By Dr. Karen Ring, Big3Bio Events Correspondent
The famous quote “publish or perish” doesn’t solely refer to the pressure for academics to publish continuously in order to maintain a successful career. To succeed in the current life sciences industry, biotech, pharma and medical device companies also need to publish their results in peer-reviewed journals to promote and commercialize their technologies.
“How publications drive commercialization” was the title of the event and topic of discussion at Bay Area LifeTech’s (BALT) latest Meetup on Monday, November 10th. The event was held at DLA Piper and featured speakers Jon Block, PhD, and Natalie DeWitt, PhD. Jon is the founder and president of the Jon Block Group, which is a clinical affairs consulting firm that helps clients execute effective publication strategies to expedite regulatory clearance and reimbursement approval on cutting edge technologies. Natalie is a former senior editor for Nature, and currently is the director of research development at Baxter Laboratories at Stanford.
“This event was meant to provide a platform for discussion on what publication strategies biotech companies can use to move their programs forward,” explained BALT founder Luke Lightning, PhD. “The two speakers have phenomenal backgrounds and experience in helping their companies and/or agencies succeed in gaining FDA and/or NIH approval.”
Jon Block opened the discussion with a talk on “Driving Commercialization by Executing a Robust Publication Strategy.” He highlighted the following points:
- The main driver of publications in industry now is reimbursement: if you publish, you will profit.
- Publications promote credibility, drive commercialization, and result in better company valuations.
- Publish early and often to build momentum and control your publication process to create a message that you can disseminate and repeat through future publications.
- Consider quality vs. quantity. Home run publications are always fabulous, but they are rare and short-lived victories. Base hits (more frequent, smaller journal publications) are essential to maintain excitement and interest your technology.
- Have a wide publication scope. Publish in different journals to attract broader audiences and consider different types of publications such as open-access journals, editorials, or commentaries that can provide alternative and insightful scientific perspectives.
Natalie DeWitt continued the conversation by sharing her tips for scientific publishing from an editor’s perspective. Natalie detailed the “ins and outs” of the publication process from submission to acceptance to dealing with rejection letters. She also discussed tips on how to get your paper in top-tier journals such as Cell or Nature, which currently accepts less than 10 percent of total submissions. She explained that publications that make it to the big leagues are conceptually novel (i.e., editors have not heard of the discovery before), are technically convincing, and have findings that important to the field as well as a broad readership.
Natalie kept her talk light by mentioning that high-impact journals like Nature make mistakes (e.g., rejecting the “Kreb’s cycle” paper whose author later received the Nobel Prize), and that you shouldn’t take rejection to heart. She ended by saying that while publications are important, “you shouldn’t judge people’s careers based on publications metrics and journal impact factors. You should look at what they’ve done throughout their careers.”
Overall, the speakers engaged the crowd of more than 50 BALT attendees in a dynamic and informative conversation on how publications are essential for product commercialization and reimbursement and how to pursue the most effective publication strategy in biotech.