Wednesday, September 30, 2009

21 trends in human genomics in 2009: peering into the Genetic Future

It may be the fall, so what better time to check in to see how some of the major predicted trends are playing out in the human genomics field in 2009 – in research outcomes, as well as shifts in the rapidly-evolving consumer genomics industry.

Here are predictions made by Daniel MacArthur of Genetic Future for the emerging (and ongoing) trends of 2009 in the field of human genomics:
  1. 2009 will be the year of rare variants for common diseases.
  2. Genome-wide association studies of common variants will exceed the 100,000-sample mark, but provide diminishing returns in terms of convincing associations.
  3. The validation of many newly-discovered variants will prove difficult.
  4. Isolated populations will provide a powerful source of new genetic variants for common diseases and other complex traits.
  5. Attention will move gradually away from complex diseases and towards the genetic dissection of disease-related traits.
  6. The causal variants underlying some genome-wide association signals will be mapped, while others will prove elusive.
  7. Human genetics will become more intimidatingly complex than ever.
  8. There will be increasing emphasis on the functional validation of signals identified by genome-wide association studies.
  9. Studies incorporating individuals from multiple populations will be fruitful in mapping causal variants, and uncovering differences in disease genes between human groups.
  10. Most of the "missing heritability" will stay missing.
  11. Still, clinically usefully genetic tests for some complex diseases will be developed.
  12. Genetic variants underlying complex psychiatric diseases will remain largely elusive.
  13. We will start to see "bad" genome-wide association studies.
  14. There will be a proliferation of new companies attempting to gain a share of the personal genomics market, most of whom will sink rapidly into obscurity.
  15. We will not see a retail complete genome sequence offered for less than $1000.
  16. Mainstream personal genomics companies will offer affordable large-scale (but not whole-genome) sequencing, with disappointing results.
  17. Navigenics will not come to dominate the consumer genomics market.
  18. The personal genomics industry will begin to blur out of existence. By this I don't mean that demand for personal genomics will disappear, but rather that the industry will cease to exist as a discrete, monolithic entity.
  19. The regulatory landscape will shift - but in which direction?
  20. There will be an uptick in "it's all lies" stories about personal genomics, impacting on public perception of the industry.
  21. Genetic ancestry will bring in big money, but it will trigger a backlash from indigenous populations.
Click here to read the full commentary of his predictions.

According to its profile, the mission of MacArthur’s Genetic Future blog is to cut through the hype associated with the brave new world of human genomics. It reports on the latest findings from genome-wide association studies and large-scale sequencing projects investigating the genetic underpinnings of common disease, putting their results in context and in language that consumers can understand.

MacArthur also reviews the scientific basis and usability of products offered by commercial genetic testing companies, dissecting the studies used by these companies to justify their expensive tests, and describing in plain language how useful such tests are likely to be to consumers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

5 e-books released as Innovation Classics series

Innovation Classics is a new series of e-books dedicated to collecting and publishing the best – or perhaps the underappreciated – innovation writing of the past. The first set of Innovation Classics includes well-known stories:
  • No Animal Food by Rupert H. Wheldon
  • Notes on Nursing by Florence Nightingale
  • Chocolate: Or, An Indian Drinke by Capt. James Wadsworth
  • Medical Essays by Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Grappling with the Monster by T.S. Arthur
In the “Editor’s Introduction” to each e-book, we explain how the book relates to current health, science, and technology innovation.

The Innovation Classics series of e-books in pdf format can be downloaded at no charge by visiting our website. Click here to download your free e-books.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

4 health sites that offer something new (or improved)

Blog entry submitted by Katelyn Phillips, one of our "Stin-terns"

For the past few years, I’ve been getting all my medical advice from my most trusted health advisor: WebMD. Unfortunately, we’ve had a rather tumultuous relationship. It’s always the same thing: I feel a new pain somewhere on my body, I enter my symptoms on, and I am told that I basically dying from either some form of cancer, or a rare strain of some awful virus. So imagine my relief after I encountered the article, “What’s New (Or Improved) In Health Sites” in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the article, health-care sites are dramatically evolving into more than just medical “encyclopedias for dummies” and symptom checkers. Sites are finally being receptive to consumer health concerns, “including prescription drug safety, quality of care, and the ability to network with other patients facing similar health problems.” Sites such as Microsoft Health Vault even offer patients the option of storing – and later sharing – health records online. Of course, this is controversial due to privacy issues and whatnot, but for patients with multiple doctors performing multiple tests, it can be extremely helpful, even lifesaving.

Even more sites are focused on helping patients manage their care more effectively and efficiently. Here’s a quick sampling of some new – or improved – health sites to whet your appetite: - Option to “fill out an online form on the medications you take, and the institute will send you information on drug-safety ratings, possible interactions among your medications, side effects, and reviews from other patients” – all for free! - Allows consumers to compare how hospitals in their areas are performing on various measures of safety and care

HazMap ( - Database providing information on “exposure to chemicals and biologic substances at work and with certain hobbies”
- Links together 24 separate health sites, including for pregnancy and for posting patient progress, as well as provides custom health resources

It’s nice to know there are more options available for patients and consumers to reference as a second opinion when WebMD is diagnosing a death sentence. For more information on other new or improved health sites, click here to check out the rest of the article.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

4 top-performing healthcare companies are adapting to changing market forces

The blog was written by Robb Hughes, our finance manager and one of the newest innovators on our team.

Every year BusinessWeek analyzes the trailing 36 months average return on capital (EBIT/[long-term debt + equity]) and sales growth for all of the companies listed in its sister company's S&P 500 index and then ranks fifty standouts to the BusinessWeek 50 Best Performing Companies list.

This year's “BusinessWeek 50” is teeming with game changing health sciences companies like #1 Gilead Sciences, #12 Varian Medical Systems, #22 Express Scripts and #33 Waters. Pioneering companies like Apple, Google, Starbucks and also met the financial criteria to be included.

Common tactics or tools used by many of the finalist on this year's list include:
  • Generous pay for performance incentives that align employee interests’ with owners
  • Employment of experimental technologies for product differentiation
  • Disruptive and innovative strategies
These traits shouldn't be surprising in view of results of a McKinsey study on performance conducted in 2002. McKinsey studied 1,000 companies over an 18-year period. The study showed that "those that made the biggest leaps in profitability were often the ones that increased their spending on acquisitions and innovation the most amid recessions."

Coincidentally, the #1 Performer on this year's list, Gilead Sciences, is a member of the pharmaceutical industry. For those new to our blog, Stinson Brand Innovation, is a global health, science, and technology brand consultancy. We help define the core strengths of brands like Gilead Sciences.

Gilead's original approach to simplifying complicated drug regimens, especially those for HIV/AIDS, has been a key factor in it successfully surpassing $5.3B in sales and better than $2B in net income.

Like many of the 33 returning companies to BW's list, Gilead is not new to the BW 50. The lucrative returns from its popular treatments for HIV/AIDS have positioned Gilead on BW's list for five years running. Sales growth over the past three years eclipsed 38% with an average return on capital exceeding 43%. These returns were the rewards for a well executed game changing strategy that put patients back in control of their lives.

Previously, HIV/AIDS patients took cocktails of medications that sometimes had to be administered intravenously. Gilead was among the first companies to invent a once-a-day-pill. According to the article, "today, nearly 8 out of every 10 new patients diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. start on Gilead drugs and, typically, remain on them for many years." Even as the company tries to grow the drug into untapped markets, the company is beginning to focus on a new strategy: broaden the usage of once-a-day pills into other disease areas such as Hep B and C that have patient pools much larger than the U.S. HIV population.

Gilead isn’t immune to the recession. It is predicting lower sales for 2009, like most companies, but instead of nailing down the hatches and playing defense, Gilead will invest $1.4B to purchase CV Therapeutics, a cardiovascular disease drug developer.

At Stinson Brand Innovation, our expertise is assisting specialty pharmaceutical companies do more than map their strategies and tactics that achieve successful commercialization and sustainable competitive advantage like Gilead has. We employ a tool called Strategic GPS® that can create an advanced guidance system for a life science brand that helps move the product adoption curve forward, faster.

For more about Stinson’s Strategic GPS® tool read our white paper #20 “How to Create a Guidance System for Life Science Brands.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

4 ways to repurpose failed innovation

Sometimes inventions just don't pan out. But they may turn out to be useful if you apply them to other challenges.

And as recession-racked companies search for ways to cut costs, some are rediscovering innovations in previously unsuccessful projects.

Here are four tips on making the most of first-round disappointments:
  1. Prepare for comebacks -- Notes should read like how-to manuals so any product or process can be easily replicated.
  2. Regularly review shelved ideas -- A specific person or team must reevaluate disappointing inventions periodically.
  3. Try them again elsewhere -- Look for ways that flawed projects might solve problems in other arenas.
  4. Look into the future -- Project how technological advances could transform yesterday's ideas into breakthroughs.
Read more ideas at "IN: Inside Innovation."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

4 SEO Tips to Move Your Brand Up -- in the Search Results

This blog is by Greg Dosmann, our Associate Creative Director and rockin' web CHEMist

Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are not quite rocket science; they can be implemented by anyone who wishes to increase the exposure of their web site business.

SEO is all about optimization and is crucial for success on the web. By optimization, I mean two types of methods:
  • On-Page optimization -- editing the web site code and content keyword research, choosing the best keywords used to find your business and coupling this with relevant content that is useful to your readers.
  • Off-Page Optimization -- back linking from quality sites that sell or display information related to your business. This is best achieved through contextual one-way links to your site from a high traffic site where your target audience will browse for information on your products. One-way links shine bright in the eyes of Google, if they are relevant
B to B Magazine recently published a list by Stephen Riegel, director of search and co-founder of Faction Media.

His 4 tips on nudging up the SEO rankings are simple and can be implemented with little effort.
  1. Describe yourself. You should not have “Home” as a descriptor of business in search results unless you’re a Realtor or a builder. Every page on your site should have a unique title and description based on page’s content.
  2. Check title tags. Title tags are among the most important elements of most search engines’ algorighms. Meta information helps the search engines define content as well as provide added relevancy to searchers.
  3. Optimize keywords. Capture your sites internal search results to understand the content navigation needs of your audience. Isolate the terms that are leading towards success and test these directly in a “pay per click” environment.
  4. Localize. Whether you sell directly or through distribution channels, you can support your sales efforts by placing detailed sales contact information on your site. Let your audiences know where and how they can contact you or your distribution partners at the most local of levels.
When you look at it, it’s really another application of C.H.E.M.®
  • Connect relevant information to your website.
  • Honestly define the content of the pages.
  • Easy to optimize content because you know it best.
  • Motivate your audience to locate and contact you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you “hear” me now? Telemedicine networks save critical time

Today's blog is written by Layne Shapiro, one of our brand engagement managers.

With new technologies available, how can the healthcare industry improve patient care while maintaining patient confidentiality? Remote access improves efficiencies across many industries, and it’s finally beginning to be implemented in the healthcare industry.

Patient privacy concerns have slowed the healthcare industry from moving to remote access solutions. With the passing of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the demand for privacy and security of electronic healthcare information has increased. With HIPPA, compliance is not a choice - it’s a requirement. Since remote access can lower costs, raise productivity and improve patient care, there is an increase interest in providing remote access while maintaining patient privacy.

Healthcare professionals frequently require timely access to confidential patient information in order to provide the highest quality care, which in some cases can mean the difference between life and death. With Skype and Google Videochat already offering live-streaming video communication, it only makes sense to use this technology to improve access to healthcare via telemedicine. Now doctors can view patients from anywhere telemedicine is available online instead of staying at the office all hours. Expert specialty physicians practice at specialized centers and have limited accessibility. With the use of live-streaming video and audio communication, access to care will be increased and critical time can be saved improving diagnosis and increasing the frequency of appropriate treatment choice.

Eventually, if telemedicine networks connect with a majority of the specialty physicians it would increase access to care for people through the world. This would allow for preliminary review immediately, even if the patient requires a visit during the night. With increased access to care, the demand for the highest quality of care would increase and we could begin to see outsourcing for initial diagnosis.

Monday, September 14, 2009

6 Ways Branding Can Address Current BioPharma Trends -- free teleseminar for Mid-Atlantic brand marketers Thurs 9/17 at noon

We at STINSON Brand Innovation have been following the developments of the biopharma corridor that extends across the Mid-Atlantic states - including Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky.

The Mid-Atlantic region is home to more than 15,000 health, science, and technology companies. The region enjoys vibrant entrepreneurial leaders, proximity to FDA, NIH and other federal labs, as well as a diverse mix of research universities and medical centers.

In just the last month, we have established a Mid-Atlantic region business development presence out of Charlotte, NC. Our target is emerging life sciences companies, along with biopharma companies with products in earlier stages of development

Now, we're offering our first educational event specifically created for Mid-Atlantic biopharma companies.

Date: Thursday, September 17, 2009
Time: 12:00 1:00 PM Eastern

Teleseminar Overview:

Is your product "stuck" because of internal resource limitation? Stuck because of external forces like changes in regulation and industry practices? Stuck with low brand awareness, attitude, or usage? Stuck with the same old promotional tactics? Stuck with unenthusiastic meetings and conventions? Worst of all, stuck on a flat sales curve?

Do you need some new and innovative ideas to accelerate the adoption of your brand?

If so, join a select number of your professional colleagues on Thursday, September 17, for a free teleseminar on How to Accelerate Your Brand.

What you will learn:
  • What is "brand innovation"?
  • What makes a brand more likeable?
  • Why is your brand more than a logo?
  • What does your brand offer to the customer and how is that what you're really selling?
  • What brand associations can be connected to your product?
  • What is your brand experience and how can it make the most difference?
Register now at

Seeing the same brand hallmarks in new ways: Lessons for N-of-8 from “Indiana Jones”

When using the N-of-8 process, it’s important to remember that you’re not just writing a story – you’re developing a BRAND story.

So the core brand hallmarks must be presented and maintained consistently. But that doesn’t mean the story can’t be told in many different ways.

Consider the series of Indiana Jones movies. The respected, intellectual professor pulls off his bow tie and glasses to search for treasure. Even across four installments, there are elements that make an “Indiana Jones” story:
  • Jaunts to exotic destinations
  • Dodging booby traps
  • Fighting hand-to-hand with the bad guys
  • Unearthing ancient ruins
  • Hacking through jungles
  • Taking unusual transportation
  • Dining on spectacular, even bizarre meals
  • Snakes!
And there are the hallmarks of Indiana Jones’ personal brand: hat, whip, watch, journal, unshaven beard, even the influences of his father.

With these central and fundamental ingredients, many stories can be crafted with their own unique locations, characters, plots, dangers, and fantasies.

It can be extended from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, and 20 years later, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What’s more, it can provide the story platform of media extensions into TV series, pinball and video games, and an amusement park ride.

Far from limiting your creative potential, defining the brand hallmarks gives a structure to which you can then build endless story possibilities.

The same principles can be seen when analyzing other popular movies series, like Star Wars, James Bond, Pink Panther, and Rocky. That’s why I often use these as a warm-up exercise with our creative teams before we start writing stories for N-of-8 groups. It helps us find parallels, archetypes, villains, conflicts, and climaxes. We recall the look of the titles and credits. We even sing the theme song or hum the main chorus.

As you begin crafting your brand’s story, put together a list of the escapades you’ll experience – plunging into a pit of snakes, cruising around on elephants, hitching a ride of a zeppelin, or searching for the Holy Grail.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

GM "Reinvention"

When General Motors executives heard the pitch for a mea culpa TV commercial titled "Reinvention" - which is airing now and ends with the line "The only chapter we're focused on is chapter one" - the brass needed convincing. (Click on the image below to view the spot.)

"They had to man up and own their mistakes," says Eric Hirshberg, president and ad maker Deutsch LA. For GM and Chrysler, getting people to buy their cars is a marketing challenge for the ages.

Here's how five advertising gurus would go about, as they told Newsweek writer Matthew Phillips:
  1. Sell the cars, not the companies. The GM and Chrysler logos smack of failure, but some of the cars still have cachet. "Push Cadillac," says Crispin Porter + Bogusky's Chuck Porter. "Push minivans. Chrysler invented them."
  2. Stop sugarcoating. Prior to "Reinvention," GM ran a cringeworthy ad that said, "America needs a comeback. Let's put on our rally caps." Rally caps? "That's dangrous," says Euro RSCG's Andrew Bennett. "It evokes pity."
  3. Give us real people. If you take the misty-eyed approach, focus on people whom we'd actually root for. "Show me plants shutting down; let me hear the workers," says Element79 CCO Dennis Ryan. "That story's powerful."
  4. Embrace changing habits. Car ads don't get us into the dealer anymore, they make us feel good after we've left. "People seek the ads to justify the purchase," says Interbrand's David Martin. So remind us why we love your cars.
  5. Be the future. Automakers need to talk about next-wave strategies: building from the buyer's specs, no more one-car-fits-all. "What they're doing feels very 1970s, like gray-haired marketing," says Anne Bologna, CEO of Toy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

11x26 mm pill with microprocessor -- The iPill

Today's blog was submitted by Norah Tang, an intern with our company and a student at University of Illinois at Chicago in public relations and communications.

It has been a year since Philips announced the patent for its cutting-edge R&D efforts in the development of a remote control pill known as iPill.

The 11-by-26-millimeter capsule is a reality now.

The iPill is a miniature capsule packed with a microprocessor, power supply, medicine reservoir and pump, and a radio. The greatest feature of the pill is to allow doctors to deliver drugs to any particular area by navigating the human digestive system via gauging pH levels, and then communicating to the outside unit via wireless transmitters.

According to Philips, though the current design is a prototype, it is suitable for serial manufacturing.

Click here to view a video on this amazing little robot pill.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

17.5% drop in Gatorade brand sales - but they still say "G" is not a gamble

PepsiCo Inc. executives say a high-profile makeover of its Gatorade sports drink is on track despite recent weak sales, and they plan to introduce an array of new beverages to appeal to consumers who have drifted away from the powerhouse brand. This according to a posting on

In an interview, PepsiCo's Americas Beverages chief Massimo d'Amore said that a new marketing campaign with a big letter "G" is proceeding "fully in line with our plan." Internal research conducted by the company shows that the "G" campaign scores high in the "coolness factor," he said.

A summer promotion offering Gatorade in limited-edition bottles that feature Michael Jordan is exceeding expectations, he said.

"We did not just decide to change the identity on the back of an envelope," Mr. d'Amore said. "'G' is not a gamble. 'G' is a deliberate strategy that will work in the long run."

In January, PepsiCo ran teaser television, online and print advertisements asking, "What's G?" During the Super Bowl, advertising revealed that "G" was Gatorade, "the heart, hustle and soul of athleticism" as bottles hit store shelves.

In the first six months of this year, sales volume dropped 17.5%, according to estimates from Beverage Digest, an industry publication. That caused Gatorade to lose 4.5% in share of the sports drink market, but the brand still dominates the category with a 75% share. Soft beverage sales in the Americas and currency fluctuations weighed on the company's second-quarter profit of $1.66 billion, down 2% from $1.7 billion. Revenue fell 3% to $10.59 billion.

Pepsi says Gatorade sales have been hurt by a weak economy. Casual consumers who bought the sports drink because it was cool - not to replenish themselves after a workout - are seeking out cheaper alternatives, particularly tap water, the company says. They have also been drawn to other products such as enhanced water and tea, executives say.

Chairman and Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said, in a Wednesday, July 22 earnings conference call with analysts and investors, that during the housing boom, construction workers en route to job sites routinely bought a half-dozen bottles of Gatorade each morning at convenience stores. That's not happening now, she said.

"We grew past our core occasions," Mr. d'Amore said. "The key question we should debate is, should we chase those occasions or not?"

Click here to read more.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

4 billion opportunities for mobile computing innovations

The blog today is written by Peter Erickson, one of our Verbal Brand CHEM-ists (and mobile evangelist)

A recent article in NYSE Magazine quoted Nokia’s market research that “indicates sometime in the next 12 months the number of people around the world who have cell phones will surpass the 4 billion individuals who use a toothbrush.”

World dental hygiene notwithstanding, this data points to the reach and potential impact of cell phones in our world. The article continues by focusing on the news that Visa and Nokia have teamed up to produce an application that enables next-gen Nokia phone users to access their Visa accounts worldwide, pay for goods and services, transfer money, receive real-time alerts on account activity, and receive discount offers. Consumers don’t even have to live near a bank or ATM.

The Apple iPhone message that “there’s an app for that” makes it clear that not only are mobile computing innovations enabling consumers to do more, they have expanded the range of where information can be exchanged and commerce conducted.

Regardless what device or computing platform we us, mobile innovations like these are making a positive impacting our work and personal lives through increased productivity. And now, many of these consumer-driven innovations have migrated to the healthcare field.

Imagine that your physician can access highly detailed patient information regardless of the practice office. It’s already available. The physician can manage a patient’s health wherever the physician and patient meet – even evaluate and authorize prescriptions. In addition, mobile computing is enabling healthcare professionals to access CME programming though the handsets, and even listen to streaming content design specifically for them.

Our Stinson Brand Innovation White Paper #60: A Look in the Crystal Ball covers this topic in more detail. To read more on mobile computing innovations in the healthcare environment, click here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"Aja" performed by Steely Dan at Chicago Theatre -- the brand was remarkable and musically perfect

I used to listen to my "Aja" album til the grooves wore out. And I may know nearly every note and word. So I expected to really enjoy Monday’s concert that featured the super-duo performing the album in its entirety.

But I never expected such “sonic brand perfection” as I experienced.

Donald Fagen, Walter Becker – along with a full band and Dan-ettes back up singers – gave a remarkable and musically perfect show of their best record.

From the first chords of “Black Cow” and into the dime-dancing title track “Aja,” Fagen established his stage centerpiece. And even better, there was no audience chit-chat until the whole album was played. “Peg,” “Deacon Blues,” “Home at Last,” “I Got the News,” and “Josie” were each delivered better than the last.

Finally, Fagen welcomed us with “Hi ya, kids.” Then took us right back to the ‘70s with their brand of jazz-rock-blues fusion we came for. Jenny and I have adopted “Hey Nineteen” as our anthem. We also imagined if the group could ever play “Time Out of Mind” at places like, say, the White House. I thought the Dan-ettes put new attitude behind “Dirty Work.” And I waited patiently to the encore to sing along with “Reelin’ in the Years” at the top of my voice. (The only regret is that someone did indeed lose Rikki’s number.)

I have seen all the classic brand-name acts in concert, and this will absolutely go down as one of my top ever.