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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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March 11, 2007

More Help Wanted?

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Posted by Derek

Back in November, I announced the impending closure of the Wonder Drug Factory, and there were plenty of people who responded with news of open positions. My colleagues and I really appreciated it - a number of interviews (and some placements) resulted.

Since then, many of the folks I worked with have found a place to land. That said, there are still a number of us who are looking, and one common factor has been length of experience. Among my med-chem colleagues, the ease of re-employment has been pretty closely correlated with job level. Associates have been largely snapped up. Less-experienced PhDs have had a harder time, but are gradually finding positions. "And then," he said, "there are people like me. . ."

Well, I do have some possible prospects, but some of them aren't going to be resolved for a while yet, so there's nothing concrete yet. I would, in these circumstances, be very glad to hear of positions that I've missed, both for my own use and for my former co-workers. The people that I know are still looking are experienced med-chem project and group leaders, higher-level people in HTS and assay development, and some experienced pharmacology/biology lab heads. They're all worth talking to if your company has a need - just send along an email and we'll take it from there.

There are a number of companies with advertised positions at these levels (Biogen/Idec, Sepracor, AstraZeneca, Wyeth, Novartis, and others). Of course, when these things are listed, everyone knows what kind of slushy tidal wave of applications hits the HR offices. Any readers at such places who believe that they might be able to help out from the inside (making sure that CVs get to the right hands, etc.) are also welcome to write. Big Pharma, Small Pharma, Biotech - everyone's welcome. And thanks (again) to everyone who's written so far. We'll get everybody employed yet.

Comments (19) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Closing Time


1. Kay on March 12, 2007 7:08 AM writes...

The newest biotech land rush appears to be the four Florida economic development sites (Scripps, etc.). I am not sure if folks with actual commercial drug development experience are welcome, however. These might simply be academic sandboxes for play.

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2. boni on March 12, 2007 8:34 AM writes...

you can fw CVs to me and i can gladly submit them for (anonymous big pharma company).

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3. Bosley on March 12, 2007 10:41 AM writes...

I think Milkshake has made some comments on who Pharma wants. From my wide array of relatively recently graduated friends most are still in post docs or teaching, although neither by choice. The big name groups with specializations in synthesis seem to be the only sure route to Pharma. The 'big synth' goups I'm familiar with have had as many as 40 people . If you analyze how many PhD positions are actually availible in the USA today you'll soon realize that the personel output of those groups alone will satisfy all the PhD needs of industry. Since most new positions are being created abroad, its a losing game for the overly experienced or inexperienced. Short term contracts with no job security will be the wave of the future.

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4. Mark M on March 12, 2007 11:07 AM writes...

"Short term contracts with no job security will be the wave of the future. "

--this is already the norm in RTP and San Diego

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5. Petros on March 12, 2007 12:00 PM writes...

And today's announcement of Schering-Plough's agreement to acquire Organon is unlikley to improve things

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6. MolecModeler on March 12, 2007 1:37 PM writes...

Honestly, I think this is not a healthy industry, and this outsourcing trend in big companies is not a good sign. I'm sure the day will come when someone gets the idea to outsource R&D alltogether (at least the R part).

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7. Chrispy on March 12, 2007 2:13 PM writes...

In the Seattle area there is a bit of hiring going on, though certainly not enough to absorb the recent Icos meltdown.

Most job postings in the area are on
although it is good to also check out the company websites, too. I know that Seattle Genetics, Amgen, and Gilead are all hiring. Synthetic chemists generally have a tough time here because there is not much of it going on, so you typically haven't many options.

Question for your readers in other locales: do places like SF and San Diego have something similar to WaBio site or do people need to look at all the individual company sites?

Good luck, Derek, I am sure that I'm not the only one watching this hunt with more than a passing interest!

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8. Bosley on March 12, 2007 3:12 PM writes...

Amgen is very particular on hiring Phds. If you don't know someone inside, don't bother. I had two friends from a big name synth group not even get interviews, or any response for that matter, because AMGEN will only hire from their 'preffered ' big name synth groups. They found this out from a BS level guy who graduated from their school. He liked working there.

Not very forward looking, but since their jobs are likely to be only short term, I suppose it doesn't matter.

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9. Milo on March 13, 2007 8:57 AM writes...

It seems that many of the trends (outsourcing, contract work, oversupply of talent) described here are mirrored in the semiconductor industry.

I guess it's a fairly depressing time to have a Ph.D. no matter what it's in.

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10. Chemist of Sorts on March 13, 2007 12:36 PM writes...

Has the close down of Pfizer Ann Arbor noticeably affected the market?

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11. Milo on March 13, 2007 7:50 PM writes...

hey, there is another milo?

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12. The Doctor Job on March 14, 2007 3:23 PM writes...

The best thing you can do is to compile a list of every President, CEO, VP of HR, and relevant department head that you can for the companies that you think would be good fits for you.

Then write a brief cover letter (no more than three paragraphs), and a resume, not a CV (no more than two pages), and mail it (not fax or email), to every single one of them.

You will find a job very quickly.

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13. peter on March 15, 2007 1:16 PM writes...

Try Scynexis in Durham/RTP, NC.

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14. BCP on March 16, 2007 9:48 PM writes...

To Chrispy: Try and look up jobs through Biotech Bay to get a good summary of what's available in the SF Bay area. There's a fair bit of chemistry hiring going on at this time.

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15. Retired Med. Chemist on March 17, 2007 9:56 AM writes...

Actually, this may serve a good opportunity (involuntary or otherwise) to get out of the
pharma dead-end rat race. Contact investment firms
-a lot of them need advisers for evaluating
various 'pipelines' of big & small Co.. Government employs chemists: fda, nih, nist,............. . Lilly bought Icos
AND laid off all Icos employees. You still want
a job in pharma ???

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16. anon on March 18, 2007 2:16 PM writes...

Derek...sorry to hear your news. There seems to be alot of internal reorganization going on here (one large group was disbanded, and the people have to be reabsorbed into other groups), so I haven't heard of anything.

To the others: Yes, I was told that graduating from a big name group (with 4 alumni from the group already working at the site) helped me.

To molecmodeler: Yes, there is alot of outsourcing to China and India, and that is something that I was naive about when I was a student. Usually they only outsource relatively early intermediates and finish the synthesis in house, presumably to protect the intellectial property. If that weren't an issue, then we (the chemists in the US) would have big problems.

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17. Retired Med. Chemist on March 21, 2007 9:35 PM writes...

anon: you got that right. Novartis, Roche, AstraZ
are having or planning R&D centers in China
(C&EN, 3/12/07). BMS will set up R&D lab in Bangalore and Dupont is also going India (C&EN3/19/07). The good old days are over....outsourcing here we come.

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18. Kimberly Mack on March 28, 2007 1:17 PM writes...

We are currently recruiting for a Sr. Director or Director of Pharmacology. The website is and the position/company is located in Lexington (near Boston) MA.

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19. homi amahuslah on March 29, 2007 1:55 PM writes...

Derek: Would you consider work in finance? Hedge funds, venture capital firms, and investment houses are dying for your kind of expertise in judging biotech/pharma deals, assessing companies, and making other investments--and they pay handsomely for it. Is that something you'd consider?

I'm in the finance field, and could send you a few contacts, if you're interested.

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