I’m still voting for voting for Martha Coakley but am dismayed at the attack ads her campaign has unleashed on her Republican opponent for the Massachusetts Senatorial Seat– Republican State Senator Scott Brown.

Unfortunately, the  ads fail to emphasize the important things Coakley stands for: health reform, civil rights, regulating greed, and finding intelligent ways to fight terrorism.  They disseminate untruths about her opponent who, on Monday’s hourlong televised debate, said that he supports abortion (albeit not late term) and  emergency contraception for rape victims (albeit not if it goes against health provider’s personal beliefs) and, despite earlier statements,  that he believes that global warming is not only natural, but also manmade.

Worse yet,  the ads give Brown  a perfect opportunity to appear reasonable, dignified and unflappable–Senatorial, if you will, compared with the ham-handedness evident in ads Coakley apparently approved.

A  Brown win could end possibilities for health reform in the current Congressional session and beyond.

I’m very concerned that the ads will backfire– and, given my  own strong reaction against them I believe they will. (I don’t want to contribute money that could be used to fund them).

I just hope that Massachusetts citizens will look beyond the ads to Coakley’s strong record of accomplishment amd her belief in a government based on human and civil rights –hold their noses–and give her their votes.

–Anita M. Harris
New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisComBlog and Ithaca Diaries blog.


I was interested to see that Boston/Cambridge/Quincy Metro area ranked eighth on a Forbes.com study of  the most stressful US cities to live in.  

 Topping the list were Chicago,  Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland, Providence, RI, San Francisco,  and Detroit; Washington DC was ninth, followed by San Jose, Seattle, Riverside CA, and Philadelphia and, surprisingly, Portland, Ore.

Forbes ranked the metropolitan areas by quality of life factors including medium home price drop, unemployment, cost of living, air quality,  sunny days per year, and population density.

The Boston  metropolitan area was  ranked 17th for media home price drop, 30th for unemployment rate, 7th for cost of living, 20th for air quality, 12 th for sunny days per year, and 5th for population density.

Providence was  ranked 4th most stressful overall–based on  mainly on high unemployment and  cost of living.

Chicago was labelled  stressful primarily based on air quality, a low number of sunny days per year and high population density. LA came in second–with high rankings for median home price drop, cost of living, air quality and population density. New York, with the highest cost of living, and population density and relatively poor air quality  ranked fourth most stressful.

For a link to the list and Forbes rationale, click here.

—Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish the HarrisCom Blog.

Cambridge managing consulting firm Scientia Advisors (my client!) has released a fascinating study about growth in the neurostimulation technology markets. 

Scientia has found that these technologies–electrical devices implanted to stimulate portions of the brain, spinal cord and sacral nerve– are growing at a rate of 16 percent –and are beginning to supplant drugs as the treatment of choice for certain conditions.

The study, described in the August 21 Medical Device Daily and in a press release issued yesterday, suggests that these new technologies have fewer side effects and could help cut health care costs by doing away with the need for lifelong drug regimens. Scientia   recommends that device companies become involved in this growth area.

More at www.Scientiaadv.com or http://blog.harriscom.com.

Anita Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.

Over lunch at the Cambridge Innovation Center on Wednesday,   Mass Life Sciences Center (MLSC) President and CEO Susan Bannister told a gathering of some 100 life science afficionados that the first year of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Life Science Initiatiative has been a success. 

The MLSC, charged with distributing some $1B over a ten year period,  invested  $48.5 M in public dollars this year–its first full year of operation.  The funds, in turn, have attracted nearly $359M in matching investments from companies, foundations, government, institutes and other private investors–an eight-fold return.  

“There’s still capital out there and life science is a good place to put your money,” Bannister said.  “By putting state money into the pot, we have ‘de-risked’ investment that the state would have had to find elsewhere”.

 The funded projects–in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics and bioinformatics–could create some 950 jobs in the near term, Bannister said.

By adding employment opportunities,  Massachusetts’  investments and incentives could help to absorb some of the job losses expected in other sectors, according to Bannister.

Frank Reynolds, CEO of InVivo Therapeutics, which is developing stem cell/ polymer technology aimed at halting the effects of traumatic spinal cord injury, said that receiving a $500 thousand loan just as  venture capital possibilities tanked this fall made a tremendous difference in his company’s ability to proceed. ”  It’s a great program,” Reynolds said. (Disclosure:   I work with InVivo).

Bannister cautioned  that in the current economic downturn, tax revenues are “iffy” and it’s not yet clear how much money will be available for the Initiative in 2010.

For more details, please visit  Harriscomblog.wordpress.com.

—Anita Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. Read the rest of this entry »

As a graduating  PhD, Robert Langer, now Institute Professor at MIT, was having trouble finding work.

As he told the Health Innovators Group of Combined Jewish Philanthropies on Friday, most of his classmates took jobs with oil companies but  he knew that wasn’t for him.  Having helped found an alternative high school in Cambridge, he  applied for 50 or 60 jobs in curriculum development, but no one wrote him back. Then he tried medical schools and hospitals, but “they didn’t write back, either.”  Finally, someone  in his lab told him that someone at Children’s Hospital sometimes hired “unusual people.”

That “someone” was Judah Folkman, who, in 1974,  was beginning to work on angiogenesis, which involved the idea that cutting the blood flow to tumors could halt  their growth.  The possibility  intrigued Langer, who  was hired–but made a rather inauspicious start.

As a post doc, he spent half of his time scraping meat off of cow bones delivered from a South Boston slaughterhouse. He   discovered 200 methods that didn’t work;. He  faced  hostile scientists who told him they didn’t believe anything he said, and,  as time went on,  was denied many patents by officers who were were unwilling to accept his proof.

It took until 2002 for  the first angiogenisis drug to gain FDA approved.  By then, Bob, who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, was MIT’s most prolific inventor and a University Professor who had helped found many companies and   inspired countless students–who now run departments, labs, and companies of their own.

I’ve known Bob since the 7th grade…and was in the 8th-grade English class  in which, he tells people , he was so shy that he froze during a public speaking exercise, and got an F.  We both went to Cornell, where, he’s told me, he found that he learned more studying on his own (and playing bridge) than going to class.  And I remember sitting in a pizza parlor with him in  1982, watching as he diagrammed  his ideas on a mechanism for “slow release” for pharmaceuticals–on a napkin.

Despite his success, a recent writeup in Nature,  and much  excitement about possible “pharmacies on a chip,”,  a stem cell device to help individuals with spinal cord injuries,  and an adhesive for heart surgery based on the sticky-stuff that allows gekkos to climb up walls, Bob  remains the same old Bob, who sometimes gets  ideas for new devices, materials and methods  from television and magazine magazines.    He’s still down-to-earth, supportive, and even funny.   (Did  you know that the most  surgical devices are invented by doctors who use household materials to fit their operating needs…which is why the “stretchiness” material used in artificial heart is the same stuff used in ladies’ girdles? )

So- for job hunters out there the message is simple but profound. Believe in yourself and your ideas, treat people kindly, and  keep on going.

Great talk, Bob. Once again, bravo.


New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.

I’m pleased to announce that Scientia Advisors has launched ScientiaNET,  a “knowledge network” for  health care and the life sciences. ( True,  they are my client, but I AM pleased).

The network now has 10 thousand member/experts and is seeking additional ones.  Members are leading scientists, physicians, practitioners, academics and industry professionals who are  paid their hourly rates to provide Scientia and its clients with analyses, opinions, surveys and consultation on life science tools and technologies, medical devices, diagnostics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, functional foods, and regulatory issues.

The member/experts typically consult with business leaders and decision-makers on industry trends and developments, operational problems/solutions, or specific products/services.

If you’d like to become a ScientiaNET member or engage one (or many)   please visit www.scientiaadv.com


Scientia Advisors, based in Cambridge, MA and Palo Alto, CA, is a global management consulting firm specializing in strategic growth and operational strategies  for major and emerging companies in health care and the life sciences.

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.

Thought you might like to know that my client, Scientia Advisors, is offering five free Webinars aimed at helping major corporations, emerging companies and innovative startups choose strategic directions.

The Webinars, in February, 2009, will present Scientia’s latest industry reviews. The reviews are based on interviews with scientists, clinicians, manufacturers, and product developers as well as on traditional market research.

The Webinars will initially be presented live, with opportunities for interactive participation.  Less-detailed Webcasts will subsequently be available for download from the Scientia Advisors Web site.

Here’s the schedule; click on any of the titles for more information or to register.

· Riding the High Value In Vitro Diagnostics Wave: Translating Promise Into Clinical Reality With Managing Partner Harry Glorikian, 11 AM Tuesday, February 10

· Back to the Future: Cell Market Entrance Strategies, Post-Stem Cell Deregulation

With Partner Arshad Ahmed, 11 AM Wednesday, February 11

· Drivers of Success in Functional Foods
With Principal Bob Jones 2 PM Wednesday, February 11

· Molecular Diagnostics: Identifying Candidates for Success in an Innovation-Driven Market

With Harry Glorikian, 11 AM Thursday, February 12

· Point of Care: Enabling Broad Product Adoption Through Maximized Access to Health Care Sites
With Harry Glorikian, 11 AM Thursday, February 19

Scientia Advisors, based in Cambridge, MA and Palo Alto, CA, is an international management consulting firm specializing in growth and operational strategies for major and emerging companies in health care, life science and biotechnology.

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group, of Cambridge, MA.