Story teller, writer, drug developer – Sam Blackman is all three, a philosophy major who became a pediatric oncologist and then a creative drug developer with a penchant for imaginative solutions to translational challenges.
Although he was the son of a doctor, Sam’s journey to the leading edge of translational research was far from inevitable. His career path took him from the philosophy department at the University of Chicago (where he worked on the side as a computer repairman) to a role a research assistant in an anesthesia lab to a Grand Rounds presentation at the Mayo Clinic, Florida (at the age of 23) and finally to medical school.
Sam seemed on track to become a leading academic pediatric oncologist, but then decided to pursue drug development in biopharma, focusing in particular on translational research, the often hazy but increasingly important interface between laboratory science and clinical trials. He is especially excited about the opportunities generated by emerging tools and technologies. Today Sam is Senior Vice President at Silverback Therapeutics.
A gifted writer and a natural story teller, Sam developed a devoted following for the blog he wrote while in Boston, including a deeply moving account of his efforts, ultimately successful, to adopt a baby from Kazakhstan. More recently, he has garnered considerable acclaim for his spoken word stories, delivered as part of the Moth competition in Seattle; links to several of these performances are below.
We’re delighted to welcome Sam to Tech Tonics, and are grateful for the opportunity to share his stories with our listeners.
Today’s show is sponsored by Medidata, whose Intelligent Platform for Life Sciences closes the loop between clinical development and commercialization to power smarter treatments and healthier people.
Some Extra Show Notes:
Writing and physician authors discussed:
– Complete Sherlock Holmes by Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle
(readers can learn more about Doyle from The Remedy, written by previous Tech Tonics guest Thomas Goetz, and discussed on Venture Valkyrie here and in Forbes here.)
– Andromeda Strain, by Dr. Michael Crighton
– Aequanimitas, by Dr. William Osler
– Dr. Atul Gawande (eg Better, concepts discussed in Forbes here)
– Dr. Sid Mukherjee (eg The Gene, discussed in Forbes here)
– Drs. Hartzband & Groopman (eg Your Medical Mind, concepts discussed in Forbes here).
– The Call of Stories, by Dr. Robert Coles (referenced in this Forbes piece).
Moth (storytelling) videos from Sam:
– Winning story from The Moth GrandSLAM on June 20, 2017 at Town Hall Seattle –here.
– First Moth, about a patient with neuroblastoma, told live at The Moth StorySLAM in Seattle in December 2015 –here.
– Moth describing his adoption journey –here.
Several pieces from David on translational research:
– Closing the Translational Gap (Forbes)
– Translation Focused Disease Foundations (Atlantic)
– Turning Science Into Medicine (Boston Globe)
– Entrepreneurship as Translation (SF Chronicle)
– Patient-Oriented Research (Amer J. Med, with D. Ausiello & J. Martin)
Michael Lewis book, The Undoing Project, on Kahneman & Tversky reviewed by NYT here (with quote about persuasive power of narrative).
Finally: Stephen Colbert on whether “Central Jersey” is an actual place – here.