Gaze into the abyss of biotech Twitter and you’ll find a bramble of obtuse acronyms, confusing abbreviations, and a weird propensity for using dollar signs as hashtags. But within that sprawl are some leading 140-character authors who provide all-important insight, clarity, and context to those hoping to understand the fast-growing industry of drug development.
Sometimes they’re even funny.
We’ve put together a list of 10 such illuminating feeds for the biocurious. Important note: We’ve left off the great many journalists you should probably be following already. We’ve also omitted some of the entrepreneurs and commentators who have thousands of followers as it is. That’s not a slight; we just figure those people are already on your radar.
Instead, here are some interesting, if lesser-known, guideposts from biotech’s vibrant Twitter community.
The mystery guru: @andybiotech
There are a great many anonymous investors on biotech Twitter, shouting up or down at various companies from the safety of their egg avatars. But none is like AndyBiotech, whoever he or she is. With a comprehensive grasp on the industry and its many players, Andy provides context for key data readouts, spots underreported news, and combs through documents for interesting tidbits.
The witty Brit: @maverickNY
Sally Church is a jolly nerd who tweets out incisive observations of the biotechnology industry, providing more detailed analysis on her useful, but pricey, Biotech Strategy Blog. The Novartis alum-turned-life science marketer is a fangirl of good science, but isn’t afraid to call out BS when she sees it — particularly when it comes to her field of expertise, oncology.
The legal mind: @jsherkow
Patents are important in biotech, as the latest multimillion-dollar fracas suggests. And Jacob Sherkow, a professor at New York Law School, is an expert in the field. Look to him for context on the latest squabbles over biosimilars, thoughts on the legal implications of data sharing, and tweetstorms about the future of CRISPR.
The regulatory maven: @fdaadcomm
The murky waters of regulatory policy are daunting for some — but not for Jessica Adams, who ardently tracks the goings-on of the Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisory committees as part of her gig as a consultant for Tarius, a regulatory research outfit. Hers is a no-frills account that will keep you abreast of FDA’s long-winded but all-important priorities day to day — in 140 characters.
The scientific nitpicker: @VinayPrasad82
Let’s just all admit it: Biopharma data can be sliced and diced in a way that’s often overly flattering — particularly when it comes to survival rates for cancer. Dr. Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist in Oregon, uses his Twitter feed to cut through to the core of what’s presented in a clinical trial or academic paper. Don’t argue with him on progression-free survival. He’ll school you.
The skeptic: @sciencescanner
David Grainger, a partner at biotech investor Medicxi Ventures, is quick to raise a finger on the latest hype-fueled to-do in biotech. From his perch in the UK, he pokes holes in widely reported studies, dispels convenient myths about biotech, and bemoans the misleading jargon companies use to sway public opinion.
The rockstar VC: @lifescivc
If only all life sciences venture capitalists were as transparent as Bruce Booth. A stalwart, really, of the biotech blogosphere, the Atlas Ventures VC (and “recovering scientist”) is a ready source of useful and current info on early-stage life science investment. On occasion, he punctuates his bioscience commentary with quotes from luminaries like Ansel Adams, Christopher Hitchens, and Metallica.
The number cruncher: @maxjacobsedison
Biotech is a business, after all, and businesses are supposed to make money. But amid all the hype of unmet needs and futuristic science, many drug developers are quietly burning the candle at both ends. Maxim Jacobs, head of healthcare research at Edison, is a pro at digging through the mire of financial filings and asking key questions like, “Shouldn’t this company be bankrupt?”
The individualist investor: @bradloncar
Perched yonder in Kansas City, private investor Brad Loncar isn’t afraid to turn a skeptical and opinionated eye to the biotech industry. Notably, he’s built up a cancer immunotherapy index, and reliably tracks the performance of 30 large cap and growth biotechs in that space. In a former life, Loncar worked in politics.
The contrarian: @zbiotech
Speaking of those anonymous investors, here’s one more. Zach, as he’s called on Twitter, is lightning-fast to tweet breaking news but does so with a heavy heap of sarcasm, skepticism, and disdain for the cloying optimism that sometimes flows from the mouths of biotech executives.