Who Should Life Science Pros Follow on Twitter?

9/24/12Follow @xconomy

[Updated: 6:45 pm ET] Last week, I made a case that Twitter has begun to come of age in biotech, and it’s now a must-read source of real-time industry news and information. But one helpful reader (on Twitter, of course) pointed out something was missing in that column: a list of people in the biotech industry to follow.

Your wish is my command.

Before offering up this list, I should say I’m not the world’s most avid user of Twitter. I personally have been using it a little more than three years at my account @ldtimmerman. Over that time, I’ve built my own list of almost 600 different people, news outlets, and companies that I follow because their perspectives are interesting and useful for me as a biotech journalist.

These folks collectively put out way more microblog commentary than any one person can absorb in a day. I don’t try to read everything these people write, but like most Twitter users, I tend to check on it a few times a day when I’m taking a break from other tasks.

That said, here’s a list of people from all kinds of walks of life in the healthcare industry that I consider worth following. The group includes scientists, investors, physicians, and journalists. If you’ve got other folks you’d suggest adding to the list, just leave a comment at the bottom of the story or send me a note on Twitter, and I’ll update the post over time. For those of you who like lists on Twitter, here’s the complete list you can join.

Journalists:

@adamfeuerstein. Adam Feuerstein is a veteran biotech columnist for TheStreet.com. He follows publicly traded biotech stocks, small and big, like no other writer. Adam has strong opinions, doesn’t pull any punches when he identifies an underperforming or shady company, and he loves to engage in witty real-time debate.

@matthewherper. Matt Herper is another longtime life sciences writer for Forbes, a consistent blogger at Forbes.com, and a frequent Twitter conversationalist. He writes a lot about biomedical science, particularly genomics, as well as the struggles of the biotech and pharma industry in developing new drugs.

@JohnCFierce. John Carroll is the editor-in-chief of FierceBiotech (@FierceBiotech), the widely read online publication that rounds up industry news each day. John sends out the usual headlines on his Twitter account, and sprinkles in plenty of analysis.

@InVivoBlogChris. Chris Morrison writes for Elsevier Business Intelligence. Besides engaging in conversations about biotech industry trends, followers of his Twitter account know he is a frustrated Philly sports fan.

@RyanMFierce. Ryan McBride is the executive editor at FierceBiotech, and a former colleague here at @xconomy. Ryan writes about drug development, but also focuses on bioinformatics and health IT.

@BNHealthSci. Bloomberg News wasn’t the first news organization to embrace social media, but the financial newswire where I used to work has a deep, strong lineup of health reporters who are increasingly mixing it up on Twitter. Key folks to follow are @mslopatto @RS_Flinn @megtirrell @RobertLangreth @FayCortez @Kristen_Hallam @SPettyPi @AnnaEdney and @HealthSciReg.

@amy_harmon. Amy Harmon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer at The New York Times, digs deep into the societal and ethical implications of biotech and genomic advances.

@Loftus. Veteran reporter Peter Loftus and colleague Jonathan Rockoff (@JonathanRockoff) are go-to sources on biotech at Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal.

@ivanoransky. Ivan Oransky of Reuters is one of the leading health editors out there, and a tough-minded advocate for high standards in journalism and honest science communication. The media world would be a better place with more guys like Ivan.

@OncologyTimes. Serena Stockwell and team cover a lot of ground in the world of cancer, especially the treatment of blood cancers.

@ScottHensley. Scott Hensley covers the health world for NPR, and brings a business savvy from his past experience at The Wall Street Journal.

@pharmalot. [Added: 2 pm ET] Veteran pharma reporter Ed Silverman rounds up all kinds of pharma news in his widely read blog, including lots of things pharma companies might prefer to keep swept under the rug.

@rleuty_biotech [Added: 6:45 pm ET] Ron Leuty of the San Francisco Business Times keeps a close eye on the biotech people and companies in the SF Bay Area, one of the world’s top two life sciences hubs.

Company Insiders/Executives

@popsalks. Richard Pops is the CEO of Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS). As discussed in last week’s column, he’s not afraid to engage on Twitter, and show a little bit of personality, despite some of the risks he faces as the CEO of a publicly traded company. Earlier this year, when the FDA approved a diabetes drug important to Alkermes, he sent out a celebratory note on Twitter: “Game On.”

@Michael_Gilman. Gilman cut his teeth on Twitter while running a three-guys-and-a-dog startup in Boston called Stromedix. He was able to show his knowledge and wit on Twitter, without any real fear of litigators who eat nails for breakfast. Even now that his company got bought and he’s a senior vice president at Biogen Idec, he’s still the same @Michael_Gilman, setting a standard for biotech communication on Twitter.

@Gautamkollu. Kollu offered up sharp regular analysis of the cancer drug business while he was a vice president of marketing at South San Francisco-based Exelixis (NASDAQ: EXEL). He recently took a job at Natera, a company working on prenatal tests to screen for Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities—a field with lots of potential and lots of potential for controversy. I, for one, will be watching what he has to say about this field.

@scientre Laura Strong, the president of Quintessence Biosciences in Madison, WI, has made clever use of Twitter. She’s raised her profile, her company’s profile, and raised awareness of what’s going on in biotech in Wisconsin.

@RubyGadelrab. Ruby Gadelrab is a senior director of marketing at Affymetrix, and as she says on her Twitter bio, “Marketing professional in Biotech, Genomics and Cancer Research. Diva. Fashionista. Foodie. Lover of Social Media and Shoes.” Now, I ask, how can you ignore that?

@DShaywitz. David Shaywitz likes to write about biotech and pharma industry trends in blogs, papers, Tweets, what have you. And Shaywitz isn’t one of those commentators who just passes along more of the same old conventional wisdom. He’s a creative thinker, and skilled writer.

Venture capitalists

@LifeSciVC. Bruce Booth of Atlas Venture has established himself over the past couple years as the best blogging VC in biotech. He’s similarly comfortable sharing his views about biotech investing, and misperceptions in the market, on Twitter.

@DaphneZohar. Daphne Zohar was one of biotech’s early adopters on Twitter, and has helped many of her colleagues at Boston-based PureTech Ventures, including former Pfizer executive @John_LaMattina, to see the light. PureTech has gone beyond just participating on Twitter, and has gone so far as to create a new app called Appeering which catalogs conversations on Twitter so that users and non-users of the service can get a quick and easy rundown of which subjects are hot each day in life sciences.

@BobMoreVC. Bob More of Frazier Healthcare Ventures has emerged over the past year as an outspoken voice on venture capital, biotech trends, politics, and more.

@BijanS. Bijan Salehizadeh of Navimed Capital is a friend and collaborator of Bruce Booth, and like Booth, he’s both a skilled communicator and a keen observer of industry trends.

@mdphdbfd. Stephen Hoffman of Skyline Ventures doesn’t say much on Twitter, but when he does, he’s worth listening to. His irreverent Twitter handle, about an MD/Ph.D being a BFD, speaks volumes. You have to laugh when looking at his Twitter account image alone. It’s the “most interesting guy in the world” from the Dos Equis beer commercials.

Scientists

@dgmacarthur. Daniel MacArthur, more than anyone else, caused me to have my Twitter-is-awesome epiphany. It was early 2010, and he was a young genomics whiz attending a key industry confab in Florida. He started Tweeting on a Saturday afternoon about an impressive presentation on a new semiconductor based DNA sequencer from a stealthy company called Ion Torrent Systems. Forbes’ Matthew Herper re-tweeted it, putting it on my radar screen. I knew right away that not only had I better start following a smart insider like MacArthur, but that I found a good story idea to follow up on. Since then, MacArthur has moved on to a research gig at Massachusetts General Hospital, sent out many more informative Tweets from genomics conferences, and built a legion of followers.

@biotechbaumer. Jonathan Mandelbaum is one scientist who likes to use Twitter for its two-way conversational capability, rather than merely as a platform to just push out his research or views.

@westr. Robert West, a faculty member at SUNY Medical Center in Syracuse, NY, is a very prolific Tweeter with a lot to share and a lot to say about the cutting edge of biomedical research and personalized medicine.

@AtulButte. Atul Butte of Stanford University has a rare blend of interests in computation, biology, and entrepreneurship. He’s someone to watch for insights into the next phase of genomics in medicine.

Investors/Analysts

@BiotechStockRsr. Many Wall Street analysts are limited by legal compliance departments in what they can say, but those rules don’t apply to independent operators like David Miller of Biotech Stock Research. He follows publicly traded development-stage biotech companies, with a particular focus on cancer companies.

@natesadeghi. Nate Sadeghi-Nehad offers up a great mix of sharp biotech commentary, mixed in with flashes of personality. He’s also a contributor to TheStreet.com.

@DewDiligence [Added: 2:30 pm ET] This Twitter feed is by Roy Friedman, who describes himself as a professional investor and director of a private foundation. He showed his market savvy this month in a series of Tweets that questioned the legitimacy of clinical data from Tustin, CA-based Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PPHM). Sure enough, Peregrine stock crashed today, as the company said investors should no longer rely on data it previously released about its experimental lung cancer drug.

@BradLoncar. [Added: 2:30 pm ET] Loncar, an independent investor in Lenexa, KS, is best known as the guy who attempted an Internet-based rebellion that called for a boardroom shakeup at Dendreon. Loncar was a bit ahead of the curve on that one, as Dendreon has struggled this year. And he’s been branching out lately, following and commenting on many more biotech companies.

@dsobek [Added: 2:30 pm ET] David Sobek of Sobek Analytics is another biotech investor not afraid to share strong opinions about companies good and bad.

@dbsable [Added: 2:30 pm ET] David Sable mixes in a variety of insights as a life sciences fund manager, a teacher at Columbia University, and as a physician.

@JasonCRG [Added: 2:40 pm ET] Jason Chew is the co-founder of Chimera Research Group, which has a whole team of independent analysts who active in discussing and analyzing the biotech news of the day on Twitter. Co-founder Patrick Crutcher (@ChasingTheAlpha) Tro Kalayjian (@TroKalayjianCRG) and Andrew Goodwin (@BioDueDiligence) are all key members of the team to follow.

Physicians

@erictopol. Eric Topol, the prominent cardiologist at Scripps Health in San Diego, is an advocate for health IT that will lead to nothing less than the “Creative Destruction of Medicine.” Not surprisingly, he was early to embrace Twitter as a communications platform.

@mtmdphd. Mike Thompson is a physician in Waukesha, WI who specializes in hematology/oncology, the field that treats blood cancers. He’s a prolific and influential Tweeter. You can bet the folks at big blood cancer drugmakers know his name well.

@DrAnasYounes. Dr. Anas Younes of MD Anderson Cancer Center is a thought leader in the field of hematology/oncology. That means he’s a busy guy, but not so busy that he can’t share a lot of new and interesting developments on Twitter.

@JackWestMD. Dr. Jack West is an oncologist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and a forward thinker in the world of health IT, social media, and telemedicine.

Consultants/Service Providers

@genomicslawyer. Dan Vorhaus, a young attorney in New York, had the foresight to carve out a legal specialty in the fast-moving world of genomics and brand himself on Twitter as the one and only person with the handle @genomicslawyer. He frequently passes along both his writing and relevant genomics news and features from other outlets.

@MaverickNY. Sally Church is a cancer R&D consultant who has made a pretty big name for herself the past couple of years on her Pharma Strategy Blog and through her Tweets. Besides her deep interest in cancer R&D, this charming British lady loves American football. Go figure.

European Biotech Pros [Added 4 pm ET]

@Rowan_UK Rowan Gardner is the chairman of Biolauncher, a Cambridge, U.K.-based firm that helps researchers translate their work in the business world. She’s an avid member of the Twittersphere, following and sharing biotech news of the day in the U.S. and Europe.

@fderubertis Francesco De Rubertis is a venture capitalist with Index Ventures in Switzerland and the U.K. He’s a former postdoc in genetics at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA. He’s a pretty prolific Tweeter by VC standards, regularly sharing his global perspective on the biotech, pharma, and medical device sector. Lately, he’s been bantering a bit with a California-based VC peer—Frazier Healthcare’s @BobMoreVC.

@ScripMikeWard Mike Ward is the U.K.-based editor for Scrip Intelligence, a source of pharma industry news and analysis. Given that so many top companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Novartis, and AstraZeneca are based in Europe, it only makes sense to follow journalists like Ward who keep tabs on those operations across the Atlantic.

@ScienceScanner David Grainger is a Twitter-savvy biotech consultant to follow in the U.K. One of his recent Tweets read as follows: “You take the risk, I will take the blame” – so said Paul Janssen – great philosophy for those managing drug R&D.”

@SimonBayly Simon Bayly is a chemist and partner with Epiphany Capital in the U.K. He keeps a close eye on investment trends in biotech around the world. He recently shared this slide deck which sized up the state of European biotech funding.

@AJack Andrew Jack covers the pharmaceutical industry in Europe for the Financial Times. Thanks to @sciencescanner, who alerted me to his presence on Twitter. I’m following him now.

Anonymous Entertainers

@BurbDoc. For sheer entertainment for those in the healthcare industry, it’s hard to beat @BurbDoc. This is an anonymous Twitter account, in which someone has created an everyman physician who loves nothing more than ranting about the dysfunction of modern healthcare. He’s profane, funny, and often is on the mark when he mocks money-obsessed pharma companies, clueless government bureaucrats, and irresponsible patients. Lately he’s been ranting about what he considers the federal government’s lame push to get physicians to adopt health IT systems.

@BioTurdCEO. This is a relatively new anonymous account created by someone who thought it would be fun to skewer biotech CEOs. Whoever this person is, he or she sounds like the little devil that you can imagine whispers cynical advice into the ear of the average biotech CEO, and sometimes prevails over the angel’s advice. His motto is simply: “fleecing shareholders one secondary offering at a time.” When one biotech executive was recently quoted saying a CEO can’t change a board, BioTurdCEO pounced, saying, “Not true. Control investors—>Get friends on board—>Live large.”

OK, deep breath, I think that’s more than enough to get any Twitter newcomers started. If you have more suggestions of people to follow, let me know with a comment at the end of this story.

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.

  • Baruch Harris

    Thanks for this Luke. I’m relatively new to Twitter and was asking around for someone to do exactly what you’ve done here.

  • marycanady

    Hi Luke,

    Nice list, what do I have to do to get on it? ;)

    In 2009 we made a list of the top biotech influencers on Twitter, but it’s a bit outdated so I won’t link it here, but I’m guessing most of these people were on it. Since then we’ve developed some interesting tools to look at life science networks and influence on Twitter, stay tuned.

    For who to follow, check out also our Twitter lists of life science companies and conferences, listed below:

    https://twitter.com/Comprendia/life-science-cos

    https://twitter.com/Comprendia/life-science-conf

    Mary
    Canady
    @Comprendia

  • http://twitter.com/StaceyCurryGunn Stacey Curry Gunn

    Thanks Luke! I’m in the process of expanding my social media outreach activities for PlantForm Corp. (biologic drugs grown in plants), and I’ve picked up some new names here: much appreciated!

  • Two more

    There are two more team members at Chimera Research group, although not co-founders: JP Serrate @JPZaragoza1 and Joe Gantoss @GantosJ

  • http://twitter.com/mtmdphd Mike Thompson, MDPhD

    Thanks for the mention amongst a great crowd. Dr. Younes (mentioned) along with Robert Miller, MD and I recently published a short paper “Using Social Media in Oncology for Education and Patient Engagement
    ” – based on our talks at #ASCO12 that might be of interest. http://www.cancernetwork.com/practice/content/article/10165/2101308

  • http://twitter.com/nextgenseek nextgenseek

    Ha.. Nice coincidence. we at nextgenseek.com have come up with two sets of Twitter users to follow. Earlier today, we published the post on “Top N Science Writers to Follow on Twitter for Genetics/Genomics”. It is here at http://nextgenseek.com/2012/09/top-n-science-writers-twitter-accounts-to-follow-for-geneticsgenomics/. Carl Zimmerman tops the list and you are in top 10 in our list.

    To many people’s surprise, top academics in genomics are active in Twitter. A month ago, we also came up with the list of “Top N Academics to Follow in Twitter for Genomics”. Here is that list http://nextgenseek.com/2012/08/top-n-twitter-accounts-academic-to-follow-for-genomics/

    Hope it is useful.

  • http://www.lacertabio.com Carlos N Velez/Lacerta Bio

    Very good list, Luke. I also find it interesting that our personal and professional lives continue to blur, especially on Twitter.

  • http://twitter.com/ggoodno George Goodno

    Self serving promotion via @ggoodno. I cover biotech economic development initatives, state policy, cool advances, small business incentives…

  • Peter Piracy

    But some of these “Analysts” are not analysts! In particular this guy
    @DewDiligence runs an Ihub message board on which he highlights his favorites, none of which are biotechs. The closest is MNTA (generics) and the rest are big pharma stuff such as PFE. He used to pick and pump biotechs but in the end it just didn’t work.
    Also the Chimera Research Group, their record is only slightly better. You get much the same anyway as they also like MNTA. All these guys are pomp with fake credentials but they have something to sell you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tylermvb Tyler Van Buren

    @lifesciadvisors is the best! Ex-wall street analysts and hedge fund gurus

  • http://twitter.com/my_julianna Julianna Akuamoah

    I’m so glad to see the life science community growing on twitter @my_julianna :)

  • Ruby Gadelrab

    Hi luke, thank you so much for including me – I am honored to be in such good company! My official twitter handle for the biotech posts is @divabiotech not @rubygadelrab – Thanks very much!