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

« Niacin, No Longer Red-Faced? | Main | Writing With Triazoles »

May 1, 2009

Genentech: Let's Hope He's Right

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

Science has a short interview with Richard Scheller, who will be running R&D now at Genentech. A highlight:

Q: How do you plan to maintain the famous Genentech culture?

R.S.: By making sure that scientists continue to have time to work on their own projects that aren't translational, that aren't governed in any specific way, and that scientists have time to think and imagine and invent, not just do routine things.

Comments (25) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Who Discovers and Why


1. Lucas on May 1, 2009 10:08 AM writes...

...until we have a bad quarter.

Permalink to Comment

2. John Spevacek on May 1, 2009 10:22 AM writes...

...until we start a Six Sigma program. (A Six-Six-Six Sigma program!)

Permalink to Comment

3. Aspirin on May 1, 2009 1:45 PM writes...

...until we actually start running R & D at Genentech

Permalink to Comment

4. mike on May 1, 2009 5:01 PM writes...

lodamin !!

Permalink to Comment

5. Billy on May 1, 2009 5:19 PM writes...

Until the end of 2010 when Roche is planning the big integration and layoffs of Genentech employees and begins to maximize profits.

Permalink to Comment

6. Muruga on May 2, 2009 2:02 AM writes...

No dout that Genentech has been a great innovator company. But, the quote will be a perfect fit for academic research, rather than industry.

Permalink to Comment

7. Anon on May 2, 2009 11:12 AM writes...

We shouldn't forget that Richard Scheller is relatively new to Genentech. As Derek pointed out, decisions affecting early research today would be reflected in the bottomline 10 to 12 years in the future.

Permalink to Comment

8. Anonymous BMS Researcher on May 3, 2009 6:27 AM writes...

John Spevacek on May 1, 2009 10:22 AM wrote...

> ...until we start a Six Sigma program.
> (A Six-Six-Six Sigma program!)

A few Thanksgivings ago sitting at the kitchen table visiting my mother-in-law reading the local paper, Dilbert was about Six Sigma.

When I got back to work, I started hearing a LOT about Six Sigma.

Not too long after that, Business Week had a cover story: an interview with a new CEO at 3M saying his top priority was fixing what Six Sigma had done to their R&D under his predecessor.

Permalink to Comment

9. swissexposed on May 3, 2009 9:07 AM writes...

They'll spend a lot of energy trying to convince everyone that it's like that.

Permalink to Comment

10. milkshake on May 3, 2009 11:40 AM writes...

the light at the end of the tunnel is usually from the incoming train.

Scheller sounds full of best intentions but he will still have to take orders from Roche - all it takes is one imbecile among his superiors.

Permalink to Comment

11. John on May 3, 2009 2:10 PM writes...

No doubt, Roche is going to screw this pooch.

Permalink to Comment

12. Frank on May 3, 2009 2:43 PM writes...

What can be said? Roch is a company run by accountants. Genentech is/was run by scientists. Short term v long term outlooks. Roche needed Genentech more than Genentech need Roche. Roche has killed the goose that lays the golden egg.

Permalink to Comment

13. Anonymous on May 3, 2009 4:38 PM writes...

Six sigma did wonder to Merck research. It was used by MRL research queen Kathleen Metters to get rid of excellent and experienced scientists and promote her cronies. Now the whole organisation is her little queensland.

Permalink to Comment

14. Pfeister on May 3, 2009 6:25 PM writes...

Hey it could be worse. Imagine if Pfizer got its grubby not-so-little hands on Genentech?

Yeah. There were scarier options on the table. Enjoy the next couple of years before Roche really starts tightening all the screws.

Permalink to Comment

15. Anonymous on May 3, 2009 7:41 PM writes...

Pfeister: Are you sure Pfizer's fifth column is not already active at Genentech?

Permalink to Comment

16. pfired on May 3, 2009 8:05 PM writes...

If Pfizer got its grubby hands on Genentech at least Mike Varney would know who to call and who to be wary of until the axe fell

Permalink to Comment

17. The Gnome on May 4, 2009 6:26 AM writes...

Truth be told, Roche isn't waiting to impact its new purchase. The Swiss bankers will be in evidence early this summer. Since the reason for making the purchase at the now apparent exhorbitant price was for the effect on cash flows, Roche doesn't have much choice. It must cut costs at Genentech asap. And rest assured it will do so. The Gnomes back in Switzerland are already knee deep into the books, and the folks who knew the pipeline best will soon be gone from South City. One is headed to UCSF and the other, well, who knows what Art's planning to do. Will Hal last long in that environment? Seems major league unlikely. I doubt he can resist the call for decreased development budgets, even as that call is now being readied. Absent a miracle, Genentech will be quite dead soon enough. But there is hope that the ex-Genentechers will set-up their own start-ups in about a year. Then the fun begins anew. As for the Rochies moving from Nutley, welcome to the Hotel California.

Permalink to Comment

18. Vader on May 4, 2009 9:03 AM writes...

Good luck with that.

I'm pretty sure good science and ISO 9000 are fundamentally incompatible.

Permalink to Comment

19. Ex Roche on May 4, 2009 1:47 PM writes...

I can't believe that anyone thought that Roche wouldn't completely trash Genentech. If you have 2 IQ points above 85 and can read some articles about Roch's management philosophy and history, you would see that.

this is sad for multiple reasons, which include the loss and destruction of such a unique American company. Mostly, it's a loss for patients that won't benefit form future Genentech innovations.

I agree with the Gnome, the silver lining may just be some nifty new start-ups in the next five years.

Permalink to Comment

20. Jose on May 4, 2009 3:12 PM writes...

I shudder to think it will take five years for a startup research uptick to occur; waayyy too many chemists can't wait that long.

Permalink to Comment

21. The Gnome on May 5, 2009 7:27 AM writes...


Sorry, but chemists don't have much place in biotech--biotech is big molecule, not small molecule. Unless the chemists are oriented towards process development (and not many are--that's usually for biologists), chemists are still going to hurt.

Unless big pharma comes back (I think the Republican party has better odds of that happening right now), chemists are going to have to wait those five years--and that's being optimistic.

Permalink to Comment

22. S Silverstein on May 5, 2009 8:59 PM writes...


He must have not read the Procedures Manuals at other companies, which specify that R&D is merely busywork to satisfy HR, legal and other bureaucrats, all the while masquerading as R&D.

Permalink to Comment

23. KSh on May 11, 2009 6:15 PM writes...

Boy are some of you nay sayers way off.

Why don't you speak with some of the Roche employees who are not going to lose their jobs and are going to be relocated to SSF. You might find that the majority have been with Roche for longer than Genentech has existed;. Roche is an amazing place to work; they take care of their employees in every way you do....period. The only discerning difference I can find is the flip flops and the Ho Ho's. You may find that the the 2 cultures will make it a better company. And oh by the way the name of the company will be Genentech NOT Roche...that says a lot. On the day Pfizer took over Pharmacia, they changed the name of the road leading to the main gate from Pharmacia Drive to Pfizer Way. Believe me that did not go un-noticed! Consider yourselves lucky you are now affiliated with one of the greatest European companies to get over it!

Permalink to Comment

24. Joe Z on May 12, 2009 12:02 PM writes...

Before this takeover, Roche earned nearly 60% of it's revenues form Genentech products. Of the approximately 70 projects in the GenenRoche pipe-line only 20 or 22(?) come form Roche's own efforts. Furthermore, as a former Roche employee, the company is a bureaucratic mess, with many levels of incompetent management. Roche is motivated by greed and the bottom line. The former (now diseased) Genentech focused on unmet medical needs.

I might speak to the Roche employees who are not losing their jobs, but I am more concerned about the 3,000 who are.

Keep telling yourself that the only differences are jeans, and flip-flops.

Permalink to Comment

25. MD C on May 12, 2009 12:08 PM writes...

That's why Genentech is doomed!!! They literally think that the only differences in culture are jeans and flip-flops. Even the integration of culturally similar American companies (Pfizer and Pharmacia) have largely been failures. I smell disaster.

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