Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fear Contest

Bruce Schneier has posted his third annual movie-plot threat contest. The rules: 150 words (basically an extended log line) and this:
For this contest, the goal is to create fear. Not just any fear, but a fear that you can alleviate through the sale of your new product idea. There are lots of risks out there, some of them serious, some of them so unlikely that we shouldn't worry about them, and some of them completely made up. And there are lots of products out there that provide security against those risks.

Your job is to invent one. First, find a risk or create one. It can be a terrorism risk, a criminal risk, a natural-disaster risk, a common household risk -- whatever. The weirder the better. Then, create a product that everyone simply has to buy to protect him- or herself from that risk. And finally, write a catalog ad for that product.

OK, I love this kind of stuff so here is my attempt, but before I post it to his blog I'd like some feed back from anyone out there so tell me what you think of the following ad:
Are you worried about turning into a human-plant mutant because of all the genetic modifications being made to our wholesome crops these days?

You need the Clean-A-Gene!

Increasingly common, especially in the United States, genetically modified foods are being grown for their "added nutrients", "extra strength", and durability for packaging. All these genetic modifications however are mixing in with the human gene pool. It isn't noticeable at first but after several generations of plant DNA recombination with humans some of our babies will have broccoli for arms and corn cobs for feet! The Clean-A-Gene is a patented food purifier that removes all DNA from genetically modified plants*. How can you or your family live without a Clean-A-Gene purifier?! It's the responsible thing to buy.

*This product is not approved by the FDA, and has not been shown to work in any laboratory settings.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Business Plan, Part 1

I have been discussing the future of my life a lot with my friends as of late and we have been working on a business plan for the next few years. The following are my ideas for how our business will materialize.

The idea for our business:

A biotech/pharmaceutical company that will develop two types of drugs and will work on gene-therapies. The first, and foremost priority, will be the profitable drugs that work on human aesthetics and anti-aging, such as hair loss drugs, wrinkle creams, etc. Through my years of research, and particularly my work in Seattle with skin diseases and wound healing I have worked out the molecular mechanisms that I believe are highly important in management of aging skin. A lot of those molecular signals in the skin and hair do not have drugs that have been created yet to mediate the effects and those drugs will be worth multi-billions of dollars. Developing these drugs by first determining the structure of the important molecules by utilizing biophysical techniques such as x-ray spectroscopy and 3D-NMR will be my goal in the next several years of my PhD program.

The second set of of drugs will be cancer drugs. I have been very closely working with stem cells and cancer for the last few years here in Boston and have come to a few conclusions as to where the future of cancer technology is going and I plan to exploit this knowledge for use in drug therapies. The cancer line of work will help in getting initial funding for the start-up through governmental grants.

So that is the basic idea of what we will be doing but how are we going to get it going? Well, luckily, I have a head start on that as well. First of all the company will be co-founded by Ian and myself. Ian will be spending the next two years or so getting his MBA from Yale, MIT, or Duke. During that time he plans on acquiring the connections to get a lot of start-up funding through venture capitalists as well as the skills to manage a business such as this (and a lot of international business skills, which he is personally interested in, which can only be beneficial for us).

The next advantage we have is my father who has been working in the biotech industry and has a lot of connections with many companies, particularly on the west coast and has expressed interest in working with me to develop this company.

Ian's brother is a patent lawyer and will be extremely helpful in helping us patent our drugs and techniques (even if he doesn't want to be our lawyer he will certainly help his brother out in whatever ways he can).

And lastly, but definitely not least, our friend Seth has shown an interest in being our political lobbyist on the Hill in DC. He could potentially help get us pushed up on the list of FDA reviews and make our name more visible to grant agencies like NIH and NSF.

An ideal time line for getting the business going:

-In two years Ian will get his MBA, we will begin filing for business licenses and searching for venture capital.
-In four years (or so) I will get my PhD and hopefully have solved the structure of several important molecules in our body for which we will continue researching and developing drugs.
-Five years we will have our own lab space with the initial grant money and whatever capital we can muster.
-Ten years, our first drug will have passed clinical trials and be on course for FDA approval, we will have several other patents as well. The value of the company will start appreciating.
-15 years, we will sell the company for $800 million, at least.

Please help me along in this endeavor, if you have any suggestions or comments or would like to be apart of the whole start-up process then let me know.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not Meant to Offend

After our discussion about how the Micheal Crichton Anti-Global Warming book (which I didn't even mention in the post!) and how I think people are getting influenced by incorrect data I decided to post about the Climate Securities Act after my friend Seth suggested it to me to write about. However, it seems I have offended a good friend (sorry S, I didn't mean to discount your ideas) and I thought I would say that I welcome all opinions and mine is definitely not the only one out there and most likely very biased (that's why I write a blog and not in a respected journal). I'm sure Micheal Crichton has some good points in his book that I should look at more closely and examine. I would just like to point out though that nearly all scientific data published, and basically all data published in Nature and Science, the two most respected scientific journals on earth, is cautioning about the imminent warming due to greenhouse gases. This should not be taken too lightly. Even a 1°C increase in average temperature will cause agricultural shifts that will cause real problems.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Legislation...Is Good?!

Who would have guessed that Joe Lieberman would have done something good? I've kind of always thought of him as jack-ass because of his stance on the Iraq war, but he might be redeeming himself a little with the latest bit of legislation that has been submitted to the senate called the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. (Thanks Seth for pointing me to this.)

It is surprising that the President hasn't openly stated that he will veto this also, though maybe it's because conservative-independent Lieberman and republican Warner are the main sponsors of the bill. Probably. For whatever reason, if it passes it will be a very good step forward for the future of our little blue gem.

Before addressing what this bill proposes I thought I would take a few paragraphs to go over why it is important that such a bill be introduced now. The issue of global warming still continues to be prevalent in mainstream media mostly because it is still hotly debated as to whether or not it is really even happening--and as we know the media loves controversy (if not the truth). Well, as it turns out there is basically no doubt what-so-ever that global warming, and hence climate change, is occurring and it is caused by greenhouse gases that have been released by humans. The controversy arises from conservative media outlets (FOX, Wall Street Journal, etc.) that take hold of any news story they can find that puts any doubt as to the final outcome of global warming and spin that story to acquire a new meaning: that it may not even be happening! For instance, Media Matters calls out FOX News. Of course more liberal media outlets can tend to exagerate the problem as well, but in actuality the more information that pours in regarding greenhouse gas emissions and their effects on global warming the more extreme the models get. Quoted from Joe Lieberman (a supporter of big-oil subsidies and who received oil lobbyists' money and therefore making this quote that much more realistic):
"With all the irrefutable evidence we now have corroborating that climate change is real, dangerous, and proceeding faster than many scientists predicted, this is the year for Congress to move this critical legislation. If we fail to start substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next couple of years, we risk bequeathing a diminished world to our grandchildren. Insect-borne diseases such as malaria will spike as tropical ecosystems expand; hotter air will exacerbate the pollution that sends children to the hospital with asthma attacks; food insecurity from shifting agricultural zones will spark border wars; and storms and coastal flooding from sea-level rise will cause mortality and dislocation."
I would also add that because of CO2 levels currently in our air we are already seeing the acidification of the oceans causing more and more dead-zones to form because of oxygen deprived plumes of ocean stretching hundreds of miles in which most life can not survive. These dead zones are also caused by other types of pollution as well such as sewage and fertilizer run-off, all of which should be looked at as well. The acidification of the oceans also causes coral bleaching, and numerous other negative effects that most people do not think of when talking about global warming.

There is no controversy amongst atmospheric and meteorological scientists across the globe that global warming is indeed a very big problem. The IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a group created by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization to asses the scientific basis of global warming, the effects it may have on the world, and the policies that governments can implement to mitigate the negative effects. Each of those areas of assessment was assigned a work group, i.e. work Group I, II, and III, respectively. The latest results have come back recently from the final Work Group III and and even though the summary of results have been considered to be very conservative by the actual scientists the conducted the research, it is still scary what can happen in the next century or two as concluded by the study that surveyed something on the order of 19,000 different climate research projects funded by the government in nearly every industrialized country on earth.

So what does the Lieberman and Warner act entail? Here is a quick run down (summarized mostly from here):
-Instant capping of CO2 emissions.
-Put a cap on CO2 emissions at the 2005 level by 2012.
-Further reductions of 1.8% per year after 2012 resulting in 15% reduction of 2005 levels by 2020.
-Continued reduction in CO2 emissions until 2050 resulting in 70% reduction of CO2 emissions compared with 2005 levels.
-Up to 80% reduction of major sources of CO2 emission.
-Implements trading of CO2 credits.
-$500 billion investment for low- and zero-carbon emitting fuels.
-$350 billion in assistance for low- and middle-income families for heating, transporation, etc. until 2030.

All of these plans are very appropriate steps in reducing greenhouse gas levels, stimulating the economy of alternative and low-carbon-emitting fuels, and helping those that have the potential to be most effected by the rise in costs of conventional fuels. Congrats to Lieberman and Warner for doing a good job, now let's just see the rest of the senate pass this!