Richard Gayle started SpreadingScience in 2009. With 30 years of experience, Richard has wide-ranging expertise at the bench, in both academia and industry. he has also been very active the last 15 years or so utilizing Internet technologies for research.
Richard was a senior staff scientist at Immunex for 16 years. He left following its take-over by Amgen, pursuing several avenues, such as working with the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association and serving as a founding member of the board of the Seattle Biotech Legacy Foundation. In 2003, he joined Etubics Corporation, first as a board member and then as a Vice-President.
Computers In Biology
Even before he was a graduate student, Richard was interested in using computers for biological research. He was the first graduate student in the Biochemistry department to have his thesis completely composed and printed out by a computer – a Radio Shack TRS-80 and a daisy wheel printer. In the early 90s, using a dial-up connection, he saved Immunex over $50,000 a year by using a specialized newsgroup called Bionet to gain important knowledge regarding reagents.
In the mid-90s, he, along with a small group of other researchers, recognized the importance of the Web for biological research. While still overseeing an active research. he created the first 18 pages of the Immunex Intranet site over Christmas in 1996 and managed the site as it expanded to over 3000 pages during the next 2 years.He saw early on the benefits of an active, collaborative intranet but also recognized the barriers to use that needed to be overcome.
Realizing that the only people reading meeting minutes were the people who had presented, Richard embarked on a novel plan to create what we would call a Weblog today. It was a weekly newsletter called ‘The Daily Researcher’ (we hope to post some examples for historical reasons).
The newsletter had links to new pages added to the Immunex Intranet, as well as links to new papers published by Immunex researchers, other interesting papers, and useful pages found on the web. In addition, he wrote a column called ‘Another View.’ Of all the research Richard was involved in for 16 years, this column, which he wrote almost weekly for two years, garnered him the greatest positive feedback.
Weblogs and Beyond
It also substantially increased the visibility of the Intranet and allowed it to become a necessary conduit for information at Immunex. Richard used his expertise to not only help organizations like SBLF with their intranet needs, but also to publish a public blog called ‘Living Code’, which was ranked by Forbes as the #3 best medical blog in 2003.
Richard has continued to apply his knowledge of what works in a scientific setting at Etubics Corporation, putting together an Intranet with wiki, forums and blogging tools for all the employees to use, as well as managing the external website and the internal network. He did all of this in addition to doing work at the bench and helping secure financing for Etubics. While maintaining a relationship with Etubics, he is now venturing out, bringing his insight into what does and does not work in a research setting.
He firmly believes that the organizations that can successfully harness these new technologies will be able to answer the difficult questions facing us. SpreadingScience is based on his belief that only human social networks leveraging the tools of Web 2.0 can overcome the information glut we now have. Only by permitting information to be transformed into knowledge, and perhaps wisdom, can we answer many of the difficult biological questions facing us.