Category Archives: Philanthropy

Verdant Commits Scientific Expertise to ALS Patient Advocacy

In all of our mortal lives, there will come a day when we will be faced with a malady for which there is no cure. Among the incurable, untreatable, and terminal diseases, we have been particularly touched by our individual experiences with patients suffering from the neurodegenerative condition known as ALS. We believe that we are in a unique position to do more good by committing our scientific, regulatory, and business expertise to the patients themselves.

We believe this because we’ve already been doing it for individuals who are close to us, personally. We’ve used our scientific expertise to cut through the noise and identify the most promising options available, and still in the pipeline. We’ve educated patients and their doctors on possibilities that no one has yet considered – including how to access them. We’ve used our modest lab to conduct preliminary investigations and confirm hypotheses. And we’ve freely collaborated with the organizations who truly want what’s best for patients without regard to our personal benefit.

Advocacy also often requires conflict resolution, and that’s most effective with the kind of teeth a business can wield. We’ve used our legal expertise to lock horns with the FDA over patient rights. We’ve used our business leverage to lean on drug patent holders in order to get better clinical trials underway in more locations. And (when we’ve had to) we’ve used our experience with the pharmaceutical industry to fight every bit as dirty as they do.

In short, patients are passengers in a pharmaceutical engine. We can’t change that about the world, but we can certainly square up the odds in favor of the patients. We’re understand the industry from the inside, and we’re not beholden to anyone in it. Patients just want the therapy that’s truly best for them, and as scientists, we have a responsibility to present them with the best options – not what has the best patent protection, or the most investors. That may paint a target on our back, but small targets are hard to hit, so we’re strangely comfortable with it.

Scientists Stand With Sci-Hub

Sci-Hub

Sci-Hub provides unfettered access to nearly every scientific article ever written. It is the closest we have ever come to a compendium of all human knowledge, and it’s available to anyone for free. Despite this, the American Chemical Society recently sought and was awarded a default judgment of $4.8 million & ISP Blocking against Sci-Hub. Those demands are causing many scientists to question whether the ACS (the world’s largest scientific organization) is still acting in the best interests of science. And it’s no surprise that scientists are taking a clear side. A growing number of scientists have advanced their research because of a Kazakhstani grad student they’ve never met; yet struggle to think of a time the ACS has done anything but send them a bill.

The ACS could almost be compared to a real estate mogul that buys up all of the land in an area in order to raise the prices – except they don’t actually pay for the articles. Scientists are expected to pay several thousand dollars on top of relinquishing all claim to copyright. It’s no accident that we say “publish or perish”. If you don’t agree to their terms, you don’t publish. If you don’t publish, you don’t get funded or employed. So what exactly are their terms?

Verdant Joins Grand Buffet in Holiday Drives for Less Fortunate

Grand Buffet is one of my favorite local businesses for several reasons, and I’m happy to support them. The owner pours a lot of energy into important causes like community involvement and recycling cooking oil into biofuel. This year I was honored to help with their Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate, and will be teaming up again for a Christmas toy drive!

Their team did an astounding job with the dinner. Simply organizing an event of that scale is stunning, and they managed it all while open for regular business! They prepared food for 400 families in two hours with only three cooks in the kitchen – while serving their normal customers! For me personally, the event was especially timely, because it brought together an entire community. And with it came the reassurance that – despite impressions to the contrary from the news or social media – people still care about each other. Community involvement is the best way to remind ourselves that we are all more alike than different, and that common ground can bring us together with greater force than differences can divide.

If you’re local to the Southeastern Indiana / Greater Cincinnati region and would like the help with the upcoming toy drive, there are a number of ways to contribute:

Microscope Adapter Expands Science Education

Smartphones are a part of daily life, and each new feature developed is an opportunity for innovation. One example is an inexpensive adapter recently developed by Verdant which allows a smartphone to interface with a microscope. Designed as a minor convenience, its impact on science education was completely unexpected.

With educational budgets stretched thin, schools are frequently forced to choose other priorities over microscopes. Institutional quality microscopes cost several hundred dollars each, and camera attachments run into the thousands. But educators are no longer forced to do without while the necessary tools rest in their pockets.