The #ART component of Business-Art-Technology for 2018

B&M photo Keith Spiro article Cryer excerpt #BAT2018ART  – The #ART component of Business-Art-Technology for 2018.  The next set of #BAT2018 awards.

Previously we recognized the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, founded in 1929, as an organization worthy of #BAT2018 note.  Now let’s explore what it takes to be heard. Winning organizations captures our imagination and move us to action.  Whether the message is subtle or loud, we take note because a vision of possibility appeals to us. Cancer is a myriad of diseases and the painstaking attention to detail and large funding requirements need solid coordination.

MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research was formed just 8 years ago to bring together biologists, chemists and engineers. These top-of-field researchers and post docs come from focus areas of chemical and mechanical engineering, material and computer science in a collaborative approach to develop new insights and new tools to diagnose, treat and or prevent the disease.

Their ranks are filled with people elected to the National Academy of Engineering, Sciences or Medicine and five current or former faculty members have been awarded the Nobel Prize.  PhilSharp_DSC5998KSwC_©KeithSpiroPhoto I’ve had the opportunity to hear and speak with Nobel Laureate Phillip Sharp, a geneticist.  He was keynote speaker at the 8th annual Kendall Square Association meeting and used humor and video clips to drive home the message to the audience: Research is Important. The money spent today delivers life-saving miracles down the road through meticulous research and collaborative efforts.  The time-frame is a long one and the fundraising efforts to put money directly in the hands of researchers is often convoluted and confusing. Fundraising costs and overhead often eat away at the net sum delivered to a laboratory.

One way Phillip Sharp reached beyond the boundaries was to get involved with the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up to Cancer initiative as chair of their Scientific Committee. Just imagine the exchange of skill sets when Hollywood and a Nobel Laureate collaborate.

On the ground floor of the building in which he and his collaborators work is a public gallery.B&M_Maria KSwC_20180122_153145_©KeithSpiroPhoto From the outside it looks like an art exhibit with these huge wall hangings. Executive Director Anne E. Deconinck explained that the annual Koch Institute Image Awards were established to recognize and publicly display the extraordinary visuals that can give scientists and non-scientists alike a glimpse into what was previously the nearly invisible biological world. There’s engineering and biology and a bit of humor because upon close inspection of the works, you find inspiring titles like “shape shifters: cancer cells in motion” and “Hashtag no filter: visualizing breast cancer conversations.”

The public galleries help educate and engage the non-science public. The images are amazingly effective. What might have been viewed as an everyday object to scientists with limited audience is now a cloth printed window display into their world. Most importantly, it is now understandable and viewable by the public, a necessary part of transforming health by supporting and funding research.

B&M_Maria Anne KSwC_20180122_151411_©KeithSpiroPhoto

Explaining the concept of the public gallery and annual image contest

Traveling with me on my most recent trip to the Koch Institute was Maine Acrylic artist Maria Castellano-Usery looking to gain additional insights to accelerate the fundraising efforts of her Brushstrokes with Impact™ program. Where Koch is a research institution using social media and visual displays to humanize and raise awareness for the need of everyday citizens to support research, Maria is an artist using real-time events and social media to raise funds for and increase awareness of critical programs in the underfunded areas where an engaged citizenry rather than government entities can make a difference.

B&M_Anne Maria KSwC_20180122_152413_©KeithSpiroPhoto

Artist Maria Castellano-Usery & Ki Executive Director Anne E. Deconinck

Both The Koch Institute and Maria Castellano-Usery create strong community engagement through social media, posted content and video. They key in on effective communication with a clear, concise message that uses visuals. Each in their own way are raising awareness and encouraging a community to support and take action. Their work today insures tomorrow’s health miracles will happen.

Business, Art and Technology are working seamlessly here.  The internet is a great equalizer – and amplifier.  It doesn’t matter if you are a large institution with lots of walls to overcome or an individual contributor with a message to share,  B- A – T spell success on many levels.

For compelling use of Art, I give a #BAT2018 award to artists like Maria and institutions like the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

The Boston & Maine Connection – Running Away from a Cure

This is a transcription of the original article published in The CRYER on June 1, 2015. You can see the original published article here.

The Boston & Maine Connection – Running Away from a Cure?
Shocking news to many of us, but not to the scientific community, is the future outcome of the growing gap of funded research. Recent breakthroughs to slowing terrible diseases are often the result of ten to twenty or more years of research. The breakthroughs we see today, exist because our parents generation invested in pure research. Our government in the 1980’s & 90’s saw to it that the National Institute of Health gave out significant grants for research to the nation’s colleges to insure todays breakthroughs in gene sequencing. The genome has led the way to precision medicine and precision or personal medicine is a hot topic in Boston Biotech these days. Xconomy covers this topic extensively.Noubar Afarian Flagship Ventures I learned these things at the National Press Club in Washington DC last month, where Dr. Fred Alt of Boston Children’s Hospital and a Howard Hughes Medical institute Investigator as well as a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, was being honored for his lifelong work.

Dr. Alt was in Washington DC to receive the prestigious Szent-Gyorgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research from the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR). This prize was named for 1937 Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi of Vitamin C fame.  United States Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts was the keynote speaker. Both Dr. Alt and Senator Markey shared the theme that was echoed by many of the research scientists there to honor one of their own.  Our current medical breakthroughs are the result of investment in the research, twenty and more years ago, of earlier generations of scientists doing pure science.

These venues allowed for accidental discoveries that led to more focused breakthroughs in treatment of some of humankinds most feared diseases. Today, however, with significant curtailment of federal funding and the introduction of Venture Capitalist investments focused on more precise commercial results means a growing gap between Return on Investment (ROI) focused research and any chance of random discoveries to help the next and much, much smaller generation of researchers.

DSC_8938          I asked Dr. Alt about his biggest concerns for the future and his answer was as direct as it was concerning. With NIH cuts to school research labs we have all but eliminated jobs for Post Doc Researchers in labs. Potential future scientists are driven away from research right out of the starting block.  Without funding, Post Doc researchers can’t afford to stay in the field. No research. No funding. No future discoveries.

The popular campaigns for any specific human cancer of interest (breast, lung, prostrate, etc.) is really Old School when genome breakthroughs in places like Broad Institute in Cambridge Massachusetts are beginning to allow for investigations of the source of, rather than the manifestation of, a person’s disease, the metastasis of which is the real killer. Precision medicine is a new, growing and exciting frontier for health at the intersection of technology and personal, precision medicine.

I have taken an interest in the work of David Bjork and the NFCR. Their rallying cry is the purple ribbon, for all cancers because they know that funding pure research is the best thing we can do to put the next generation into the laboratory. Small grants of as little as $50,000 can provide a one year guarantee of employment for a Post Doc Candidate in a promising path of research. In the past forty years, the NFCR has distributed over $300 Million dollar to researchers all over the United States. New Hampshire, noted for First in the Nation primaries has now added another first with the New Hampshire Youth Lacrosse Association creating Statewide support by one sports league of NFCR’s cornerstone fund raising and awareness vehicle, Play for the Cure.

Play for the Cure NFCR fundraiser  Play for the Cure is in Londonderry NH June 13th  & June 14, 2015. They would love to have your organization step up and support this focus on research program. For more information, check out or call NFCR at 301-654-1250. Robert will most likely answer the phone  and when you call, you’ll see why I call him the Director of First Impressions. Just tell him Keith sent you.