San Francisco, CA — Ed Lang, Director of Product Public Relations, gave Digital Pharma West a peek into some of the digital experimentation happening at Genentech.

Genentech has a culture of innovation. Each of their scientists has 25% of their time to work on anything except the projects they’re assigned to. And they have a vision to make marketing equally innovative with a promise of fostering deep collaboration between a patient and the people who make his or her medicine.

Here are a couple of examples of how they’re supporting education and earning participation:

At TED: A musical symphony called Infinite Variations.

1200 people (out of the 1500 who attended) lined up to have their cheeks swabbed. The next day, they came back to the booth to get their own custom 30-second piece of music based on their genome. Each piece of music was piped into a genetic symphony throughout the conference.

It turned out that the longest part of getting someone’s mouth swab turned into a piece of music was FedEx – waiting for those swabs to get back to Genetech and get turned into music.

Online: A game designed to teach kids about genetics.

This game was called Killer Muenster. It charged players with solving a mutant cheese epidemic that was taking over San Francisco.

The app made the top 10 list of best apps for kids and the top 25 new and newsworthy apps on the app store.

In the community: Taking of the stigma of lung cancer >

There’s a stigma to having lung cancer. One that impedes care.

Genentech wanted to prove it. So, they partnered with a group out of Harvard called Project Implicit that measures feelings outside of your conscious thinking.

The Lung Cancer Project was the first study of its kind to uncover hidden cancer perceptions.

The results were consistent across general public, caregivers, patients, even healthcare providers.

Genentech presented their findings at leading professional meetings, including ASCO, to try to change that bias.

You can take the test yourself:

At home: Open clinical trial

The Lung Cancer project inspired another one with 23andMe. Genentech had a lung cancer drug that they knew worked better in some people than others – they just didn’t know the details of how. So they asked people to send it their saliva from home. Spit into a cup to let Genentech and 23andMe analyze the data.

It took just four months to finalize the protocol and one month to open the study. They’re looking at the data now.

The goal of all of this is the deep collaboration vision. These small experiments are really showing the way.

Posted by: Leigh Householder

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.