


Liberals beware!

Holy cow, not only can I be viewed as a Republican. But now can I rightfully say I am white trash? You know, I think it was the boxed wine and fact that my dad was a truck driver that set me over the top. To be honest with you, I'm suprised I can even spell Recombinant Genetics much less have majored in it in college being a white trash republican and all.
I am 48% White Trash.
Not Too White Trashy
The white trash in my blood will not keep me from becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but it will keep me from a good haircut and any sort of fashion sense.
Take the
White Trash Test
@ FualiDotCom
Thanks to Orac for the test.


I am a statistic

I always knew it, now I have proof. Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Friday, July 15, 2005


Nasa Must Go

Thats it, these last delays are the final straw. NASA has officially become a pile of useless beaurocratic junk. Why are we spending so much time, money, and effort (the U.S. Taxpayer) on the shuttle project just to ferry people back and forth to the International Space Station while projects, such as the Hubble Space Telescope are allowed to die off (granted, a shuttle is probably needed to perform the repairs). Compare the amount of good scientific research that has come out of recent projects such as Cassini project, the martian rovers (when was the last time that things worked so well during a shuttle excursion that it was extended a couple of days, or when the shuttle returned, there were suprisingly few repairs that needed to be made before it could be launched again), and Deep Impact. I can not imagine the amount of good science that could be performed if the money spent on these "reusable" spacecraft were put towards other projects like the ones listed above. When was the last time research performed on the shuttle during one of their "experiments" was published, much less graced the cover of Science magazine? I wholeheartedly agree that man should be in space and that we should be going to the moon and Mars. I just think it can be done faster and cheaper. For evidence backing this last point, just look at the progress Burt Rutan and his group have made. Sometimes, when an appendage is wounded (such as the case with NASA), and infection has set (NASA management), the best cure is an amputation. It's time to start all over again. How, should the government go about this? I don't have the answer to that one.


A bit of Common Sense for the Biochemist pt. 4

This is not what a biochemist, a scientist, or any human being should be doing. That is all I'm going to say. Chemist denies any role in London attacks


Two Chemists and Their Greyhounds

In my non-stop quest to find other science/biotech bloggers out there like me, I have stumbled across yet another quality blog: Two Chemists and Their Greyhounds

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


DNA keeps on rolling

Okay, I admit it, I was probably wrong. I told you back on May 27, 2005 that it was time to buy Biogen-Idec stock thinking that it had been beaten up enough in the past few weeks. I followed my advice and sold my Genentech stock, to buy Biogen. Since then, Biogen has scaled back their manufacturing by selling a manufacturing facility, which Genentech bought. Genentech is adding even more capacity than that, and today, Genentech announced that they will be selling about $2 billion in bonds to cover their expansion. Then end result of all of this: Biogen stock price gain (loss) since May 27, 2005 - (9%) Genentech stock price gain (loss) since May 27, 2005 - 9.3% Shows you how much my advice is worth when it comes to the stock market.



Helped the MSU Farmhousers yesterday with their adopt-a-highway roadside cleanup. You can probably tell from the picture below that I have my job cut out for me as advisor. MSU Farmhouse Adopt-a-highway

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


An enjoyable prank (for me at least)

So here is a prank that I personally pulled the other day and would highly suggest to anyone out there. I can't take credit for the idea, that came from another member of my lab. I won't explain the whole process but since you are reading my blog I predict you are a fairly intelligent person and can figure things out: On someone else's computer, in a microsoft office program (any one will work, and the changes will apply to all microsoft office programs), insert an autocorrect feature so that a commonly used or strategic word is changed to something else, preferably nothing too vulgar. For instance, my friend, a Biosystems Engineering Master's student, was working on his thesis explaining the building of an apple firmness tester. Of course, I set the program where the word "apple" was changed to something else (this is a family blog here so I won't mention what it was). My friend originally thought that this was some sort of cruel joke that Microsoft had put in its software (its rival being Apple) and had no what was going on. Unfortunately, my friend is smart enough to know how to reset the autocorrect feature so I didn't get quite the frustration factor out of him that I wanted. However, since everyone else knew what was going on and since his computer is protected by a fingerprint reader, he was pretty amazed at how I pulled off such a stunt and at first didn't believe that it was something that I did. That was a huge win for me on the prank wars front. For someone who is not so computer literate, one can have hours of fun watching that person trying to "fix" their computer.


Non-reproducible microarray results.

A KEY part of experimental design is that the experiment must be reproducible. So how the hell can a respectable academic journal publish a paper with microarray results that are blatantly non-repeatable! Now that I have said that let me explain: I was reading through a research article that was published this year (2005) in a mainstream academic journal, not the Proceedings of the National Academy of Lesothan Plant Biologists, that dealt with a considerable chunk of microarray data (WooHoo! megabyte upon megabyte of numbers to be crunched and statistically analyzed!). We are talking analysis of 100+ slides here. The paper gave a web address that should contain all the microarray protocols, all the MIAME compliant data, and the raw TIF files for all of the slides. Actually, the paper said that this particular web address WILL contain all the necessary data. So, I type in the link exactly as it appeared in the paper and I got . . . a 404 - page doesn't exist error. Well, I finally figured the web address that got me where they wanted me to go to (the first letter of the page name should have been capitalized) and I got . . .a general academic lab page with no mention whatsoever about a microarray experiment. No protocols, no text tab delimited files full of data, no raw TIF files . . .NOTHING!!!!!! This paper has been PUBLISHED for a couple of months, its not like it was just put up on the journal's website as an advanced online publication yesterday. So my question to all of you out there that participate in peer review is - HOW THE HELL DO YOU ACCEPT A PAPER FOR PUBLISHING WITH SUCH A BLATENT ERROR (THE WEB ADDRESS), AND THEN TRUST THE AUTHORS TO RELEASE ALL THE DATA AFTER THE PAPER IS ACCEPTED? Its nice to see how the authors interpret their data, but I want to do my own interpretation. To me, this experiment is worthless. How can you repeat something when you don't have the data or protocols to compare against. My message for all peer reviewers out there (and me too someday) is please, make sure the paper is in a reasonably publishable form and all the necessary data is available before you accept it. P.S. I have nothing against the authors of this article, actually, the corresponding author is a pretty respectable guy. My research does not compete with theirs. However, my abilities to interpret their data and protocols could be very helpful to me and possibly reinforce their data. Thanks I just had to get that off my chest and yes I am mindful of my own post yesterday.


Planet Biotechnology and LSBC team up

News came out today that LSBC would be processing this years crop for Planet Biotechnology in Owensboro. This collaboration seems to be a pretty good fit. LSBC has a plant with nothing to make and Planet Biotechnology has a solid product but no biomanufacturing capabilities or experience. It will be interesting going forward seeing whether or not PBPB will develop its own manufacturing capabilities or rely on others for that work. Their CaroRx product is nearing commercialization and is probably the product in the PMP world closest to having a REAL demand for large-scale quantities. As LSBC continues shedding parts and IP for cash, I wonder where (or whose hands) their manufacturing plant will end up in? Here is a link to the article on Yahoo. I am willing to bet that tomorrow there will be a story in the Messenger-Inquirer about this so I'll go ahead and post a link to that paper now. I'll even bet it will be written by Keith Lawrence. It's always fun seeing what kind of spin this kind of thing gets in a local newspaper, especially with Owensboro Gung-Ho about biotechnology.

Monday, July 11, 2005


A bit of common sense for the Biochemist pt. 3

Thanks to Chris over at Ego Food for alerting me to this article. It's pretty much "common sense" but hey, you got to remember that what you put on the 'net in your blog is accessible to everyone. Some thoughts are best kept to yourself. Thankfully, I kind of figured that one out before I read about it. Now, about that professor that I don't like . . .

Here is the link to the original article.



Capacity, pt 2

A few days ago I posted some "homework" dealing with researching the demand for production capacity for biologic manufacturing. Here is my first "report" on the issue. Thanks to BioBoom for the tip that Roche is building $700 million plus in new capacity for Genetech. This capacity will be used mainly for the production of Avastin and Herceptin. Couple this with Genentech's recent $400 million puchase of a facility from Biogen and you have some heavy duty upgrading of capacity. It looks like this capacity is going to be used to increase production of existing approved biologics. What I don't know is if some of this new capacity is to free up capacity at other existing operations for other biologics coming down the pipeline. So, here in the span of a couple of weeks, Genentech has spent over 1.1 billion in new facilities. I imagine some of these PMP guys wouldn't mind if they could just get 1% of that production. Granted, one of the facilities was available due to the scale-down in production predicted to be needed for Tysabri. But hey, I think this still sends a pretty clear signal that demand for production capacity in the near future (2-5 years) is going to be pretty strong. However, I don't know whether what is in the pipelines for these guys is going to keep the construction workers as busy as they have been (more research for me). The editor over at BioBoom makes a good point - who is getting the bio-production equipment business at these new sites? P.s. Here is the link to the article mentioned in the BioBoom blog

Friday, July 08, 2005


I admit it, I am a black sheep

I'll say it again, I hate politics. I never claim to be affiliated with one party or another. However, the scientific environment is dominated by people with what you could call liberal views. My views on alot of issues contrast with my peers and I usually get branded as a Republican. I guess I can see why. Take the test below (click on the Are You A Republican Link), see where you rank. I am willing to bet you that there may be one other person in the department that I work in that would score higher than me on the below test. Go ahead take it, I dare you, you commie molecular biologist.

I am: 72% Republican.
"To you, Fox News really is 'Fair and Balanced'."

Are You A Republican?
Thanks to Living the Scientific Life for the idea.


Time for a Change

As that one regular viewer may have noticed, I have changed things up a bit. I decided to go with another template for my blog. I wanted to utilize all of the space on the screen, while the old template I was using only used about 2/3 of the screen and things were starting to look a little cramped to me (geez, this blog is starting to turn into about about creating a blog). You will also notice that I have started to run some adds from It is part of a traffic exchange program and hopefully, it will throw a little traffic my way. Don't think this is the last of the ads going up either. If I ever get to the point where I am writing something that people are actually reading, then I'll probably put up some google ads and try and make a little money. I mean, hey, I'm a starving graduate, I needs the money! Please, I need a decent meal, I'm wasting away, please, click on that add link.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


A bit of common sense for the Biochemist pt. 2

Science is simply common sense at its best that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. -Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95) English biologist.


Is there a capacity problem with traditional biologic production systems?

So here is a bit of homework for you. Is there really a capacity problem using the traditional fermenter methods to produce biologics? Ask any PMP company why they want to make drugs in plants and they will say that it is cheaper, easier to scale, and that construction of new fermentation capacity is not going to keep up with the demand. I would really appreciate some opinions on this in the comments? The capacity issue is a pretty big prop being used to support the PMP industries claims. I'll be doing some more research on this and letting all of my loyal readers out there in on what I find. And now for a time-killing link for all the bluegrass enthusiasts out there, Deering Banjos.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


The twits are coming

Remember "The Screen Savers"? You know, the show that was on the old ZDTV network and then TechTV before Comcast bought it out and turned the channel into some kind of gaming channel and canned all the good tech related content? I admit, I snuck in a few shows during my college days. Well, Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton and the gang are back. This time as "This Week In Tech" available as a podcast. Who knew listening to four or five guys talking about computers could be so enjoyable (ok so I am a nerd)! Leo Laporte and the gang really know how to keep a dialogue going and put an entertaining spin on what could be a rather boring subject (e.g. the subject of Microsoft's new IE supporting RSS). They are kind of producing the show on a shoestring budget and the response (200,000 listeners by their estimates) has been so overwhelming that they are having a little trouble getting the show distributed on time but they are hopefully going to work those bugs out. So, head on over to and check out a show!


Respectful Insolence

Its time for another discovery from my journeys through the uncharted (for me)blogosphere. Respectful Insolence is:
Miscellaneous ramblings of a surgeon/scientist on medicine and pseudomedicine, science and pseudoscience, history and pseudohistory, politics (and anything else that interests him).
Take a look, its worth it! P.S. Hopefully sometime soon I'll get my template updated with links to all the blogs I have mentioned. This blog is most definitely a work in progress.


Go see Shannon Lawson

Here's a bit of non-science related content. I want to talk about one of the best pickers and singers you will ever hear. His name is Shannon Lawson. I first started listening to his music when he was fronting the bluegrass band called "The Galoots". Back around 1999 or so, he moved to Nashville and was signed by RCA who promptly changed his entire image and ruined his music. He did have one semi-hit - "Goodbye on a Bad Day". Since then he has been trying to get his career back on track. He is a charter member of the Muzik Mafia. Let's put it this way, if you are a fan of corporate country, then please, don't go and see him, you won't like the fact that he rarely has a drummer, no keyboards, he actually sings (doesn't lip-synch), his music is simple and not layered, an electic guitar in the band is an option (not a requirement), do you get the picture??? His music is back where he wants it to be. For those of you wondering what type of music his music is well, I guess you could describe it as Bluegrass with alot of blues, rock, and just about anything else mixed in with it. Shannon is not afraid to crank out a Jimmy Hendrix or Grateful Dead song bluegrass style. In addition, not only does he have a great voice, but he is also a master of the guitar and writes most of the music he plays. Tell me, how many of your corporate country clones out there can actually lay down a few licks on a guitar or pen more than one or two songs on their new CD. So drop by is website where you can sample some of his music and if you ever get a chance, please see him in person. He has been touring alot with James Otto recently. I am interested in seeing what will come out of that collaboration. Later


Cheap Heat

So what makes a successful blog? You, know, one that is read by a couple thousand people a day (I guess it really depends on what you judge success, content or hits). Apparently, you have to bash George W. Bush and the Iraq war. For the science like people, you have to gripe about how you can't believe the common folks believe that intelligent design crap and can't understand why they don't embrace evolution and the thought that human beings are nothing more than a vessel used by a string of nucleotides to ensuring the survival of the information that their sequence holds. To me, this is cheap heat. Well, I guess I'm going to go for a little "cheap heat" as they call it in the rasslin' business. I have hated politics in general since I took my first, and only, political science class in my undergraduate days. Here goes: I will not bash George W. about the Iraq war as long as I am driving a car that uses gasoline. I hate the fact that the magazine "Science" contains so much political banter. But, I agree with them that political scumbags in Washington supposedly representing their constituancy thinks that not only are they the saviors of our democracy, but they also know what is good science. For reference, see this article. You know, the science business would be a lot more enjoyable if it was just about the science. Okay, that is enough cheap heat, now back to my regular old, boring blog.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Time keeps on ticking.

I've been quiet lately, I know. Hopefully, I'll have some real exciting news to announce sometime in the next two or three weeks. In the meantime, though, I'm grinding away at the bench. It is amazing in the biotech industry how things move. For instance, I have a friend who sent his resume cold to a biotech company. Six months later, they call and want an updated resume. Things start moving pretty fast and an interview is set up (all within a span of two weeks or so). The interview goes well, but nothing is heard for about three weeks. All of the sudden, the job that they were interested in hiring my friend for had disappeared. During my days in industry, it would seem like projects would appear and disappear out of nowhere. One moment, you are toiling away at one project, a week later, you don't even remember the name of that project as you are totally immersed in something else. But then, this new project goes on for a couple of years instead of a couple of weeks, only to be stopped as suddenly as it is started.

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