I had the good fortune of covering Targacept, a pioneering drug-discovery company that spun out of R&D at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., since its founding in 2000. Don deBethizy, the first CEO, placed a good bit of trust in me as a journalist with the Business Journal and allowed me extraordinary access to his strategic thinking and his top scientists.
Targacept promised to revolutionize the treatment of mankind’s most vexing neurological disorders by harnessing the most advantageous properties of nicotine. It was an audacious plan that attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment of venture capitalists, public markets and individual investors. It was also, after 15 years, more than 20 drug trials and $300 million spent, a complete and utter failure.
My February 2015 column in the Triad Business Journal is an obituary of sorts for the company and the pharmacological concept that eluded it. At this link, you will find a Q&A I conducted with Targacept’s second and final CEO, Stephen Hill. Finally, here is a link to my WFDD radio report on the failure of Targacept.
Photo by Michael Frierson
In my final radio report on the UN climate summit in Lima, Peru, I spoke with WFDD’s Keri Brown about some basics: why we have global warming, the extraordinary role forests play worldwide as a sponge for greenhouse gas emissions, and the notion that mayors might be more effective than heads of state in fighting climate change. The audio story is here.
Excerpt: “This was probably the most surprising thing I learned in Lima. I was talking with a climate scientist from NASA and he told me that the world’s 50 largest cities account for about 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If you think about cities like Beijing, Mumbai, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro or Los Angeles – big, smoggy places with a lot of traffic and a huge demand for energy – it makes sense.”
According to a recent Gallup survey, about one-third of the U.S. employees operate outside the traditional confines of office towers, cubicles or factories. In other words, one in three American workers don’t have a traditional place to work. My radio report on Sept. 26, 2014, based on my Triad Next column in the Triad Business Journal, looks at the growing movement in collaborative work spaces with a close look at the newest — Flywheel in Winston-Salem.