Scientific Anthology: Failure as a Stepping Stone

Introduction

Failure is often seen as a negative part of scientific discovery. Failure is inherently bad. But failure is not completely bad. When it is not a completely indomitable failure, it provides an opportunity for growth, and quite often is a stepping stone towards success, or brings you one step closer from achieving your goal.

This anthology is a collection of 15 carefully curated pieces which reflect the importance and the nuances around failure and its role in the scientific world. As you will find, failure is not only an irremovable component of science and progress, but a driving force into scientific discovery and advancement.
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Scientific Anthology: Failure as a Stepping Stone

Scientific Anthology: Debunked Scientific Theories

Introduction

A scientific theory is a well-tested, comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by evidence and facts gathered over time (Oregon State). These theories are typically proposed by one scientist or researcher and then retested and reexamined over time by other scientists and researchers, who will either agree with and add onto the original theory or will find evidence against it and eventually debunk it.

Debunked scientific theories are these theories that were once widely accepted within the mainstream scientific community but nowadays are considered to be inaccurate descriptions of nature. Often times, these debunked scientific theories are only disproven when scientists and researchers work to retest the original theory and another theory emerges from this research to replace it as the norm. In this anthology, a series of famous debunked scientific theories, such as the Flat Earth Theory or the idea of Geocentrism, are given an in-depth look.

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Scientific Anthology: Debunked Scientific Theories

Scientific Anthology: Serendipity

Introduction

Serendipity is defined as “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.” (1)

This anthology provides examples of scientific serendipity. This will introduce a number of scientists, inventions, and theories that all came about because of serendipity. This theme was clear throughout the books that we read during the semester and we wanted to prove that serendipity really exists in the scientific community as well as the world around us.

  1. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serendipity
Scientific Anthology: Serendipity

California: Hotbed of Innovation

Introduction

 

Biotechnology as a major field within science has led to many new companies copying the Genentech blueprint: having a small company creating commercially viable products to earn profits. This movement from a purely academic scope of research to a company thriving in an industrial market has become a popular choice for those interested in the sciences, offering more career opportunities. From the 1970s on, a number of companies would emerge to follow the example set by Genentech. This would result in a major growth of the field, located in California.

California has become the true center of biotechnology in the U.S, as the birth place of the industry as well as having numerous companies making products in a multitude of fields. Because of this environment, being surrounded by other biotech companies, a sense of innovation is greatly encouraged, as competition will enable a surge of creativity. This anthology details several examples of how California has become the epicenter of biotech, ranging from peculiar facts about the history of Californian biotech to present companies developing new products within the biotech field. The hotbed of innovation exhibited by the California environment is shown through the amount of diverse companies and novel products.

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California: Hotbed of Innovation

Scientific Anthology: Mediocre Scientists That Turned Out to be Brilliant

Introduction

Many people have the belief that successful scientists were geniuses since the day they were born. They think that scientists were straight A students in grade school and in high school. Many, even believe that school was not hard for them at all However, it is quite the opposite. Many scientists were not so brilliant when they were in school, and is not until later that they discovered their true potential. Some scientists that are admired by everyone were simply okay students and others were not good students at all. It wasn’t until they actually started working that they became brilliant scientists. It was their hard work and passion they had for their job that lead them to be as successful as they became.

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Scientific Anthology: Mediocre Scientists That Turned Out to be Brilliant

Scientific Anthology: How Hobbies Affect Scientific Exploration

Introduction

As the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” What they don’t tell you is that it also makes Jack less likely to succeed at work. In the next fifteen examples, you will see the value of play–hobbies–in addition to work, specifically scientific exploration. In his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson reports how hobbies have benefited the scientific community through many generations.

 

“Legendary innovators like Franklin, Snow, and Darwin all possess some common intellectual qualities—a certain quickness of mind, unbounded curiosity—but they also share one other defining attribute. They have a lot of hobbies” (Johnson, 172).

The innovative power that comes from balancing work and play–career and hobbies–has always been present in scientific exploration. This anthology will describe how that power is still at work today.

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Scientific Anthology: How Hobbies Affect Scientific Exploration

Scientific Anthology: Discoveries Ahead of Their Time

Introduction

Throughout time, monumental discoveries have been made that have greatly benefited society. Although every discovery eventually receives its time in the spotlight, the brilliance of many discoveries by hardworking scientists go overlooked until long after the scientists are gone. We who benefit from these discoveries end up saying that these people were “ahead of their time,” and therefore they were not recognized for their greatness and potential during the time in which they lived.

This anthology includes 20 instances where discoveries from a wide variety of scientific fields were made before the world was ready for them. Also included in these 20 examples are the profiles of scientists who did not receive the recognition they should have at the time, simply because their discovery was not made in a time period that could fully implement and comprehend their discovery’s advanced features and societal importance.

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Scientific Anthology: Discoveries Ahead of Their Time

Scientific Anthology: Epidemics

Introduction

The term “epidemic” is something heard often in the news, in doctors offices, and in the world around today. However, most of the population do not have an idea of what the medical term means. The Center for Disease Control defines an epidemic as “the occurrence of more cases of disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time.”

This anthology will introduce twenty epidemics of the past that had a major impact mankind. From viruses to fatal bacterial strains, these diseases has caused major distress, panic amongst major populations. The and ideas topics of how these diseases were started, vehicles for transmission and how society has responded to the outbreaks will be examined and discussed.

Something that you’ll find interesting is how diseases are spread eerily similar. However, the the biotechnological methods of treatment to combat these deadly disease are even more intriguing.

We are going on a Nerdventure! – Dr. Christopher Thompson

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 6.10.04 AM

Image courtesy of Shuttershock

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Scientific Anthology: Epidemics

A Scientific Anthology: Multiple Discoveries

Introduction

Science is all about discovery and invention. Discoveries can come from slow hunches or even spontaneously. What isn’t normally considered is the possibility of the same discovery occurring by two different people. The concept of multiple discovery, otherwise known as simultaneous invention, suggests that scientific discoveries are typically made independently of one another but simultaneously by many scientists. Essentially, more than one scientist has independently discovered the same thing.

 

This anthology profiles 15 examples of multiple discoveries in various historical situations and books that we have read this semester. From the discovery of evolution to the discovery of a carbon nanotube, it is important to understand the many types of discoveries, the time frame, and the context in which each item was discovered. Furthermore, while these examples are offered, this anthology aims to aid in the understanding of how multiple discoveries contribute to the success of of the scientific field.

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A Scientific Anthology: Multiple Discoveries

Scientific Anthology: Accidental Discoveries

Introduction

Throughout history many people have stumbled upon a discovery accidentally. Some examples of these accidental discoveries occur when someone is working on an experiment and it results in a completely different outcome then expected. No matter how these discoveries were made, there has been several significant discoveries that happened accidentally in history. These accidental discoveries may produce a physical product, but it also allows people to keep an open mind in their experiments, not knowing what the outcome may be. It is interesting to look at these accidental discoveries and see how one experiment can turn into something completely different. In this anthology, you will find a collection of examples of accidental discoveries. These examples were selected because we believe they have had a significant impact in the world.
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Scientific Anthology: Accidental Discoveries

Fracking on Groundswell: A Summary

The film Groundswell Rising is documentary showing how the effects of fracking are affecting towns in low socioeconomic standing. The idea of fracking is a discovery that has lead to the collection of gas during the late 1860’s. This done by drilling down deep into the Earth and injecting a high pressure mixture of water inside the hole made. The high pressure is directed at the rocks, beneath the Earth’s surface, release the gas inside the holes made. The result ends with the collect of the gas released into the rocks into wells. The growing scarcity of fossil fuels has allowed for the flourishment of the fracking industry. The growth in the fracking market is an idea mentioned in Steven Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From. In it Johnson states that with unregulated markets that we have today, the growth and decline markets are allowed to occur. In this case, fracking is allowed to growing to a huge industry as a means of an alternate energy source. This growing industry can create new jobs and help many towns additional income. However, the health implications associated with fracking can cause devastating effects. During the fracking process many different types of chemical molecules are released into the air and the water supply. The side effects of fracking can lead to many birth defects, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. With all of these health and medical issues present, people affected are left to seek medical help. However, most people cannot afford to pay for their medical bills due to their low income. This situation leaves many vulnerable populations in a corner where they cannot get the medical attention that they need. Hopefully, as time goes society will generate new alternative or seek already existing technologies to resolve these important issues.

Fracking on Groundswell: A Summary

Genentech: When Science Stumbles into Business

Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech, by Sally Smith Hughes, is an incredibly informative book about the unorthodox creation and ingenuity of the company Genentech, Inc. This book, albeit slow and clunky to read at times, reveals to its readers the minutiaes, controversies, and successes of business, biotechnology, genetics, biology, corporations, patenting, politics, and academia when they are all mixed together. Hughes’ book is aimed at the scientific community, and anyone else who may be interested in science: notably genetics and biotechnology. The single commanding genre of this book would definitely be associated with genetic innovation in the field of biotechnology. Hughes does an adequate job at bringing to light the revolutionary breakthrough and aftermath of recombinant DNA discovery and research in the mid-1970s. Continue reading “Genentech: When Science Stumbles into Business”

Genentech: When Science Stumbles into Business

Innovation Realized

Sally Smith Hughes‘s “Genetech: The Beginnings of Biotech” is a very informative look into the world of biotechnology specifically the highs and lows of the biotech company Genetech.  Ms. Hughes is a very successful writer as she has written several books about science, specifically about the biotech industry. “Genetech: The Beginnings of Biotech” is her most recent book as she has previously written “The Virus: A History of the Concept” (Heinemann, 1997) and “Making Dollars out of DNA: The First Major Patent in Biotechnology and the Commercialization of Molecular Biology, 1974-1980”. Ms. Hughes currently works at the University of California, Berkeley where she continues her work on the history of science. In each of Hughes’s books there is a strong focus on a certain area of science such as patents or viruses. However, in this case the focus is on Genetech a revolutionary biotech company. Throughout the story the audience learns what goes on to make such a profitable biotech company and the various obstacles in their way. Continue reading “Innovation Realized”

Innovation Realized

The Birth of a New Industry: The Rise of Genentech

In her book Genentech, Sally Smith Hughes tells the story of the rise of the biotech giant Genentech. Hughes is a historian of biomedicine and biotechnology at the Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley. She takes us through the tumultuous early years of Genentech’s history, showing how the company grew from a trio of founders to a massive organization that made a fortune through the stock market. From Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen’s development of recombinant DNA, to Tom Perkins and Bob Swanson offering Genentech as an IPO, Hughes makes a great effort to describe every major step that Genentech had to take and every hurdle they had to pass to find both commercial and scientific success. When a new person enters the company, Hughes describes them in detail, and her descriptions present these entrepreneurs and scientists as likeable characters who truly care about the work they do. She skillfully and simply describes both the complex science behind Genentech’s research and the caveats of the business world, which helped Genentech grow and succeed financially. To enhance the quality of the Genentech story, the book is filled with many photographs of the people discussed in the book as well as a few diagrams that add explanations of various scientific concepts such as DNA recombination. In this short but interesting book, Hughes provides insight into the origins of the biotechnology industry, as well as introduces readers to some of the problems early innovators in the industry had to face. Continue reading “The Birth of a New Industry: The Rise of Genentech”

The Birth of a New Industry: The Rise of Genentech

Genentech: History of Biotechnology

Sally Smith Hughes writes, Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech, a historical account about the rise of Genentech Inc. Hughes takes the reader from the beginnings of biotech in 1973, to Genentech’s creation by Robert A. Swanson and Herbert Boyer, to its Wall Street debut in 1980. Hughes is a science historian at the University of California, Berkeley contributing over 150 oral histories[1] to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley; additionally Hughes also wrote The Virus: A History of the Concept[2]. Genentech tells the story of how a multiplicity of perspectives and personalities can affect the growth of science; and how outside sources of control and regulation, by government and private sector, can help or hamper progress in commercial and university scientific research. Continue reading “Genentech: History of Biotechnology”

Genentech: History of Biotechnology

Genentech: A Visionary Company

Sally Smith Hughes lays out the history of one of biotechnologies most important and influential companies, Genentech. From the founders early days through their most important discoveries the self explaining title Genentech, the Beginnings of Biotech, tells of how Genentech was founded in South San Francisco. According to Hughes “Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech is the story of a pioneering genetic-engineering company that inspired a new industrial sector, transforming the biomedical and commercial landscapes ever after”(VIII). By becoming the first in the industry to synthesize insulin and Human Growth Hormone, Genentech placed themselves in history. Hughes writing tells of a new creation,  “the entrepreneurial biologist” and the “intimate and people centered history traces the seminal early years of a company that devised new models for biomedical research”(xi). The importance of Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in the field of biotechnology is repeatedly emphasized in Hughes’s words. This non-fiction history of Genentech is laid out for you by a leading historian of science and the University of California at Berkeley. Often, the existence of insulin for diabetics, or HGH for those who suffer from other disabilities, is taken for granted. Genentech tells the story of the struggle to recreate such complicated bio-medications. Continue reading “Genentech: A Visionary Company”

Genentech: A Visionary Company

Genentech: A Science-Business Hybrid

Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech is a book that tells the story of how Genentech, one of the first biotechnology companies, was founded.  It tells the story of how “The company inspired a new industrial sector transforming the biomedical and commercial landscapes ever after” (Hughes Prologue 1). It is written by Sally Smith Hughes, a historian of science at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Virus: A History of the Concept and Making Dollars out of DNA: The First Major Patent in Biotechnology and the Commercialization of Molecular Biology (“Sally Smith Hughes” 2012). She has lots of experience detailing the history of scientific processes and companies as she is also the creator of an extensive collection of in-depth oral histories on bioscience, biomedicine, and biotechnology. This shows in her book about Genentech, as she is able to provide lots of information on the key figures in the company’s start-up, such as Herb Boyer, Stanley Cohen, and Robert Swanson. She is also able to describe the scientific processes that made the company successful such as the use and discovery of recombinant DNA. Continue reading “Genentech: A Science-Business Hybrid”

Genentech: A Science-Business Hybrid

The Success of Genentech: Integrating Science, Law, and Corporate Business

      Do you ever wonder what it takes for a company to be successful? Sally Smith Hughes’ book, Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech, answers this question with an inside look at the makings of Genentech, a California-based biotech company, and their quest to make human insulin and growth hormone commercialized. Hughes has established herself as an academic scholar through her study of the history of science and her oral stories such as “Making Dollars out of DNA: The First Major Patent in Biotechnology and the Commercialization of Molecular Biology” as she looks into discoveries and commercialization (Berkeley). Similarly, in Genentech, she integrates scientific, legal and corporate ideas to portray the biotech startup and challenges it faced. The most important challenges are competition, patentability, and partnerships with corporate companies, all of which Hughes uses to give readers who are unfamiliar with these fields a better understanding. Continue reading “The Success of Genentech: Integrating Science, Law, and Corporate Business”

The Success of Genentech: Integrating Science, Law, and Corporate Business

GENENTECH: A NEW APPROACH OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERING NEW MEDICINES

In Sally Smith Hughes book, Genentech, readers learn about a small genetic engineering company whose name became known after one biochemical invention. The use of biotechnology to invent a better system of creating pharmaceutical drugs for distribution had been a goal for many biotech companies. Genentech was the first company to pioneer recombinant DNA technology to manufacture a crucial hormone our body needs in order to regulate sugar intake. Before this innovation, insulin was collected from the pancreas of pigs and used to treat people with diabetes. By using biological machinery that naturally occurs in bacteria, scientist Herbert W. Boyer and Stanley Cohen were able to manipulate its biological software to produce human hormones. Once their breakthrough was known, Robert A. Swanson, a young entrepreneur, joined the team of scientist and created a business which is now Genentech. This was not Hughes first encounter with the company’s technology. Before publishing the history of this company, she published a novel with Boyer himself called Recombinant DNA Research at UCSF and Commercial Application at Genentech: Oral history Transcript, in 2001. Already being familiar with the technology, she was able to craft together the birth of Genentech by giving detailed descriptions of its co-founders, details of their innovations, and the business aspect that went into creating the company. This book is a great read for those interested in learning how biotechnology has evolved into one of the tools we now use to create better pharmaceuticals. Continue reading “GENENTECH: A NEW APPROACH OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERING NEW MEDICINES”

GENENTECH: A NEW APPROACH OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERING NEW MEDICINES

Universities’ Role in Biotechnology

In the beginning of Genentech, the founders- Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen- are introduced to us. After a brief introduction to their childhoods and what motivated them to pursue biochemistry, genetics, and biotechnology. Hughes shifts her focus to their research years. Academic Institutions, such as UCSF, start by receiving a profit from researchers from small companies that use the universities’ labs and resources through a grant. However, the staff, faculty, and researchers at such institutions are not the most welcoming.

“Unbeknownst to Genentech, the pharmaceutical giant had previously sealed an agreement with the University of California. Lillly and UC concluded a $13 million =, five-year agreement on the complementary DNA cloning and expression of human insulin and human growth hormone. (Hughes 94)

Here is the purpose of Research Universities is explained. This can give us more understanding as to why Genentech was making this big move. To conclude, in the world of patents, the process of becoming official is tough. The focus on the Genentech’s partnered research universities is to discover the Human genome hormone and insulin. Typically, this is why there is an emphasis on the professors and less on the undergraduates.

Universities’ Role in Biotechnology

Exit Strategies

In chapter 6, the subject of “exit strategies” are discussed. The process is explained as such:

“Genentech would stage a public stock offering. Through one or the other of these “exit strategies”…Kleiner & Perkins and its co-investors would “cash in”, and in so doing fulfill their primary responsibilities: to recoup for their fund investors and for themselves their original investment” (Hughes 140)

It is interesting to see the business behind intellectual companies and research facilities such as Genentech. I knew the purpose of many companies was research, but I didn’t release how tightly woven the business aspect was. It make sense because in order to receive grants and keep the research facility, or pharmaceutical company,  open there must be a good investment with good owners who can keep the place running. New ideas must come up so they stay valuable. This is also in the hope that the companies’ success will lead to potential marketing to different industries.

Exit Strategies

The full spectrum of scientific ingenuity

 Sally Smith Hughes is an Academic Specialist in History of Science. She studied at the University of California, Berkley. She does research in biology which reflect her areas of interest. Moreover, she published a book called Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech. This book focuses on the beginning of the company Genentech. The company struggled through various obstacles including obstacles with the government and within the company. In the prologue the author notes, “The making of Genentech was in fact racked by problems, internal and external” (i). Despite of all the obstacles, the company managed to grow and make life changing discoveries.

The two founders of Genentech Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer both worked on the basic-research techniques. However, “they immediately foresaw its practical applications in making plentiful quantities of insulin, growth hormone, and other useful substances in bacteria,” (1). This brought internal problems because they started seeing a different direction of what they wanted to discover. Some wanted to go straight to the discovery of insulin, while others wanted to discover somatostatin. Even though it wasn’t as a strong fight as the others, their differences started to show. Their problems grew when they started publishing articles, “Then a heated dispute over authorship broke out,” (65). The more they were able to do, the more complicated it became for them. Robert Swanson started helping in managing the company and focused on getting financial security for the company. Nevertheless, some did not love the way he managed things. The author notes, “As his severest critics put it, he was ‘selling out to the industry,’” (71). It is obvious that working in such a huge project isn’t easy, and all of their fights proved that. Continue reading “The full spectrum of scientific ingenuity”

The full spectrum of scientific ingenuity

Biotech and Business: The emergence of private sector Biology

           Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes is an engaging look at the birth of a new type of industry, the field of biotechnology. Research with the natural sciences has always been an academic pursuit, to figure out how the world and everything in it functions. However, in the 1970s, as biology and chemistry continued to develop alongside technology, business was bound to get involved. Hughes, as a scientific historian from the hotbed of technology and biotech in California, details the entire life of the first Biotech company, Genentech. Her genealogy of the story on this small, yet influential company begins with the technique of producing recombinant DNA and the capacity to produce a large amount of clones of the desired DNA. From this scientific breakthrough, a few key players would emerge, and eventually start Genentech, with a goal of using recombinant DNA to make industrial products. Continue reading “Biotech and Business: The emergence of private sector Biology”

Biotech and Business: The emergence of private sector Biology

The Aftermath

As Pointing From the Grave comes to a close, it is evident that Weinberg forms a relationship with Frediani that would raise a couple eyebrows had she developed the relationship during the trial. In my opinion, it was strange for Weinberg to continue a working relationship with Frediani after his conviction. Did she have doubts? In addition, did she think Frediani was capable of love? At first, I did not believe Frediani could be capable of real emotions because of the stereotypes surrounding sociopaths and his history of manipulating and hurting his partners. But I was wrong. “Inside the Mind of a Sociopath” describes the type of love Frediani was capable of.

“whatever it is that we feel affection, for me it’s maybe 70 percent gratitude, a little bit of adoration, a little bit of — if it’s a romantic relationship — infatuation or sexual attraction”

It was still wrong, in my opinion, for Weinberg to get wrapped up emotionally with Frediani, but we benefited as readers because we read more of Frediani’s personality and gained possible evidence that he did commit the crime.

The Aftermath

A symbiotic relationship

“One of the mistakes [Cetus] made was not to realize the enormous leverage you get from using a university laboratory…It is enormously cost effective. You’re  using labs and other goodies that are already there; you don’t have to raise money and spend money to establish them'(50)” (Hughes, 64)”

 

It seems to me that the relationship between business and universities is partly symbiotic. The businesses need to invest less money that if they were to start their own labs, and the professors maintain their professorship as well as provide funding for their project. This is a huge benefit to private companies. It offers substantially lower costs which maximize their profits. From a business standpoint, it is a dynamic that is definitely capable to being abused. Schools, who could have already received government grants for certain equipment could then be used as facilities for private organizations. Thus resulting in the startup costs being accepted by the government. Does this lead to an increase in productivity or a loss?

To secure these funds, they also talked about patents. Patents are important in securing investment: it give legitimacy to your product and secures that it won’t be copied. But patents were put in place so one person wouldn’t be able to profit off your idea. While this protects intellectual property, the securing of this intellectual property would not be a problem if there was more public funding. Without the idea or goal of making money within the scientific field, it would mean more universally shared ideas, without the influence of money.

Quote

Money is Power

“As a condition of the investment, Perkins joined Swanson and Boyer on the board of directors and was elected chairman. Little did Perkins know at the outset  how heavily instrumental he would continue to be in the company’s constant fund raising. “What was so different about Genentech,’ he later observed, ‘ was the astonishing amout of capital required to do all this. I know, on day one one, if anyone had wispered into my ear that, ‘For the next 20 years, you will be involved in raising litereally billions of dollars for this thing,’ I might not have done it ‘(47)”(Hughes, pg. 42)

 

Funding is an essential part of big business. Similarly in politics, to continue you need massive amounts of funding. I believe that this was partially important in medical programs being federally funded. This brings into question federal funding and how much they are allocating towards these medical programs. It is obvious that the government does not have unlimited amounts of money but does the industrial interest in biotech mean that the government isn’t doing enough. Or should their be laws put in place to protect the world from the largest industry in the world? If there are companies who are making greater technological advancement than the government, is that a problem for society? It would seem that governments need to do something as far as structural safety measures to entice more scientists towards the publicly funded sector. Whether this means re-evaluating the application process for grants and the bureaucratic requirements to receiving those grants.

To protect the medical research field, I think that this amount of economic influence today is unacceptable. It taints the waters of research but more than that tips the balance of power and ethics. A clear disadvantage of private funding is less control and input in the decision making process that the scientist has. With government oversight the goals were kept clear, profits kept low, and business was a side thought, all while maintaining a standard of ethics. But as discussed, this leads to outside influences effecting a field that is crucial to the health of the human race.

Money is Power

Bacteriophages vs Anti-biotics

We briefly talked about phage therapy in class, but I still didn’t quite understand how it actually related to Cohen’s work with plasmid DNA (Hughes, pg 17-19). My research lead me to an article that explains both the nature and potential applications of bacteriophages. I learned that bacteriophages are viruses that target bacteria for the purposes of viral reproduction, which in the process kills the host cell. Whereas Bacteria can, and many have, become increasingly resistant to anti-biotics, phages can actively evolve alongside their rapidly adaptive targets. From what I understand, the phages can more easily compete with bacteria than manmade anti-biotics and in the long run may prove more useful in medicinal practices; however, phages are limited in use to target bacteria with known susceptabilites to the specific therapeutic virus (Clokie.) I think it’s cool to see how DNA replication in cells can also be used to bolster our immunity against harmful bacteria.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20151202/Bacteriophage-therapy-an-alternative-to-antibiotics-An-interview-Professor-Clokie.aspx

Bacteriophages vs Anti-biotics

Breaking Tradition

” Yet despite this utitiarian strand in American Sscience, biomedical structure  into the late 1970s was notably inhospitable to professors forming consuming relationships with business, let alone taking the almost unheard of step of founding a company without giving up a professorship. Academic cultural tradition, the precarious political context of recombinant DNS research, and the fact that Cohen and Boyer had no desire to leave academia argues against either scientist giving serous consideration to forming a company”( Hughes, pg. 24).


I find it interesting that there were these notions about the science community and the mood towards relationships between business and academic research. It seems that these attitudes towards partnering business with universities stemmed from a notion that biomedical research was deemed more of a publicly funded affair, which was in turn ethically sound. Or at least the publicly funded science that was going on had a direct goal at aiding the public, whereas private funding could lead to an impurity in the research. The academic community needed to protect its sanctity. With one goal, the scientists could pursue their research without any outside factors that would affect them. Obviously economics has a an affect on science today, and I worry that it has lost it’s sense of purpose. With two different factors manipulating science we find ourselves having to question science.

The sciences are the basis for the intellectual world. The mere mention of the word brings a sense of legitimacy. It is shrouded in the idea that science is solid: the basis of pure research for the sake of helping others and advancing the scientific world. Science used to be so pure in it’s desire, but has now been lost in the world of industry.  In this day and age when money is integrated into science at such a base level, I find a lack of legitimacy on topics. There are still scientists who deny and debate climate change, there are still people making way to much money off disease, and the fact that business has a negative effects on medical research is indisputable. I can’t help but read this passage and wonder if it was here that medical research lost it’s path.

Breaking Tradition

Synthetic DNA to Synthetic Life

“Furthermore, the 1976 guidelines concerned natural and complimentary DNA and contained no explicit reference to chemically synthesized DNA. The City of Hope chemists could therefore perform the gene synthesis work under ordinary lab conditions.” (Hughes, pg 92)

I really am fascinated by the seemingly radical difference that seems to exist between using natural DNA and synthetic DNA. Although we’ve discussed Genentech’s use of synthetic DNA and it’s moral advantage over natural DNA in class, we haven’t really ventured into the realm of the adjacent possible for the technology. If biotech scientists are able to synthesize entire sequences of DNA for practical use, why shouldn’t they be able to eventually create synthetic life? I found an article that details a biotech company’s success in adding two entirely new pair of nucleotide bases to the genetic code.  Basically what their work has accomplished would allow for an incredible new amount of biodiversity for life on earth, assuming they can create a fully synthesized organism. Essentially, we could see ourselves playing the roles of gods. Again this sort of subject dwells within the gray “should we or should we not” territory, but I find the idea that we one day may be able to create life with a technology more unique than cloning one worth pursuing.

http://news.discovery.com/tech/biotechnology/life-2-0-synthetic-dna-added-to-genetic-code-150825.htm

Synthetic DNA to Synthetic Life

Planting Evidence: Would it have Mattered?

A passage that struck me in Chapter 12 brought up the subject of planted evidence. Weinberg recalls Fredriani’s statement during an interrogation regarding his DNA under Helena’s nails:

“As far as DNA evidence, oh, I’m sure you’ve got some DNA evidence that probably points to me. Where you got it, how you got it, that’s a whole different matter. I’ve been in your custody for a long time.” (Weinberg, pg 335)

After these words, he addresses the likelihood that police planted his DNA at the crime scene in order to the close the case. I searched for how often cases of planted evidence are recognized and found a website with several examples of shady policework; surprisingly, very few criminal cases a year involve planted evidence. Usually the officers involved in evidence planting have a vendetta against their targets, who can range from high profile suspects to ex-girlfriends and wives. Regardless as to whether Fredriani’s DNA was planted, I am not particuarly surprised that such an action, which is legally a crime, would be committed especially concerning the runningtime for this case and a longstanding, powerful desire to see Fredriani brought to justice.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-often-do-cops-plant-evidence-no-one-knows-for-sure

 

Planting Evidence: Would it have Mattered?