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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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« Kurzweil Responds | Main | Housekeeping Note »

August 23, 2010

Lunch at the Boston ACS Meeting

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Posted by Derek

A reminder, for those in town for the ACS meeting. If you're interested, there will be a "Lunch and Learn" panel discussion on chem/pharma blogging in the Ballroom West tomorrow, from 12 to 2 (PDF flyer). As the longest-standing chemistry blogger (perhaps the longest standing science blogger, for all I know), I'm glad to have a chance to speak.

I was just telling a reader by e-mail that when I started this site in 2002, that I wasn't sure how much I'd find to write about. But (for better or worse) the material just keeps on coming. . .

Comments (26) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. coprolite on August 23, 2010 8:18 AM writes...

good luck duder, wish I could make it, instead I'll have to be content with looking doe-eyed across the river towards vertex and going through your trash.

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2. MoMo on August 23, 2010 1:06 PM writes...

Good Luck DL! You certainly have the pulse of the chemistry-set!

But I am skipping this ACS meeting even though I was even given the "joy" of going.

Same old stories but this time punctuated with hordes of desperate scientists looking for meager jobs!

It would be like going to the Death March of Bataan but with the same faces congratulating themselves over nothing.

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3. Drug_hunter on August 23, 2010 4:33 PM writes...

Who goes to acs meetings any more? I know the numbers are high but who, exactly, thinks these mtgs are worthwhile? I'm pretty much at the point where I'm going to ban people from speaking at them. I never hear anyone come back happy, with the one exception of the annual first time disclosure sessions but those are always written up in c&e news anyway. Other views welcome.

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4. CRH on August 23, 2010 4:45 PM writes...

It never ceases to amaze me how bad these meetings are. Yet I am attending again - hoping they are better, yet knowing they won't be. At least Boston is a good venue (will the rain/wind stop?).

The first time disclosures was pretty lame - bad talks and sparsely attended. The Burns symposium was hugely attended, but the talk about Corey and Burns was beyond painful. And don't get me started on the horrendous poster session.

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5. CRH on August 23, 2010 4:53 PM writes...

Okay, just a quick note on the poster session. There was one poster that literally was a printed JMC article stapled on the board? WTF?

And pharma people how about a little effort? Usually the MEDI sessions are rock solid, none of the graduate ORG crap. But. In this new reality pharma people want as many citations as possible that there is so much sh!t coming from them it's embarrassing. Poorly put together posters, obviously missing information - and please stop answering questions with - sorry, can't reveal that. Because most of the posters are simply the dregs and not something the company was ever actually interested in. Just answer honestly and say we were too lazy to do that experiment because I simply want another CV filler

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6. dearieme on August 23, 2010 4:53 PM writes...

If I may say so, Mr Lowe, you do it very well. All power to your arm.

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7. Eka-silicon on August 23, 2010 6:34 PM writes...

After the SLC debacle (nothing short of an atrocious meeting) it's going to take someone channeling Woodward directly to get me to an ACS meeting....

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8. anon the II on August 23, 2010 8:19 PM writes...

OK, I give up. What was the SLC debacle?

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9. CRH on August 24, 2010 5:31 AM writes...

SLC debacle - Salt Lake City. Worst. Meeting. Ever. Horrible venue - meeting rooms in the same division were (seemingly) miles apart. Horrible city for a meeting - things closed on Sunday, city is empty after 6pm. Plus, you hold a meeting with quite a bit of diversity in the whitest city in the US.

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10. Thor the Mighty Avenger on August 24, 2010 6:25 AM writes...

It sounds like I should count my blessings. Two days before I was to travel to the SLC meeting, my 90-year old mother had emergency surgery after a botched esophageal procedure and the surgeon told me afterwards that she had a 1 in 4 chance of surviving the effects of bacterial contamination and that now was the time to come be with her. For the usual $150 fee, I cancelled my flight to SLC. The hotel was kind enough to waive the one-night cancellation charge. And the ACS? I asked ACS for a refund, but if they couldn't do that, please apply my SLC conference fee to the next ACS meeting. They said "Not a chance to either." Subsequent e-mails to ACS about their policy went unanswered.

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11. eugene on August 24, 2010 7:41 AM writes...

I would go, but the flyer says it's 16 dollars, as such, I'm guessing no one will come. Now, it might be only 16 dollars for the lunch (which really should be free), but it's formulated rather awkwardly. I'll stop by, but just so you know, expect no one to come due to poor advertising. Or at least, no graduate students and postdocs (except for the hardcore who don't mind paying 16 bucks)

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12. partial agonist on August 24, 2010 7:44 AM writes...

fyi..,I THINK that the lunch-n-learn will be in room 153 instead of Ballroom West. I was told the latter when making the flyer, but ACS literature all says 153A/B/C

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13. partial agonist on August 24, 2010 7:47 AM writes...

eugene, 85 people registered online in advance, so it won't be empty

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14. Eka-silicon on August 24, 2010 8:37 AM writes...

Yes, exactly what I was referring to. Deadest city core in America, pitiful attendance, horrific venue, terrible food options, grim, grim, grim. And really, the whole reason national meetings are somewhat fun is drinking lots of beer right? 3.2% just doesn't cut it! I don't imagine SLC will be joining the normal rotation.

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15. CRH on August 24, 2010 10:01 AM writes...

My guess, after being here for the past couple days, is attendance will be pretty good regardless of the cost. At least the attendees will be guaranteed lunch w/o having to wait in line for 45 mins. Food and drink (coffee) is very difficult to obtain at this convention center.

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16. Anon the II on August 24, 2010 12:15 PM writes...

I remember going to a medchem symposium in SLC a few (17) years ago. The best part was a day trip to the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Otherwise, the meeting was pretty lame. I did get neat t-shirt from Tripos, though.

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17. Wave 124 on August 24, 2010 5:14 PM writes...

@Anon the II,
I was at that meeting, too. Best cave I have been to but the hike up was not that fun. That was the meeting where one of the moderators asked three of four people from the then Sterling Pharma to call their office ASAP. The beginning of the end, I guess...

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18. Al Osteric on August 24, 2010 10:34 PM writes...

Enjoyed the lunch and panel very much today, Derek. Thanks to you and your fellow bloggers for your insight.

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19. eugene on August 26, 2010 4:11 PM writes...

Okay, point taken, I guess there were a lot of people. I thought about it and decided to pay too much money for my lunch as well, but I was late, couldn't find the ballroom it was in in time, so I saved about 8 dollars on lunch. Maybe I'll run into Derek some other time.

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20. Anonymous on August 26, 2010 9:53 PM writes...

Just curious..what was your take one the attendance at the recent Boston ACS? I was there and noted a somewhat bleak landscape. I did however chat with a number of very cute and eager your ladies with excellent skills. That was the fun part....

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21. BackFromBoston on August 29, 2010 1:53 PM writes...

@CRH various posts.

Agreed, the poster sessions were mostly LAME-O. What was up with all the empty panels and walls of curtains? MEDI was uninformative, although some of the grad/postdoc ORGN, INOR, & ANYL weren't half bad. Some of the MEDI presenters wouldn't answer questions about techniques. Dude, WTH, you're not keeping process trade secrets, just want to know which vendor of TIPS-OTf you would recommend.

OMG, the weather for most of the meeting was atrocious. Although Boston itself is a good venue, the new convention center is just as remote & un-navigable as SLC's. Even though I could expense-account lunch, I was offended to pay $9 for a steam-table hamburger at the Westin lobby. BTW, what do you have against the Mormons? At least they're not as snobby as the Cambridge crowd or brutish as the Redsox fans.

The lighting fiasco at Kishi's talk was seizure-inducing; apparently chromous chloride is DA BOMB. Why were so many big-name ORGN seminars scheduled simultaneously? That really depleted attendence from the talks where the speakers ACTUALLY did the featured chemistry.

Chemjobber reports that the positions-to-applicants ratio at the Career Fair wasn't that bad. The applicant pool seemed a bit J-1/H1-B heavy...

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22. CRH on August 30, 2010 11:55 AM writes...

@21 BackFromBoston:

Agreed with you regarding the poster session and the walls of curtains. Made it seem very each division had something to hide from one another. Maybe they were hiding how few people actually showed?

Nothing against the mormons, they make great TV. SLC was just a horrible venue due to the fact that SLC is a very small town; and is not very receptive to outsiders. I did not come across a single snobby Cambridge person - stayed downtown and was quite happy. And brutish Red Sox fans? You can just point at the standings.

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23. K on August 30, 2010 3:22 PM writes...

The weather was vile, and the food wasn't much better. Coming from the UK I felt quite at home!

As usual with this particular meeting my main problem was with the level of English spoken by some of the presenters. This isn't a gripe about Asian postdocs blah blah blah, if someone is doing nice research I don't care whether they are from the USA or Ulan Bator. But I think PIs need to be a bit more responsible as to who they put up at these meetings. Not sure about everyone else, but I just switch off after 2 minutes during those talks.

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24. eugene on August 30, 2010 4:38 PM writes...

I kind of enjoyed the weather. It was cool enough that I didn't get sweaty in my dress clothes. The new convention center is alright, but the free food was very limited. In fact, I was only able to get one good free food dinner (the launch of the new medical chemistry journal which had three different kinds of pasta, sandwiches, ordures and free mixed drinks), the rest of the pickings sucked. In this respect it was worse than the last ACS in Boston. But, it's easy enough to take the silver line three stops to South Station for good and cheap food. If you have a pass like me, it doesn't really cost a lot of money.

I thought there were too many good ORGN and INOR talks by big guys scheduled right when the postdocs and students were speaking and it really killed the attendance at some Monday and Wednesday talks where interesting research was being presented. But, a lot of the talks presented really small iterative amounts of research. Which is fine... I suppose. But it made me tune out or feel cheated if it was five in a row. For the poster sessions I was drunk since there was free booze (or I found free booze at the free food places before the poster sessions started), so I only paid attention to posters in my direct area where I would be able to understand what the hell was going on without any effort from my brain, which was shut off due to alcohol anyways. I liked the idea of skipping Thursday and having people stick around for Wednesday talks since there was a poster session Wednesday evening. Some people still left Wednesday morning right after their talk. Are you really in that much of a hurry to get back to your lab? Why can't you show some respect to people who stayed around to hear you? Also, the Jorge Cham lecture was great.

I stayed an extra few days in Boston and right after ACS, the rain stopped and it was sunny. I walked all around the city, took lots of pictures, went on harbor tours and visited the aquarium. I even got a suntan on one of the harbor islands when I fell asleep on a meadow while reading a book. Boston looks really good in the sunshine. I wish I took a few extra days after the last Boston ACS to explore the city as well. I had excellent Indian and Thai food in Cambridge (finally, lamb vindaloo that can make me cry!) and great seafood in various Boston restaurants.

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25. AlchemistOrganique on August 30, 2010 7:00 PM writes...

@21 & 22: Right on with the lackluster poster sessions! Even C&E News couldn't take a decent photo to conceal the blasé Sci-Mix (see p. 5 of the August 30th issue). Also, did anyone else find the propaganda broadcasts by the ACS executives to be a bit Orwellian?

@23: Aside from the poor command of English, some speakers utterly lacked presentation skills. Chemjobber has a list of common seminar follies; I witnessed many of them being committed.

@24: Glad you stuck around for the nice weather. Boston, especially Back Bay, is a great place to stroll. Regarding inconsiderate ditching by speakers, at the last MedChem session I attended, THREE speakers didn't show up...what the hell?! Excuse me for being part French, but I believe you mean hor d'œuvres. Anyway, my friend dragged me to a morning atmospheric talk...OMG, the session had free continental breakfast! Is the organic division too poor/cheap to provide even cookies???

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26. Anonymous on September 3, 2010 8:57 PM writes...

Soon, all of our poster sessions will be held in India or China. Unfortunately, your company will probably not allow you to travel there to present the poster (unless you stow away in the wheel well of the plane...if that's the case you'd better bring a ski jacket). Perhaps VC poster sessions should be considered. Hey, there's no need to file an expense report! LOL

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