Ready to know more about San Diego?


On becoming obsessed with science…

Getting in on the action (yes, there's action!) in the research labs of the Torrey Pines Mesa.
Photo by Chad McDermott / Shutterstock

By Erin Chambers Smith

Welcome to our new blog about what’s going on in the greater Torrey Pines Mesa area, aka Where the Biotechs Start, aka UC San Diego and its network of spinoffs, scientists and big business. We’ve been growing more and more obsessed with the area, its discoveries, facilities, personalities, and potential for a while now. We write about all of this in San Diego Magazine (often as part of bigger features like “Reasons to Love SD” or “Big Ideas” or “People to Watch“). But when you are obsessed, monthly lists aren’t enough. Neither are one-off profiles, like this one on the tiny liver makers in Sorrento Mesa. They make real livers!

And we’re now working on a whole new special publication dedicated to this stuff. We, as a city, don’t talk enough about it or care enough about it. And by enough, I mean I don’t hear people talking about genomics or tiny livers at parties or on the sidelines of kids’ soccer games. And as a media company with a broad readership throughout the county (and a growing readership across the border), I think we can help with that.

The print publication will start early in 2016. In the meantime on this page, we will link to news stories, updates from local science and research institutions, original interviews and stories from our team, contributions from local experts, and all kinds of other interesting stuff. We’re going to station a “Man on the Beach” to interview surfing scientists (there are a lot of them), and name a VIP, Very Important Protein, of the week. There’s a grad student at Scripps Research Institute who made an amazing breakthrough on Ebola by studying one single protein for two years! If you have an idea or would like to contribute, email me.

Here are a few things to talk about at your next cocktail party, poker night or kids soccer game this week:  

  • We have a lot of the world’s biotech leaders in our city. A LOT!

  • Isis Pharmaceuticals just got $65 million from a big drug company to further develop new drugs with their special technology. Isis is a leader in “antisense technology advancement” and “RNA-targeted drug discovery.” That’s what the science part of their website says. But if you look at their mission, the very first line is, “We know that sick people depend on us.” (Note: Part of our goal on this blog is to bridge that gap in understanding, from the laboratory science to the sick people. That’s when we all start to realize how critical San Diego-area companies and people are to the future of our overall health.) This New York Times post did a pretty good job of talking about what Isis is good at a few years ago and with a different drug. If you’re wondering about the unfortunate connotation of the name Isis, so was KPBS.

  • An LA university would like to get in on the action (the science, the discovery, and huge amounts of grant money that help it all grow) here in La Jolla. It’s been a bumpy road for them. It sure says a lot about our innovation mojo when it doesn’t make sense for an LA institution to do this kind of research and development on its own, considering the powerhouse talent and collaborative community (and money for research) we already have established here. Happy, surf-y San Diego is a scientific powerhouse! On bluffs, with less smog! The Union-Tribune is sure taking the LA overture as a compliment. It will be interesting to watch the drama play out, because traditionally the scientific, business, and educational communities have a reputation for being friendly and collaborative. There are more lawyers and lawsuits since LA came to town (or tried to).

  • A lot of scientists, like La Jolla’s famous Eric Topol, are active on Twitter. It’s cool because Twitter, with its character limit, forces you to be succinct and get right to the point, something not all scientists are known for.

  • Art and science go together in many ways. The La Jolla area, for sure, is a center for both. The Today Show was recently here to film a story on the new Dr. Suess book, uncovered from the estate of the late Theodore Geisel. (Exploring how art and science intersect in theory, in practice and funding (longtime La Jollan Geisel and his widow Audrey have donated millions to scientific institutions) will get some kind of regular coverage here and in the new publication).

On becoming obsessed with science…

Photo by Chad McDermott / Shutterstock

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA