Category Archives: Technology & Innovation

For all my techie friends — in the Einstein Alley groups, NJEN, the Keller Center, and the E-Quad — event notices, items from U.S. 1 Newspaper and the NYT

Entertaining Engineer: Prud’homme

 

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Gathered to hear Bob Prud’homme speak at the Princeton Chamber breakfast was a contingent from Princeton United Methodist Church. In this quickie snap, from left: Bruce Henry, Barbara Fox, Prudhomme in back, Jamileh Gerber in front, Dana Dreibelbis in back, Daniel Shungu in front. Also attending from Princeton UMC: Ed Sproles and Doug Fullman.

Scientific “war stories” were on the agenda today, as Bob Prud’homme entertained members of the Princeton Regional Chamber at the Nassau Club. Some of the twists and turns of his 40-year career at Princeton University revealed good news, some not so good.

In the disheartening category was the realization that, since virtually no drugs are manufactured in the United States, the U.S. stands to lose significant intellectual capital re drug development.

Why? A therapy doesn’t leap from lab to assembly line. It undergoes translation from research to retail in a “pilot” manufacturing plant, where veteran managers and supervisors can keep close tabs on quality control. Until recently the major pharmas built those pilot plants in the U.S., supervised by U.S. managers. If all the pilot plants move overseas, technical managers in the other countries will acquire that extremely valuable expertise.

On the heartening side, Prud’homme says he often finds himself working with research scientists in Asia whom he knows – because they were his students and collaborators at Princeton. Surely this answers any chauvinistic assertions that U.S. schools should limit the number of students from abroad.

IMG_4615In the good news category, Prud’homme and his collaborators get money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop drugs for global health. (UFAR founder Daniel Shungu, seen chatting with Prud’homme before the breakfast, is also the recipient of Gates funds.) What can sell in a blister pack at CVS won’t work for a third world country, which needs drugs to be packaged in jars that will last for six months in a hot damp climate. Princeton’s engineering quad leads the industry in meeting the need for these opportunities in drug delivery.

Only inexpensive drugs can be brought to poor countries. In contrast, cancer therapies are so costly that they can’t be used in the Third World. Prud’homme worries that cancer therapies will even be too expensive for OUR country’s insurance capacity, and that our healthcare business plans are in danger. Either our healthcare insurance will topple, or it will be outrageously unequally distributed, or the people will make decisions about what gets covered and who doesn’t.

One fix would be to deny $60,000 immunotherapy if it won’t prolong life by at last a year. Another way is to adopt the single-payer system used in Australia and make the hard decisions. “I worry about the future of our healthcare system,” says Prud’homme, “and that we will have an unjust society. What problems are we willing to live with?”

Prud’homme memorably described the ins and outs of nanotechnology in clear terms. The challenge for using nano in injectable drugs is that the drug might disperse too quickly, before it reaches the target site. The difficulty with using nano molecules in oral therapies is that many molecules are hydrophobic. They do not live comfortably in water.

His lab, successful in conquering both challenges, has been selected as the “academic lab of choice” by the major pharmas. The story behind that reinforces MY conviction that our town is ever so fortunate to have this university and these research labs at our doorstep.

Many complain that because the university has “deep pockets” it should pay more in lieu of taxes. Exactly because Princeton University has those deep pockets, it can afford to offer generous terms to potential partners. Someone asked how scientists can get molecules through the patent process without revealing secrets to competitors. The answer, says Prud’homme, lies in the university’s motto “Princeton in the Nation’s Service.”

Nobody has approved this metaphor, but here’s how I would explain it. You have five pirates at your door for Trick or Treat, almost identically costumed. One has a face mask, Pirate X. When a big pharma (BASF, GSK, Pfizer, Merck – all Princeton collaborators) wants to secretly develop a molecule, Princeton sends all five to the patent office, revealing the identity of four, leaving one unidentified. This gives the big pharma lead time to develop Molecule X. (Somebody please comment if this comparison doesn’t work.)

Princeton University came late to the entrepreneurial market becauase. as Prud’homme acknowledged, research suitable for the commercial market used to be scorned by the academics. Princeton was one of the most hoity-toity of universities in condemning research that results in a salable product.  He credits the philosophy of John Ritter  (in charge of technology licensing) and the success of two researchers – Steve Forrest and Edward C. Taylor – with changing the university’s attitudes about the inviolable sanctity of basic research. Forrest (now at the University of Michigan) channeled his research on organic light -emitting diodes (OLEDs) into a start-up, Universal Display Corporation that leads the market for displays for smart phones and has revenues of more than $300 million. Taylor developed the cancer-fighting drug, Alimta, and the proceeds from that virtually paid for the university’s new chemistry building.

With its generous endowment, the university does not have to nickel-and-dime its collaborators, and its scientists and engineers can be “in the nation’s service.”

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From worm poop to designer bottles?

TerraCycle_CEO_Tom_SzakyGarbage is certainly the hero at the Terracycle headquarters, says Diccon Hyatt, who tells of Tom Szaky’s latest iteration, a new business model for his throwaway manufacturing business. It’s Diccon Hyatt’s cover story in the issue dated July 4 but being distributed a day early, click here, 

It’s a long way from when the headquarters for Szaky’s four-person start-up was a basement room, with a futon cot, on the corner of Nassau and Chamber Street.  U.S. 1 has charted his progress. His success story – leaving Princeton University to start a business –  is no comfort to hand-wringing parents of students aiming to quit school to follow their dreams.

 

Hands off the wheel?

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Would you trust your family to be safe in a self-driving car? Would you trust your own car on the road along with self-driving cars? And will insurance skyrocket?

Michael Scrudato, senior vp of Munich Re, could answer those questions at the Princeton Regional Chamber lunch Thursday, June 7 at 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal Marriott. Walk-ins aren’t charged extra. Here’s a preview. 

What’s hot at Reunions for Entrepreneurs

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All of these events are listed as open to the public. Declare an early weekend and network for free! 

Friday, June 2, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

20th Annual Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Startup Competition & Conference: Registration, Mimosas, and Networking Opening remarks: Mung Chiang, Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering; Founding Director of the Princeton EDGE Lab, Director, Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education and Inaugural Chair, Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, Princeton University. Moderators: Mayra Ceja ’03, President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network, and Eric Sharret ’02, Vice President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network.  Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network, Keller Center, Office of Career Services, Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures and Sequoia. Friend Center, Auditorium 101.

10 to 11 am 

Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Fireside Chat with Two Generations of Princeton Entrepreneurs: Is It in Our DNA? Moderators: Justin Ziegler ’16, Chief of Staff, Andela; Mayra Ceja ’03, President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network; Eric Sharret ’02, Vice President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network. Speakers: Jeremy Johnson ’07, Founder, Andela and 2U, and Marty Johnson ‘81, Founder, Isles, Inc. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network, the Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures and Sequoia. Friend Center, Auditorium 101.

11-1 pm 

Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Startup Showcase & Lunch To 1:00 PM. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN), the Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Technology Licensing, the E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures and Sequoia. Friend Center, Convocation Room

1 -2 pm 

Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Pitch Competition Moderators: Mayra Ceja ’03, President, of the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network; Eric Sharret ’02, Vice President, Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network of PEN. To 2:00 PM. Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ 13 FRIDAY, June 2 Network (PEN), The Keller Center, Office of Career Services, Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures, Sequoia. Friend Center, Auditorium 101.

2 -3 pm

20th Annual Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN) Reception.  Sponsored by the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network (PEN), the Keller Center, the Office of Career Services, the Office of Technology Licensing, E-Club, Fitz Gate Ventures, LivePlan, Chaac Ventures, Sequoia. Friend Center, Upper Atrium.

and you might be interested in

Interactive Vehicle Demonstration To 4:00 PM. Sponsored by the Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE). 1972 Plaza, in front of McCosh 10. on Friday, 2 -4 pm 

 

my personal favorite is Saturday, June 3, 10:30 am to noon 

Journalism in a Post-Fact Era Moderator: Joel Achenbach ’82, Washington Post reporter. Panelists: Joe Stephens, Ferris Professor in Residence and Washington Post investigative reporter; Edward Wong, visiting Ferris Professor and New York Times international correspondent; Nancy Cordes *99, CBS News congressional correspondent; Juliet Eilperin ’92, Washington Post senior national-affairs correspondent; Richard Just ’01, Washington Post Magazine editor; Jennifer Epstein ’08, Bloomberg White House/political reporter.  Sponsored by the Princeton Alumni Weekly and the Ferris Seminars in Journalism in the Council of the Humanities. Frist Campus Center, Room 302.

and some more folks you might want to network with . . .

Alumni-Faculty Forum: Entrepreneurship: Sowing the Seeds of Innovation Moderator: Mung Chiang, Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering; Founding Director of the Princeton EDGE Lab; Director, Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education; and Inaugural Chair, Princeton Entrepreneurship Council. Panelists: Dinni Jain ’87, Former COO, Time Warner Cable; Duncan Van Dusen ’92, Founding Executive Director, CATCH Global Foundation; Stephen K. Shueh ’97, Managing Partner, Roundview Capital; Jon Hayes ’07, Founder and CEO, RewardStock.com; Arielle Sandor ’12, Co-Founder and CEO, Duma Works. Sponsored by the Alumni Association of Princeton University. Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Room 399. Friday, 2:30-3:45 p.m. 

And the P-Rade starts at 1. All details here. 

If you are not a true alum, you might have trouble figuring out some of these locations but, hey, it’s Darwinian selection. 

 

 

Just tell it so they get it: gerrymandering

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As Sam Wang talked this morning on how to countermand the evils of gerrymandering —  legislative districts structured to favor one party — I kept thinking “he’s the perfect person for this.” Wang spoke this morning at the Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast. 

The battle to redistrict Congress will be fought in the courts, probably leading to the Supreme Court, which has turned down several cases for lack of a manageable standard.  As Wang said, lawyers don’t go to law school because they like math. (Nodded agreement from the 80+ attendees, with more than the usual number of lawyers.) Lawyers might be good in math but it’s probably not their forte.

So if you want to use algorithms to uproot gerrymandering, you’d better figure out how to make that math accessible to the lawyers’ brains, especially the SCOTUS brains.

If any one can do that, Wang can. He is an eminent neuroscientist with an unusual facility to state complicated concepts in simple ways, as in his first book “Welcome to Your Brain.”

Though Wang is still doing neuroscience he is also consulting on political statistics via the Princeton Election Consortium. During the question page he talked about testifying in various court cases and presented various “manageable standards.”

His webpage even has an option to do the math yourself – pick a data set and work out whether those districts are configured fairly.

On that page, Wang says he wants to do more than use math and polls to explain politics. He wants to stimulate people to act. Not just Democrats, but “all Americans who want to save institutions – whether they are liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican.” He recommends that we all

  • joining our U.S. Representative’s party (even though that may be hard to do)
  • work to keep the media ‘on task’

Are you looking for ways to make change? Read his  action items for democracy’s survival here.

Says Wang: “Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way round.”

 

Share your medical news – and learn

A friend wrote to me, jubilant, because her husband – diagnosed with a prostate problem — had researched and found a state of the art therapy “green light laser prostate therapy.” it worked wonderfully, she says. Apparently it is not available here in Princeton.

I urged her to try to share this news with others through a social media strategy, participatory medicine. Read about it here on medium. If you can’t get into the medium site, try this one. 

For the experts — what participatory medicine platform would be best for prostate therapy recommendations?

Not Powerpoint, Not Beers after Work

 

Driving without a GPS is like speaking without ———- (fill in the blank). So says Eileen Sinett, speech coach. Details in her column here.  Sinett offers presentation training. 

To have an effective team, it’s more important for everyone to feel comfortable in raising difficult issues than for team members to take satisfaction in their work. So says Rita McGrath, who offers a workshop on effective ways to build teams on Tuesday, January 31. 

Accelerating Team Effectiveness: McGrath

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Reduce friction to accelerate the progress of your team, says Rita McGrath, known for her savvy in connecting research to business problems.Her Valize team presents a morning workshop on Tuesday, January 31, in Lawrence.

Says McGrath: Most team effectiveness assessments focus on the level of satisfaction of team members. However, research has shown that there is not a strong correlation between satisfaction and team performance. During this 2-hour workshop, we will focus on five important elements that have great impact on the effectiveness of team performance. 

 Bring your team, she says, and you’ll leave with ‘actionable results.’

Find out the five elements and more about this workshop. 

Princeton’s Got Innovation

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Thirty thousand grand will be on the line on Wednesday, February 15, at the Innovation Forum organized by Princeton University’s Keller Center. Participants present their research in a three-minute “elevator pitch” to the audience and a panel of judges. Simon Cowell’s got nothing on this show!

Register to come and watch the excitement.  You get to see inside the Andlinger Center and there’s networking and refreshments afterward.

 

September 15: arts and tech

On September 15 Princeton University invites everyone to a Nassau Street Sampler at the Princeton University Art Museum, free. See, taste, hear music.

Also on September 15 Tiger Labs hosts Mung Chiang at a $10 (cheap) networking and “fireside chat” session. It’s 6:30 pm to about 9.