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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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In the Pipeline

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October 23, 2007

Vial Thirty-Three, And More

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Posted by Derek

My apologies for no post today - home events kept me away from the computer for a while, but everything's settled back down now.

I've had several e-mails the last couple of months asking about "Vial Thirty-Three", the saga of which can be found (in reverse chronological order) here. (More specifically, the first time that particular experiment worked was the May 18, 2006 entry, and you can scroll up from there if you wish). When last heard from, I was cranking away on a batch of experiments to finish before the Wonder Drug Factory closed its doors at the end of January.

The last ones got run just before they pulled the electrical plugs out of the walls, and a lot of interesting things came out of them. They were interesting enough, in fact, that they suggested a whole new series of ideas to me during the months I was between jobs. Of course, that did little good, since this isn't the kind of stuff that you can easily pull off in your basement.

But I'm very glad to report that my current employer is interested in this sort of thing, and in plenty more weird stuff besides. That's the good news, and good news it surely is. I have an explicit mandate to look at ideas and technologies beyond what the company is currently doing, and a group to tackle these things full-time. This is just the sort of thing I like to do, and having it as my main job responsibility is so enjoyable that I may never get used to it.

The bad news is that I won't be able to talk about what I'm up to. At the Wonder Drug Factory, my odd experiments were a sideline and were a long shot to work at any rate. I felt safe talking obliquely about them. But now I spend my whole day on this kind of thing - the mutant progeny of Vial Thirty-Three and several other similarly odd ideas. It's a wonderful feeling to see this sort of thing get resourced and watch it move forward, but it's all completely proprietary.

But even if I can't say much, I just wanted to let people know that things are continuing. I'm doing full-time what I used to have to squeeze in as a sideline. Working on this kind of idea has been, in retrospect, one of the best decisions I ever made as a scientist. If any of you have some wild thoughts about experiments that sound a bit weird, but just might work - well, my advice is to somehow make time for them. Sometimes they work. . .

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Birth of an Idea


1. Zak on October 24, 2007 1:15 AM writes...

To the extent that you could disclose anything, what kind of IP claim would the Wonder Drug Factory have on anything that came out of experiments you originally performed when working for them? I bet that's a thorny issue!

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2. milkshake on October 24, 2007 2:51 AM writes...

Developing new uncertain methodology is exciting - especially when it is your ideas you are trying to make work. And profitable, too: If you succeed you will get the patent &publications (and the bragging rights). If you do not succeed it will not reflect badly on you - it will be filed under "brilliant Derek's idea - too bad it did not work". In my first (combichem) company, I escaped most of the library-producing drudgery, by being in the "technology development" group - and got few papers out of it, too.

The worst kind of project one can be on is the one where the management thinks this is a routine work, a piece of cake they charted out in their diagrams to be supposedly done long time ago - and as you try to explain the complications you run into, you look like a hack. And if you succeed, you get at best pat on the head like a mildly retarded fellow who is trying hard.

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3. Rob on October 24, 2007 1:37 PM writes...

Is it easier to get job with MS or Ph D ?

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4. andrew on October 24, 2007 1:53 PM writes...

Is it easier to find a job with MS or Ph D ?

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5. kinasepro on October 24, 2007 9:52 PM writes...

see you in 18~~

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6. srp on October 26, 2007 5:01 PM writes...

It's very cool that your longshot brainstorm stuff is now funded and supported as your main job. I suppose this renders previous intimations of Vial 33 publications inoperative.

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