Sunday, May 29, 2016

London Calling: Notes on Brownian Commotion

I'm behind on writing up London Calling.  I can partly blame a failing computer -- though rebooting it seems to have righted it for the moment.  A bigger challenge is that I had the luxury of staying in London thru the weekend, and have been trying to pack as much in of England as I can.  To really do justice to everything, I need to scan all the tweets  -- and that will take some time.

But I have dug into everything around Clive Brown's talk (kudos to NextGenSeek for Storifying that portion of the meeting's tweets!_ about the current and future state of the Oxford Nanopore platform, so I will focus on that, with a few side-trips on closely related topics. A few gaps on topics I previewed but didn't show up in the presentation were filled in with chats with Clive.  Plus, the indescribably huge advantage of actually going to a conference are the tidbits gleaned from late night chats over drinks (and no, I didn't ply anyone to get them to spill -- all was coughed up out of pure free will).  I'm going to roughly divide these by the announced timeframe: now, imminently, later this year, perhaps next year and unspecified.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

London Calling Preview

ON Thursday and Friday this week Oxford Nanopore will be holding their second annual London Calling meeting.  I successfully defended my schedule this year, so I'll be on the ground there. If you follow me on Twitter and don't want to be buried in nanopore tweets, mute the hashtag #nanoporeconf (a rather large hashtag for talking about nano stuff!)  LC is OxNano's premier event, so what might we see from the company?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Inconstant lines

If you order chemicals, then the supplier provides a certificate of analysis, which shows the amounts of impurities or their limit of detection.  Fir physics experiments, one can purchase components which have been carefully cast or machined to precise dimensions. Barring errors by the manufacturers, these reagents and components can be relied upon, as their consistency is known.  Alas, for biological systems, such constancy is often a mirage.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sickle Cell Anemia: An underprioritized disease?

The Sunday Boston Globe today had a front page piece by STAT's Sharon Begley that asks some challenging questions about prioritization of disease research.  Poking around the STAT site, I found that the original article was even longer and better, but between the important issues it raises, some interesting peripheral stuff and at least one gaping hole, there's plenty to discuss.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Kendall Square Tech/Biotech/Biopharma Needs to Get Vocal About Transit!

Earlier this week, the current big Boston-area mass construction transit project, known as GLX, went through a near-death experience.  The project, having been mismanaged to be over budget and behind schedule in the early going, was approved to survive in a stripped down form.  Numerous political types were quoted supporting the project, albeit complaining about contributions their towns were making to keep the project alive. What wasn't heard was any sort of support from the tech, biotech and biopharma companies which crowd Kendall Square.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Exploring Critiques of Siddhartha Mukerjee's The Gene, An Intimate History

My finely tuned skills in the art of procrastination KOed my plans to see Siddhartha Mukerjee's talk tonight at a local bookstore (apparently with Henry Louis Gates) to promote Mukerjee's new book The Gene: An Intimate History -- the event sold out.  Perhaps I could have found a scalper, but I decided I'd just head home.  Mukerjee's first book, the cancer history The Emperor of All Maladies, was very well received (even spawning a PBS series), and I was impressed that Mukerjee took the time to contact me after I wrote a review in this space.  The new book has been taking quite a bit of criticism, and even more so his New Yorker piece that preceded it (and I assume is derived from a portion of the book).

Friday, May 06, 2016

Around the World in Amino Acids

This post is pure whimsy, growing out of killing time on a train ride. The not-so-serious question: what is the geography of amino acids?  If I search for them by name in Google Maps, what will I find?  With just Google Maps, plus some Google Translate thrown in, I found a few surprises.