The 12 Days of Xconomists: Leading Innovators Give Their Top Advances of the Past Decade

1/5/10Follow @gthuang

Over the last few weeks, as the holiday season heated up and the decade wound down, we reached out to our distinguished network of Xconomists—who include many of the top technologists, scientists, and business innovators in our three cities—and asked them (and a few more tech and life sciences leaders) to describe the most important innovations of the past 10 years in their respective fields.

We figured we’d get two or three who could take time out during this busy season to write for us, but we were wrong. The response was staggering. We received so many thoughtful posts about the last decade (more than a dozen) that we’ve only just begun to look forward and process their responses to the other question we asked—about the biggest advances they think will come in the next decade.

Beginning today, with Boston Xconomist Michael Greeley’s Venture Capital Oscars piece about the films that best represent the economic and investment climate of the next few years, we will be running a series of posts about the coming decade. But before we dive deeply into those, we thought it would be useful to take a minute—pause—and actually think some more about what these experts have told us so far. So here is a rundown of 12 Xconomist Forum reflections on the 2000s, noughties, or whatever you want to call them:

Top Five Robotics Hits of the 2000s (Rod Brooks)
Highlight: “Thousands of remotely piloted and autonomous aircraft in the U.S. military.”

Top Five Biotech Innovations of the 2000s (Jay Lichter)
Highlight: “Genentech’s ranibizumab (Lucentis)—The first treatment of its kind for the ‘wet’ form of macular degeneration.”

Top Five Global Health Innovations of the 2000s (Christopher Elias)
Highlight: “New recombinant, platform-based [vaccine] technologies may greatly speed vaccine production, decrease manufacturing costs, and increase production in developing countries.”

Top Five Medical Innovations of the 2000s, and One Big Concern (James Topper)
Highlight: “The development of novel mechanisms and combination therapies in HIV, which have turned a universally fatal disease into a chronic one.”

Four Groundbreaking Innovations from the 2000s, and One More Life-Changing Event (Chad Waite)
Highlight: “A night that I was in NYC (home of the ENEMY) in October 2004 when the Red Sox FINALLY won the World Series!” (OK, also the iPod. And Facebook.)

Top Five Biomedical Innovations of the 2000s (Bob More)
Highlight: “Novartis’ imatinib (Gleevec). The first drug for specifically inhibiting an enzyme causing cancer rather than killing fast dividing cells.”

Seven Computer Science Game-Changers from the 2000s (Ed Lazowska)
Highlight: “Today, you can search more than 500 Terabytes of the Web (not to mention your own desktop) in 100 milliseconds.”

The Top Five Advances From the Decade of Genomics (Clifford Reid)
Highlight: “Advanced diagnostics by blood biomarker analysis (e.g. fetal DNA/cells in mother’s blood).”

My Top 10 List of Innovations Across the Spectrum (Larry Bock)
Highlight: “High-tech treatment of nuclear waste, a technology that solves the key bottleneck to new nuclear growth and old nuclear cleanup.”

Top Five Tech Advances of the 2000s (Steve Hall)
Highlight: “The beginning of what will likely be a permanent shift to a world of digital media.” (Also, digital camera and camera phone proliferation.)

The Decade’s Most Important Biomedical Discovery (Phillip Sharp)
Highlight: “The most important discovery of the past decade is that of ‘induced pluripotent stem cells’ or ‘iPS cells,’ which are adult cells that have been coaxed back into a embryonic-stem-cell-like state.”

The Top Five Biotech Innovations of the 2000s (Clay Siegall)
Highlight: “Cancer therapies such as Roche/Genentech’s trastuzumab (Herceptin) and Celgene’s lenalidomide (Revlimid).”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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