I used worked for a biotech before I switched to the more flexible world of grad school when we decided to have kids. The biotech company is trying to change the world… personalized chemotherapy decision support.
You know how we built off of academic research when I was there? Lots of abstracts. Some full-text papers, which we’d ask a collaborator at the university to get for us. Meeting proceedings. But mostly I’m guessing we did a whole lot of reinventing the wheel, and probably had a less stellar product because of it. That is too bad for the VCs but really bad for the oncologist and patient customers.
Those days were before #icanhazpdf and PubMed Central… things are better now. But not good enough. All those studies funded by the NSF and other agencies? Startup biotechs simply can’t afford today’s journal subscriptions. They can’t afford $30/paper when you don’t know if the paper is useful until after you’ve read it. And they sure as heck can’t textmine the literature to build on ALL of the results AT ONCE the way… you know… efficient users might want to.
Guessing my former coworkers will be interested in the #openaccess petition. I just sent this letter. See also the related letter Bill Hooker sent to his biotech coworkers.
Hi Dave and Mike and Sean,
Hope you are all well!
Not sure if you’ve seen this, but it is a big deal in my work life and I thought it might be of real interest to Precision.
There is a hot petition trying to get Obama’s attention about access to research. Taxpayer-funded research should be available to taxpayers… the goal is to extend to all of science the NIH rules that drafts of all funded research papers must be available for free on the internet (in PubMed Central, for the NIH).
My time at PTI was before PubMed Central and #icanhazpdf on twitter, but I’m guessing PTI still doesn’t have access to all the academic research papers it would like. And it certainly it doesn’t have the sort of textmining access etc that would help you build on all of the research we’ve paid for. (Textmining is my current struggle… my attempts to get textmining access for my research were actually profiled in The Guardian yesterday! :) )
Would you consider signing the petition and circulating it as you see fit, within PTI, to the Pgh high tech council, etc? If it gets 25k signatures in 30 days it will go to Obama’s desk. Here is more info. It is an issue for researchers and companies for sure, but also all of our family members passionate about learning more about cancer, our inquisitive 16 year old want-to-be-astronomer kids, our out-of-work postdocs, our science journalists, our underfunded teachers, etc.
Thanks for spreading the word! We’ll be in Pittsburgh in early July for a few weeks, would love to find any/all of you for lunch if you are in town?