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Recent Research Studies and Reports

Numerous studies offer a framework for issues the Center for the Integration of Science and Industry seeks to address. Recent articles are outlined below.

 

Recent article:

Algal biofuel production for fuels and feed in a 100-ha facility: A comprehensive techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment, Algal Research, Colin M. Beal, et al

Abstract:

This techno-economic analysis/life-cycle assessment is based on actual production by the Cornell Marine Algal Biofuels Consortium with biomass productivity N 23 g/m2-day. Ten distinct cases are presented for two locations, Texas and Hawaii, based on a 100-ha production facility with end-to-end processing that yields fungible co-products including bio crude, animal feed, and ethanol. Several processing technologies were evaluated: centrifugation and solvent extraction (POS Biosciences), thermochemical conversion (Valicor), hydrothermal liquefaction (PNNL), catalytic hydrothermal gasification (Genifuel), combined heat and power, wet extraction (OpenAlgae), and fermentation. The facility design was optimized by co-location with waste CO2, a terraced design for gravity flow, using renewable energy, and low cost materials. The case studies are used to determine the impact of design choices on the energy return on investment, minimum fuel and feed sale prices, discounted payback period, as well as water depletion potential, human health, ecosystem quality, non-renewable resources, and climate change environmental indicators. The most promising cases would be economically competitive at market prices around $2/L for crude oil, while also providing major environmental benefits and freshwater savings. As global demands for fuels and protein continue rising, these results are important steps towards economical and environmentally sustainable production at an industrial scale.

 

Recent article:

Positioning Genomics in Biology Education: Content Mapping of Undergraduate Biology Textbooks, Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, Naomi Wernick, Eric Ndung'u, Dominique Haughton, and Fred Ledley

Abstract:

Biological thought increasingly recognizes the centrality of the genome in constituting and regulating processes ranging from cellular systems to ecology and evolution. In this paper, we ask whether genomics is similarly positioned as a core concept in the instructional sequence for undergraduate biology. Using quantitative methods, we analyzed the order in which core biological concepts were introduced in textbooks for first-year general and human biology. Statistical analysis was performed using self-organizing map algorithms and conventional methods to identify clusters of terms and their relative position in the books. General biology textbooks for both majors and non-majors introduced genome-related content after text related to cell biology and biological chemistry, but before content describing higher-order biological processes. However, human biology textbooks most often introduced genomic content near the end of the books. These results suggest that genomics is not yet positioned as a core concept in commonly used textbooks for first-year biology and raises questions about whether such textbooks, or courses based on the outline of these textbooks, provide an appropriate foundation for understanding contemporary biological science.

 

Recent article:

Translational Science by Public Biotechnology Companies in the IPO “Class of 2000”: The Impact of Technological Maturity, PLOS ONE, Laura McNamee, Fred Ledley

Abstract:

The biotechnology industry plays a central role in the translation of nascent biomedical science into both products that offer material health benefits and creating capital growth. This study examines the relationship between the maturity of technologies in a characteristic life cycle and value creation by biotechnology companies. We examined the core technology, product development pipelines, and capitalization for a cohort of biotechnology companies that completed an IPO in 2000. Each of these companies was well financed and had core technologies on the leading edge of biological science. We found that companies with the least mature technologies had significantly higher valuations at IPO, but failed to develop products based on these technologies over the ensuing decade, and created less capital growth than companies with more mature technologies at IPO. The observation that this cohort of recently public biotechnology companies was not effective in creating value from nascent science suggests the need for new, evidence-based business strategies for translational science.

 

Recent article:

Why commercialization of gene therapy stalled; examining the life cycles of gene therapy technologies, Gene Therapy, Fred Ledley, Laura McNamee, V Uzdil and I W Morgan

ABSTRACT:

This report examines the commercialization of gene therapy in the context of innovation theories that posit a relationship between the maturation of a technology through its life cycle and prospects for successful product development. We show that the field of gene therapy has matured steadily since the 1980s, with the congruent accumulation of >35 000 papers, >16 000 US patents, >1800 clinical trials and >$4.3 billion in capital investment in gene therapy companies. Gene therapy technologies comprise a series of dissimilar approaches for gene delivery, each of which has introduced a distinct product architecture. Using bibliometric methods, we quantify the maturation of each technology through a characteristic life cycle S-curve, from a Nascent stage, through a Growing stage of exponential advance, toward an Established stage and projected limit. Capital investment in gene therapy is shown to have occurred predominantly in Nascent stage technologies and to be negatively correlated with maturity. Gene therapy technologies are now achieving the level of maturity that innovation research and biotechnology experience suggest may be requisite for efficient product development. Asynchrony between the maturation of gene therapy technologies and capital investment in development-focused business models may have stalled the commercialization of gene therapy.

 

Recent article:

Assessing the history and value of Human Genome Sciences, Journal of Commercial Biotechnology, Laura M. McNamee, Fred D. Ledley

Abstract:

Human Genome Science (HGS) aspired to dominate the emergent field of genomics by discovering expressed gene sequences and developing therapeutic and diagnostic products based on proprietary genes. While HGS’ accomplishments fell short of their own lofty expectations, by the time HGS was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, the company had extensive intellectual property and had launched a product with >$1 billion market potential. Nevertheless, HGS’ acquisition price was less than the total capital investments in the company. This work examines HGS’ history and accomplishments in the context of the business plan described by the company at their IPO. We focus specifically on the company’s valuation over time, which was highly correlated with general market indices, but negatively correlated with metrics of technical or clinical progress. The history of HGS points to the challenge of accounting for the value created by a science-based business plan. Earnings-based metrics, present value calculations, and “fair value” assessments did not account for HGS’ progress in executing their stated business plan. This work highlights the critical need for accounting practices that credit value to the progress of translational science and enable investors to profit from such investments.

 

Recent article:

Learning Objectives and Content of Science Curricula for Undergraduate Management Education, Journal of Management Education, by Fred D. Ledley & Stephen S. Holt

Abstract:

Business is progressively integrating technologies and R&D with corporate and business strategy. This trend is creating increasing demand for executives and managers who have sufficient technology-centered knowledge to work effectively in interdisciplinary environments. This study addresses how management education could address the growing need for such pluralistic training by embracing development of undergraduate science curriculum attuned to the needs of business students. We found that science courses are part of the required curriculum at 80% of BusinessWeek’s “top business schools.” To assess what content and learning objectives might best meet the needs of business students, we conducted a survey of educators from business, science, and arts and sciences in general and examined curriculum developed explicitly for business students at two freestanding business institutions. These results suggest that science courses could better serve business education by providing a broad picture of scientific principles and their presence in everyday life, promoting critical thinking and inductive reasoning, and enabling understanding of scientific research, technical innovation, and product development as well as their ethical and social implications. Development of such courses would require collaboration between management and science educators to ensure that the scientific content of the courses meet the highest standards of evidence-based science education and the business context is grounded in rigorous management principles and practices.

 

Recent Podcast:

Learning Objectives and Content of Science Curricula for Undergraduate Management Education, November 2012

Summary:

Professor Fred Ledley of Bentley University talks with editor Jane Schmidt-Wilk about his paper, co-authored by Stephen Holt of Olin College, which argues that business programs should require science courses designed expressly to meet the needs of business students.

 

Recent article:

Patterns of technological innovation in biotech, Nature Biotechnology, by Laura M. McNamee & Fred D. Ledley

Abstract:

Theories of innovation posit that effective product development and value creation require business models and strategies matched to the stage of technology evolution. Such theories are predicated on patterns of technology evolution observed in other fields, where periods of exponential advancement are followed by limits and obsolescence as new technologies emerge. In this paper, we describe analogous patterns of technological evolution for three classes of therapeutic biotechnologies—somatic gene therapy, nucleotide therapeutics, and monoclonal antibodies—and discuss the potential relevance of business innovation theories to the biotechnology industry.

 

Recent article:

Use of Genomic Databases for Inquiry-Based Learning about Influenza, Journal of College Science Teaching, Ledley, Fred; Ndung'u, Eric

Abstract:

The genome projects of the past decades have created extensive databases of biological information with applications in both research and education. We describe an inquiry-based exercise that uses one such database, the National Center for Biotechnology Information Influenza Virus Resource, to advance learning about influenza. This database contains genomic sequences of virus ranging from the strains that caused the 1918 pandemic and subsequent seasonal cycles of influenza, as well as the H1N1 "swine" flu, which has recently caused pandemic disease, and the H5N1 "avian" flu, which remains a potential threat. The web interface to this database allows retrieval of gene and protein sequences from selected strains of virus, alignment of these sequences, and construction of evolutionary trees. In this exercise, students develop hypotheses about the epidemiology or evolution of influenza originating from species, locations, or time periods. The hypotheses are tested by retrieving sequences from specified viral strains and constructing an evolutionary tree to visualize the origin of these strains. We describe the use of this exercise in a human biology course for nonscience majors as part of a unit about influenza.

 

Recent article:

Bridging the Boundary between Science and Business, The International Journal of Science in Society, by Fred Ledley

Abstract: 

Theories of innovation posit that effective product development and value creation require business models and strategies matched to the stage of technology evolution. Such theories are predicated on patterns of technology evolution observed in other fields, where periods of exponential advancement are followed by limits and obsolescence as new technologies emerge. In this paper, we describe analogous patterns of technological evolution for three classes of therapeutic biotechnologies—somatic gene therapy, nucleotide therapeutics, and monoclonal antibodies—and discuss the potential relevance of business innovation theories to the biotechnology industry.