During the last five or six years, I've given a series of talks about the importance of embracing serendipity in industrial R&D, rather than applying too much "six sigma" style engineering to research processes. A different engineering emphasis is required, particularly in early research, where uncertainty is greatest, and where rapid adaptation, rather than a priori prediction, seems more feasible. I've enjoyed developing that basic idea into a reasonable set of process guidelines and best practices that are now recognizably deployed in the real world.
More recently, improvements in consumer technology and software interfaces have made it easier than ever to collect diverse information and, better yet, to respond to unexpected signals in the data which might impact product development or even human health (positively and negatively). This sets the stage for the next phase of embracing serendipity.
The folks at Cambridge Healthtech Institute were kind enough to invite me to give an "enabling serendipity" update at their Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference in San Francisco in February. Perfect timing! This will be a great opportunity to highlight the truly innovative work that some of my clients have been undertaking in the areas of consumer-technology enabled pharma R&D, theranostic development, and care management, all of which incorporate an openness to serendipity. Here is my preliminary abstract:
Democratized Serendipity: Leveraging Consumer-Oriented Technologies into Better R&D and Better Health Care Decisions.
Joseph A. Cerro, President, The Schooner Group, LLC
The combination of (1) ubiquitous consumer electronic devices, (2) flexible, inexpensive manufacturing capabilities, (3) easy to use "Web 2.0" interfaces, and (4) an increasing willingness of individuals to manage aspects of their own health care creates an unprecedented opportunity to collect patient data in the field in near real time. Analyzing such data has the potential to transform the way pharmaceutical companies manage clinical development programs and may create new opportunities for theranostic development, biomarker validation, and, most importantly, individualized care management. Several such projects will be discussed in this session.
If you have any suggestions for the talk, or if there is a particular issue that you'd like me to cover, just send me a note via email or Twitter. I'll also be moderating a session or two in the conference's R&D informatics track. If you'll be at the conference, I hope to see you there!
Updated - Download Presentation: (1.8 MB Zipped PDF file).