| From: http://www.masshightech.com/displayarticledetail.asp?art_id=63485&cat_id=94
Biomed Rounds: Symposium takes a Nobel approach to
09/08/2003 08:06 AM www.masshightech.com
By Dyke Hendrickson
There is a novel conference scheduled later this month, but it will not
be focusing on either literature or unusual compounds.
The upcoming conference is the Nobel Pauling Biotech Symposium, scheduled
for Sept. 28-29 at MIT and organized by Grace H.W. Wong.
The event is named for the late Linus Pauling, scientist and humanitarian,
who won Nobel prizes in both chemistry (1954) and peace (1962).
One facet that makes it unusual is that it is free. A second differentiator
is the subject matter of discussions. The agenda states that the topic
of its primary panel presentation will be " Academia vs. Industry" for
new drug discovery.
It is, well, a novel approach that places institutional sectors in an
adversarial position as if to determine which sector generates the most
In terms of science, conference presenters will discuss new findings in
the fields of cytokines (any protein produced by cells) and angiogenesis
(blood vessel growth).
Key organizer of this gathering is Wong, a bioscience veteran with an
egalitarian approach to knowledge and research.
She is a former senior researcher at Genentech, Millennium, AstraZeneca
and Serono. And she is interested in disseminating as much information
Wong, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne, says she is
willing to run the event at a loss if it means the exchange of useful
She knew Linus Pauling personally, said Wong, a scientist known for her
willingness to dispute accepted wisdom. She told me that you don't really
have an idea if you are not willing to talk about it.
One of my goals is to inspire students of all ages in biotechnology. We
want to provide opportunities for life-long learners.
Now she has launched a series of conferences under the name of Pauling,
whose family she says she knows well. She has obtained permission to use
the name of Linus Pauling.
Many of the speakers scheduled for the event are prominent professionals
she has worked with in the past.
Listed as keynote speakers are Alexander Rich, MIT; Louis Tartaglia, Millennium;
Timothy Wells, Serono; Dalia Cohen, Novartis Institute; Robert Allen Lewis,
Aventis; Steve Wiley, Amgen; Napoleone Ferrara, Genentech; Jeffrey Browning,
Biogen; Wolfgang Ketterle, MIT-Harvard; and Eugene Brown, Wyeth.
It is not every independent conference producer that could pull together
such an eminent lineup.
But her life story suggests she has developed a knack for prospering under
The story goes that her family escaped from Communist China to Hong Kong
by boat when she was a toddler. She said that she would have been abandoned
in China but my sister stuffed me into her belongings and tied me to the
front of the boat.
Though the family remained poor, she was able to obtain numerous scholarships.
She excelled in school and later sought opportunities in the United States.
Her acumen and energy enabled her to land key research posts at numerous
pharmaceutical companies. She has also demonstrated the ability to bond
with bright people.
In the past two years she has launched a company, ActoKine Therapeutics,
and a nonprofit organization, Student Vision, both based in the Boston
area. Student Vision is responsible for organizing the Nobel Pauling symposia.
(This is the third event SV has produced).
She says, these symposia provide unique opportunities for people who otherwise
could not afford to attend commercial biotechnology meetings (such as)
post-docs and people who are unemployed.
Wong offers not only her energy and organizing ability. Evidently, she
has been instrumental in providing the gift of life.
She says she has helped produce seven daughters, who were the product
of eggs that I donated to my seven women friends who were having fertility
Your Scribe could be wrong, but it appears that Grace H.W. Wong herself
is a very novel entity.
Dyke Hendrickson reports on biotechnology and medical devices. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.