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

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Nobel Fever Is Upon Us | Main | Test Your Skills! »

September 28, 2006

The Horse Latitudes

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I haven't given any updates on my side project recently because, well, there hasn't been much to update. Progress has stalled, for several reasons - instrument difficulties, power outages, people (including me) being out of town, resources being shifted around. This sort of work is particularly vulnerable to that sort of thing, because it exists through the sufferance of others. It's always been a "work on this after everything else is taken care of" project, and recently everything else has been having its innings.

I have a backlog of completed experiments in the freezer, waiting for a chance to get run, and I'm working on the design of several more. One thing that window-of-opportunity projects force you to do is make the most of the chances you get, so experimental design becomes more crucial than ever. I can't just run the first thing that comes into my head - odds are that it won't be the optimum use of the time and resources. I can usually think up something better if I spend more time thinking about it. Even so, I've had about all the time to think that I can handle for now, and I'm working on ways to get things going again.

Another odd feature of this work is the solo nature of it. I'm used to working in teams, which is how the drug industry operates the overwhelming amount of the time. That's because we have to have people who specialize in so many different areas, but there's an operational aspect to it that doesn't get mentioned much. In a team environment, people have to get things done because someone else is waiting on them. The biologists running the assays are waiting on the medicinal chemists for compounds, who are waiting on the assay numbers to see what to do next, and the same goes for formulations, metabolism, the in vivo assays, and all the rest of it.

But working alone is another story. No one is waiting on these results in the same way as in a normal drug discovery project. Many of my colleagues are interested in what's going on, but I'm the main customer for my own data, for now. If I completely stopped doing this project- walked away and never came back - some folks would eventually ask me about whatever happened to that wild idea of mine, but most wouldn't. And it wouldn't take long for the memory of the whole thing to get buried under the steady pile-up of new work.

No, no one's pressing me to do this but me. It's a different sensation from the industrial research I'm used to. For everything else I've worked on, I've known that if I left the project it would roll along without me, but not this time. This idea would die immediately if I took my shoulder off the wheel, but I'm not going to let that happen.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Birth of an Idea


1. otey2 on September 29, 2006 10:38 AM writes...


Thanks for the update.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry