Writing about biotech
by Alan Wang, PhD | February 19, 2020
My experience with BCBA has been incredibly fulfilling for both the relationships I have built as well as the exposure to science communications.
In my role as Vice President of Marketing and Communications, I have had the privilege of helping graduate students and postdoctoral scholars publish articles that cover topical issues at the intersection of basic life science research and business innovation. I advise writers in identifying the primary hurdles to be overcome, contacting key opinion leaders (KOLs) to provide expert opinions, conducting secondary research, structuring their articles, and publishing the written work. The topics have run the gamut. Writers have covered the intellectual property hurdles that a young startup must overcome when licensing technology from universities as well as the application of virtual reality to ease pain. Each article contextualizes a novel technology and covers how different stakeholders interpret and perhaps use these advances to improve human health.
It has been a pleasure working with these science communication fellows. Helping them develop their ideas, work through their qualms, and hone their writing has been a joy. I will readily admit that when I was a writer myself, I was quite hesitant about venturing outside my comfort zone and explore a foreign topic. I had never conducted a KOL interview much less knew what KOL stood for! However, the infrastructure and advice that my predecessor provided was invaluable, and I have strived to provide the same mentorship for subsequent writers.
This role within BCBA has also thoroughly impressed upon me the need to effectively communicate how entrepreneurs are leveraging advances in basic science to develop novel products and therapeutics. Technologies such as CAR-T cell therapies and CRISPR-based gene editing stand to revolutionize how many diseases are treated. Companies are using artificial intelligence to drastically enhance the rate of drug development and drug discovery. Startups are developing ways to allow communication between a human brain and an external machine in order to combat insomnia. As biology and the human body itself becomes more easily monitored and manipulated, more and more companies will aim to improve human health. These industry trends have consequently spurred the need to better inform the general public about products that have already or could very well affect their lives.
The Viewpoints platform thus offers an opportunity for scholars in the Bay Area to gain valuable experience while providing the general public an informed and educated voice. Given the importance of educating the public about exciting and novel developments within the life sciences industry, I can envision BCBA Viewpoints only growing in relevance.