The holidays are (already) here again. Much as we try to push back the calendar, those Thanksgiving doorbuster, Black Friday blowout, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday pitches keep knock, knock, knocking at our doors. And those salebrations don’t even count the actual seasonal holidays, like Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on Dec. 2 to kick off an early start to this year’s festivities.
Before you hit the stores – or, more likely, that “Purchase Now” icon on your phone – take a spin through these suggestions from the BioWorld team and from our fans and followers.
For the young and young at heart, BioWorld Staff Writer Alfred Romann observed that “a really impressive remote control car is always fun.” None, he said, is better than the Traxxas models, which can race up to 50 km/hr and are, “basically, professional grade.”
For colleagues with little ones, BioWorld Production Editor Amanda Lanier suggested kid-friendly games like the Professor Noggins’ Wonders of Science trivia cards or Human Body trivia cards. College students, or anyone who likes to think outside the corporate VC start-up box, can check out Biopunk: Solving Biotech’s Biggest Problems in Kitchens and Garages, about the growing community of DIY biologists and biohackers and what their exploits mean for the future. “The read might even inspire recipient to join a local DIY-Bio group,” Lanier speculated.
In fact, many of us like to hunker down with a good book once the ham, lamb or turkey is retired. Although the topic isn’t exactly appetizing, Flu Hunter: Unlocking the secrets of a virus, by Robert Webster, reveals the detective work that helped to uncover the secrets of the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic. Webster, emeritus faculty member in the infectious diseases department at St. Jude Children’s Hospital and renowned avian influenza researcher, is also the flu hunter of name, chronicling his lifetime of work in the field.
BioWorld Staff Writer Cormac Sheridan was thinking along the same lines. “As well as being one of the world's most highly cited immunologists, professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin and co-founder of three biotechs (Opsona Therapeutics Ltd., Inflazome Ltd. and Sitryx Therapeutics Ltd.), Luke O'Neill has also written a popular science book,” he said. Humanology: A Scientist's Guide to Our Amazing Existence “tells us how it all began, where it will end and what happens in between,” Sheridan pointed out. “One for the evolutionary outlier in your life.”
Shyama Ghosh, senior science editor of content operations for BioWorld parent company Clarivate Analytics, agreed that “It’s all about books this year!” What better way to offer a science-themed book than to gift Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, she suggested – as did , Courtney Heath at Scient PR – which celebrates innovative women who play leading roles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), or, perhaps Women Who Run with the Wolves, which Ghosh called “an ode to tough, smart and untamed women.”
For the whimsical, Ghosh suggested the personal and sentimental poetry of Indian Canadian Rupi Kaur. Milk and Honeyand The Sun and Her Flowers “will make you smile and cry as you travel this artist’s journey,” Ghosh said.
Finally, in a nod to the weird and wacky, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is “Mark Manson’s attempt to convince us that we can be happier if only we’re not so positive all the time!” Ghosh relayed.
Items of a personal nature telegraph the thought behind the giving. For the scientists on your list, rare disease patient and advocate Stephanie Fischer tweeted from her @RarePOV handle about limited edition “Glow in the Dark” DNA women's canvas shoes from TOMS, whose “One for One” program helps a person in need for every product purchased. Don’t fret, guys: There’s a men’s version, too. Some sizes are already sold out, so don’t procrastinate.
A gift of jewelry is always in style during the holidays. Fingerprint jewelry, suggested by Romann, could hardly be more personal, providing a one-of-a-kind touch on a necklace or ring.
For the bearded scientists, VCs or CEOs in your life, tweetmeister and BioWorld follower Adam Singer messaged us from @AdamSinger to suggest @beardbrand, whose mantra is to “keep on growing.” Good advice, certainly, for the lab and the bottom line.
For those who enjoy giving and attending holiday parties, consider brain and heart specimen coasters, recommended by BioWorld Production EditorAnn Marie Griffith. Each glass coaster features a slice of the tissue so that, when stacked, you see the organ in its entirety. “I think they would make a neat gift for any science geek who likes to kick back with a cocktail (or cup of hot cocoa) after a long day in the lab,” Griffith said.
Need some coffee mugs for those coasters? Jessica Yingling, president of Little Dog Communications Inc., suggested a charmer with an epitaph that will ring true with any scientist. “As innovators and scientists, we sometimes need a positive reminder that failures are part of the process, and we can learn from them!” she said.
To set that party mood, Mark McCarty, Regulatory Editor of BioWorld MedTech, suggested a 3D printed LED moonlight, which changes color and intensity to match your mood. “Not that I know squat about astronomy,” McCarty admitted, “but this is pretty groovy if you ask me.”
For those with a bigger budget, “on my trip to SITC my Airbnb had this amazing digital candle/art piece called My New Flame,” recounted Carter Keller, chief operating officer of Gigagen Inc. “It was astonishing how lifelike it was and also astonishing how expensive it was once I looked for it online. Let me know if anyone wants to get me one!”
Prefer holiday decorating with a personal touch? Pick up a 3-D drawing pen, suggested Aline Sherwood, principal of Scienta Communications, and design to your heart’s desire. The product “shows how far 3-D printing technology has come in a pretty short span of time,” Sherwood said. “I’m not sure there are many practical applications for this pen, but it’s definitely nifty.”
Cooks can have some fun in the kitchen, too, Osborne said, with a science-themed spice tube rack.
For those who relish monthly gift baskets of fruit, wine, flowers and the like, Oleg Nodelman, founder and managing partner of Ecor1 Capital Management LLC, gave a shout-out to the Salt and Straw Seasonal Pints Club. This box of deliciousness includes amazing varieties of ice cream – five unique flavors delivered to your door every month. With gems like Essence of Ghost in October and Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecans in November – not to mention standards like Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Coffee & Bourbon and Chocolate Gooey Brownie – who could go wrong?
If you want to recalibrate after that ice cream, Romann recommended the Magic Bullet Single Shot, which makes fast and hassle-free smoothies – blended party drinks, too.
If you truly need a sugar detox, Venbio Partner Aaron Royston recommended Just Date Syrup. No kidding: This low glycemic index, all-natural, vegan, gluten-free sugar alternative is made with organic medjool dates and “also has a bunch of nutrients, so it helps people get away from refined sugar during the holidays,” Royston said. The product comes from a female physician-owned company that also supports diabetes education programs for at-risk youth and conducts research on the impact of various sugar alternatives.
Who could forget our furry friends? Singer steered us to @barkbox, another gift of the month club that includes at least two toys, two all-natural bags of treats and a chew, curated from each month's themed collection.
Not that we like to think about work in the midst of holiday merrymaking, but Lynn Yoffee, News Director for BioWorld and sister publication BioWorld MedTech, suggested a cool suite of tools for remote workers. Among the ideas we especially like: a portable lap desk (designed for gamers, so you know it’s comfy for hours of use), folding keyboard, wireless mobile scanner and noise-canceling earbuds. Working at Starbucks? No worries. Truly one-stop shopping for all those virtual, stealthy biopharmas on your list.
With the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference just around the corner, Osborne pointed to an iPhone case emblazoned with B cells that’s sure to turn heads among the immuno-oncology crowd.
For times when those preclinical and clinical studies take just a little too long, PR maven Peter Steinerman suggested a clever little magic tool that, he suggested, “will be sure to impress at your next meeting with the FDA.”
And let’s be real: working in the field is just as much thrill as tedium, and traveling with the biopharma crowd lands us in some pretty exciting venues. Anette Breindl, Senior Science Editor of BioWorld and BioWorld Science, floated a reminder that ESMO 2019 will be held in Barcelona – de rigueur for the culture-loving medical oncologist in your life. The city is home to several architectural masterpieces by Antoni Gaudi – and it so happens that entrance to those masterpieces does sell out, she cautioned. Spring for a ticket to Park Guell or Sagrada Familia, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If your culture-loving oncologist is into nanotechnology, check out Casa Batllo, Breindl suggested, another Gaudi masterpiece and one where nanomilled materials were used in some of the windows for visual effects. If music is the preferred hobby, check out tickets to Palau de la Musica Catalana. Its architecture earned the concert hall a spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, “and the musical program is to match,” Breindl said.
Holidays often revolve around family, and BioWorld Regulatory Editor Mari Serebrov suggested a family pass to a science museum, aquarium or planetarium. “This is a gift that keeps on giving year-round, and it allows the scientists in the family to amaze everyone with their expertise,” Serebrov said. Not to mention that regular visits to your local science center could spark an interest in STEM subjects in the next generation. “There’s nothing like seeing science in action,” Serebrov pointed out.
Peter Winter, Editor of BioWorld Insight, took that idea global, suggesting an industry-appropriate visit to London’s Science Museum for a special exhibition on one of biotech’s biggest challenges: Superbugs. The exhibit “explores how society is responding to the enormous challenge of antibiotic resistance, featuring scientific research from across the globe and the personal stories of those waging war on the bugs,” Winter pointed out. The just-opened exhibition, which runs through mid-March 2019, is free to the public. The family trip to London? Priceless.
Because every gift list needs a stocking stuffer, the Science is Real pin is a great way to show support for the field, said Steve Doberstein, senior vice president of research and development and chief research and development officer at Nektar Therapeutics Inc. In addition to their message of scientific truth over fiction, these pins help to support up-and-comers in the field, he pointed out. Half of the profits go to the nonprofit STEM groups Black Girls Code, DIY Girls and Chicktech.
Speaking of worthy causes, the Apopo Foundation reached out to say it continues to train African giant-pouched rats, nicknamed HeroRATs, to find land mines or detect tuberculosis using their extraordinary sense of smell. Currently, the non-profit is making a big push to clear Cambodia’s minefields and return safe, productive land back to local communities. The effort was first mentioned in our 2015 Gift Guide.
And that’s a wrap for 2018. Have a happy, jolly, merry, joyous, festive holiday. And may the odds be ever on your side in 2019!