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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: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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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

« Wisterone: A Structure I Can't Believe | Main | The Hours You Put In »

September 28, 2010

Open Thread

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I'm out of touch at a meeting all day today, so I thought I'd put up a request thread. What topics would people like to see covered here in the coming days and weeks? I have some chemical biology posts queued up, and current events will always intervene, but if you have any other topics for a medium-to-long horizon, feel free to suggest 'em. Thanks!

Comments (63) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


COMMENTS

1. WaveyDavey on September 29, 2010 6:27 AM writes...

Oh, as a non chemist, that's *easy*.
Stuff I Won't work with, stuff that goes bang, stuff that smells bad. There, easy peasy.

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2. Jim on September 29, 2010 7:12 AM writes...

I wouldn't mind learning the remaining of Lowe's Laws of the lab.

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3. Patrick Sweetman on September 29, 2010 7:55 AM writes...

Personal information management, PIM. As a student, PIM is something I just don't do well enough. I don't have tools better than my wetware, and that leaks away almost everything I throw in it.

As an employee you probably have employer-mandated systems that you have to use, whether or not they are optimal.

I have tried a couple of systems... the best was a personal wiki, but it took too much time to keep up to date.

How do the pros handle it?

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4. Patrick Sweetman on September 29, 2010 7:55 AM writes...

Personal information management, PIM. As a student, PIM is something I just don't do well enough. I don't have tools better than my wetware, and that leaks away almost everything I throw in it.

As an employee you probably have employer-mandated systems that you have to use, whether or not they are optimal.

I have tried a couple of systems... the best was a personal wiki, but it took too much time to keep up to date.

How do the pros handle it?

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5. Pallas Renatus on September 29, 2010 8:12 AM writes...

Weird structures, stupid papers, idiotic lab accidents, stuff I won't work with, stuff that goes bang, stuff that smells bad, etc

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6. Thomas McEntee on September 29, 2010 8:27 AM writes...

Bruce Alberts' editorial, "Overbuilding Research Capacity", in the 10 September issue of Science discusses the perils facing US universities, medical centers, etc. because of their over-reliance on a seemingly endless supply of money from NIH. Alberts says that not only the direct salaries of researchers are paid with US tax income, but also the indirect costs, i.e., overhead, associated with construction and maintenance of thee centers. He worries about a glut of laboratory facilities "reminiscent of the real estate bust of 2008 and, worse, a host of exhausted scientists with no means of support." Kinda sounds like big pharma and the construction of one R&D center after another, funded by the never-to-end riches from the pipeline...

One topic that has pegged Derek's audience participation meter over the past several years is that of jobs, layoffs, and offshore outsourcing. The ACS has taken its fair share of lumps in people's comments as having been a tool of academia and industry, working diligently to promote chemistry and, thus, ensuring a steady supply, and possibly an over-supply, of chemists for the labor camps of these two sectors.

I am suggesting that Derek consider topics like what can be done to objectively analyze the supply/demand issues we face as a profession. How do we deal with the academic Ponzi scheme that needs more and more students to do the research that leads to the publications the Assistant Professors need? How should the chemical and pharmaceutical industry make their projections of their needs for scientists? What's the right "animal model" for questions like these? Who should be looking at questions like these? ACS, NSF? the National Academies? Academia?

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7. Dr. Smalls on September 29, 2010 9:10 AM writes...

I think a retrospective on your career as a whole with a discussion of some of the choices you made that were good and some that were not so good (either at the time or viewed through the eyes of experience) might be helpful.

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8. Lionel (France) on September 29, 2010 10:02 AM writes...

I know that there is some externalization of research from the big pharma. So: what are the best ideas to create a start up based on the future needs of the big pharmas due to the intra-reorganization? Is-it a good idea to create a start-up of services for the bigpharma / biotechs?

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9. J.C. on September 29, 2010 10:05 AM writes...

Things I Won't Work With, or How Not To Do It. Pretty please with ice cream on top?

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10. zenscientist on September 29, 2010 10:08 AM writes...

I know your a chemist, but it seems pertinent to discuss the impact, risks, and development of bio-similars. It seems they will be potentially (or already are) a huge piece of the bio-pharma pie now and in the years to come...Also stuff that goes bang and weird papers of course..Your career path and choices was a good idea too for all of us up and coming masters of the bio-pharma universe...

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11. ronathan richardson on September 29, 2010 10:13 AM writes...

Approaches to identifying the target of a compound, and related to that, the whole cell vs. in vitro (target based) debate. A perspective from a real medicinal chemist would certainly balance what a hear from the chemical biologists.

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12. PJ Hansen on September 29, 2010 10:17 AM writes...

I'd like to second the suggestion of #6, Thomas McEntee.

Of course the easy peasy stuff is always good too.

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13. Curt F. on September 29, 2010 10:25 AM writes...

I would like to third Thomas McEntee's recommendation that Bruce Alberts's recent editorial on overbuilding research capacity be discussed.

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14. Virgil on September 29, 2010 10:26 AM writes...

An interesting article in Cancer Biology & Therapy, bemoaning the 40 hour work week in academia (particularly cancer research)...

http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/cbt/article/KernCBT10-7.pdf

Of course, the instant response is "what 40 hour week?", or "yeah yeah grandpa, get off your high horse". Interesting reading nevertheless.

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15. Mark on September 29, 2010 10:39 AM writes...

I'm sure this will generate some discussion!!

http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v9/n9/pdf/nrd3230.pdf

Mark

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16. Maks on September 29, 2010 10:59 AM writes...

1) Novel pharmaceutical targets which might actually lead to new drugs
2) Are good drugs selective or is the key to hit multiple targets?

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17. RM on September 29, 2010 11:24 AM writes...

Ira Flatow of Science Friday has a "million-dollar question" - if you were given a million dollars to use however you want to improve (area of interest) how would you spend it?

Or putting it slightly differently, if we all elected you benevolent dictator for life of drug discovery*, what would be your first edicts?

*(You're on the short list, at least).

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18. RB Woodweird on September 29, 2010 11:53 AM writes...

The electronic notebook.

My first week on the job, I was given a project. I went to the library (this was just preWeb) and read up on the chemistry. After a while and some lab time, I went around the company asking advice. The typical answer was, 'Yeah, we worked on that compound for a while.' Well, what worked? What didn't? Head scratching. 'It's in a notebook somewhere.' Said notebook was located 50% of the time and contained useful information 10% of the time.

Some time later I got my hands on ISIS/Draw and ISIS/Base and made some personal databases. But I'm the only one who knows how to search them, and when I leave that information is lost. Kind of like the database we have been using for fifty years: the brain and recall of the chemist who did the work. Scene from group meeting about a synthetic problem: one old-timer says that another, departed old-timer may have worked on that reaction. He will search the bookshelves for the notebook. When an old-timer leaves, the data may stay in house, but the ability to find it goes with him.

Fast forward a couple of decades and guess what? It is the same situation, more or less. I say less because we got some capital funds to implement an enotebook from a big vendor. I was hoping this time that the package would not be what they had been ten to fifteen years ago: a really good structure drawing/searching package coupled with a crappy database. No, they said, this one has an Oracle backend and stuff. Cool. So first design meeting, we say we want this field here to do a calculation and the number to show up in a field on another form. The vendor says 'that might be really hard if not impossible'. WTF? I get a sinking feeling of dread and familiarity.

In the meantime, I had renounced the use of paper notebooks and gone all electronic using what I had already: Word for the procedures, pdfs for the data, etc. Stash the records neatly on the network and you are ready to go. (Speaking of networks, we have maybe several hundred organic chemists globally, but nobody knows what anyone else is working on other than by accident.) I search the network volume text using Copernic - pretty cheap and very fast. (I suggested using a Google enterprise appliance to do the same for everyone, but here is an actual God's own truth quote from our head IT guy: 'Why do you need to find information?' [insert facepalm.jpg])I recently found out that the modern structure drawing packages will actually search for structures and substructures embedded in Word and other documents. So why do I need an enotebook now?

Oh, but nothing is easy. Apparently Word now strips out the chemical information when upgrading a document from doc to docx, leaving the structure as a noneditable image.

So is that a suggestion or just a rant?

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19. Anonymous on September 29, 2010 12:28 PM writes...

@17

A daily rant is how bad our eNotebook from Cambridgesoft is. Complaining to Cambridgesoft is useless. Has anyone experienced the customer support? The worst.

The program is broken. Anyone have similar experiences?

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20. milkshake on September 29, 2010 12:33 PM writes...

Derek, maybe you can write about the personal factors that make productive groups happy and productive and cohesive, specifically on the subject of good bosses and not so good ones, and about corporate culture in general. I think this is important subject because big pharma management is exceptionally bad at making chemists happy and motivate and productive even with abundant funding available - that has been the case for many years even before the layoffs and outsourcing.

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21. bad wolf on September 29, 2010 12:45 PM writes...

@#14 Virgil--WOW. Thanks for pointing that out; i so rarely want to tell an author to F--- OFF so badly.

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22. smurf on September 29, 2010 12:52 PM writes...

Target selection - what constitutes a good target?

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23. Ed on September 29, 2010 12:57 PM writes...

#14 & #21 - yeah, me too! What a championship quality bell-end that guy must be to slave for.

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24. DerekF on September 29, 2010 12:59 PM writes...

@14 Virgil
I was a postdoc for Ken Raymond (UC Berkeley Chemistry Department) back in the mid-late 1970s, and there was still floating around a copy of a memo that he had written a few years before to his group, suggesting pointedly that putting in time in the lab was a GOOD THING especially if they were looking for recommendations at the end of the process. I don't know if it's still circulating, but I wouldn't bet against it. And yes, we worked longer than 40-hour weeks; but I, like you, expect that most grad students and postdocs still do.

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25. katbene on September 29, 2010 12:59 PM writes...

I vote for #6 and #7.
ALSO- What will it take to get academic labs to consider ...awareness/understanding of the hazards of the chemicals and equipment they use[aka risk assessment].... a valued skill?

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26. retread on September 29, 2010 1:07 PM writes...

More on XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Science vol. 329 p. 1454 '10 (17 Sep) has a page about it.

You simply have no idea how frustrating chronic fatigue syndrome is for patient and physician alike . It's a very chronic condition (or at least the ones I saw were), but it doesn't seem to be associated with any other diseases (except depression, and that may be a reaction to the underlying disorder just as it is in multiple sclerosis or any chronic disease).

At least Collins has started in motion something close to what I've proposed: blinded identical samples sent to each lab (I proposed that each lab send their samples to each other). There will be 100 samples from CFS patients from 4 regions of the country and 100 samples from controls -- sent to FDA, CDC, NIH and WPI (Whittemore Peterson Institute -- the original source of the story).

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27. Apple IIe on September 29, 2010 1:44 PM writes...

@18 RB Woodweird

"I recently found out that the modern structure drawing packages will actually search for structures and substructures embedded in Word and other documents. So why do I need an enotebook now?Oh, but nothing is easy. Apparently Word now strips out the chemical information when upgrading a document from doc to docx, leaving the structure as a noneditable image."

Totally agreed. Let's get a thread going on how people have handled suddenly NOT having access to years of embedded, editable ChemDraw images in Word and PowerPoint files. Sure, one should always save the original ChemDraws, but still, this is a HUGE drawback of the latest "upgrades" to Word .docx and PowerPoint .pptx formats. I suppose our market share is too small for anyone at Microsoft or CambridgeSoft to care, or perhaps this will continue only as a Mac problem.

It would be helpful to get a show of hands, though, and even better to learn if anyone has found a good work-around for getting the ChemDraw images back out of old documents/presentations (for which the original images are nowhere to be found). Or has everyone else just resorted to hoarding old versions of the software and re-saving the images from important documents one by one while you still can?

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28. Hap on September 29, 2010 1:48 PM writes...

#23: Sorry, that award's been retired. Though there is still apparently competition for the title, I guess.

Apparently, Prof. Carreira is unhappy to be judged on that letter. "I don't understand why people would judge me just because of those incidents in Friday the 13th - other than that, I'm just a normal guy with a hockey mask."

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29. john on September 29, 2010 2:00 PM writes...

Re the kern paper
I throw this out there not as a political commentary, it's more a commentary on management and what value is assigned to work hours vs. production.
Karl Marx subscribed to a labor theory of value, which assumes that the value of something is determined by the number of worker hours used to produce it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_theory_of_value
Adam Smith and other economists took this view as well.
My question is this, does this theory actually apply in research. We have more people working on the problem of cancer than ever before, they may work a few less hours overall, but in general I'd think that we've devoted more man hours than ever before to the problem. This should imply more steps towards a cure, although it has been pointed out in this blog that the advances we're making these days are smaller and smaller as far as extending survival for most cancers.
Does hours worked equal passion for the work, well lets see, I love science and trying to discover new things. I also love my wife and family, and in the end I choose to spend time with them (to the detriment of my career in the eyes of my PI). I'm happier though, does my personal happiness not potentially contribute to my productivity in the lab?
Do my interests in other subjects perhaps not contribute to my potential for discovery? As has been previously stated by Derek most people see the next great discoveries in the chemistry field reaching out and using the tools of other disciplines. How is one able to make these contributions without taking the time away from lab to learn these areas of endeavor.
The emphasis on hours worked, specifically in grad school, kills passion for the work. It steals away all the other things that contribute to you being you and make you into little more than a robot. Perhaps if we want people to be passionate about their work as scientists, we should make the experience of getting to be a PI a little less like hell.

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30. Volker Stollorz on September 29, 2010 2:00 PM writes...

As a german science journalist I heard some rumours that the delay in the FDA-avastin decision concerning removal of the metastatic breast cancer indication which was due in september has something to do with new biomarker data coming up identifying subsets of patients who indeed do live longer. Would love if somebody knew more about this...

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31. Org Lett Reader on September 29, 2010 2:10 PM writes...

Is it true that working with sulfur compounds makes your farts smell really bad that day?

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32. nope on September 29, 2010 2:29 PM writes...

How about some topics NOT to write about:
1) PPARs and Avandia
2) anything where the "scientific" reference is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or Forbes
3) Sirtris
4) hyping of biotechs that don't make any drugs
5) hard-to-believe results in second-tier journals

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33. Jim on September 29, 2010 2:39 PM writes...

Are chemists more likely to get cancers because of the nature of their jobs ? The answer from my PhD supervisor was defintely yes. When we suggested to him that low H&SE standards and smoking in the lab as he and most other professors did at the time (in the 90s) maybe did not help, we were (un)politely told where to go (the most surprising was this was a medicinal chemistry lab... ). 'Things I won't work with' is a great subject but it mainly focus on stuffs that will kill you straight away. What about these anonymous chemicals that will give you a cancer 10,15, years after you first opened the bottle ? see for eg http://hesa.etui-rehs.org/uk/newsevents/newsfiche.asp?pk=839
does anyone know what the structure of this c5 chloroacetal is ?

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34. Rob on September 29, 2010 2:40 PM writes...

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the following:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100929/full/467516a.html

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35. Jim on September 29, 2010 2:40 PM writes...

Are chemists more likely to get cancers because of the nature of their jobs ? The answer from my PhD supervisor was defintely yes. When we suggested to him that low H&SE standards and smoking in the lab as he and most other professors did at the time (in the 90s) maybe did not help, we were (un)politely told where to go (the most surprising was this was a medicinal chemistry lab... ). 'Things I won't work with' is a great subject but it mainly focus on stuffs that will kill you straight away. What about these anonymous chemicals that will give you a cancer 10,15, years after you first opened the bottle ? see for eg http://hesa.etui-rehs.org/uk/newsevents/newsfiche.asp?pk=839
does anyone know what the structure of this c5 chloroacetal is ?

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36. BioBrit on September 29, 2010 2:51 PM writes...

Full disclosure: I'm a long term medicinal chemist now working with CambridgeSoft. I've seen the customer side, now the company side. I wanted to respond to a couple of the comments here...

@27 Apple IIe. I don't know about this issue personally. You overestimate the influence of CambridgeSoft on Microsoft here, MS will do whatever MS wants to do regardless of what CS would like them to do or not. However, I assume you lose the embedding only when you convert from .doc to .docx? So, all your old files should still be .doc and searchable, it would only be an issue if you reopen them and save them as .docx? I'll try to find out more though.

@18 RB Woodweird - you put stuff in a notebook not on shared drives because it properly protects your IP. If you use Sharepoint you can get some of that. But you also use a notebook because a well set up notebook adds a lot more function than just individual ChemDraw, Word, Excel, Powerpoint files. It is easy to share, to replicate, to review, to search, to transfer information, to integrate with other systems. Your shared Word document couldn't submit your compounds into an inventory or registration system. You couldn't set up an SAR viewer to bring in experimental data along with everything else. You can't automate report builders to help build patents. You may not want to do all of these things, but they are all and much more possible with a notebook and not with just stashing stuff on a hard drive.

Your example regarding transferring calculated information between is entirely possible (possibly depending on the context). There are tools that do that all the time. Your no answer could be because of vendor, could be because of the time you asked it (if a few years ago, perhaps it wasn't possible then), could be because of the context, could be because of who you asked, could have been that your institution had made it clear that that wasn't an option first. I'm sure there are some times when the answer would be no, a lot when it is yes of course.

@19 Anonymous. Care to e-mail me? I can follow up. Broken totally unusable? Or broken a piece isn't working? Does your rep know? Is is a custom piece that is the issue or something out of the box? I've seen both ends of this, stuff that breaks that shouldn't that is clearly CSs fault, but also stuff that breaks that IT groups have done, and not let CS have access to help resolve, or where IT have refused to apply the patches that fix whatever issue. CS isn't perfect, but ultimately wants ELN users to be happy and getting on with their work rather than being frustrated. Contact me and I'll see what can be done.

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37. Jon on September 29, 2010 2:59 PM writes...

I was linked to this the other day and thought it was amusing and perfectly encapsulated what's wrong with science journalism.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1

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38. CRH on September 29, 2010 3:10 PM writes...

@20 Milkshake:
"Derek, maybe you can write about the personal factors that make productive groups happy and productive and cohesive, specifically on the subject of good bosses and not so good ones, and about corporate culture in general. I think this is important subject because big pharma management is exceptionally bad at making chemists happy and motivate and productive even with abundant funding available - that has been the case for many years even before the layoffs and outsourcing."

My question is: why cover this? It's clear from this blog that the responders - you included - know everything there is to know about successful groups and how they work. And it's clear from this blog that management does not know what makes a group successful, and more importantly, they don't care to know - as evidenced by all of the MBA bashing, management bashing, etc. So, why preach to the choir of this blog? It would be a topic that most people here would just nod in agreement, with the "I told you so" and "see, management just doesn't get what I do" look on their faces. It does amaze me that everyone here knows how to run a pharmaceutical company, yet, I doubt anyone actually does...

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39. AKS on September 29, 2010 3:19 PM writes...

Maybe something around the future of pharma and biotech in the context of the health care reform legislation that is starting to take effect now. Will this drive more industry consolidation? Are we headed for rationing and price controls that will cause drug R&D to suffer? Etc.

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40. Hap on September 29, 2010 3:21 PM writes...

It'd be nice to see Lowe's Laws of the Lab - other than the few posted here, I've never seen them, but from comments they sound interesting.

Also, I'm glad to see Andrew Witty or Fred Hassan taking time from his busy day to complain about the mistreatment of management here. While most people don't know how to do something well, that doesn't mean they can't tell when it isn't being done badly and expensively. (Translation : Cry me a [procreating] river, dude.)

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41. CRH on September 29, 2010 3:31 PM writes...

@40...

My point is this, there sure are a lot of MBA bashing and management bashing from people that have little knowledge of that job. Myself, I'm a medicinal chemist with ~10 years experience. Have I seen what I feel are bad management decisions? Sure. But to take those decisions in a vacuum without being privy to any other information surrounding them is not helpful. I understand this blog allows for people to vent - that's great. But it's rather interesting that many of the same people have the answers without knowing the questions. It's also rather ridiculous to have a post regarding what is a "bad boss" when those people either don't read this blog, or don't realize they are the "bad boss". It would just be another blog set up for people to bitch.

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42. BioBrit on September 29, 2010 3:49 PM writes...

@19 Anonymous - I really would like to follow up. I just realized that my post above doesn't hotlink to the e-mail address I added. Perhaps Derek can put us in touch if you want.

Similarly, if other people have issues with the CS E-Notebook and something not working right, contact your rep AND e-mail support (esupport@cambridgesoft.com). They want your repeat business, so they should listen. There are cases for sure when stuff doesn't get resolved, but usually because it is really difficult to do, or it is a problem resulting from third party software. But there are an equal number of times that people have quietly fumed but not let CS know, and there is a ready fix available.

As a generality, an E-Notebook should be something that helps you do your work better/faster. If it doesn't, it either isn't appropriate for what you do, or it isn't set up right, or it needs something fixing. Or sometimes, you and your institution have different ideas of what constitutes better/faster.

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43. bbooooooya on September 29, 2010 4:09 PM writes...

Re #21: "@#14 Virgil--WOW. Thanks for pointing that out; i so rarely want to tell an author to F--- OFF so badly."

Unbelievable. I am dumbfounded. Were I not a gentleman I would very much like to punch this guy.

If you want scientists to work 60 to 80 hour weeks, then you better pay them a decent wage. Don't see that happening. Sadly, it's scientists proclivity to be doormats that gives rise to this mentality.

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44. Strategy Guy on September 29, 2010 4:17 PM writes...

@ 38 CRH:

As a long time lurker who covers the strategy/business planning side of the discussion, I'd love to hear some constructive dissent regarding when, if ever, the mendacious MBAs of the biopharma continuum provide value to product development. More specifically, from a med-chem perspective what are the key complaints about management/MBAs and how could these objections best be minimized? Really, don't laugh, it's a legitimate question...

"My question is: why cover this? It's clear from this blog that the responders - you included - know everything there is to know about successful groups and how they work. And it's clear from this blog that management does not know what makes a group successful, and more importantly, they don't care to know - as evidenced by all of the MBA bashing, management bashing, etc. So, why preach to the choir of this blog? It would be a topic that most people here would just nod in agreement, with the "I told you so" and "see, management just doesn't get what I do" look on their faces. It does amaze me that everyone here knows how to run a pharmaceutical company, yet, I doubt anyone actually does..."

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45. milkshake on September 29, 2010 4:27 PM writes...

No, I don't think that factors that have to come together for a good group to arise are widely known and appreciated. I think there numerous ways to spoil up the atmosphere in the research group - and only few ways to get it right.

It would be quite helpful for people sharing stories about group which worked well, and offered a guess why so. It could help to people who got hired into a disfunctional group to run away.

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46. Eka-silicon on September 29, 2010 5:31 PM writes...

Just to recommend the article from the Chem Blog:

http://www.miller-mccune.com/science/the-real-science-gap-16191/

Looks like the grad student/PhD/PI scheme is an example of a massive market failure.

Permalink to Comment

47. Hap on September 29, 2010 6:01 PM writes...

It's pretty clear that good management is hard to find, and also that people aren't necessarily the best judges of their superiors' qualifications. Being at the thin edge of the layoff wedge probably hasn't sweetened anyone's temperament. If there were more good decisions (outcomes?), though, the bad decisions would be understood as the price of the ticket. People will complain about the strikeouts of a .300 hitter with power, but swallow and move on - a .100 hitter, however, gets criticized for everything (unless he's a pitcher or he's not around long enough to complain about) because he doesn't do anything well enough to counterweight his average (a homer once a month isn't going to cut it).

Management (at lower levels) keeps people out of each other's way when they're being useful and tries to push them towards utility when they aren't - since knowing when people are useful and not is difficult enough, and necessary, so there's significant value added. At higher levels, you're gambling with other people's money, trying to decide what bets are likely to work out and what won't, and minimizing the former. Again, optimally (when the incentives are those of the business), those skills are really useful and pretty rare - hence, lots o' value.

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48. BKS on September 29, 2010 11:21 PM writes...

How about Lean sigma/ processes and systems in drug development???

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49. Willia_A_Nelson on September 30, 2010 1:51 AM writes...

Ibogaine. Is this really the wonder drug for substance abuse that it is proclaimed to be?

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50. KinaseNerd on September 30, 2010 2:35 AM writes...

I think that the topic "communication skills" of chemists and how they seem to evolve in recent years would deserve a closer look.

Talking to pharmacologists there seems to be a rather broadly appreciated view that (lab) chemists don't like to speak about what they are currently doing in there lab (or plan to do). Even within chemical departments it seems to me that chemist are rather less inclined to speak with other chemists about project or lab challenges. Presentations within chemistry are usually of the "we did great"-type. This was taken up some time ago by AZD (need for "forward-looking chemistry" activities).

From my point of view, the interesting type of question would be, why communication within chemistry seems to be rather limited especially so with respect to "issues" and "problems". Is there a certain type of management style within (industrial) chemistry departments which hinders free (=open-minded) discussions? Do we see a change with newly hired people coming from universities?

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51. cliffintokyo on September 30, 2010 2:55 AM writes...

How to improve peer review of journal article submitted manuscripts, and
How to improve review of research funding applications?

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52. Donough on September 30, 2010 5:00 AM writes...

I like #7 and 50. A tough one for sure

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53. Jason Martin on September 30, 2010 7:31 AM writes...

e-notebooks please. I'm sure those that have (eg big pharma) could share their experiences of e-notebooks and shed some light on what's available for those that have-not-but-would-like-one like me!

Also, I admit that I (like many) always enjoy the stuff-I-won't-work-with and stuff-that-goes-bang stories!!

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54. Will on September 30, 2010 8:23 AM writes...

How about how a med chemist looks at the patent publications from a competitive group and tries to discern what the true "lead" compound(s) are?

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55. Anonymous on September 30, 2010 8:26 AM writes...

I'm a little surprised people haven't said anything about the article Rob (#34) posted. It's infuriating in many ways, mostly the fact that people seem to just be shrugging their shoulders and saying "Oh well, he got away"

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56. Processing on September 30, 2010 10:10 AM writes...

How about the recent, and not so recent, issues with Johnson and Johnson's OTC recalls? And of course the FDA's involvement, or lack of involvement in this.
There was an article earlier this week in the NYTimes, but it seemed more focus on the business aspect.

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57. Jim C on September 30, 2010 10:15 AM writes...

I'd like to hear your thoughts on automation in pharma and biotech in general. I work for a robot supplier and some of our products are used in those areas.

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58. BioBrit on September 30, 2010 11:22 AM writes...

@53 Jason Martin - if Derek can hook us up I can give you some more information. However, E-Notebooks don't have to be expensive at all, and certainly aren't just for the big pharma's. Most suppliers have some cheap options (run on your desktop, or with a SQL database behind if you want a multiuser). It gets expensive if you want an Oracle system, which does a lot more (the server itself is a large part of the extra cost). But if the function you want works on the cheaper versions, then that is an option. Really depends on what you are trying to do with it.

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59. Anonymous on September 30, 2010 12:10 PM writes...

interested in #6

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60. Dylan on September 30, 2010 1:16 PM writes...

Noticed a bit of talk here on software and the like. For those of you who work in the clinic I'd love to get your thoughts on the state of clinical software today. What works, and probably more importantly what doesn't work, how could what you have be improved to make your job easier? I'm trying to help a small software developer who thinks he has a better solution that will help to make the mundane parts of the job easier and more efficient...but it would be nice to get more input from people who would actually use the systems.

If anyone is interested in sharing their thoughts they can send an email to dylanemcgregor / yahoo

p.s. Derek, hope posting like this is OK. I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now and really enjoy it, and thought this would be a good place to get some feedback...but if it is inappropriate please feel free to delete.

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61. Jan Norberg on October 1, 2010 5:46 AM writes...

Some more european pharma/biotech coverage...i missed Crucell/J&J story....also the aftermath of restructuring....what is happening in sites that are closing...example MDS site in Oss, NL; AZ in Lund, SE etc...

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62. Sili on October 2, 2010 2:32 PM writes...

Book, please.

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63. SighefHiell on February 14, 2012 6:57 PM writes...

Ben prodotto?

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