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September 26, 2005

Neurology Panel at Dow Jones Health Care Conference on Wednesday

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Posted by Zack Lynch

On Wednesday, I'll be participating in a roundtable neurology panel at the Dow Jones VentureWire Health Care conference at the Sofitel in Redwood City. Roger Quy, partner at Technology Partners will lead the discussion after several company presentations including: David Block, President & CEO, Ruxton Pharmaceuticals; Patricia Kilian, Chief Executive Officer, Kinexis; William Robbins, Chairman, President & CEO, Neurion Pharmaceuticals; Jackson Streeter, Chief Executive Officer, PhotoThera.

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September 14, 2005

Come Discuss the Neurosociety at the University of Pennsylvania's Cognitive Neuroscience Meeting Next Monday

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you are in the Philadelphia area next Monday, come down to the University of Pennsylvania where I will be kicking off their 2005-06 cognitive neuroscience lecture series with a talk on Our Emerging Neurosociety: How Neurotechnology is Shaping Business, Politics and Culture.

Time: Mon, Sep 19 2005, 12:00-1:15PM in Room 400A, 3401 Walnut
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Talks. A big thanks to Martha Farrah for setting this up.

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August 08, 2005

VCs Psyched About Brain Investments - Venture Capital Journal

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Michael Fitzgerald writes about the increasing interest in neurotech companies by the U.S. venture capital community in this month's Venture Capital Journal. Here are a few excerpts from the article which I recommend reading in full here (follow the link).

"The venture business is famous for finding and funding the brainy and their ideas. Now the brain itself is becoming a hot area. One recent example: MPM Capital Partners was so crazy about psychiatric drug maker Somaxon Pharmaceuticals that it led a $65 million round in the company.

Of course, MPM isn't the only VC firm that's gaga over the so-called "neurotechnology" market. Investments in neurotech companies totaled $1.5 billion last year, up from just over $500 million in 1999, according to NeuroInsights, a San Francisco consulting and research firm. Neurotech companies make drugs and devices to treat disorders and diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), most notably the brain, as well as software and other tools to measure and understand the CNS.

Neurotech "is going to be one of several big areas [because] we have an aging population," says Jean George, a general partner at Advanced Technology Ventures of Waltham, Mass.

"Brain imaging is quite high resolution compared to a few years ago and seems to be marching in an exponential curve," says Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson in Menlo Park, Calif. DFJ has invested in two neurotech companies: Everest Biomedical Instruments and Posit Science. Everest, based in Chesterfield, Mo., is developing a device to monitor consciousness. Posit, based in San Francisco, makes software to keep brain activity high later in life.

Still, VCs are likely encouraged by a number of exits in the space. NeuroInsights notes that a dozen neurotech-related companies have gone public since January 2004, 10 of which are VC-backed. Most of the newly public neurotech companies are trading below their IPO prices, but two have done particularly well: Neurometrix and Senomyx. Both are trading at twice their IPO prices.

The biggest winner was New River Pharmaceuticals, which makes treatments for pain and Attention Deficit Disorder. Its stock price has risen more than 240% since its $34 million IPO in August 2004. (New River's private funding came largely from its CEO.)

Jurvetson says neuroscience is filled with exciting scientific breakthroughs, but the business models are still unclear. Posit Science, for instance, makes software that competes with pills. How should its products be priced? What are its competitive issues? Jurvetson says the model is still being defined.

That's true for neurotech overall, he says. "The pace of learning is very exciting. But the risk is: Are these sciences and technologies that get people excited for their own sake, or is there a real business there?"

Perhaps some wise VC will invest in a company that makes it easier to know such things. Such is the potential for the neurotech market."

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August 02, 2005

Institute For The Future to Explore Neurotech Tomorrow

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be giving a talk at the Institute For the Future (IFTF) titled, The Neurotechnology Industry - The Future is Now. Over the past 10 years I have kept an eye on the IFTF and am always impressed with their exceptional capabilitiy to deliver consistently valuable insight. I look forward to providing them a good dose of NeuroInsights.

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent nonprofit research group that works with organizations of all kinds to help them make better, more informed decisions about the future. I recommend their blog (FutureNow), if you don't know about it. They are known for taking an explicitly global approach to strategic planning, linking macro trends to local issues in such areas as:

Work and daily life
Technology and society
Health and health care
Global business trends
Changing consumer society

Here are some of the points I will be covering:

• The Global neurotech industry (pharma, devices, diagnostics)
A $1 Trillion problem
The growing mental illness epidemic
• Social, regulatory, investment and technology drivers
Our Emerging Neurosociety (neuromarketing)

A special thanks to Steve King for setting this up and to Paul Saffo for encouraging me to speak at the Arab Strategy Forum last December in Dubai.

The Institute is based in California's Silicon Valley, in a community at the crossroads of technological innovation, social experimentation, and global interchange. Founded in 1968 by a group of former RAND Corporation researchers with a grant from the Ford Foundation to take leading-edge research methodologies into the public and business sectors, the IFTF is committed to building the future by understanding it deeply.

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April 19, 2005

Tonight - MIT Stanford Venture Lab Tackles Neurotech

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Posted by Zack Lynch

For those of you in the SF/Bay Area this evening:

Don't miss tonight's MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, where Jeffrey Ostrove, CEO of Ceregene; David Mack, Director of early life science investments at Alta Partners; David Summa, President and CEO of Acumen Pharmaceuticals; Thorsten Melcher, Vice President of Discovery at Saegis Pharmaceuticals; and Frank Eeckman, Managing Editor of Centient Biotech Investor share the pitfalls and opportunities that face emerging neuropharmaceutical companies in today's investment climate.

Please join me, as I moderate this panel of experts through a discussion that will help entrepreneurs, researchers, venture investors and the general public learn how they too can tap into the booming neurotechnology market.

For those of you not able to attend, please pass this on those who might be interested.

Event Details:
Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Time: 6:00 PM - Reception, Arbuckle Lounge, Stanford Business School
7:00 PM - Presentation & Discussion, Bishop Auditorium, SBS
Directions: (Click here)
Registration: (click here)

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May 22, 2004

Friday Forward - Neurotechnology at US

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Here is a shorter interview I recently had with US in their Friday Forward column.

Here is an overview:

Next News: What is the current state of neuroscience? Give me a feel for where we are right now.

Lynch: We have learned more about the human brain in the past five years than in the previous 25. The reason for this dramatic increase comes from the convergence of information being created by two technologies. First, from the outside, today's brain imaging technologies now make it possible to track the electrical and chemical activity occurring across the brain in real time. This means that we can distinguish the parts of the brain that are involved in different kinds of emotions and thoughts. Second, breakthroughs in biotechnology allow neuroscientists to understand what is occurring inside the cells in the brain.

Using both of these technologies, neuroscientists are now able to look at the brain from both the outside and inside. I call this the "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup effect," because just like chocolate plus peanut butter creates a better result than either one alone, so too do brain imaging and biotechnology create a much clearer understanding of the brain.

Next News: What real-world application do you see stemming from advances in neuroscience over the next five years or so?

Lynch: The most important application will go toward developing better tools for treating mental illnesses. Today, five of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide—major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, substance abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorders—are mental issues. These problems are as relevant in developing countries as they are in rich ones. And all predictions point toward a dramatic increase in mental illnesses as people live longer.

In the next five years, neurotechnology tools that influence the human brain will prevent memory loss in aging baby boomers. Memory Pharmaceuticals is one recently public company that is currently working on this problem. We are also going to see the development of "neuroceuticals" that will enable the average worker to perform their daily activities in a safer and more effective manner. A good example of this is Provigil, short for "promotes vigilance." Provigil was originally developed to keep narcoleptics from falling asleep. But recently, the FDA approved its use for shift-line workers and truck drivers. This is just the beginning of a much larger trend, where safe neuroceuticals will be used by common individuals to enable them to perform their work more effectively.

As neurotechnology becomes more precise, all aspects of business, including the art of marketing, will be reinvented. Using brain imaging, marketing firms will use brain imaging to understand how and why people buy different products. But "neuromarketing" has a long way to go before we can predict a person's purchasing decisions. But with billions of dollars at stake, the search for the brain's "buy button" will definitely be an area of heavy investment.

Next News: OK, let's be a bit more speculative. What are the possible applications over the next five to 10 years and their impact?

Lynch: Like any new technology, neurotechnology represents both promises and problems. On the upside, we will see new cures for mental illness and expanded opportunities for economic growth. Yet these same technologies raise important ethical questions, especially around brain privacy and your freedom to think about what you want. For example, should the government be able to scan your brain as you walk through an airport to detect if you have been thinking about illegal activities? Simply thinking about an issue, any issue, is not the same as acting on it. Neuroethicists at think tanks like the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics are working hard to promote legislation to protect our freedom to think, without unnecessary government intrusion. Brain privacy is an issue that will come to the forefront of ethics and politics in the coming years.

For more, see the full article here.

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May 19, 2004

The NeuroAge (Zack in Conversation with Neofiles)

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you are interested in why I became interested in neurotechnology and how I think it will impact our future, then you should read this 13-page interview that appears in this month's Neofiles. For me, it all began on a trip to India when I was 13...

The NeuroAge: Zack Lynch In Conversation With R.U. Sirius

NEOFILES: How did you get involved in brain research and brain science?

ZACK LYNCH: Well, my background is in evolutionary biology and economics and my wife is a neuroscientist. My brother, who is six years older than I am, was a major influence on me. He is a genetist and has recently starting a company called Sound Pharmaceuticals to restore hearing to the deaf. I did my graduate work in economic geography, which is the historical study of global political economy. Economic geographers try to understand why economies rise and fall where they do.

My passion for the future started when I was thirteen and my mother took me to India. The six weeks I spent at an ashram there changed my life. We were getting in a cab in New Delhi going home. I looked up to my right and I saw this sixty-story building being built. And there was all this scaffolding build out of random wood tied together with random rope and ties of every nature you could possibly think of. And these guys were up 100 feet (plus or minus 35 feet in either direction). And I’m going “Gosh … man along with all the Zebu (cows) … that is a tough way to make a living. Here were these glorious buildings being built along unpaved streets with people living in cardboard boxes with their Zebu (cows). I felt very fortunate to be in the world that I’d been born into.

Well, we got on the 747 flying back to San Francisco and stopped off in Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the airport there, but it’s all marble with Rolex clocks on the walls with diamonds …. And that’s when I realized that I’m already dead. I thought, when those people find out what these people have … the level of disparity, no matter whether or not it’s fair, those people are going to kill these people. So I’ve spent my entire life trying to figure out how, in my own particular way, I could accelerate the project of the peaceful coexistence of humanity.

Here is the link to the full interview:

R.U. Sirius has also interviewed many other individuals that I greatly respect, including:

Steven Johnson in "Hey, Look at My Brain"
Mark Pesce in "Chaos as a Creative Space"
Robert Anton Wilson in "Hang the Tsar"
Wrye Sententia in "Is It Your Brain?"
Cory Doctorow in "Digital Utopia and its Flaws"
David Pearce in "Feeling Groovy, Forever"
Susan Blakemore in "I Mine Meme"
David Pescovitz in "Tools for Brains"

Blogging will be light over the next week as I am off to the 2004 Gruter Institute conference. If it is anything like the 2003 meeting (and it will be) then get ready for some very interesting topics over the following months. Thank you for your continued interest in Brain Waves.

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April 08, 2004

Listen to Neurosociety on Australia's "All In The Mind" National Radio Program

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Listen to Natasha Mitchell, host of Australia's weekly national radio program, All in the Mind, interview me about The Coming of the Neurosociety this Saturday (1:30 pm, Sydney time).

Here is the overview from All in the Mind:

Need a neurocompetitive advantage? Pop a neuroceutical! Pundit Zack Lynch reckons we’re on the cusp of a major technosocial transformation. He predicts the convergence of bits, atoms, neurons and genes are accelerating us towards a neurosociety, where we’ll bust beyond the biological constraints of our evolutionary brain. It’s a brave new world of neuromarketing, neuroweapons and neuroethics. But who will have access to what’s on offer, and will your thoughts remain your own? He joins Natasha Mitchell as this week's feature guest...

And if just can't wait, you can listen to my interview on LA public radio's Digital Village program last week.

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March 29, 2004

Listen to My Live Radio Interview on Neurotechnology

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Posted by Zack Lynch

You've read my thoughts about neurotechnology and our emerging neurosociety, and now you can listen to a live radio interview I did this past Saturday on Digital Village, a weekly public radio program on L.A.'s KPFK (90.7) hosted by Ric Allan and Doran Barons. (audio link can be found here - click on part 2)

The 30 minute interview covers many topics, including:

-How I became interested in neurotechnology
-What is neurotechnology and how it will impact our daily lives
-Freedom of thought and the future of brain scanning technologies
-How neurotechnology will impact the finance industry
-Globalization of the neurotechnology industry
-And a whole lot more....

Please let me know your feedback on my first radio interview. Also, please note that you can now reach Brain Waves via

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