About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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November 5, 2004

A Visit To Academia

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Posted by Derek

I gave a talk on drug discovery at a local university yesterday, which was an interesting trip. The labs were in a new building, and were quite nice. (I hope that Duke has renovated the labs I worked in during grad school, but I haven't heard that they have. . .if not, they must be getting pretty ratty by now. I did my part.)

I presented an older project from my work, one that we're not interested in pursuing any more, naturally. After telling them that I'd been doing this sort of thing for fifteen years without discovering any drugs, I said that I would be better suited for a talk about how not to discover drugs, but then went into the reasons why this is a pretty typical record.

I had some good questions at the end: How did we know when to stop making more compounds, someone wanted to know. How many peopel worked on it, total? How much did I estimate that whole thing must have cost? Did we know anything about what other companies were doing while the work was going on? Some of those are surprisingly hard to give a good answer to, when you try to account for all the work and expense put in by support groups that were working on several projects at once.

And had I ever thought about going into academics instead of industry? Oh, yes indeed. That had been my goal up through the first part of grad school, but a good close look at academia made me realize that the choice was harder than I'd thought. . .

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life in the Drug Labs


1. John on November 5, 2004 3:28 PM writes...

Choice might be hard, but the issues are pretty clear. You either decide you want all the resources you need, but someone else gets to tell you what to work on, or you opt for nearly complete freedom in project choice while spending half of your time beating a drum for pennies (or $100s) outside the doors of the NSF, NIH, DoD, etc. A lot of the marketing / research culture clashes in big pharma think come from academically-minded researchers who want to take the resources from industry while driving their own agendas.

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