Anawat Sudchanham/123RF

Top 25 Biotech Influencers to Watch on Twitter

  • 20 April 2018
  • Sam Mire

According to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, biotechnology ‘is technology based on biology [which] harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.' It encompasses a number of medical fields, but the common thread through Biotech innovators is just that – innovation. The influencers chosen for this list are ambitious minds seeking to improve the future of health through the study of medicine and the processes that will help shape the future of how we prevent disease, care for the sick, and attempt to better the quality of life for humans across the planet.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is an extremely impressive individual actively shaping the future of Biotech as the Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited, which is the largest biotechnology company in India. Based in Bangalore, Mazumdar-Shaw founded the company and has led it to the immense heights in which it currently operates. Biocon aims to bring affordable healthcare to those in need, and Mazumdar-Shaw has adopted the company's philanthropic mission in her personal life, collecting several awards for her charitable pursuits. But Ms. Mazumdur-Shaw, currently a multi-billionaire, is better known for her business acumen in the Biotech sphere, as her accomplishments have landed her on several ‘Most Influential' lists, including Fierce Biotech's ‘World's 25 Most Influential People in Biopharma', Forbes' ‘100 Most Powerful Women' and Fortune Magazine's ‘Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Asia-Pacific'. And, after all this – running a business, being a mega-philanthropist, and more – she still finds time to Tweet her opinions on Biotech, shout out those impacting the industry's future, and Retweet stories that she finds appealing. Is there anything Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw can't do? 

Dr. C. Michael Gibson, M.D.

As a cardiologist and cardiovascular researcher, C. Michael Gibson's specialty is the heart and all that goes into its maintenance. As a Harvard professor of medicine, Gibson operates in his role as a cardiologist primarily out of Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School's world-class teaching hospital. Gibson also serves as CEO for The Baim Institute for Clinical Research, as well as Harvard Med's PERFUSE academic research organization, which Gibson himself founded in 1987. He is regarded perennially not only as one of the top medical minds in Boston, but the entire United States, if not the world. The institutions he heads have conducted over 1,000 studies, published 3,000 manuscripts in peer-reviewed literary sources, and have led 60 FDA submissions. He is one of the most frequently cited authors of the past decade, according to Thomson Reuters. All of this means, obviously, that Gibson is on the forefront of Biotechnological innovation.

In his spare time, Gibson indulges in painting, but he also allows himself the time to Tweet to his 394,000 followers. When Gibson Tweets, we'd all be well advised to pay attention.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr. Tedros Adhanom is currently serving as Director-General of the World Health Organization, the first African ever elected to the post. A native Ethiopian, he served as the nation's Minister of Health between 2005 and 2012 before changing roles, serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs until 2016. He was elected to the top spot at the WHO in 2017. He made his greatest mark as a renowned researcher improving the quality of treatment for malaria, extending that care to tens of millions of his countrymen and collaborating with international partners such as the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and The Global Fund to maximize the impact of his efforts. Dr. Adhanom also made strides in addressing the scourge of HIV/AIDS and badly deficient maternal and child healthcare, and he has lent his ample experience as a leader in Ethiopian health development to the WHO. He has his finger squarely on the pulse of where the globe is headed in terms of Biotech innovation, and this makes him an engaging personality for the 322,000 people who follow him on Twitter.

Anuradha ‘Anu' Acharya

Anu Acharya is the CEO of Mapmygenome, an Indian molecular diagnostics company leveraging state of the art DNA sequencing methods and SNP – single nucleotide polymorphisms – genotyping  to diagnose complex genetic disorders and screen for genetic predispositions. The increasing ability to study DNA and draw medical conclusions is invaluable, and Acharya has ample expertise in the field, having also founded Bioinformatics company Ocimum Biosolutions in 2000 and served as CEO until 2013. She was named a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in 2011, and also served on the organization's Global Agenda Council of Personalized and Precision Medicine, making her what we like to call ‘a big deal'. She also spends plenty of time writing about Biotech-related topics, as well as speaking at forums, conferences, and summits helping educate the broader world about the value of genomics. Nearly 60,000 followers tune in to get Acharya's opinions on what to pay attention to when it comes to development in Biotech, specifically the realm of genomics.

Dr. Eric Topol, M.D.

Dr. Eric Topol is the Executive Vice President and Professor of Molecular Medicine at the world-renowned Scripps Research Institute. He also founded and serves as Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, which aims to advance medicine by taking an individualized approach to medicine through the utilization of known genetic factors and new technologies such as AI. Topol is a prolific researcher, having published over 1,100 peer-reviewed articles and been cited 170,000-plus times, showing just how much stock Topol's peers put in his findings. With a specialty in utilizing genomic and digital tools to individualize medicine, Topol has his feet firmly planted in the epicenter of innovation and the future of Biotech. His 129,000 Twitter followers are treated to high-level yet understandable studies equipped with highlights letting the layman know what to pay attention to. It's a view inside the mind of a brilliant physician and scientist, and the Follow button is right at our fingertips.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, M.D.

Dr. Robert Redfield was chosen recently to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making him one of the most influential – and important – individuals in all of medicine. Redfield's background is in virology, and his studies on the transmission of HIV and the AIDS virus while a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine are what earned him the bona fides to be appointed as top man at the CDC. He also co-founded the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology, a testament to how well-versed he is in the study of viruses. Though not without critics, Redfield – the recipient of the Surgeon General's Physician Recognition Award – is undeniably an immense figure in the medical community, and his experience as a virology researcher means that he has a strong understanding of how Biotechnology continues to evolve. Much of the content that he Tweets is CDC-related, which is valuable in that it is one of the organizations shaping global policy on the administration of health practices.

Dr. Atul Gawande

Dr. Atul Gawande is not only a surgeon and public health official, he's also the author of four New York Times bestselling books. With an extensive background in medicine – he currently practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston – Gawande also has a knack for communicating through the written word, which is a major asset to those who read his books, his other writings, and his Twitter postings. He is particularly astute at identifying the stories that are relevant to the current times, whether it's regarding a cure for opioid addiction, lung cancer treatments, or other topics that have widespread impact on the general population. We only wish that we could sit in on one of his lectures at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he is a professor. By the way, he also serves as the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Where this extremely accomplished doctor finds time to Tweet, let alone write, is beyond comprehension. But he does find the time, and we'd be remiss not to take advantage by following.

Gitte Pedersen

CEO and Co-Founder of Genomic Expression, Gitte Pedersen has made it her and her company's mission to facilitate the development of sequence-based cancer diagnostics. Genomic Expression sequences patients' RNA in order to find a cancer drug that is ideal for each individual instead of relying upon a generalized, one-size-fits-all approach. They identify the genetic drivers of each unique form of cancer as it pertains to the individual, and use that genetic information to administer the treatment that has the best chance of working. Prior to founding Genomic Expression, Pedersen founded Proximity Venture Advisors, a consulting company which helped some of the largest Biotech and Pharma companies in the world secure licensing deals as well as reference clients and capital. Pedersen is ambitious about helping patients find treatments that work to actually help them by taking advantage of the most cutting-edge technological tools available, and much of the information she Tweets pertains to her constantly evolving work as a genomicist and researcher.

Dr. Linda Girgis, M.D.

The first on our list who is a family physician by trade, Dr. Linda Girgis runs her private practice in New Jersey. However, she does also dabble in the collegiate realm, working as an assistant professor at Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and also serves as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, where she contributes to courses on Continuing Medical Education. She has racked up a number of awards revolving around her prowess as a Twitter personality, due in large part to her commitment to scouring the web for medical stories that will bring value to her followers. Girgis is a working physician with an unrivaled commitment to keeping her social followers in the loop as it pertains to the constantly evolving world of medicine, and we truly appreciate her hustle, as do her other 100,000 Twitter followers.

Robin Y. Smith

Robin Smith is the CEO of Orig3n, a company which aims to study the intersection of DNA and health in order to provide practical solutions for doctors and patients. They aim to do this through educating the general population about their own health and the options available to them in a rapidly moving industry, as well as doing the research that will help contribute to further treatment breakthroughs. Smith has a proven business background and has established much credibility as a leader, having served in various executive positions during his 20 years-plus in the Life Sciences field. In his role within Orig3n, he essentially has the vision and strategy of the company in his hands. Because it's an innovative, noteworthy company which falls in the realm of Biotech, Smith is a natural inclusion for this list. Follow Robin Y. Smith for updates on how Orig3n is impacting the future of DNA-based therapies, as well as stories and insights regarding important industry trends.

Dr. Atanas G. Atanasov

Currently the Head of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding within the Polish Academy of Sciences, Dr. Atanas Atanasov is interested in better understanding the molecular mechanisms regulating health and disease. This interest, and the career path he has set himself upon in pursuing that interest, is what makes him an influencer among those in the field of Biotech. He was a senior researcher at the University of Vienna, and while there was part of a research campaign into “Drugs from Nature Targeting Inflammation”, a project that received massive funding from the Austrian Science Fund. He has also been recognized by the European Commission in the form of an appointment as a member in a network consortium assessing Chinese medicine. His aptitude as a researcher is apparent not only from his professional positions and accomplishments, but also his Twitter feed, which over 91,000 users follow to gain a better understanding of Biotech innovation.

Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D.

Dr. Francis S. Collins is the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health, meaning that he is far too important to be Tweeting as frequently as he does. Some people are downright altruistic when it comes to sharing their expertise with the general public, free of charge, and Collins is one of those individuals. He was appointed to his current position in August of 2009 and was re-affirmed by the new administration in June of 2017, indicating that Collins' ability to lead the NIH effectively is a fact which supersedes partisanship. The NIH is the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, and Collins is the man tasked with directing that support towards causes which are going to improve the landscape of global health administration. When it comes to Biotech, Collins is about as big a fish as there is, and the physician-geneticist is a solid Twitter follow who regularly shares accounts of his personal exploits as Director, stories reflective of Biotech's current trajectory, and studies which he believes the public should be aware of.

Liz Szabo

And first up, representing the Biotech media segment of influencers….Liz Szabo! You don't have to have a doctorate or license to practice medicine in order to help push forward the advancement of biotechnology, and Liz Szabo has mastered the craft of medical science reporting. As a Senior Correspondent for Kaiser Health News, Szabo specializes in covering acute care and end-of-life issues. She was awarded the 2016 Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting, a tangible acknowledgement of her stellar work reporting on medicine since approximately 1997. Prior to Kaiser Health News in 2016, she was a Medical Reporter for USA Today beginning in 2006. She is known to Retweet health and Biotech stories, whether they cover new studies, bad drugs, game-changing therapies, or otherwise.

Matthew Herper

Matthew Herper is a Senior Editor covering Healthcare, Pharma, and Medicine for and Forbes magazine. When it comes to adding often witty, insightful tidbits to stories that touch upon important developments in Biotech and medicine in general, Herper is unmatched. Sticking with Forbes since 2000 means that Herper has had plenty of time to hone his craft at one of the most widely-known and respected publications for professionals, and it shows both through his written work and the manner and consistency with which Herper engages his social audience, which is over 81,000 strong on Twitter alone.

Sally Church

Yet another member of the media class, Church is a researcher with a Ph.D and an ability to connect with her audience, using her experience in the Pharma industry to inform her current role as Executive Publisher of Blue Ice Publishing. Blue Ice is oriented toward oncology and hematology, which follows considering that Church specializes in cancer-related research. The company launched their flagship content vehicle, the Biotech Strategy Blog, in 2010, and the trade publication focuses on exciting developments regarding approaches to immuno-oncology and targeted therapies. Church spent over 13 years working in various capacities for Pharma companies Sandoz and Novartis, and that professional experience helps inform her writings about rational drug design as it pertains to improving treatments for different forms of cancer. Sally Church isn't somebody that you should only follow on Twitter – though you should – her blogs and longer articles are definitely worth checking out as well.

Hugh Pym

Hugh Pym is the Health Editor for one of the most widely-known news sources in the world, BBC News. A long-time journalist and broadcaster, Pym took over the role of Health Editor in 2014. Pym's value as a Twitter personality comes from his first-hand reporting, made possible by his experience as a journalist and affiliation with the BBC. While much of what he reports is England-centric in its bent, Pym frequently discusses topics and trends which affect health and Biotech more broadly. With over 62,000 followers, Pym's audience can gain access to his breaking stories regarding Biotech as well as his personal insights which he delivers exclusively on his Twitter timeline.

Dr. Michael Mosley

Michael Mosley is yet another BBC-affiliated influencer, and Mosley specializes in informing his followers how they can reverse Type 2 Diabetes through healthy practices. Having clearly done his homework regarding the science behind how sugar intake and unhealthy practices can adversely damage health, Mosley has made it his mission to share decades of knowledge with those who are wise enough to follow him. As a producer of several health and science-related television shows and documentaries, primarily for the BBC, Mosley is largely credited with helping to popularize the 5:2 nutritional plan, another testament to his dedication toward understanding the biological processes which drive health.

Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D.

Some might argue with the inclusion of a ‘celebrity', diet-centered influencer on a Biotech list, but we couldn't leave Dr. David Perlmutter off. He's got a following of 51,000 people who find his advice on improving gut and cognitive health through diet, exercise, and related practices to be truly transformative when it comes to improving their biological processes. Biotech covers many different bases, and  means of improving one's digestive health and overall wellness are certainly worth paying attention to, and if proven effective, engaging in. Dr. Perlmutter's work has been cited in the Journal of Neurosurgery, the Journal of Applied Nutrition, Archives of Neurology, and more.

Susannah Fox

Susanah Fox is best known as the former Chief Technology Officer for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. She prides herself on the ability to ‘help people navigate health and technology', and as technology and health become ever-increasingly intertwined, individuals such as Susannah Fox become more and more valuable. For 14 years, Fox worked at the Pew Research Center helping to direct their research related to consumer-focused health and tech. This included examining the social impact of technology on healthcare, and she would eventually cite self-made medical tech innovators as promising for the Biotech and Healthcare industries' overall evolution. While serving at the US Department of Health and Human Services, she was tasked with acting as a conduit between America's technological leaders and the government's leaders in charge of improving healthcare practices, a vital role in which her background at the intersection of health and tech was certainly beneficial.

Andy Biotech

The Twitter influencer known as Andy Biotech qualifies for inclusion for a couple obvious reasons. For one, he's known as Andy Biotech, and secondly, his timeline is packed with hourly updates that will assist any follower in becoming more learned when it comes to the present and future of the Biotech industry. Sure, his identity is a bit mysterious, but when you're looking to add influencers that know their stuff on Twitter, what's in a name and face? Andy Biotech knows his Biotech stuff, and for that alone he's worth keeping an eye on.

Christina Farr

Christina Farr is a reporter for CNBC who covers the convergence of tech and health. Farr clearly understands the importance of public media figures maintaining a connection with their fans and followers via Twitter, and she is focused in the content that she chooses to Tweet. She is a consistent, borderline-prolific Tweeter of Biotech-related news, and is especially adept at Retweeting and adding her two cents to stories that the average techie is likely to consider newsworthy and impactful of the world, not just a niche audience. That's not to say she doesn't have plenty of content for those who are more than literate and up-to-date when it comes to Biotech; she does. It's only to say that Farr provides a little bit for everyone who has an interest in becoming more astute about the future of the medical industry and how innovation will impact health now and in the future.

Dr. J. Craig Venter

Craig Venter is one of the most influential men in health, period. In fact, having founded Celera Genomics in 1998, where he assisted in coding the human genome, results of which were published in 2001, Venter is inarguably one of the most impactful, important people of the 21st century. Dr. Venter is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of multiple organizations which are driving the advancement of health through reliance upon genomics and other technologies. The Office of Human Longevity, the J. Craig Venter Institute, and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. are all leading the way in generating “health intelligence” which allows for individualized approaches to health that have indicated promise in reducing preventable instances of health deficiencies and are likely hold the key to the future of a healthier world. A former Navy Corpsman, Venter made Time's 2007 and 2008 lists of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Needless to say, he's easily one of the most influential people in Biotech.

Josh Berlin

Josh Berlin, aka BioPharmaJosh, is an analyst and strategist specializing in the impact that Asia as a whole, and China in particular, have on BioPharma companies in the United States. It's an interesting perspective on the Biotech sphere, and Berlin's focus on the international landscape of Biotech and specifically BioPharma is one that is unique among Twitter influencers. He has many years of experience covering Pharma, health, and Biotech in Asia, and is clearly one of the most informed voices on Twitter reporting regularly on relevant updates altering the landscape of health both internationally and domestically.

Brad Loncar

Brad Loncar is an influencer with a specific focus on investing in Biotech. With this investment-aimed approach, Loncar has a unique perspective in how he approaches reporting pertaining to the Biotech industry, yet a valuable perspective nonetheless. Loncar's blog – called, simply enough, Brad Loncar's Blog – offers daily updates on the Biotech investment market, his personal adventures which include health investment-themed conferences across the globe, as well as pertinent data relating to Biotech. While his Twitter timeline contains plenty of content that will get the Biotech stat geeks' blood flowing, it also contains interesting stories and opinions that will interest the less numbers-oriented Biotech heads. Loncar is nothing if not a knowledgable Biotech influencer who stands apart through the investment-centric manner in which he approaches the industry.

Bruce Booth

Bruce Booth is an early stage Biotech venture capitalist investor, so he has a similar perspective on Biotech to our previously listed influencer, Brad Loncar. Booth is a partner in Atlas Venture, a venture capital firm which specializes investing in the life sciences. He is also a contributor to Forbes, where he has written about ‘Experience, Age, and IPOs in Biotech', among other topics. On Twitter, Booth commonly presents his own opinions, providing value to his followers who know that they are not getting only recycled material when they tune into his timeline. That said, Booth will also give credit where it's due and Retweet the insights of others in the Biotech investment sector whom he agrees with. As a member of the Board of Directors for a plethora of medical companies and the Director of more than one of those Boards, Booth has plenty of life experience in the Biotech sector, much of which he has proven willing to share with his followers on social media.

About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.