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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

« GSK Layoffs: Yes, Again | Main | Time Off »

August 4, 2008

Job Seekers: Genentech, GSK, and Elsewhere

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Posted by Derek

As mentioned in the comments here (and as told to me by e-mail as well), a lot of Genentech employees are looking around for other options in the face of a possible Roche takeover. A lot of Genentech employees – some other Bay area biotechs are apparently seeing shoals of CVs coming in. Does that ever give an acquiring company pause, when people start diving over the sides at its approach? I suppose it depends on if they’re in it to buy the current pipeline or to buy some research productivity. But surely Roche wants some of the latter? If they do finally succeed in buying Genentech, what will they have bought by the time they finish?

And while we’re on the job-seeking topic, I’ve heard about some possibilities for ex-GSK people (and others out on the market from the various recent layoffs). Merck is hiring at their West Point, PA site, for one. EMD-Serono is expanding and looking for people in Rockland, MA. And a rare drug-discovery opportunity outside the industry is also available at the NIH Chemical Genomics Center. I have contacts for these if people want to send in CVs directly - just e-mail me and let me know.

Comments (26) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. CC on August 4, 2008 8:32 AM writes...

I'd posted this on the previous story, but I'd be genuinely interested to hear some DNA'ers perspective on this: where on earth are you thinking of going that you expect to be more Genentech-like than a Roche-led Genentech? Or is it just some wrinkle of stock vesting that's driving this exodus?

I'd figured all the grumbling about mass departures was like those Americans who announce they're going to move to Canada if Reagan/Bush/Dole/Bush/McCain is elected, but always seem to still be here four years later...

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2. skeptic on August 4, 2008 9:09 AM writes...

Regarding the Genentech folks looking to jump ship - it would be interesting to know what percentage of these are from med chem / small molecule vs. the protein / antibody folks. My external impression is that Roche is buying the remaining shares of Genentech to acquire the products and the established expertise in the protein arena. I can understand that folks in the relatively young small molecule group will be looking elsewhere, as this is one of the most obvious places where the future "synergies" will be found. Just ask the folks in Palo Alto. The question is - will Roche make such a change up-front, or will they keep the peace initially, and then slowly disintegrate the group over time. Or, will they surprise me and actually keep and grow the group, and allow it to operate more independently? It doesn't sound like they're looking to move any of the Palo Alto folks in med chem to South San Francisco. With all of the cuts in various companies, I don't blame people for looking early. There will be a lot of GSK folks and others competing for those limited opportunities.

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3. HelicalZz on August 4, 2008 9:46 AM writes...

As someone currently looking and whose online submission this weekend may well cross Derek's desk, I'm certainly not pleased to see the increased competition. Best wishes to all looking though, being out of work (I'm not currently) is mentally demoralizing.


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4. HelicalZz on August 4, 2008 9:57 AM writes...

Here is another suggestion to job seekers, particularly those willing to consider a small company (i.e. resource limited) situations. Each quarter, venture capital funding into an industry is summarized by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in The MoneyTree Report (google it for a link). With a free (no spam) registration, you can sort the funding by region and industry, thus get a list of startups and maturing companies that just raised funds in your area. Companies that just raised money are likely hiring.

Currently the sorted data is still from Q1 2008, but the Q2 information should be out shortly (the cumulative data was just released).

PWC puts out some very good market projection reports as well, such as 'Pharma 2020: The vision', and 'Pharma 2020: Virtual R&D'. These are also worth a read for those considering career directions.


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5. WC on August 4, 2008 10:21 AM writes...

If in fact DNA'ers are sending resumes out already because they don't want to work for Roche, isn't that jumping the gun a way too soon? All Roche did was make an offer of $89 per share for the remaining shares. A buyout hasn't happened and who knows, maybe it never will.

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6. The Pharmacoepidemiologist on August 4, 2008 10:43 AM writes...

The resumes I've been getting (and friends have been receiving) have been in the protein, not small molecule, side of the business--both development and post-marketing. Roche has visited the Genentech shores before, and the tidal wave of "We are your bankers. We are very cautious, and we take a long time to make a decision when it suits us to make one at all" approach has many at Genentech scared witless. One friend (not a resume-sender) told me "If I wanted to travel to Basel all the time, I'd have bought a place there when the Euro-dollar rate was more favorable. But I don't." Maybe Roche wants the exodus of professionals. Doesn't make much sense to me, but then again, I'm not a banker.

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7. DL on August 4, 2008 10:47 AM writes...

For skeptic: Med chem either moves to Nutley or to Basel. Not many will go to SSF. Sept 3 will tell the tale. That's when we find out about retention bonuses, who's going or not, etc. But not many in med chem will be around 18 months hence.

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8. MedChem on August 4, 2008 4:12 PM writes...

Genentech need to count themselves lucky.
Roche bought a biotech in the UK called Piramed recently. Their most advanced program made it through Phase I and Roche stepped in the with the offer the same day. The deal closed on a Friday, the Monday was a public holiday, and on the Tuesday they closed the whole site and announced the entire staff of Piramed were to be made redundant. Not one member of staff was transferred in order to oversee the programs at Roche. The sad thing is the program had already been bought into by Genentech, so Roche owned a controlling stake in it anyway!

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9. Lycra on August 4, 2008 5:44 PM writes...

Dereke is doing a great service here. I wonder why we hear nothing from the American Chemical Society? Because big Pharma Inc just gave them all raises for keeping quiet on the decimation of the people they claim to represent. I think the strategy is to keep hiring bulls*t-artists at C&E news to con people into entering the field of chemistry.

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10. Jose on August 4, 2008 7:11 PM writes...


I've seen a few posts like yours recently, and while I've never bought into everything they print, I now wonder how much funding comes their way from Pharma? Certainly ad space, but beyond that? Does the ACS really have a vested interest in downplaying the current siuation? Is there really any reason for pharma to worry about PR from the ACS, when they are already preaching to the choir?

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11. milkshake on August 4, 2008 9:54 PM writes...

I let my ACS membership expire even as my institute was paying my dues. C&EN is not worth the money and pretty much everything else they offer has little value for me - I stopped going the ACS national meetings also, it has rarely been a pleasant experience. They act like a bunch of cheer-leaders for the captains of industry, and they send out lots of spam mail.

Anyway, there were times 15 years ago when I was proud card-carrying member but over the years ACS turned itself into a self-serving bureaucratic cash-extorting monster.

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12. Colin on August 5, 2008 12:45 AM writes...

To get NIH website URL to work remove the period at the end

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13. sjb on August 5, 2008 2:41 AM writes...

Medchem (8)

Ahh, so that's why they've suddenly stopped receiving e-mail etc. And yes, they had a chemistry position going too :(

Can't have been that much of a surprise (to PIramed), can it?

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14. Petros on August 5, 2008 6:16 AM writes...

Re Piramed

It's news to me although I thought it would happen. A contact who knows the guys there much better than I do thought that it wouldn't happen

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15. C2M on August 5, 2008 7:05 AM writes...

Those scientists at Genentech can look back to the previous history. When Roche bought into them the first time, there was a steady exodus of talent over the next 18 months. That talent was the founding base for Gilead and Tularik (Amgen SF) and probably a few other bay area startups. When they bought Syntex, that caused another large exodus of good scientists, quickly absorbed. Those who left probably did better than those who stayed even with the recent DNA successes.

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16. MedChem on August 5, 2008 7:43 AM writes...

The Piramed deal has all been done. AFAIK the chemists are still officially there until end Nov.

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17. anon on August 5, 2008 8:54 AM writes...

#11: I agree, and also dropped my membership since it felt pointless.

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18. Sooner on August 5, 2008 4:56 PM writes...

Would anyone know if Genentech's antibody conjugate program is in jeopardy (due to Roche) since most of the program is still in preclinical developement? DNA always seemed positive in their meetings concerning this technology.

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19. Sili on August 6, 2008 10:33 AM writes...

Any opinions on RSC vs ASC for us on the other side of the pond?

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20. Jeffrey Clark, CEO of - The Online Community for Life Sciences Professionals on August 6, 2008 2:52 PM writes...

An earlier post in this string had it best explained. The final consensus will be heard in early September when employees at DNA learn of their fate in terms of vested options & retention bonuses. Roche is not ignorant. They are not buying DNA with a willingness to accept a massive departure of talent. They will leverage what they can to retain the best. They will also eliminate all redundancy to help pay for the cost of the transaction. If you read the Roche playbook from Ventana Medical systems earlier this year, the next steps in this process become evident.

It's easy to say "a lot of Genentech employees" are sending resumes considering their options when really most are sitting tight until their options are clearly defined. a virtue.

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21. CMC guy on August 6, 2008 5:42 PM writes...

#20 Jeffrey Clark CEO etc. can I ask a favor that you shorten your URL link. I don't know if other people find a tad distracting but it can take up space on the recent comments line here and other blogs bumping off other entries and so when I pass through looking to follow new posts it can be annoying IMO. Thank you.

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22. Anonymous on August 6, 2008 11:25 PM writes...

The NIH CGC group is a young and energetic group of researchers. They are very into technologies. I had the pleasure last October to go there and train them on some scientific software usage. Very enthusiast group... Hopefully they will pick up some Med Chemists from any of the many organizations that dont find experence valuable...

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23. AA on August 7, 2008 7:29 AM writes...

I had a very bad experience with the NIH CGC group. I interviewed for a job there last summer, they offered me the job (informally), then after waiting nearly two weeks for the formal offer I abruptly got an e-mail saying there had been budget cuts and they would no longer be filling the position. A few weeks later I saw the position re-advertised on! When I inquired about whether this was the same position I had been offered I got no reply. To add insult to injury, the following year they sent me a tax form saying they had reported my expense reimbursement for the interview to the IRS as income. I spent months dealing with a very rude woman at their finance office getting that reversed. Avoid this place!

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24. lost in space on August 7, 2008 3:06 PM writes...

This is an interesting article mentioning how scientists were fleeing the southeast due to an absence of jobs. The reality is scientists are also fleeing the northeast, midwest and west coast.

Hawaii is where all the work is heading nowadays!

But it's best to move there first to get an interview. There are supposedly several hundred small start-ups actively hiring, but never advertising. It's all who you know. :)

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25. ssg on August 15, 2008 11:25 PM writes...

I have Boston based company moving into small molecule people and marketing people and all types of really great people coming from these fields.
I welcome any resumes.

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26. DNA'er on August 18, 2008 6:05 PM writes...

As a DNA'er I myself am more than 80% sure that I'd leave the company should Roche take full control. I don't want my day-to-day decisions decided half-a-world away.

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