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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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« Spread of the Pun Virus | Main | J. Whoozat Sci. »

September 17, 2010

Put In Another Methyl Group: A Villanelle

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Posted by Derek

A comment to the most recent post on puns mentioned the famous JOC paper in verse from the 1970s, and prompted another comment that "If you have to report your results as a villanelle, I think we'll see fewer methyl, ethyl, butyl, futile papers. . ."

Well, it's not a whole paper, for sure. But here's the best that I can do in thirty minutes:

Put In Another Methyl Group: A Villanelle

I shouldn't have to put a methyl there
No matter what the modeling group might say
So it docks to perfection: I don't care.

The project head gave me an evil glare
When I spoke up at our review today.
I shouldn't have to put a methyl there.

"The glutamate will pick up that lone pair".
Who knows? That might be right; I couldn't say.
So it docks to perfection: I don't care.

How do these really bind? We don't know where.
It's not like we can get a good X-ray.
I shouldn't have to put a methyl there.

Quaternary chiral centers? I don't dare.
I'd need two months if I needed a day.
So it docks to perfection: I don't care.

But no one ever said research was fair.
I'm going to have to come up with a way.
I shouldn't have to put a methyl there.
So it docks to perfection: I don't care.

Update: yes, I'm going to give the molecular modelers their own poem. It's only fair!

Comments (22) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life in the Drug Labs | The Scientific Literature


1. =GiMP= on September 17, 2010 3:45 PM writes...

oh dear...

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2. rhodium on September 17, 2010 4:13 PM writes...

Obviously, an advantage of getting a BA over a BS is that you know the vinnanelle form. Anything past a limerick and I for one am clueless.

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3. Pallas Renatus on September 17, 2010 5:54 PM writes...

Hahaha, love it =)

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4. Anonymous BMS Researcher on September 17, 2010 6:24 PM writes...

Love your poem! I wish (1) I could write like that and (2) if I could, that I dared SPEAK like that in Discovery Working Group meetings!

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5. LeeH on September 18, 2010 7:20 AM writes...

Bravo, Derek.

Think you could write one from the modeler's perspective?

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6. Anonymous on September 18, 2010 9:07 AM writes...

Don't give up the day job Derek


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7. Sili on September 18, 2010 1:32 PM writes...

I'll never dare joke on this blog again.

Bravo! I'm sure Cuttlefish, OM, will rise to the challenge.

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8. Wavefunction on September 18, 2010 10:33 PM writes...

Bravo! On a more serious note though, why does the modeler want to put in a methyl? If it's for displacing a well-positioned water molecule the strategy might actually work.

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9. milkshake on September 19, 2010 2:48 PM writes...

A postscript, two months later

So it docked to perfection; I don't care
No matter what the modeling babe might say
I shouldn't have put my methyl there

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10. yossarian on September 19, 2010 11:22 PM writes...

Now, could you please re-write it in hexameter?

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11. Derek Lowe on September 20, 2010 7:23 AM writes...

Never came across a villanelle in hexameter, I have to say. The only ones I know off the top of my head are by Dylan Thomas (natch), Sylvia Plath, and Edward Arlington Robinson, though.

I'll try to write something from the modeler's perspective - just to show that I'm not playing favorites, I think that one will be a sonnet.

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12. BFS on September 20, 2010 10:03 AM writes...

For a less-refined approach, you could try modeling a quatraine or two a-la Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs & Ham.

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13. Sili on September 20, 2010 12:38 PM writes...

I assume Yossarian meant heroïc hexameter. Five dactyls and a spondee.

I think that's more suited for total synthesis.

Dr Seuss could do hexacyclinol.

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15. Derek Lowe on September 20, 2010 1:01 PM writes...

Sili, writing dactylic hexameter in English will really strain the brain. The only long example I can think of is Longfellow's "Evangeline", not that I know that one well.

Now for Greek and Latin, sure thing. But it just seems to have a stumbling-over-the-feet quality in English, to me, at any rate. . .

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16. Anonymous BMS Researcher on September 20, 2010 8:44 PM writes...

For a real challenge, maybe you could write your poem from the modeler perspective in Terza rima. That form is common in Italian poetry (most famously Dante) but fairly rare in English because it's lot harder to find the needed rhymes in English.

At meetings when a project I consider certain to fail is being presented, I'm tempted to quote Dante: "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate" [Give up all hope, you who enter here]. Or as Dilbert would say, "we're doomed!".

When I read yet another academic claiming to have a wonderful drug candidate, with no evidence they have a clue what it really takes to get from lead to clinic, I think of Vergil "hoc opus, hic labor est" [there is the effort, there is the difficulty].

Milton, Byron, and several 20th-century poets did use Terza rima in English but my personal favorite example is Shelley's Ode to the West Wind. I have never quite understood why so many poets yammer on about springtime, my favorite season has always been autumn.

"O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing"

Wonderful poem!

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17. GKA on September 21, 2010 7:19 AM writes...


Oh! I see what you did there.

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18. daen on September 21, 2010 1:03 PM writes...

Here's a challenge for you, Derek - try writing the modeler's one as a pantoum! I wrote one last year, about cosmology, and our ultimate fate, inspired by the wonderful English poet Wendy Cope's "Roger Bear's Philosophical Pantoum" from "Serious Concerns".

She's also written vilanelles (for example, "Lonely Hearts" from her 1986 debut collection, "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis").

Anyway; to inspire you (or repel you ...):

A Short Pantoum about Space

No last-minute reprieves
For Creation and stuff
Space is being squeezed
Making more's kind of tough

For Creation and stuff
To get some more room
Making more's kind of tough
Without another Big Boom

To get some more room
The Universe expands
Without another Big Boom
It's got time on its hands

The Universe expands
Its heat dissipates
It's got time on its hands
We are left to the fates

Its heat dissipates
Space is being squeezed
We are left to the fates
No last-minute reprieves

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19. HBP on September 1, 2011 9:08 AM writes...

Along with almost everything that seems to be developing throughout this particular area, a significant percentage of opinions happen to be very refreshing. On the other hand, I beg your pardon, but I can not subscribe to your whole strategy, all be it exhilarating none the less. It looks to me that your commentary are not entirely validated and in simple fact you are generally your self not really entirely certain of the argument. In any event I did take pleasure in reading through it.

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20. Wale on December 11, 2011 12:25 PM writes...

Oh.. this is poetic organic chemistry at it highest level..

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21. verzekeringen vergelijken on February 4, 2012 9:49 PM writes...

It’s laborious to search out educated individuals on this matter, however you sound like you recognize what you’re speaking about! Thanks

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22. Ksw 31 Transmisja on April 23, 2015 9:46 AM writes...

2. Check to see if the user has an active connection to Essbase. If not, same as above.

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