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How biotechs get on CSI

A new Web site launched this week from a biotech company around for nearly 50 years contains something you won't see on other biotech sites: A clip from one of the most popular television shows, linkurl:watched by;http://www.nielsenmedia.com/nc/portal/site/Public/menuitem.43afce2fac27e890311ba0a347a062a0/?vgnextoid=9e4df9669fa14010VgnVCM100000880a260aRCRD nearly 14 million Americans last week. Yes, that's right: CSI. Approximately two years ago, the Newark, DE-based company Analtech, which manu

By | January 24, 2008

A new Web site launched this week from a biotech company around for nearly 50 years contains something you won't see on other biotech sites: A clip from one of the most popular television shows, linkurl:watched by;http://www.nielsenmedia.com/nc/portal/site/Public/menuitem.43afce2fac27e890311ba0a347a062a0/?vgnextoid=9e4df9669fa14010VgnVCM100000880a260aRCRD nearly 14 million Americans last week. Yes, that's right: CSI. Approximately two years ago, the Newark, DE-based company Analtech, which manufactures thin layer chromatography, got a call from its distributor, saying that the show had bought an linkurl:Analtech developing tank;http://www.analtech.com/ and it broke. "'You need to ship a new developing tank directly to CSI,"' the developer said, according to Analtech Director of Sales and Marketing Ken Grant. "If it were not for that breakage, we wouldn't know about it." Of course, Analtech isn't the first biotech to break into CSI. When the show began, the set designer (a former FBI forensic scientist) approached Santa Clara, Calif-based linkurl:Agilent Technologies;http://www.chem.agilent.com/Scripts/PCol.asp?lPage=180 for gas chromatography equipment, which the company gladly supplied. Then, three years ago, the show contacted the company again to update their equipment. "They actually made the point to ask us for the state-of-the-art equipment," a detail only scientists would spot, says spokesperson Stuart Matlow. When the episode featuring Analtech products aired, staff blew the picture up on a big screen, and identified several of the company's products: plates, plate racks, micropipettes, and a latch-lid tank. As part of that episode, the CSI scientist was testing a work order from a telephone repair worker who visited a home where a murder took place. The suspect claimed that he visited the home after the murder, and provided a work order to prove it. But when the CSI scientist used thin layer chromatography to test the ink, she found that the ink used to write the date of the order differed from the rest of the ink. The suspect had altered the date, and had indeed been to the murder site before it happened. Encouragingly, the show got the science right, Grant says. (Not a big surprise: CSI has a good reputation for sticking to the science, according to UCLA molecular biologist Wayne Grody, who has linkurl:provided technical advice;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/52942/ to CSI and other productions.) "We have looked that clip probably 300 times, from every angle, and it seems fine," Grant says. The episode aired January 19, 2006, after which there was no obvious spike in orders, since the show did not include the Analtech logo, Grant notes. However, in the last fiscal year, the company reported the highest growth rate in nearly 30 years. Still, "I don't think that can all be credited to a 60-second clip on CSI," Grant laughs. Agilent's Matlow concurs that being on the show doesn't have an effect on the company's sales, since the show doesn't point out the equipment source. "You'd pretty much need to know what you're looking at to tell it's an Agilent instrument, " he says. Still, it's good for morale. "It makes our sales people feel good, it makes our other employees feel good," he says.
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

January 25, 2008

My boss, a branch chief for an analytical chemistry group for a federal agency, received a request for CSI for details for one of their episodes on something he has been working on. During the course of their discussion, he complained that CSI, although quite accurate in their presentation of instrumentation, stretches the truth, when the time and difficulty of getting information out of this equipment is glossed over. On the show answers are arrived at in seconds or minutes as opposed to hours or days, as usually happens in the real world. The consultant said that they get that complain from scientists all the time. Consequently, this depiction does no service to scientists, who try to communicate this complexity to the general public.
Avatar of: Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

Posts: 3

January 25, 2008

Hopefully most viewers will realise that drama is not reality. After all in the legal shows lawyers seem to be able to get clearly guilty clients off all the time. If that were true you wouldn't need plea bargaining. I think CSI are to be commended for being as realistic as they can within the constraints of their timeslot.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

January 27, 2008

Who exactly came up with the name AnalTech?\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 27, 2008

to extract perp's DNA from a sweat droplet on a leaf near the crime scene.

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