Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free Project Management training webinars

As I said in my previous blog 5 Best Podcasts for Business Managers, I am always on the lookout for useful free management training tools. I just recently came across a nice website with free Project Management training webinars.

PM Centers USA holds free monthly webinars for Project Management topics. Attendees can earn 0.5 Professional Development Units (PDUs) for each webinar that can be used for maintaining your PMP accreditation. You can register for their upcoming webinars at their website.

They also offer free access to many previously recorded webinars. You will need to register your name and contact information with the website, but it is completely free and well worth it. I highly recommend the following 2 Project Management webinars:

Common Scheduling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Joe Lukas, an outstanding presenter, takes you through his top 10 scheduling mistakes that he's seen people make. He gives some best practice tips including a nice Microsoft Project instruction document that will allow you to better track task float by visualizing early and late start/stops for your activities.

Essential Business Case Skills
Joe Lukas does another masterful job of providing useful training and tips in a short amount of time (about 25 minutes). Joe gives a very good introduction to Net Present Value (NPV), Internal Rate of Return (IRR), and other business finance calculations that all project managers should be familiar with. The webcast introduces an excel file document that can be freely downloaded from the PM Centers USA website that will automatically calculate NPV, IRR, and other project financial information. It's a very nice tool to play with, whether you're discounting future cash flows on your project or calculating your monthly car payments needed to pay back your loan in 3 years.

So there you go. More free management training tools for you to look at and learn from. As I continue to find others, I'll keep you posted on what I think are the best ones. Please feel free to contact me or comment to this post if you have other sources of good information that you know about.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who owns your genes?

In May of this year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Myriad Genetics claiming that the company's patents on two breast cancer genes should be voided. Anyone working in the biotechnology industry should be aware of this pending case because it's outcome will have a huge impact on the future of biotechnology.

Myriad Genetics owns the patent rights to 2 genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations in these two genes have been strongly linked to developing breast and ovarian cancer. The link is so strong that some women testing positive for mutations in these genes have been having both breasts surgically removed (double mastectomy) and often their ovaries removed as a preventative measure to avoid the very likely chance of developing cancer. This medical scenario was even a story line on the popular Gray's Anatomy television show.

Myriad Genetics owns the only available and approved medical test for the BRCA mutations. The ACLU is leading the fight against Myriad Genetics. The lawsuit claims that Myriad Genetics' patents restrict research scientists at universities and other companies from studying and learning more about these genes. From a patient advocacy standpoint, the lawsuit claims that since the only BRCA tests available are developed and sold by Myriad Genetics, it prevents patients from obtaining a truly independent second opinion.

What's at stake is much more than whether or not Myriad Genetics can own a patent on the BRCA genes. The big issue, which the ACLU is going after, is whether anyone can own a patent on any gene or biological entity. It is estimated that about 20 percent of all the human genes now have some sort of patent rights placed upon them.

Biotechnology companies will claim that it is these patent rights that allow them the confidence and incentives to risk many millions, sometimes billions, of dollars needed to develop new drugs, treatments, and medical tests to improve patient safety and efficacy in treating our most challenging diseases. If these patents all become in danger of being voided and future patents on biological entities are prohibited, the public may be the biggest loser because biotechnology companies will no longer be willing to develop new or better treatments.

Let me know which side you are on. Whichever side you stand with in this battle, the outcome will have an important impact into not only the biotechnology industry, but the practice of medicine for you and those you love.

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