Lifesciences at Work

Thursday, June 17th, 2010 by hinrich

Lifsciences @ Work

End of last year I had written about the very positive experience I had when attending the Venture Challenge organized by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative. Today a follow up workshop took place in Utrecht called "Lifesciences @ Work".

During three sessions we discussed how to approach the technology transfer offices (TTOs) of universities, what to consider when looking at venture capital as a possible source for funding and the relevance of emotional and strategic alliances when starting up a business. At the end of the day the winners of the last Venture Challenge workshop were announced.

Of the various suggestions and remarks I consider the following very important:

Posted in Science

3rd La Calestienne

Saturday, June 12th, 2010 by hinrich

La Calestienne

Since December 2008 I am running a project sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and the Belgian government (IWT 80536: Cell line based compound prioritization and response prediction). With this research project we try to look into linking gene expression data from whole genome arrays with information from diverse chemical compounds. Especially when trying to prioritize compounds that are active in a phenotypic screen (here we do not have activity in an assay that is linked to a single protein target, but rather activity that is linked to a property such as inhibiting cell proliferation), the lack of a well defined target makes it difficult to judge which compound to develop further.

The project involves a broad interdisciplinary team of scientists (IT specialists, molecular biologists, chemoinformaticians, statisticians, experts in machine learning, data analysts). To facilitate communication between all project members we meet every six months and broadly brainstorm on next steps and deliverables in a very nice location in the Belgian Ardennes (La Calestienne). The meeting is also important to educate each other and learn the characteristic terminologies and concepts of the different disciplines.

The past meeting once again demonstrated how important it is to make an effort to establish truly multidisciplinary teams and generate enthusiasm for the input of each other and the goal of the project. I am amazed how engaged every attendee of our workshop was. Having a total of 18 participants in a small but very intimate location has stimulated lots of discussions over the course of the three days.

We have decided to continue to meet beyond the end of the project in December 2010 as the La Calestienne meeting concept and it's participants made it again a very productive and inspiring workshop.

Posted in Science