We talked before about the different ways to make a career in science. We’ve had people from finance, and entrepreneurs driving the start-up world. We’ve even had a scientific illustrator. There’s one area of science and technology that we’re covering for the first time today – this one is near and dear to our hearts because it’s something that we at Skraps hope to achieve – and that’s effective scientific communications.
Jim Cavuoto has been reporting on the field of neurotechnology for over 20 years. Neurotech Reports is the go-to source for industry news, institutional highlights, conference updates, original research and reporting, and more. Jim’s a little bit like our very own Walter Cronkite.
Today, you’ll get to hear the unlikely origin story of Neurotech Reports and the related conferences that Jim has built. He’ll do some serious name dropping – including folks like Warren Grill, Tom Mortimer, Hunter Peckham, Ted Maiman, and even Forrest Gump. We’ll also hear about Jim’s newest venture, the BioElectRx Business Report – working to bridge the gap between pharma and the neuro device worlds.
And that’s the way it is.
JoJo, James Cavuoto, Arun Sridhar
Hello everyone, I’m JoJo Platt here where the runes Sridhar to bring you another episode of SKRAPS. It’s a pleasure, a privilege. And yes, it’s even fun to bring you the stories of the people behind some of the biggest and most interesting breakthroughs in science and technology. It’s a pleasure to have you join us again, or maybe even for the first time. And we hope that when you’re done listening, that you’ll share your comments, love us on social media, leave reviews on your favourite podcast platform, whatever it takes. In exchange for your love on social, we promise that we have something special in the works just for you. So stay tuned! Shout your praise from the social media rooftops get ready for another scraps adventure. You can find us on Twitter, at podcast scraps, and on LinkedIn as SKRAPS. There are a few of us that work in neuro technology that aren’t active members of labs or commercial entities, yet still have unique and important roles in this field. Our guest today is one of those voices. In fact, it’s his voice that has brought us the news of neurotech for over 20 years. James Cavuoto is the editor and publisher of Neurotech Reports. He organizes annual conferences called NeuroTech Leaders Forum held in San Francisco every fall and the bioelectronic medicine summit in New York each spring. Through his influential reporting on the field, Jim has seen it all. Finally, he’ll tell us about his newest adventure in publishing. Full disclosure to you today, I do work with Jim on a number of fronts, which is exactly why we’re bringing him on. I happen to know some of his backstory, and it’s definitely worth sharing. One thing we hope to do in this episode is to highlight some of the more unique career paths available in neuro technology. Jim and I are both proof positive that you don’t need to work in a lab to make a meaningful contribution to this field. So we’ll just dive right in. And I’m kind of curious is so you have a degree in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. But you didn’t immediately go into biomedical engineering in some capacity, you went into publishing? What What led you down that path from that degree?
James Cavuoto 02:58
Interesting, interesting question. Well, as you can tell by my grey hair, I’ve been around for a while. And when I got my degree, back in the 70s, the field was really new. So there weren’t really a lot of jobs. In fact, there weren’t any for biomedical engineers. But it was a boom time for engineering in general, and particularly for aerospace. So I got a job, right out of school with Hughes Aircraft Company was looking for any kind of engineer. And as it turned out, they were looking for engineers who could write and I was the editor of our college engineering magazine at case it was called the Engineering and Science Review, which kind of got me started in publishing. So because of that, even though a degree in engineering and I was hired as an engineer, most of my career has been writing, editing publishing. So I did that. For a couple of years, it was a, it was a really interesting time to be in aerospace. The company was a pioneer on a lot of technologies, including optics and lasers. And so I had a chance to because I worked on the eventually worked on the company. So corporate technology magazine, got a chance to really go anywhere in the company and talk to any researcher. And right up there, what they were doing. Hughes Aircraft was where the first laser was invented in 1960. I later got a chance to meet the inventor of the first laser, Dr. Ted Maiman.
Arun Sridhar 04:39
Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah.
James Cavuoto 04:41
Interesting, interesting fellow. And he passed away a few years ago, in Canada, but I actually helped him write his autobiography. I think I told you about the book, JoJo, great story about the race to build the first laser. So that At any rate, I left Hughes to work in the laser industry and became the editor of a laser magazine. A lot was going on in lasers at the time, including laser repor graphics, which is a field I was really interested in. So after being the editor of that magazine for two, three years ago, I decided it was time to go off on my own start my own publication. And it was in the field of electronic publishing, or what we what would later be called desktop publishing. We call it micro publishing, because that’s we were using microcomputers, apples and piece IBM PCs to, you know, produce actual typesetting. And it was kind of fun to be in that field when Apple was just really getting
Arun Sridhar 05:48
the very early days! Early, early days.
James Cavuoto 05:51
Yeah, early days. So did that turned into, you know, a small company, we had about 25 people about the time we were sold, which was about 1015 years later, 12 years later, when I sold the company, I had a non compete for five years, couldn’t do anything in graphics, publishing. And I was ready to do something else. Anyway. So I went back to Cleveland and met with my old professors Tom Mortimer and Hunter Peckham. I call it my Rip Van Winkle moment because I’d been then out of the field for 20 years. And I said, What’s what’s been happening and biomedical engineering and neural engineering so
Arun Sridhar 06:37
what did you call them, Jim? Sorry, I missed that.
James Cavuoto 06:41
I called it my Rip Van Winkle moment. Because I had been I’ve been gone for 20 years didn’t know what’s been happening and they filled me in a lot had been happening. I FeS, the International functional electrical stimulation society had been meeting in Cleveland, so I got a chance to go to that. And they Hunter and Tom introduced me to Warren grill I told this story at our conference a couple weeks ago. So what JoJo you heard it but but we’re in grill was a new assistant professor at the time. And he became our first senior technical editor helped us get the publication neurotic business report off the ground, and helped us with our conferences, just helped bring me up to speed. So yeah, it took a while it took 20 years for me to get back into the field that I you know, had studied as an undergraduate and what I was really passionate about so. So it all worked out, I guess things things fell in place.
Arun Sridhar 07:42
So you’ve very finely or very delicately kind of slipped in couple of interesting, or what you call an interesting person for what for the guy that you’re working with, who was the first one who discovered the the laser in aeroplanes, and then you also slept in your interactions with Tom Mortimer and Hunter Peckham? Will, many people will know that, like probably the grandfather of everything that we know about neuro technology, and functional electrical stimulation, right? Let’s actually take the Lazar story first and tell us why was your former colleague that you wrote the book with? Why was he a very interesting person to kind of be with and work with?
James Cavuoto 08:28
Ted Maiman was was a fascinating figure. And the story that he tells in his book, which is called the laser Odyssey, I think it’s just been republished, JoJo, I think I sent you the link, be a great, I think it’d be a great story story for your podcast at some point. But But back in the late 50s, there was a race going on. And the race was who was going to be able to build the first laser. And IBM had major funding, and MIT and Columbia. And in 1958, Charles Townsend Arthur shallow work, published a paper about the potassium vapour laser. And they got a patent for this. However, they never built the laser. So that word vapour laser was was quite apt in this case. In fact, many physicists I’m not a physicist, but many physicists to this day say, well, they never built the laser because in fact, it’s theoretically impossible to build the laser the patent never should have been granted and in fact, at&t or Bell Labs, which, you know, own the patent for the first laser for that first laser never made a diamond royalties, and the reason is, they knew they wouldn’t be able to defend it, if anyone ever challenged it. So the race was still on. And Ted Mayman was working with $100,000 budget that he had a huge research labs in Malibu, and he was using Ruby, which everyone sai d, Can’t lase. ……. Well, Ted show that they were wrong, there was a miscalculation, the problem was being able to pump enough optical energy into that crystal to make it lays. And so Ted tried every flash ball that he could find to try and, you know, produce enough optical energy to, to, to, to get to get that piece of crystal delays, couldn’t do it. And then eventually he came, he tried one of I think it was a GE or maybe it was a Sylvania light bulb that was helical in shape. And he decided, I’m going to put the crystal inside the helix, and boom, he was able to get laser action in 1960. Well, anyway, I got to meet Ted, later in the 80s. And there was always a controversy, who invented the first laser, you know, what towns and chellah got the patent. But in fact, they never built the first laser. The first laser wasn’t built till till 1960. So unfortunately, you know, Dr. Mayman, didn’t win the Nobel Prize for the first laser. Many people, including myself think he should he should have. But he wasn’t iconoclast. Not just, you know, an amazing scientist and a pioneering scientist but but had a really good head for, for commercial applications later became a vice president of TRW, which is a big aerospace company in Los Angeles, and an advisor to many companies, but also was a was a scientist with a social conscience. And in fact, when this is dating myself, but when Ronald Reagan introduced this, the Star Wars system, but Spacebase laser, he was one of many physicists, prominent physicists, I
Arun Sridhar 12:11
thought you were going to go back to George Lucas. It’s good that you said Ron Reagan.
James Cavuoto 12:16
I was actually going. I was going after after Austin Powers … LASSSEEEER..
James Cavuoto 12:29
Yes, Austin Powers probably did more to publicise the loser. Yeah, the interesting story is they Hughes almost didn’t get the patent, a year, nearly transpired, because they didn’t understand us corporate didn’t understand the, the value, you know, of what this was he, Ted had to jump up and down to say, we need to file that. And, you know, so back in those early days, they didn’t understand what the value of the laser was. Well, the laser became important in my career, because I got a chance in the 80s. To meet a guy from Canon in Japan, who was had marketing the first low cost laser printer. I saw this and I thought, wow, this is going to revolutionise publishing. And so I went to a conference in Miami called lasers and graphics. And I met these two guys who had developed some software to control laser printers. And they had written this language called postscript. And they were from California. And they were really nice and said, Hey, come on up and visit anytime. So I did when I got back to Los Angeles, I called the company and a guy answered the phone, Adobe Systems. And I said, Gentlemen, I please and he said, speaking. So this is how it was done when I was answering the phone for for the company, but they invited me up. So I spent a whole day with John Wernock and Chuck Gaskey where they were just, I felt like I was back in school, they were writing stuff on the whiteboard, and I was taking notes and, and so it was really fun to have been on the ground floor. In the early days of the electronic publishing,
Arun Sridhar 14:13
this is this is just amazing, actually. Because the fact that you were with the who’s who of the whole industry at the I think it have you told anybody this story apart from your close circle of friends and colleagues that you know of,
James Cavuoto 14:26
just Jojo. Yeah, I call myself the Forrest Gump. I’m a friend, I will be the Forrest Gump of technology because I seem to be in the right place at the right time. That is awesome. That is just an electronic publishing and neuro technology is just becoming, you know, important and relevant. So yeah, that’s sort of self
aware to your your, you created a publication about publishing about the actual tools of publishing it’s it’s a little circular there. Add
James Cavuoto 15:03
a little bit. Yes, a little meta, a little meta…. Oh, wait, someone else is using that term can’t use it. Okay.
Arun Sridhar 15:11
So, Jim, you actually have a very interesting part, right? Because one of the key things that we that we kind of tried to explore through the podcast is to show people that look, science is more than just the data that you see on a piece of slide or or a publication, I think it’s about the people, it’s about the connections. And I think you just outlined the connections that you made by putting yourself well, potentially out of out of necessity when you finished your your undergraduate degree. Because there weren’t that many jobs, as you said, in Biomedical Engineering at that point. But over time, you basically went in and seize the opportunity and seize the moment to go into wherever your connections wherever life took you. And now that you have actually had a career in science, communication, or scientific communication, or communication about the business of science, whatever you want to call it, how does it feel just looking back at all of these various kind of points in history to see that you’ve you were there? And yeah, it I don’t think do you appreciate that?
James Cavuoto 16:29
Like I say it feels maybe a little like it felt to Forrest Gump. He was there when, when, you know, the was the jogging? fad became popular and, and all these things that were happening, I don’t know. I just kind of follow what I’m interested in. And if it happens to be something that that becomes popular, great. And if not, well, yeah. So be it. But yeah, I think I’ve had fun. Being able to write about a lot of different technologies, from aerospace, to optics to computers, to neuro technology, and now bio, bio electronic medicine. And I guess I enjoy that being able to, you know, convey scientific information to non scientific people, to business people to lay people and try and find, you know, the nuggets of what’s meaningful that can be conveyed readily to to people who aren’t PhDs.
Arun Sridhar 17:45
I think he just gave us an idea for the cover art for the episode which is you running in the road and neuter and that’s basically the cover art for the episode and and we know exactly what we need to put out.
James Cavuoto 17:59
Oh, we’re gonna have fun with this…
James Cavuoto 18:03
All I can say is stupid is as stupid does
don’t get me started on Forrest Gump because I have
James Cavuoto 18:13
maybe maybe a better maybe a better quote, his “life is like a box of chocolates”. You never know what you’ll get.
Or in a in a computer engineering lab Life is like a box of leftover components.
Arun Sridhar 18:29
Well, our Jim’s biomedical engineering degree was his Bubba Gump shrimp, and then he basically chose to go after something else.
Okay, so Jim, do you do you consider yourself an engineer who writes and is a publisher or a writer and publisher with an engineering background?
James Cavuoto 18:51
Ooh, that’s a tough one. Probably the latter, just because I’ve never really worked as an engineer. I’ve been, you know, mostly a, been mostly a communicator or involved in communications. Great.
Arun Sridhar 19:13
So, I think going back to the story about how you launched or launch the publication and in neurotechnology, you said, you’d gone back to Cleveland, and you kind of said, because of the five years of non compete and an exclusivity to the previous employer that you were working with, you couldn’t work in that previous area. So you kind of started in what was at that time, a very nascent area, right? I mean, even within within neuro technology and the way we know about it today, there are a few people like barber and and Hunter Peckham, where they’re in it for quite a few number of years at that time. But how did it feel and why did you beyond just the initial kind of background that you have? And the people that you know, what exactly did you see in the field that made you want to launch a publication in the space gym?
James Cavuoto 20:11
You know, what I saw was the possibility of helping people. And yet it wasn’t being recognised. So on that same trip to Cleveland, when I met up again, again, my experience with with Tom and with honnor, you know, and some of the other professors, I also had a chance to meet Jennifer French, Jennifer French was telling the story of how she had been able to use, she was the first woman to be implanted with the functional electrical stimulation system that was actually invented by by Tonner. And Tom, at case, and she was speaking at the IFS meeting, and I was just, I was just so moved by her story, it was a personal story. But it was also a technical story, what she, she was interspersing, you know, some of the the human experience of going being an active physically fit person to now being someone in a wheelchair, and explaining what that process was like, she later wrote about it in a book that we published, called on my feet, again, an excellent book, that, again, tells her the personal story, but also tells the technology and tells about the role that a participant in a clinical trial can can play to help guide the evolution of a product. But it was frustrating. Because even though this technology had so much potential at the time, that just wasn’t a lot of investment. And what struck me, in fact, I think I even wrote this in the very first issue of the publication is the disconnect. You know, having just witnessed the.com crash, right? And all of these VC firms that had spent, you know, millions and millions investing in these online, pet food companies, you know, I think I said in that first issue, you know, unlike buyers of online, dog food, people with paralysis, they’re not going to change their minds about the need for a solution to their problems about their desire to regain function. And I was kind of trying to egg on the investment community is, hey, let’s, let’s look at something more meaningful, let’s look at something longer, that has longer term potential to invest in and it took a while it took a while for the VC community to recognise the potential of neuro technology. But eventually they did so. So I guess I could, I guess I could say what motivated me was that was the disconnect between where the money was going and where the money was needed. And so my thought was, Can we do something about this? Can we can we, you know, do a publication that’s not a scientific publication, but that’s geared at you know, tracking the commercial activity and, and helping to, to, you know, build awareness there and kind of play marriage broker if you will, between you know, the people with the money and the people who had the great ideas.
So that’s a great so your your marriage counsellor and my kids call me a science pimp so somewhere we’re getting a right but
James Cavuoto 23:54
something like that
Arun Sridhar 24:01
enters comes in The Goldbergs? The comedy series, you both don’t watch enough TV. That’s the problem
James Cavuoto 24:08
we do. We do now, I don’t watch enough TV right now when
I have the feeling that that the Yiddish undertones of that go way, way, way further than the Goldberg possibly
Arun Sridhar 24:18
but the only way that the only way that a brown man can live like me can relate to something like that is through The Goldbergs. Right. So I which was where I have no connection to other things that is happening in the US. So I’m just saying about my ignorance, right, but more than anything else, but that’s the way that it comes into common parlance.
Yeah, Jim, we’re gonna get a run down to LA and take him to Canter’s Deli. Oh, get the full immersion going. That’ll be good. All right, but I do want to go back because because we you touched on something kind of timewise and it’s kind of the era where I started coming up professionally to the.com era pre Boom, pre bust. And then you launched neuro tech reports in very unusual times. And I know you’ve told that I’ve heard the story before, but a lot of people haven’t. And I think it’s it’s one that needs to be more widely shared about your the drop of your first issue of neurotech. Oh,
James Cavuoto 25:20
sure, sure. So that first, that summer of 2001, which I called my, you know, rappelling because because I had been out of the field for 20 years. We decided, well, we’re gonna launch publication. And we did a lot of promo got a lot of interest from the media Businessweek and Wall Street Journal, even the New York Times, they were all interested. Yeah, we want to see your first issue, send it to us. Well, so we, we were preparing a market research report, and we had planned our first issue to be September 2001. And the first week of September, the issue was done. And now we dropped, I don’t know, probably 100,000 pieces of direct mail much of it to the financial community, because we were trying to reach out to them, much of the financial community, of course, in lower Manhattan. And then September 11 happened and obviously, that was a big downer. It was a big downer for the country, for the world. And, and, and also for, you know, for the industry, because there really was no no interest, the media that that was really interested prior to September 11, had nobody, really nobody wanted to talk to me, it was just, it was a depressing time. And we very nearly, you know, gave up. And in fact, to this day neurotech business report comes out at the end of the month, we’re probably the only publication where November issue will be out on November 30. Not on November 1. And the reason is it harkens back to the to 9/11 and September 2001, when our first issue came out, we almost quit, because it was just so depressing, and the impact on the industry. So it took me to the end of October, really to sit to to say no, no, we’re not going to give up we’re gonna we’re gonna keep going. So that
Arun Sridhar 27:27
made you not give up then Jim.
James Cavuoto 27:31
You know, just maybe, recollecting, you know, recovering from, from the depression that a lot of people, a lot of Americans, a lot of New Yorkers were were feeling you get over that, I mean, bad things happen.
Arun Sridhar 27:48
You You weren’t on the east coast at that time. And you’re not, you know, I
James Cavuoto 27:51
grew up in New York State, but I was living in LA, I was living in Los Angeles, but but I was, you know, I felt like a New Yorker, because I had an apartment for many years, you know, while I was in it. And it took me years before I could visit New York again. But But yeah, so just getting over getting over that anyone who’s, you know, lost a child or a partner, you know, certainly understands that, that, and a lot of us were going through that. So that was part of it. But also just recognising that, look, even if this isn’t going to be the great financial success that I had hoped it would be, there’s still a crying need for it. And I’m going to keep at it, even if that means I can’t have the staff that I wanted. And, you know, I work can’t really work out of the office. So I had rented a work out of the home, and, you know, keep the cost down. And we did we could we did a good job of keeping our costs really, really low. And part of the reason is because I had had experience in desktop publishing, I was able to do stuff on my own, that normally you would hire, you know, graphics and printing and publishing professionals. Now, I will do it all, including, like the stamps, and mail the newsletters. You know, it’s interesting that this became one of the one of the big arguments that Jen and I would have later on when we were, you know, partners and in our neurotech reports is that, you know, she kind of would chide me at all the things that I would try to do by myself rather than farm them out, but it but it stems from September 2001 When, you know, we’ve said it now I’m just going to do what it takes to keep this thing going. You know, the first, the first neurotech Leaders Forum, which was like a couple of weeks after 911 We had 12 People come and He, you know, it was it. It was small. But there was enough. There was enough positive feedback from from the 12 people who were in the room there to kind of encourage me to keep going. So those were all factors that made me say, Yeah, we’re gonna keep at this.
Arun Sridhar 30:19
So Mr. Cavuoto Gump is also the pioneer of work from home when, before anybody else did
James Cavuoto 30:25
before there was a pandemic.
You know, that’s on, that’s gonna be on every name badge that you have from now on Cavuoto Gump.
James Cavuoto 30:35
Okay, that’s great.
So you that first meeting in 2020, because you have the meetings, in addition to the newsletter, and I know, you talked about the first meeting and the 12 people, but you guys also had a pretty robust and interesting discussion about defining the field. What is the definition of the field?
James Cavuoto 30:59
Yeah, and, you know, there were different views. Some people had the view that neuro technology included anything, including drugs, and we didn’t see it that way. And it wasn’t so much that we wanted to keep pharmaceuticals out of the industry. And effect, you know, now with the launch of our new publication, bio electronic business report, we’re really targeting that to the pharmaceutical industry. But at the time, 20 years ago, we saw what was happening in neuro technology is different. And a different from what was going on with, you know, pharmaceuticals, the CNS drugs, for instance. The people were different. The researchers were different. The funding sources were different. The regulatory process was different, you know, the, you’re talking to CDRH instead of cedar, whatever it is that that they talked to in the drug field. So we saw a sufficiently different that No, no, we’re gonna really look at the intersection of at the time electronics, and the nervous system. And we’re going to look at applications of delivering electrical energy to the nervous system and applications of receiving what we call neuro sensing, which, of course, now includes brain computer interfaces. And, of course, since the time, it’s not just electrical energy, it could be optical energy, magnetic energy, it could be, you know, ultrasound. So there’s other forms of stimulation that that could take place. But we were interested in that, that junction, you know, what’s happening at the, at the neural interface? What’s happening? I was really, I guess it was excited about that when I was taking Tom Mortimer’s class 20 years. Prior, you know, we were just learning the Hodgkin Huxley equations, which were really the Maxwell equations of neural engineering Maxwell equations. You know, there’s the foundation of electricity, right or electromagnetism, and Hodgkin Huxley basically told the story of how action potentials are formed and how electrical signalling takes place. And I was fascinated by that even 20 years later, when I wasn’t in the field effect. In 1980. When I got the first my first Apple two computer, one of the first things I did was wow, it has graphics, as I was able to plot what’s going on, using the Hodgkin Huxley equations. And board back at the time, ion channels were just a theory. Nobody really knew were there really channels. But it was a good theory. And it turned out well, yeah, there’s some good scientific foundation for the idea of ion channels. So So yeah, I had modelled potassium and sodium and what else? Chloride ions. And, you know, looking at the flow of ions across a membrane, so it was really interesting. What happens at the neural interface and
Arun Sridhar 34:26
it’s only in 79, I think when the Nobel Prize was awarded for the first batch clamp, experiment to narrow and segment so yeah, really, really early days at the time.
James Cavuoto 34:37
I told you I’m an old guy. Yeah.
Arun Sridhar 34:40
Kabuto Gump? Yes.
James Cavuoto 34:43
You were you were just a kid probably at the time. Jojo wasn’t even around probably.
But yes, I was. I was absolutely I was. I was already a mom
James Cavuoto 34:54
cheese. You were a mom. And really 79
Oh, no, no, no. 79 now? No, I was still playing with Legos.
Arun Sridhar 35:03
So you got it the other way around, Jim. I did not exist in 1979.
Arun Sridhar 35:09
Oops, just because I look, I have grey hair seriously?
James Cavuoto 35:14
Well, no, you haven’t you have a dark background on the screen. So that’s why I think sorry about that around. But, you know,
Arun Sridhar 35:22
I will always hold it against you, Jim. I will always hold it against you should you should.
Can you give us an overview of, of what neuro tech reports focuses on? How, how people can find you what they can expect in their subscription?
James Cavuoto 35:41
Sure. So, neuro tech reports is a market intelligence firm that covers the neuro technology industry. And we have been for 20 years, we launched our flagship publication, it’s a monthly newsletter called neuro tech business report. We launched that in September of 2001. And I’ve been publishing continuously on a monthly basis. Since then, subscribers to neurotech business report, get print and online versions of the publication which provides, you know, some in depth analysis of what’s going on in the industry. Not just news, but expert analysis and opinion, the directions of the technology in the market. New new players competitive battlegrounds, market shares, etc. And you can find more about our publication at WWW dot neurotech reports.com. That’s neurotech reports with an s.com. In addition to the monthly newsletter, we also publish market research reports. On an annual basis, they’re updated. And our initial report was called the market for Neuro technology where we would do an overview of all of the segments of the neuro technology industry. And in addition, we have published some more in depth. Market research reports on particular segments. So for instance, earlier this year, we published a report titled The market for implanted pain neuromodulation systems, this is both spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation systems. So there’s some detailed analysis there. Along with projections, we also published a report called the market for bioelectronic medicine, where we’re looking at some really some new applications of neuro Tech where now we’re stimulating. We’re applying neuro stimulation to effect and organs and treat diseases and disorders that previously were exclusively the domain of pharmaceutical approaches.
And can people Commission reports from you, is that something that you get involved with?
James Cavuoto 38:18
Yeah, so in addition to the regularly scheduled publications that we that we publish, we also produce custom publications, whether that be a multiclient study or a on a consulting basis, where we will delve into greater detail of a particular market segment or an emerging market segment. So yes, no tech reports. provides custom market intelligence for vendors or other interested parties in the industry.
Great. And the new venture the bio electric Medicine report, when Wait, no. Electric business report by electric Business Report. Can you give us the lowdown on that and
James Cavuoto 39:12
so we just launched last month, a new publication, a monthly publication called the bio electrics Business Report, which is really the first industry newsletter devoted to the subject of bioelectronic medicine. And here what we’re doing is covering in great detail with some sophisticated analysis of activities from the pharmaceutical industry, the biotech industry and the device industry, to develop new therapies for treating systemic diseases and disorders from our including a range of industry Patients from, from inflammation to cardiovascular disorders, to hypertension, bowel and bladder disorders, diabetes, etc. Another way it’s things that were primarily exclusively in the domain of pharmaceutical interventions. So it’s a it’s a new, it’s really a new development within health sciences. And in particular, we’re interested and covering the convergence of pharmaceutical and medtech approaches to treating these disorders.
So in a way, it’s almost a campaign to bring the pharma world into the fold with our med tech devices and neuro tech devices. And, and I think I Oda was was really one of the probably the most notable success stories of an exit of a neuro tech company that was acquired by a pharma company. Do you see a lot of activity in that area on the horizon? Or is this? Is this your long game?
James Cavuoto 41:06
Yeah. Funny, you should mention Nyota and Astellas, because in an upcoming issue of bioelectric business report, Susan Schaffer, our consulting editor who’s helping us get the publication off the ground, she’ll be providing some some in depth analysis of Astellas not just the deal they’ve done with with Iota, but some of the other areas that they’re interested in, of course, in previous issues, we’ve we’ve looked at GSK, and barely his involvement in this space and Merck, and some of the other companies, but yes, we absolutely expect other Big Pharma has and also, you know, emerging biotech firms to partner with maybe acquire or licence technology coming from the med tech space. So it’s an interesting convergence that we expect to see more of in the months and years ahead.
And is that also going to have a home at neurotech reports.com? Or should we be directing people in another URL?
James Cavuoto 42:16
Yeah, for now, you can find information about the new publication at WWW dot neurotech reports.com. And from our homepage, you can be directed to the bio electrics business report, page and learn how to subscribe and get good information on this new and emerging market.
Awesome, and isn’t as a member of this venture, I’m, I’m very excited to be a part of it. And I wish us both continued in an incredible success. And, hopefully, people out there if they have areas of interest or stories of interest, or things that they’d like us to explore if they like to maybe contribute it an article, make sure that they get in touch with you.
James Cavuoto 43:09
Yeah, so you know, I’ll just say that if it’s not a conflict of interest here, to all of your listeners, who over the months, have become big fans of JoJo has incredible insight on the industry. If you want to get even more detailed analysis of what’s going on by electronic medicine, subscribe to the new publication by our electric Business Report. Because she’s, she’s a key part of our launch team, and will continue to be in the months ahead. So thank you, Jojo.
I appreciate that. And I promise I won’t be quite so glib in my writing is on the back of his good glimmers. I don’t think anybody wants to glib in their market analysis.
Arun Sridhar 44:02
So it’s really interesting, right? So I think you’ve actually seen the field when there was the first kind of spinal cord stimulation that was done. But even the Deep Brain Stimulation area hadn’t come through until kind of much later in the mid 80s At the time, or late 80s. And a few examples of functional electrical stimulation was all done at the time. And you kind of explain that as well. So how does it feel to you having seen this transformation of the industry into what it is now, and not just the fact that it is the size of the industry. And I think 2020 was almost a record year in terms of the total number of investments and this is just me. Just looking at all the news and everything following everything that’s happening in the field. I think 2020 was probably a record year in terms of investments that actually went into this phase. So how does it feel To actually see the expansion of the whole area of neuro technology neuromodulation by electronic medicines, whatever we want to call it into these new avenues of of treating multiple kinds of disorders across multiple therapeutic areas and all the examples that you’re seeing around you, Jim, give us your take your give us your take of that.
James Cavuoto 45:24
It’s, it’s really good to see you know, that. That takes time, but eventually, to see the investment community to see payers to see if funders, you know, there was a programme. You’re in the UK, the Royal Society did a programme a couple of years ago, and I was fortunate enough to have been invited to go to London and which was, which was really fascinating to to be in the same room as as Isaac Newton. I mean, okay, he wasn’t there at the time. But, you know, it was,
Arun Sridhar 46:00
he wasn’t 1970 I’m all
okay. But you’re not that old.
James Cavuoto 46:08
But, yeah, so the rest society did a great job of educating, they put out some I don’t know if you saw the publications that they did, but really good. And also, you know, put out a roadmap to see how they could build and grow the neuro tech industry in the UK, I think I think I wrote about this a couple months ago. You know, in the US, the National Science Foundation, and the NIH, and DARPA, and just all these public organisations, in addition to you know, private nonprofits, like the reef Foundation, right, in the early days, when Christopher Reeve founded that, they were looking for drugs that could cure paralysis, right. That was, that was what he had hoped, and they didn’t have any interest in and looking at neuro 10, devices, interventions. And now guess what? The foundation is all about? Neuro technology. Another that’s just a small example. But But yeah, so it took time. But but but yeah, I’ve been pleased to see that, that transformation, both from public and private funding sources, to see talented researchers, you know, like Warren grill, get the funding and then the spin offs. From the that research, you know, get funding from from from investors, that’s been rewarding to see Yeah.
Arun Sridhar 47:48
That’s awesome. Any kind of particular examples in the course of the journey from the last 20 years that you actually thought, Oh, this is changing like this is changing in a way that I probably did not see it coming, or it’s changing the industry for better. Were there any moments for you? In the last few years?
James Cavuoto 48:12
Yeah, there were a few. And it’s kind of interesting that you asked me that, because I asked that essentially, same question to Warren grill when he gave the keynote address at our 20th anniversary neurotech leaders from just a couple of weeks ago. And I asked him Hey, well, in the last 20 years, what do you want to just see both on the scientific side and on the commercial side? That was mostly answer the question pretty much the same way I would have answered it. On the scientific side. optogenetics clearly has amazing potential. I wouldn’t say that it’s the only, you know thing. But on the commercial side, the advent of closed loop stimulation, which of course is now what everyone is talking about in pain and then in a number of different areas. The ability to merge and our sensing with neuro stimulation to improve upon enhance the the therapy and neuro pace was the first to do this with brain stimulation with their epilepsy device. And of course, now you’ve got Saluda medical and a spinal cord stimulation device using closed loop stimulation. Let’s look for a biomarker that’s indicated that’s indicative of something relevant, and then use that biomarker to modify and optimise the the stimulation that we’re delivering. And of course, that can take many different forms at the biomarker doesn’t have to be a blood borne biomarker, it could be an electric or an EEG signal, but it doesn’t even have to be that could be something that that you get off of a wrist. You know, a lot of these companies developing wearables are gonna mesh really well with neuromodulation therapies in a number of companies so so anyway, not to steal from, from, from war, but definitely the advent of, of closed loop approaches to modulation, I think have has, you know, made sense to me and you know, and the commercial sides, some of the big mergers that took place early on, you know, Advanced Bionics and Boston Scientific and then you had ans and St. Jude Medical, which later became, you know, Abbott, but those deals brought a lot of credibility to the industry. So even though they weren’t big, scientific advances that really helped draw awareness to the, to the financial community, so those were significant. Those were significant milestones that we, we would definitely put on the chart in the last 20 years.
Yeah, you’ve you’ve certainly, I mean, I’ve been around for in the neuro tech field, maybe half that time and little over, you’ve been around, you’ve been doing neuro tech reports for 20 years. And the neuro tech leaders form for over 20 years. And you just launched a new publication. And so now I’m going to give you the opportunity to tell you tell us what inspired that and what you’re hoping to accomplish with a new publication.
James Cavuoto 51:41
Okay, yeah, but first, I have to correct you because it wasn’t me who launched it. It was me and Susan Schaffer and this other woman, what was her Oh, JoJo, Platt who helped us I don’t know if you know her, but
like, you know what, I have some stories about her. Oh, you do? Yeah.
Arun Sridhar 52:01
Some person to work with Gemma in case you haven’t met her? She’s absolutely horrible to work with?
James Cavuoto 52:09
No, no, no, we’ve been we’ve been really blessed to have JoJo on the team first with the neurotech business report. And now with bio, because you know, Jojo has been in that space. I mean, her her years with the Feinstein Institute, that’s what bioelectronic medicine, many people say was born. So she brings a lot of insight there. Susan Schaffer, who’s my partner in the new publication, was the former editor of bio century, which is what’s the leading not was still is the leading pharmaceutical industry, biotech industry newsletter. And so she’s bringing a lot of insight about the pharma industry that we don’t have. So what motivated us to get interested in this is, is recognising the potential of bioelectronic medicine. And again, you know, people like Kevin Tracy and, and Warren grill and Victor pickoff who are also helping us, Victor and Warren are members of our editorial advisory board. And as a su Seagull, by the way we so but anyway, seeing the potential that bioelectronic medicine has for addressing disorders that are not neurological for addressing non CNS disorders. You know, the potential there is enormous in yet the organization’s the companies and the research labs that have the real expertise at what’s going on at the cellular level, or what’s going on, you know, just understanding that disease, pathology, a lot of that exists within the pharmaceutical industry. And there’s just not enough involvement yet. From the pharmaceutical industry, a lot of that early activity in bioelectronic medicine is coming from the device industry. And we saw that as a, you know, as a mismatch, we think there’s a need to involve and educate, maybe not educate, that’s that that’s probably not the best but but why
Arun Sridhar 54:31
not? Why not? I mean, having worked in the pharmaceutical industry and having
James Cavuoto 54:35
smart, I’m not smart enough to educate anyone about it. So I like to use that word, but maybe inform right? The industry
Arun Sridhar 54:44
inform and engage Jim let’s let’s leave it at that.
James Cavuoto 54:48
inform and engage the pharma industry, the biotech industry, and, you know, again, if if we can be the antibiotic to try and bring the device In the end the drug worlds together to create this new form of therapies and this new form of diagnostics. That’s an offshoot. But we think, a separate, at least for the moment, a separate industry, or at least a separate industry segment from what’s going on with CNS disorders. So neuromodulation to treat pain or to treat epilepsy or to treat movement disorders that are essentially neurological, and their root will continue to be the focus of neuro tech business report. But neural modulation or neural signalling, to treat disorders outside of the CNS to treat disorders affecting an end organ cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, inflammation, bowel and bladder disorders, there’s just a lot of opportunity there. And the pharma industry are the ones who know the disorder, who knows the clinician community’s treating that disorder. And in many cases, know the mechanism of action that’s going on at the cellular level, this is just another way and in many cases, a better way. Or at least a complementary way of achieving that therapeutic effect where you know, and let’s face it, even the best drugs have side effects, even the best drugs have refractory populations. And so it’s in the pharmaceutical industry interest to be looking for alternative ways to address the patient populations that they’re, you know, seeking to address today. So that’s our goal, whether we, you know, achieve it or not check back with me in 20 years, I’ll be happy to happy to let you know whether we succeeded or not.
Arun Sridhar 57:06
Well, well said actually, well said, and I think let’s chat offline as well, in terms of just trying to see how I can help in other ways, because I would love to kind of be appreciate you all, because I think it’s a very worthwhile endeavour. And also something that I think having come from probably one of the first pharma companies have actually invested into the area and having led the discovery for the for that company, I think there is a lot more that people can do in terms of informing and engaging that audience for sure. So one final question from us, Jim, because we’re nearing the hour here is, would you actually recommend your unconventional path in science to other younger people, because I personally see that science as a place for everybody. And it’s not just necessarily doing science, but also about doing other things, like the way you’re doing, and I think it can be as rewarding may not be as straightforward from your experience. But I mean, I think this is also something that we personally see as one of the goals of the podcast is to actually highlight this unconventional parts of people that that they take in life, and in sign. So what’s your reflection on that?
James Cavuoto 58:24
I don’t know that I would commend my life or career perhaps to anyone else, because, frankly, I think I’ve been lucky in a lot of respects to be in the right place at the right time. However, I will, I will say this. Being able to are not just able, but interested in communicating what you find. Semi is really important, whether you’re going to be in a lab, as a scientist, or whether you’re going to be facing the public, or whether you’re going to be a business person, or whether you’re going to be an investor or whether you’re just, you know, an observer, being able to communicate or just being willing and interested and communicating what you’re finding what you’re seeing, I think that’s good as far as a career path. Like I said, mine just fell into place. I’m not gonna, I’m not going to recommend that.
Arun Sridhar 59:29
It’s not just a career path. I think the reason the motivation for me to ask it is not just a career path, it’s basically about understanding the way in which people would communicate about science in a way that’s different. So I think if there is any, if anybody out there is possibly wanting to learn about that, and I think for me, that is the interesting part that people can take to, I think maybe they should come and talk to you about maybe interning for a summer or something so they could they could learn a few tricks from you, so that they can actually involve that in there kind of life and, and science and communication and everything else that comes with it because you have actually been one of the few people are probably the only person in the field to actually have had this degree of involvement all the way from the very early days, from not doing science and engineering to actually talking about it and getting people to talk about it. I think that’s a great journey that you shared with us, Jim, thank you so much.
James Cavuoto 1:00:29
Yeah. So one other thing I’d like to add, Jojo for people who are interested in following the bioelectronic. medicine industry, we’re pleased to report that we will return to New York City on April 5 2022, for the fifth annual bioelectronic medicine forum. And, of course, our last two conferences, unfortunately had to be held online because of the pandemic, but we are hopeful and fully expecting to return in person to New York, and you can find more. We’re in the process of putting the agenda together. But you can find more about the conference and past events, again at our website, www dot neurotech. reports.com. Thank you. Well, thank you. Thank you for having me. Yeah.
And thanks for including me in some of your capers. It’s a lot of fun. We have a great time.
James Cavuoto 1:01:31
I think it’s been fun, everything we’ve everything we’ve done together. So let’s, let’s keep it that way.
Great. Thanks, Jim.
James Cavuoto 1:01:38
It’s got to be fun. Got to be fun.
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