November 5, 2010

The Bigger They Come...

(cross-post from TheConglomerate forum: Legislative Agenda for the 112th Congress)

Agenda for the 112th: The Bigger They Come

Too Big to Fail.

Bailouts of megabanks preserved our financial system-for better and for worse. Next time around, Dodd-Frank allows winding down of big firms that cause systemic threats.  But as I far as I can tell, the Act doesn’t require any liquidations—it’s up to the Treasury Secretary to decide whether to appoint the FDIC as receiver, (and up to the FDIC to pass the actual rules ).  So it’s not clear whether there will be political courage to use this power in a future crisis; likely there will be bailouts again. 

The obvious solution to the too-big-to-fail problem is to start breaking up the too-big ones that almost failed last time, and to prevent any more from getting that big.  Then we can see a little creative destruction now and again.  [How to do it?  Luckily, I don’t have to bother with that part, since this forum is about the next two years and this is so not going to happen any time soon (if ever).]

Monetary policy: [Yes, I know this is mostly Fed policy, not legislative]

 One has to wonder: the economy almost self-destructed because of easy credit, and the solution is…to ease up on credit? 

I understand, and generally sympathize with, demand-side economics, and it may be the only way to mitigate the current pain of job losses.  And I find it hard to believe there’s currently a real danger of inflation in the near term (those who claim to be worried about these days are probably most concerned about bond prices).  But in the longer term, economic growth based entirely on expanding domestic demand seems like a snake eating its own tail.  Is it prudish--or radical--to suggest there’s something wrong with our culture of consumption?   If it needs fixing, punishing savings with low/negative interest rates ain’t the way to start.  I don’t profess to have a palatable alternative.  Maybe that’s the point—it’s time to take the nasty medicine….But I have tenure, so it’s too easy for me to say that. 

 Do nothing:

Looks like I'm not the only wishing I'd written Dave Hoffman’s post, but since he got there first, let me polish the apple a bit: Instead of passing new laws, how about actually enforcing the laws already on the books?    Oh, yeah, enforcement is the job of the executive branch.  Then how about Congress just refrains from obstructing the enforcement of the ones it just passed?  [Edit: Underbelly has more juicy stuff on this.] Just a thought.

November 3, 2010

UC Davis School of Law and Fenwick & West to Host Symposium on Personalized Medicine on Friday

November 5, 2010
9:00 A.M. - 6:00 P.M.

UC Davis School of Law

Ongoing improvements in DNA sequencing technology and the increasing availability of bio-banked materials are converging to create advanced personalized medicine diagnostics and treatments that offer the promise of improved outcomes and lower healthcare costs.  Fenwick & West and UC Davis School of Law will host a panel of distinguished experts to discuss an array of issues and challenges in the emerging field of personalized medicine.  Symposium topics will focus on issues and challenges arising from recent developments that call into question the scope of patent protection available to support investment in this nascent industry as well as issues regarding ownership and licensing of related technology and information; the potential impact of direct to health care consumers offers of genetic tests and other personalized medicine services; and the entrepreneurial environment for personalized medicine in the evolving health care economy.  Professionals, entrepreneurs, executives and students in law, medicine, management and other related fields are invited to attend this important symposium to garner knowledge that will synthesize current developments and anticipate future directions along the road to translating the promise of personalized medicine into an emerging, new reality.

MCLE credits available.


Program Details

The order and timing of the panels is subject to change.

8:45 A.M. - 9:30 A.M.
Continental Breakfast & Registration

UC Davis School of Law, King Hall
Main Lobby

9:30 A.M. - 9:45 A.M.

Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (room 1001), King Hall, UC Davis


  • Kevin R. Johnson, Dean and Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies, UC Davis School of Law
  • David Bell, Partner, Fenwick & West

9:45 A.M. - 10:15 A.M.
Introduction to Personalized Medicine

Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (room 1001), King Hall, UC Davis

Speaker: George Schreiner, MD, PhD, Chairman of Board, PROOF Center of Excellence, in affiliation with University of British Columbia, CEO, Cardero Therapeutics

10:30 A.M. - 11:45 A.M.
Panel I: From the Lab to the Patient: Intellectual Property in Personalized Medicine

1 MCLE credit
Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (room 1001), King Hall, UC Davis

Moderator: Peter Lee, Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law

  • Barbara Brenner, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Action
  • Mark Capone, President, Myriad Genetic Laboratories
  • Clinton Neagley, Associate Director, UC Davis InnovationAccess – Technology Transfer Services
  • Michael Shuster, Partner, Fenwick & West

Noon – 1:30 P.M.
Lunch and Keynote Presentation

UC Davis Conference Center

Speaker: Kathryn Lowell, California Deputy Secretary for Life Sciences and Health Systems
Luncheon is $25 per person, $15 per student
Limited Seating
Please RSVP by Friday, October 29

1:45 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Panel II: Issues for Entrepreneurs in the Nascent Industry
1 MCLE credit
Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (room 1001), King Hall, UC Davis

Moderator: Stephen Graham, Partner, Fenwick & West


3:15 P.M. – 4:45 P.M.
Panel III:  Consumers in the New Personalized Medicine Model
1 MCLE credit
Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (room 1001), King Hall, UC Davis  

Moderator:  Lisa Ikemoto, Professor at Law, UC Davis School of Law


  • Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Ph.D., Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford Medical School
  • Ed MacBean, Product Management Vice President, Pathway Genomics
  • Beatrice O’Keefe, Laboratory Field Services, Department of Public Health
  • Michael Wilkes, Vice Dean of the School of Medicine and Director of Global Health, UC Davis Health Systems

4:45 P.M. - 4:50 P.M.
Closing Remarks
Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (room 1001), King Hall, UC Davis

Reception Immediately Following

November 1, 2010

How the Super Saved My Father

Almost everyone, especially apartment house dwellers, in and around  New York City knows that mentioning “The Super” refers to a very important individual. He is an employee of the apartment house owner, lives on the premises, and is in charge of all custodial services and other matters. This includes janitorial service,  plumbing repair in individual apartments, collecting rents each month, making sure  each apartment has heat during the winter, and, perhaps most important of all, taking out the garbage. If the apartment house is large enough to have many tenants, there can be staff members to handle the work under the direction of the Super. It is very obvious to most apartment house dwellers that keeping on the good side of the Super and giving him a cash gift at Christmas time assures prompt service whenever any matter requires expert attention.

Our family got along very well with our Super. In fact, we were on a first name  basis with him. We called him Doug, and he referred to my father as Sam.

One day, two FBI agents came by to question Doug about my father.  Supers knew much about their tenants and also networked with other Supers in the neighborhood so that information about tenants in other buildings was shared many times. The agents said that my father was suspected of smuggling diamonds into the country, especially through Asia.

During the session of intensive interrogation by the FBI, Doug interrupted the agents, exclaiming, “I just can’t believe this about Sam. He’s a good man who respects the law.”  One of the agents then opened a folder and showed a photograph to Doug, saying, “Well, here is what he looks like.”

Doug looked at the photographed and immediately replied, “That’s not Sam. It’s Ivan Zimmer. He lives two houses down the block. Nobody likes him, and you can check up on him with Dino Belucci, the Super in that building.”

Ivan had obviously stolen my father’s identity for his passport. The agents went on their way, possibly to talk with Dino about Ivan and his activities.  A short time later, no one saw Ivan in the neighborhood any longer.

The Super, being friendly and supportive with us, told my father all about this episode. When my father shared the information with us, we were somewhat confused because he had never left the United States for any reason after emigrating here from Germany some 35 years earlier and never acted suspiciously or secretly. We were also frightened because we had no experience with the FBI or any knowledge about their procedures.

Our “brush with the law” took place around 1938. My father died in 1963. Here is it is the year 2010. I suspect that somewhere in the archives of the FBI is a folder containing some yellowing pages referring to my innocent father as a suspected diamond smuggler.  So it goes sometimes with crime and corruption in America!

Mortimer D. Schwartz is Professor Emeritus at the UC Davis School of Law.