Lyman BioPharma Consulting LLC

Advice and Resources for the Biotech Industry

Advice and Resources for the Biotech Industry

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Summer Reading List 2019


Photo Credit: Josh Lyman


Summer Reading List 2019

It’s time once again for my annual roundup of some of the best books I read this year. As usual, my focus is mostly on nonfiction tales from the world of science, medicine, and technology. A master list of all books that I recommend can be found here, and you can also check out my previous book recommendations from 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.

I couldn’t wait to read John Carryrou’s detailed expose about biotech shooting star Theranos Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (2018), and it didn’t disappoint. This book recounts all of the sordid details of the company’s meteoric rise and spectacular flameout amid accusations of fraud, intimidation, and paranoia. It’s as engaging a read as you will find in any contemporary detective story. CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes and her boyfriend/business partner/company enforcer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani are the villains eventually toppled by investor lawsuits and federal civil and criminal charges. The book traces the early days of Theranos from an idea of Stanford dropout Holmes as it steadily builds itself into one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable unicorns (startups that are worth more than $1B on paper). However, the company had a fatal flaw: it was a tech company with no solid science behind it. The eventual crash and burn was inevitable, but the lies, intimidation tactics, secrecy, and bullying all add up to a terrible tale of talents wasted and patients harmed. Employee turnover was tremendous. Questioning of the company’s efforts to build a blood analyzer using finger pinpricks (instead of venous draws) were met with dismissal. Tremendous courage is displayed by former employees as well as the author, all of whom faced serious threats of financial and professional ruin at the hands of Theranos’s ultra-aggressive lawyers. What really amazed me was how many of Theranos’s investors failed to demand proof that the company’s technology actually worked. Some of them, including individuals (e.g. Betsy DeVos) and organizations (Safeway and Walgreens) lost tens of millions of dollars when this technological house of cards collapsed. The story also illustrates the danger in having a board of directors (made up almost entirely of political movers and shakers) who knew absolutely nothing about science and biotech. It’s a well-told cautionary tale for entrepreneurs, biotech investors, and those who seek employment at these types of companies.
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HPV Cancer Resources: My New Website for Parents, Patients, Partners, and Healthcare Providers


Today’s blog post is a little different. I wanted to share with you some exciting news about my new website: HPV Cancer Resources. I spent much of the summer putting together this new and very comprehensive website with the following goals in mind:

To spread awareness about HPV, a virus that causes six different types of cancer in people.

To educate parents about, and advocate for, the safe and effective HPV vaccine, which can prevent infection with the virus and thereby block the development of these cancers.

To refute misinformation about the safety and efficacy of the HPV (and other) vaccines by anti-vaccine groups that is, unfortunately, widespread on the Internet.

To share an organized collection of resources specifically curated for HPV cancer patients and their family members.

To provide basic information for all new cancer patients about the different types of scans and cancer treatments, how tumors are staged, how clinical trials work (and how to find one), and much more.

Those were my goals, but who did I design this website for?
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The HPV Vaccine: Preventing Cancer Beats Treating It


You don’t have to be an oncologist to know that fighting cancer is tough. Nearly 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and about 600,000 will die from the disease. But here’s some good news: overall U.S. cancer deaths have been in a steep decline for over 25 years. Much of this reduction is tied to a decline in smoking, along with early detection of some cancers (e.g. colon), and more effective cancer therapies. While treatments against some particular types of cancer have advanced greatly, it’s still a disease no one wants to face. Fighting an opponent that you can never be really sure you’ve defeated challenges both the physical strength and mental fortitude of those who’ve been diagnosed. I know because I’ve been there.

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Summer Reading List 2016: More True Tales to Inform and Amuse You


Following an enthusiastic response to my
summer reading list from last year, I decided to once again recommend a number of non-fiction, bioscience and medicine based books that I read this past year. The majority of these were recently published, although some are “oldies but goodies” that contain nicely written stories that are well worth your efforts to track them down. Here’s the list:
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