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

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June 24, 2011

Telling Everyone What It's Like

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Posted by Derek

Here's a op-ed from Josh Bloom (ex-Wyeth) in the New York Post that will resonate with a lot of people out there. A sample:

The folks at Scientific American have launched "1,000 Scientists in 1,000 Days" -- a program to bring together scientists, teachers and students to improve America's "dismal" showing among wealthy countries (27th out of 29) in graduating college students with degrees in science or engineering. I'm sure they mean well -- but, at least as it applies to the field of chemistry, "1,000 Unemployed Scientists Living With Their Parents at Age 35 While Working at the Gap" would be a better name.

He goes on to tell the readership what it's been like in drug discovery over the last few years, and it'll probably be news to many of them. I'm glad that people are getting the word out!

Comments (98) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Press Coverage


1. Anonymous on June 24, 2011 11:10 AM writes...

Amem brother....I'm very lucky as I transitioned into regulatory affairs after 15+ years in drug discovery as a Ph.D. Scientist. Many of my peers have not been as lucky.

It wasn't easy but really I had read the tea leaves and created a transition plan after my first layoff. It definitely paid off. I'm making a living and back to enjoying my job. I feel very fortunate but also it is the result of perserverance,working hard to get here and definitely some luck.

I'm afraid with the really poor economic recovery there just aren't that many jobs for PhDs to transfer into.

A quick survey of my old chemistry/biology PhD colleagues:

1. 20 plus years exp - now a luthier making guitars
2. 15 plust years exp - now a realator
3. 16 plus years - opening a small frozen yogurt store.

Ok its a small sample size but I can go on and on. No PhD level jobs and really not that many "other" transitional jobs to move into.

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2. anon on June 24, 2011 11:21 AM writes...

Also saw this over on chemjobber. Have heard chemistry being compared to steel mill jobs in the past by some coworkers, and it is good to have a second career plan in place (but hard to figure out what to do in this bad economy).

One of my (and Derek's) former coworkers started a company to sell disposable plastic filter funnels. Hopefully Derek won't mind the shout out -, products are also sold through Fisher. Ed is developing alot of other products beyond what is on this website, as people ask for items to meet their needs. The funnels are great and inexpensive - nice not to have to deal with palladium or other junk that seems like it's permanently stuck on your glass fritted funnel, and the celite packing materials stay a nice uniform layer throughout the filtration.

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3. SteveM on June 24, 2011 11:25 AM writes...

According to Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, you American born scientists just aren't good enough.

Comment engine blocks comments with web references so to read article search:

Bloomberg AND "Lilly CEO Says Immigration Boosts Innovation".

For C Level Pharma management, H-1B's are like insurance, they can never have enough...

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4. You're Pfizered on June 24, 2011 11:32 AM writes...

Here's the link to the interview #3 mentioned.

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5. Chemist on June 24, 2011 11:35 AM writes...

What advise experienced folks would give to a graduating PhD in organic chemistry who has a job lined up at Intel (Process Engineer though nothing to do with Org. Chem. ) and Postdoc ? What should he choose ?

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6. SteveM on June 24, 2011 11:38 AM writes...

Re: You're Pfizered

Thanks, see the full Bloomberg story at his reference page.

BTW, when I insert a link in a comment, the Comment Engine holds the comment for review and it never shows.

Maybe I'm a dilettante-non-grata...

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7. CR on June 24, 2011 11:46 AM writes...

@#5, Chemist:

No offense, but you should be smart enough with a Ph.D. to know the answer to that question. If you really are asking for an answer, I would have to question your Ph.D. May be harsh, but come on, you cannot really be asking this question for honest answers...

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8. milo on June 24, 2011 11:55 AM writes...


Go back to school for a degree as a medical records speacialist. Or open a frozen yogurt shop.

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9. Chemist on June 24, 2011 12:01 PM writes...

@CR. No Offense taken..The reason I asked is uncertainty of pharmaceutical industry. I like what I do but what after 2/ more years of postdoc. I am just confused if I should run away from this field or wait for things to improve. May be I am dumb to ask this but I need some guidance here.

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10. SteveM on June 24, 2011 12:09 PM writes...

Re: #9 Chemist

You could move to Chindia and apply for a job in the States as an H-1B applicant. Sorta a like pharmaceutical re-importation, only for scientists.

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11. Larry on June 24, 2011 12:12 PM writes...

@9 said "Or open a frozen yogurt shop. "

That is a very price sensitive business. You think its all automated with the customers putting on the grossly over-priced condiments themseleves. But your customers are mostly kids without much dough.

Local yogurt store opened up couple years back. Did well for one year until a more established deli with excess space decided to buy a few of the yogurt machines (~$5000 a pop).

Since it was not deli's core business they under-sold their competitor by 50 cents an ounce. Within six months the once successful yogurt shop was history. Of course now the deli has raised its prices on yogurt.

So be very careful on considering such a business.

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12. Toad on June 24, 2011 12:35 PM writes...

True, Bloom's article gets the word out but I do have a problem with one detail mentioned in the article.

In addition to misspelling BMS, he states they "offered cars as signing bonuses". I was intimately involved with PhD and non-PhD hiring in discovery chemistry there during the mid-'90s and never saw, heard, or heard rumors of such, at any level or in any of the science positions. Without knowing the instance(s) he is referring to, I will give him the benefit of the doubt of second- or third-hand knowledge or exaggeration of a specific instance. At least with chemists, rarely was any "additional" compensation considered or granted.

Either way, this is the type of NY Post-style communication that makes me question whether any reader can feel that they are provided with an objective piece of journalism.

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13. Fries With That? on June 24, 2011 1:16 PM writes...

To Post Number 1, are you afraid of regulatory being outsourced too? Are you European or USA based? Are there any careers anymore in drug discovery that are exempt from outsourcing besides being the CEO? We certainly know anything done at a bench can be shipped out, what about non-bench functions?

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14. anchor on June 24, 2011 1:17 PM writes...

This indeed is very sobering article. Those who are still in the job block can relate to him and those who do have a job out to be worried. I am really pissed off that ACS (you are welcome and am still paying my dues!) that it is sugar coating this issue and is not bringing stories as these more in open for all to see. My question for the general audience is how are the biologists faring? I mean in medicinal chemistry as we know it, biology is the driver. Are these jobs also outsourced to Chindia?

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15. Josh Bloom on June 24, 2011 1:27 PM writes...

So BMS got misspelled. You got me.
But I know for a fact that they were offering signing bonuses for chemists in the 90s. Several of my former colleagues took them. I don't have the license plate numbers of any of the cars mentioned, but I heard this from a number of different people, some quite reliable. Either way, it's a rather small point.
Finally, I don't work for the Post. This was an outside submission. Think what you want about them, but there is nothing in my editorial that I don't stand by. And their sports section is the best, bar none.

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16. Anonymous on June 24, 2011 1:27 PM writes...

"The Royal Society of Chemistry estimated that nearly 6,000 jobs have gone over the last 12 months from UK drugs and science firms."

Maybe the ACS can come up with the US number? Nope, that would not be consistant with their smiley face - what me worry view of the US chemistry world.

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17. Virgil on June 24, 2011 1:30 PM writes...

Of course, what the author fails to recognize, is the entire premise behind the Sci-Am 1000 program!

It's not just about getting more kids to pursue careers in science (although if that happens I disagree it will be a problem), it's actually about improving the scientific literacy of high school graduates. What exactly is the problem with having kids that leave school knowing more science? Maybe they won't get sick so often and put their faith in homeopathy and quack medicines, they will do something about environmental problems, they will be better at math so they won't take out silly mortgages that almost bankrupt the whole planet.

Of course, I expected the "H1-B's are killing us" line to rear its ugly head, as it always does when discussing unemployment. Please go back to your cave. For every US worker whose job was "stolen" by an H1-B, I will show you 10 more who depend on immigrants (who came here as H1-Bs) for their jobs.

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18. CR on June 24, 2011 1:39 PM writes...

@15, Josh Bloom:

"So BMS got misspelled. You got me.
But I know for a fact that they were offering signing bonuses for chemists in the 90s. Several of my former colleagues took them. I don't have the license plate numbers of any of the cars mentioned, but I heard this from a number of different people, some quite reliable."

There is quite a difference between signing bonuses and cars being handed out. There is no doubt that signing bonuses were being given out in the '90s and early 00's (I was one that got a signing bonus, not from BMS but a competitor). However, many of my colleagues compared "bonuses" (some at BMS) and not once were cars being given as signing bonuses. Did your "reliable sources" use their signing bonuses to buy cars, probably more the case.

However, #12, Toad's point is a good one. When there are errors (misspelling) and over-exaggerations, then one has to wonder about the piece as a whole. And, he didn't state you worked for the Post, rather, these overexaggerated sensationalistic pieces are par for the course for the Post (Enquirer).

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19. dichotomous on June 24, 2011 1:47 PM writes...

#9 Chemist: if you don't passionately love organic chemistry, don't do the postdoc. You're facing at best a shrinking market with few opportunities. If you don't have the extreme passion to outwork everyone or can't live with the regret of not trying to make it in academia, you probably won't make it.

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20. Laura on June 24, 2011 1:54 PM writes...

@ 17 said "Of course, I expected the "H1-B's are killing us" line to rear its ugly head, as it always does when discussing unemployment. Please go back to your cave. For every US worker whose job was "stolen" by an H1-B, I will show you 10 more who depend on immigrants (who came here as H1-Bs) for their jobs."

Please go back to your foreign cave Virgil. No real American (beyond a CEO or ACS sycophant) would utter such words. We don't want you here.

You don't belong here since the premise for your presence is a fictitious shortage of scientists.

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21. marmot on June 24, 2011 2:01 PM writes...

@ #11: Fascinating discourse about the yogurt biz, but I think #8 meant that comment to be tongue in cheek. Just saying...

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22. Anon on June 24, 2011 2:04 PM writes...

Oh, I got a car. A nice shiny BMW, fully loaded. Take that '90's...

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23. Anonymous on June 24, 2011 2:13 PM writes...

Too much money was wasted in the 90s. Too few products came to the market. Blame who?

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24. RespiSci on June 24, 2011 2:15 PM writes...

Josh Bloom in his article wrote "We don't need more scientists -- not unless there are jobs for them."

But do we agree that there is a need for more drugs? (let's count the number of unmet medical needs and indications...) So why aren't there the jobs? I'm aware that many jobs have been outsourced to China and India, and there are excellent scientists in those countries, but really how successful has that model been working? Are more drugs being made and approved? Are they getting to NDA more cheaply than before?

Am I the only one pulling my hair in frustration?

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25. SteveM on June 24, 2011 2:18 PM writes...

Re: #20 Laura, Re: #17 Virgil

Thank you Laura. Re: Virgil:

"For every US worker whose job was "stolen" by an H1-B, I will show you 10 more who depend on immigrants (who came here as H1-Bs) for their jobs."

Stupid, sloppy logic. Probably an H-1B recruiter. Like Laura mentions, the focus is "CHEMISTS". Not H-1B's doing anything else.

Let Virgil point out the labor shortfall data of that specific job category to justify importing another glut of H-1B CHEMISTS.

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26. CR on June 24, 2011 2:42 PM writes...

@24, RespiSci:

"But do we agree that there is a need for more drugs? (let's count the number of unmet medical needs and indications...) So why aren't there the jobs? I'm aware that many jobs have been outsourced to China and India, and there are excellent scientists in those countries, but really how successful has that model been working? Are more drugs being made and approved? Are they getting to NDA more cheaply than before?"

The question about how well the outsourcing to China/India is working cannot be asked yet. The answer? Too soon to tell.

Everyone on this board knows that as well (whether they want to admit it or not). One must evaluate the drug discovery process in decade (or 2 decade) increments and I don't believe the true outsourcing model was put into effect until just a few years ago. Yes, there was outsourcing for compounds; but not full-scale outsourcing. If there is someone on this board that wants to say this model has failed given it's short lifetime, then they must admit the American based model has also failed due to the shortage of drugs recently.

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27. CMCguy on June 24, 2011 2:58 PM writes...

#17 Virgil I took the SM-1000 comment as a bit of hyperbolic means to illustrate the plight of chemist today (and Josh could confirm or correct that) and as laudable as improving public awareness is I personally find it difficult to reconcile such education efforts that simultaneously attempt to promote Science & Engineering as good career choices. Although agree there is a dearth of young people being schooled in the fields the constant proclamations of shortages don't seem to match the reality that exists (except in rare areas). The calls for more H1-B immigrants, that formerly I believe was a mechanism to attract the best and brightest in technical areas, now seems more a tool businesses to keep wages suppressed (which creates the cycle of lack of interest).

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28. Hap on June 24, 2011 3:00 PM writes...

I thought H-1Bs had to have a job - if they're being hired, and head count is falling pretty much everywhere, someone's losing their job in order to hire them (if they are being hired at all). They can't come and generate a startup to generate more jobs because I don't think their visas would hold. If they come up with something better than the person they displaced, or the money they helped save (assuming they were hired for less money) was used to find something that generated more jobs, but that's so multifactorial that it'd be tough to claim that the H-1B hiree created X new jobs.

The bigger problem with SA's push for scientific literacy is that it isn't valued. On issues of science, the facts don't seem to matter. If you can only with difficulty make a living doing science and familiarity with it and logical thinking about it aren't respected or valued, why are students going to spend time learning it? We've sent the message loud and clear that money is what matters, and that science probably doesn't. Telling people something matters with words while telling them the opposite in every other way is probably unproductive, unless the hypocrisy of the world is your ultimate lesson.

23: Lots of people. Some of the blame should go to the people who did it. Probably more to the people who led and managed the research. Of course, when the bill came due, who actually got the blame? (And, just like with public-service unions and auto workers before them, when things were good, who got the jack?)

25: OSIL needs to be evaluated overall in the long-term, but the people implementing it will probably not be held accountable if it fails in the long-term and will probably get paid lots in the short term (because it likely cuts costs in that term). That is not a recipe for pharma success, no?

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29. startup on June 24, 2011 3:05 PM writes...

H1-B's are a non-issue really, because although they increase the competition for the available jobs, they are not reducing the actual number of jobs in this country, outsourcing does.

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30. Josh Bloom on June 24, 2011 3:17 PM writes...

12 and 18. Hate to burst your bubble, but I don't work for the Enquirer, People Magazine or Penthouse. If you had bothered to finish the article you would see that I work for the American Council on Science and Health, a non-profit health advocacy group in New York. We write pieces for many different places. Wall St. Journal (is that a rag too?) Investors Business Daily, LA Times, Financial Times of London, National Review, Forbes, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, .......

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31. Jose on June 24, 2011 3:50 PM writes...

Not sure anyone actually got a car as a signing bonus (hard to see how that would even work, tax- and paperwork-wise) but I know *plenty* of people in the 90's and even into early '00s who got such massive signing bonuses that the purchase of a fancy car was the very , very first thing they did....

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32. About Chemistry on June 24, 2011 5:13 PM writes...

Another rant that could've have been placed in the Chemistry Rant Hall of Flaming Chemists:

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33. Daniel on June 24, 2011 6:00 PM writes...

It's only going to get worse. Get out of science ASAP!!!

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34. Cellbio on June 24, 2011 8:06 PM writes...

I got out of science today! Well, just out of a paying position. I'll still call myself a scientist, even if I start culturing baker's yeast to fill the time. Hopefully I'll be living a life of liesure for a short period, but I have been looking for more than 6 months, and there are no jobs to be found for someone with 20 years experience.

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35. Anonymous academic on June 24, 2011 8:33 PM writes...

@Virgil: Of course, I expected the "H1-B's are killing us" line to rear its ugly head, as it always does when discussing unemployment. Please go back to your cave.

I'm generally in favor of open borders and meritocracy, even for people who might compete for the same jobs as me, but don't kid yourself about the purpose of these H1-B visas - as another commenter pointed out, they're a tool to depress domestic wages. If smart, motivated Chinese/Indian/whatever scientists want to come to America to do science, I'm all for that, but what I can't stand is CEOs like Lechleiter claiming that the lack of foreign scientists is hurting his industry. I realize that in a democracy, everyone gets to agitate for their own self-interest, but there's nothing more infuriating than seeing the rich campaigning for rules to make them richer at the expense of the middle-class. How about we fire all of the CEOs and replace them with immigrant scientists for a change? I'm sure they'll be just as smart and work for a tenth the pay - and maybe they'll have enough common sense to avoid the massive fines for illegal marketing.

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36. brainfan on June 24, 2011 9:01 PM writes...

"If you had bothered to finish the article you would see that I work for the American Council on Science and Health, a non-profit health advocacy group in New York."

An INDUSTRY advocacy group. Do you get the bennies as well or are they strictly for Elizabeth Whelan and Gilbert Ross?

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37. Josh Bloom on June 24, 2011 11:43 PM writes...

@36 Sorry, but I wish we *were* an industry funded group. That way we would have a whole lot more dough than we do. Our budget is far less than many ideologically-funded think tanks, so we all work our asses off. And even though we get funding from a variety of companies (as well as individuals and foundations), don't think we don't hammer them when we think they are wrong scientifically. Done it myself a few times. The ACSH is a great group of people and I'm damn lucky to have gotten a job with them. Oh, by the way-- do you work for free? Didn't think so. I guess you're industry funded too.

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38. processchemist on June 25, 2011 2:10 AM writes...


"The question about how well the outsourcing to China/India is working cannot be asked yet. The answer? Too soon to tell"

Not too soon at all, applying the usual metrics of our industry. Too soon for NDAs, but what about other checkpoints of the drug development process?
In India some biotechs produced some candidates that entered the clinic but from China no clinical candidates at all, from the local big pharma research centers too, as far as I know.


"there's nothing more infuriating than seeing the rich campaigning for rules to make them richer at the expense of the middle-class"

This is the point. Currently most "value creation" strategies work this way, not creating new value at all, but "redistributing" wealth.

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39. Merck sacked my ass on June 25, 2011 7:28 AM writes...

Attended my kids graduation where around 150 very bright young kids were celebrated and they announced their plans for University/employment etc....

All high performers and going to some of the top Universities across the nation.

Not a single one doing a chemistry degree! Are they so smart or is that a light at the end of the tunnel for us old guys?

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40. Pig Farmer on June 25, 2011 10:50 AM writes...

I came to the States on an H1-B from the UK in 2001, to work for AMRI. My salary was $75,000, and my salary in the UK as a development chemist working for GSK had been 25,000 GBP, hence the move. I got a sign on bonus of $7,500, which we put towards a deposit on a house.
I was let go from AMRI in 2009, along with many other experienced chemists, in what was obviously an effort to reduce the payroll due to the poor business climate. After 2 years doing various temp jobs, including spells at SUNY and GE, I have finally landed a job at Dupont as a process chemist making $103,000. Having obtained my permanent residency card in 2007, I will be applying for my US citizenship in 2012 (hope that's OK with you, Laura).
I enjoyed Josh's article, and thought, as Derek obviously does, that he makes some very important points which need to be made.
My advice to #5: take the job. You'll get industrial experience which will be useful to you in the future, and you'll probably earn a decent salary as well. As someone else has already said, I wouldn't advise a postdoc unless you have an overiding passion to be a synthetic organic chemist. Competition is fierce, and the pay sucks.

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41. Rick on June 25, 2011 12:22 PM writes...

If, as Virgil says in entry #17, the purpose of the SciAm confab was "actually about improving the scientific literacy of high school graduates.", I am all for it! I am one of the lucky few who managed to get a job teaching high school chemistry (after a Ph.D. and 18 years in the industry, most recently as a VP). It's not what I wanted to do, but a couple of years of trying to get a research job that isn't there and being treated like a piece of shit in the process kind of leaves one grasping at straws. It does kind of scratch the itch that got me into science in the first place, but nowhere near the real thing.

One thing I have found motivating is the challenge of raising the level of scientific literacy in the schools. I always marveled at how a country that prides itself on technical innovation can adopt such idiotic positions on issues like climate change, evolution and financial support of R&D. Now I know from the inside! I oppose the position that high schools should produce more students that go into science. They should focus on producing students who have a clear idea of how science actually works so they can be productive voting citizens in the dismal future we're leaving them. I hope to produce FEWER scientists and more well-informed citizens in my new career. If I succeed, I believe that the few who still have the passion and guts to go into science will be better for it.

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42. Nick K on June 25, 2011 1:13 PM writes...

Good to see that the truth about Chemistry as a career is finally getting out. What we need in the West is a five-year moratorium on the production of Chemistry PhDs.

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43. AlchemistOrganique on June 25, 2011 1:29 PM writes...

@40 Pig Farmer: Congrats on landing a decent-sounding job, especially in this crappy-for-chemists economic climate. If it's not too intrusive, may I ask if you feel that your temp stints at SUNY & GE (presumably doing not-so-traditional organic chemistry) "enhanced" your résumé? DuPont scuttled its pharma research a while ago, and the pullout of AstraZeneca from Delaware has left a massive unemployment crater in the region. Although your defense of H1-Bs is chivalrous, you shouldn't feel targeted by Laura & her ilk...after all, you are a "desirable" immigrant. It's ironic that Sino/Indophobia is rearing its ugly head when WASP businessmen & politicians are primarily resposible for liquidating industrial chemistry in the West.

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44. anonymous on June 25, 2011 1:43 PM writes...

@12: I was hired at BMS straight out of a postdoc in the mid/late '90s. 10K signing bonus plus standard generous relo package, which included 2 months salary (starting salary was about 65K/yr) as lump sum in addition to full coverage of relocation expenses. I did not hear of anyone who actually got a car, but with the sign on money I could have bought a Toyota (but not a BMW).

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45. RandomChemist on June 25, 2011 2:26 PM writes...

While I totally disagree with the assertion from Lilly's CEO that US scientific progress is being stymied by restrictive immigration policies, I must concede that we Americans could afford to be a little less picky in regards to chemical employment. For older folks who are have major obligations (kids and mortgages), relocating for employment can be a major hassle. However, I don't see why freshly-minted organic chemists, even those who aren't from prestigious schools, have to be dead-set on landing six-figure jobs in the Massachusetts and San Francisco Bay Areas. The Bays are indisputed hubs for biotech research, but competition for jobs is fierce, even for lousy (

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46. Pig Farmer on June 25, 2011 3:10 PM writes...

@AlchemistOrganique. Thanks for your kind words.
In answer to your question, I'm not sure whether my work at SUNY or GE enhanced my resume. I don't think it did me any harm, because I've spent most of my career as an industrial chemist.Personally, I've never been obsessive enough about synthetic organic chemistry to want to pursue a career in academia, or in a top-flight big pharma group (besides, I did my Ph.D. at Manchester University, so am probably not considered quite from the right academic pedigree(!!)) Competition for either of those positions is extremely fierce,and I wasn't prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. However, I have found that you can make quite a decent living and have interesting work to do in an industrial setting.At SUNY, I worked on novel amino acids and polypeptides containing the thiophen group, and at GE I made ligands for binding Technetium. All fairly standard organic chemistry, but interesting enough for me, and it paid the mortgage. I agree with #45: you have to be prepared to move (I don't have children so it's easier for me). I currently live in Charleston, West Virginia, and despite what people may tell you, it's a very nice place.
I also agree with your comment about WASP businessmen. Let's just say that at AMRI I came up close against the unacceptable face of capitalism. And from where I'm sitting it certainly looks as though the country is being run for the benefit of the top 1%. Still, you have to play the cards you're dealt with, and I'm not starving in the gutter yet!

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47. anonymous on June 25, 2011 6:33 PM writes...

#34 Cellbio
Sorry to hear of your (relatively) recent apparent dismissal. Would you mind terribly sharing some more of the details of your situation for those who are NOT chemists? I, for one, see biologistsbiochemists/molecular biologists/cell biologists as fodder for the next great wave of outsourcing in Large Pharma

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48. SteveM on June 25, 2011 8:34 PM writes...

Re: #43 "you are a "desirable" immigrant. It's ironic that Sino/Indophobia is rearing its ugly head"

The craptastic, flaccid logic of playing the race card to obscure the economic reality of labor supply and demand.

The bogus rationale of AlchemistOrganique is pathetic. The only thing more pathetic is normally rational people jettisoning objective reality and cowering in front of the noxious god of Political Correctness based on repulsive accusations from sanctimonious, self-entitled nitwits like AlchemistOrganique.

OK, I'll call a spade, a spade. Hiring an H-1B while a competent American pounds the pavement makes no sense. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Null.

If that's "Sino/Indophobia" so be it...

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49. southern chemist on June 25, 2011 10:12 PM writes...

@48: "OK, I'll call a spade, a spade. Hiring an H-1B while a competent American pounds the pavement makes no sense. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Null...If that's "Sino/Indophobia" so be it..."

AlchemistOrganique's logic may not be as ludicrous as you think. Last year my employer actually had an opening for an entry-level PhD chemist. According to my HR contacts, the majority of our applicants were Chinese or Indian (naturalized citizens and H1-B's). The most common concern/complaint amongst the American applicants (irrespective of race) was that our offered salary was too low. We invited (and financially sponsored) three on-site interviews; the only cancellation was by a white American. An Indian H1-B ended up getting hired.

Before you start hurling Nationalistic invectives against me, consider the following facts:

1. I had no direct part in selecting the candidates. I work in a different division and merely attended their job talks.

2. Although it's not as good as $103K in West Virginia (courtesy of Pig Farmer above), $75K/yr is a decent salary in my part of the country.

3. I don't work at one of those notorious Chindian chemistry sweatshops, although I have former colleagues who work in such establishments.

I'm as nauseated as you by the inane ACS propaganda that overlooks the dire situation of the American Chemical Industry. It doesn't help that the government continues to claim that we need more scientists! However, scapegoating immigrants who are simply human beings seeking better lives, is NOT going to ameliorate the industry's woes. I admit that I don't have the answers either...I'm just trying to survive. Bosses and underlings can share blame for depriving America of both menial (hotel maids, meat packers) and highly skilled (chemist) jobs.

Would you advocate banning foreign grad students and postdocs from applying to US jobs or, hell, even setting foot in US universities? How could that be feasible given the global economy?

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50. MIMD on June 25, 2011 10:35 PM writes...

According to Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, you American born scientists just aren't good enough.

Comment engine blocks comments with web references so to read article search:

Bloomberg AND "Lilly CEO Says Immigration Boosts Innovation".

For C Level Pharma management, H-1B's are like insurance, they can never have enough...

An excellent company to short.

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51. No Free Energy on June 25, 2011 10:38 PM writes...

Interesting post and comments. I had always wondered whether I would have had an easier job getting employment if I went into chemistry rather
than astronomy because chemistry had many more industrial posts than astronomy. From what it seem here that is not true at least in the drug business. How are things in other areas of chemistry, say if one had a background in physical chemistry ?

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52. @No Free Energy on June 25, 2011 11:14 PM writes... your research training more instrumentation- or theory-focused? If the former, you might have a shot in QC or analytical jobs. If the latter, you have a remote chance at spinning yourself in bioinformatics or computational modeling.

Anyway, you should have majored in astronomy and minored in chemistry. Then you could have conjured up some Star Trek science like arsenic-based lifeforms at Mono Lake. At least you would've gotten 15 minutes of fame!

@48: Dude, chillax. Why did you fall for the race baiting? Anyway, I think Alchemist was just being snarky, just like Pig Farmer was to Laura in #40. If you have a sound economic policy that would fix US Chemistry and decide to run for President, then I'll vote for you in 2012. Will that make you feel better.

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53. hmm on June 26, 2011 2:55 AM writes...

You would think Phds eventualy become so cheap to hire that there would be no need for BS/MS folks

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54. SteveM on June 26, 2011 7:48 AM writes...

Re: #49 southern chemist

"AlchemistOrganique's logic may not be as ludicrous as you think. Last year my employer actually had an opening for an entry-level PhD chemist. According to my HR contacts, the majority of our applicants were Chinese or Indian (naturalized citizens and H1-B's)"

That's my point about the patent illogic of H-1B saturation. The claim that H-1B's don't depress wages because of the "prevailing wage" rule is bogus because the very fact that they add to the existing workforce drives down the prevailing wage. Simple law of supply and demand.

Your company's salary was "too low" because of all the H-1B's applying for the job!

Moreover policy pathology is even more perverse when Policy Elites challenge native born American students to take more math and science. To what result? Having to compete against a horde of foreign workers who will work as indentured servants for a Green Card?

The U.S. is caught in a vicious cycle driven by Reptilian Plutocrats like John John Lechleiter. Pretty soon the only tech jobs open to Americans will be with the Merchants of Death because a security clearance is required and America's primary export is War.

This issue has nothing to do with the demographics of the H-1B's. Or the fact that H-1B's are decent people. They could come from Mars, but the stark economic logic would be the same.

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55. Rick on June 26, 2011 8:02 AM writes...

hmmm (#53), The problem with PhDs as your blue-collar work force is that they're so damned cocky, always wandering off to think independently and try something new. Bad for crowd control. Better to replace all those uppity PhD, MS and BS scientists with MBAs. THEY know any monkey could do the lab work (as one CEO actually said to me, I swear) and THEY know how to swallow a hot new management trend without gagging or asking silly questions.

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56. driving up supply on June 26, 2011 8:12 AM writes...

I think that at least some companies that encourage H1-B visas to cure the "lack of scientist supply" are trying to drive down wages. I know a well-established company which also complains of the lack of American scientists. However, when I provided a list of "used" (5-20years expericence) talented American chemists ready and available for work they didn't want to consider them. They categorically stated that they wanted 'fresh graduates'. They then go back to complaining that there are not enough Americans interested in science.

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57. Pig Farmer on June 26, 2011 11:05 AM writes...

If SteveM's argument is correct, and H1-Bs are indeed lowering chemist's salaries substantially, then we should have seen a decrease in chemist's salaries when the quota of H1Bs was highest (195000 in the years 2000 -2003 (source: Wikipedia entry on H1-Bs)). In fact, over this period, the average salary for all chemists (BS, MS, Ph.D) in constant 2009 dollars increased from $87200 to $93300 (source: CEN July 12 2010, p 38). Of course, one could argue they would have been even higher if there were no H1-Bs, but by how much?
When the H1-B quota reverted to 90,000 in 2004 (or 131000 by the UCSIS figures), chemists salaries actually decreased slightly to $93100. My argument is that the effect of H1-Bs on overall demand for chemists has been negligible. Demand for chemists was high in 2000-2003, and wages were high, despite a high H1-B quota. Demand for chemists dropped precipitously after 2008, and chemists wages have fallen. The effect of H1-Bs is dwarfed by overall demand.
On the other hand, that the middle class in America is being destroyed, I will not deny. In Tim Gorman's Complete Idiot's Guide to the Great Recession, he makes the point that while productivity has risen substantially in the 3 decades from 1980, wages for most people have remained relatively flat, and consequently people have been forced to take on more debt to maintain their living standards. Wasn't the American Dream of homeownership invented in the 30s in an attempt to dissuade people from the lures of communism and fascism? Once those threats vanished in the late 80s, it was back to the bad old days of unfetterd greed, hence the reptilian plutocrats and the outrageous ratos of CEOs salaries to those of ordinary workers (250:1 or higher) we see today. I agree life in America is getting more unpleasant. I just don't think that much of it can be blamed on H1-Bs.

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58. jackass on June 26, 2011 12:19 PM writes...

The unemployment problem is not rocket science to figure out. We had a perfect storm of events. With the patents on current blockbusters expiring, we have had massive layoffs. Unfortunately, there was no one to take up this huge surplus of laid off chemists. Small pharma and biotech are also laying off in droves.
As if this was not enough, outsourcing is killing jobs big time. In a recent article in C&EN News, they had some traitor executive from Sunovion sitting on the great wall of China bragging about how they eliminated doing synthetic chemistry in the USA. Instead of feeling some shame from contributing to the collapse of science in this country, he was proud of role of creating outsource managers.
Add to this, the steady stream of H1B's, and you have a recipe for misery for chemists. I do not see anything improving. Alot of professions other than chemistry are also having trouble. There was a recent blog about IT professionals. Between the H1Bs and the outsourcing, they are becoming miserable like us chemists. I agree with the previous post. The greed of a select is hammering the middle class few. This country needs to penalize outsourcing. We need tariffs on all products from China so we can rebuild our manufacturing in this country and maybe save our middle class. Soon we will not have any middle class left to buy any of the drugs these companies hope to sell.

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59. southern chemist on June 26, 2011 12:56 PM writes...

@54(SteveM): "Your company's salary was 'too low' because of all the H-1B's applying for the job!"

Let me clarify. Although there were many H1-B applicants, the MAJORITY still consisted of US Citizens. Having been accustomed to East & West Coast salaries, I feel that many of them suffered from "reverse sticker shock" upon hearing the proposed salary ($75K/yr). Negotiation wouldn't have boosted it beyond $80K; besides, none of the bench chemists here (even after 20 years of service) makes six figures.

You keep on reiterating the Law of Supply and Demand. Well, the supply of chemists in my employer's region was lacking, so we advertised our Demand. We welcomed applications without overt citizenship requirements (Free Market). Unfortunately, many of the applicants couldn't bear the Inelasticity of our Demand.

I apologize for offending you, but your argument that H1-B's constitute the main force behind salary depression is too simplistic. Considering the disparate socioeconomic topography of the US, salaries must be considered in context. In many parts of the South, a person (perhaps even a small family) can live comfortably on an AGI of $75K/yr, whereas janitors in San Francisco can make more than that. A similar comparison can be made with PhD stipends at two top-tier organic schools. Despite being *nominally* lower, the spending power of an Urbana-Champaign stipend is greater than that of a Harvard stipend.

Your assertion that H1-B's (actually why don't we just say "immigrant labor"?) will undercut their wage competitors is obvious. There are many examples of this practice throughout history. However, I don't think that you can dismiss Alchemist's racial concerns entirely since wage competition has often precipitated racial tensions (again, plenty of examples from history). I think that Pig Farmer and others were mainly offended by Laura's diction in referring to Virgil ("Please go back to your foreign cave...No real American...We don't want you here...") The original Americans are nearly extinct and the rest of us are taking turns renting this land.

Once more, I ask you to propose a feasible solution. We've already seen what laissez-faire capitalism has done to the the American Middle Class. Would you instead advocate a super-Leftist approach and set a wage minimum for chemists that would be enforced throughout the US? What would be the costs (including those from lost business opportunities)? It would be great if US employers and employees could cooperate with the government and establish sustainable protectionism. Unfortunately, Henry Clay and John Calhoun are long dead, so don't expect help from DC.

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60. Pig Farmer on June 26, 2011 1:15 PM writes...

@Southern Chemist.
Couldn't have put it better myself. Cheers.

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61. nobody on June 26, 2011 1:51 PM writes...

Milton Friedman called the H1-B a government subsidy, which is exactly what it is.

Of course, the production of PhDs is a government subsidy as well.

So you have the government simultaneously bumping up supply and depressing demand for domestic scientists.

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62. Mike on June 26, 2011 2:31 PM writes...

@49 said -"According to my HR contacts, the majority of our applicants were Chinese or Indian (naturalized citizens and H1-B's)"

Your HR department promptly deleted the resumes of any qualified Americans.

I've also noted many of the big pharma HR departments hire h1-b human resources personnel to facilitate the enrichment of h1-bs. Not to mention that once a critical mass of chinese or indians is attained no American will ever be hired again.

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63. woo hoo on June 26, 2011 2:39 PM writes...

Time Magazine has just published an article titled "The End of Cheap Labor in China". Great for us, right? Well...

Further reading of the article alludes to continual doom for American manufacturing: "Hubbs was going to listen to a pitch from the American ambassador in Cambodia, Carol Rodley, and the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Phnom Penh. Their aim was simple: to get foreign investors, particularly those already with operations in China, to consider setting up shop in Cambodia."

Shucks...who knew that the Third World was so large? What's next, RwandaPharma?

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64. @woo hoo on June 26, 2011 3:16 PM writes...

Dude, you're brilliant! You've just figured out a way to save the endangered Great Apes. All pharma has to do is train chimpanzees to run cross-couplings, gorillas to operate batch reactors, and orangutans to conduct DMPK studies. Just look at Koko the gorilla down in San Diego; she has a vocabulary of over 2000 words. Apes would be WAY cheaper than any human employee, including H1-Bs.

The movie Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (the one where the apes gain sentience and revolt against humanity) was partly filmed at UC Irvine, home to one of the best organic programs in the country. Scripps isn't too far from the zoo either. Hmm...foreshadowing? "Koko...recrystallize compound ...use ethanol."

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65. Joseph on June 26, 2011 5:36 PM writes...

I'm amused by the comments of all the cheap labor foreigners who post here.

I can see they have no clue they are unwelcome intruders in another nations affairs. They've been given the keys to your home by the bank and now they're rifling through the fine silver.

It takes decades of nourishment to produce a scientist in the USA. Unlike these foreign intruders we are not given a free education and many US citizens take on great deal of debt to earn an undergraduate degree.

American's pay taxes to promote policies beneficial to their own welfare, not those of the foreign invader who seeks maximum returns on a non-existent investment. They don't vote, pay taxes, die in foreign wars or invest in US communities. Yet these folks have the temerity to cast doubt on the very real pillaging of US jobs by the foreign born and their corporate masters.

Old saying- “Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining”

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66. Hummm on June 26, 2011 6:15 PM writes...

@Joseph..Looks like you just took out loans for education but din't get any education at are just so ignorant.

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67. Pig Farmer on June 26, 2011 6:47 PM writes...

@66: well said.

Joseph, just to enlighten you a little, since whatever education you might have had over the years has obviously had very little effect:

1. From the moment I started working in America, I have paid taxes: it's the law.
2. No, I haven't died in a foreign war, and unless you're writing from beyond the grave (vain hope) neither have you.
3. Does buying from local stores and eating at local restaurants count as investing in US communities? If so, then I invest in US communities (hell,I even donate to the local police force occasionally)
4. Some of my former colleagues, also dreaded H1-Bs that so many in this thread seem to despise, have set up businesses of their own in this country. Who knows, they might even create jobs for "real" Americans!

I'm done with posting in this thread. I enjoy reading Derek's blog: he's an extremely intelligent guy with lots of interesting things to say. But some of the comments in this thread have disgusted me beyond words.

Old saying, Joe: "Engage brain before opening mouth". But then, that rather presupposes you have a brain to engage, doesn't it, old chap?
Off for a cup of tea before I watch Eastenders.
Chin chin!

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68. Another@Joseph on June 26, 2011 6:57 PM writes...

Your plagiarism of a speech from the most infamous Austrian in modern history (and no, I don't mean Arnold) is both pathetic and disturbing. Aside from spewing bile, what are YOU doing to defend America from the supposed "barbarians at the gate"?

@64: Koko actually resides in NorCal, so she and her gifted kin would more likely be educated at Stanford or Berkeley. Anyway, I don't know if it would be a good idea to let apes use abderhalens or kugelrohers. Thanks for trying to bring some levity to what has otherwise decayed into a tiresome bitchfest. It's tragic that the hardship of unemployed chemists gets lost in political rhetoric that either denies the problem or seeks to blame anyone but the Establishment.

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69. SteveM on June 26, 2011 7:20 PM writes...

Re: #67 Pig Farmer "H1-Bs that so many in this thread seem to despise"

Sly. Pig Farmer uses the excesses of whomever retrograde Joseph is to discount any challenge to unlimited H-1B immigration. Despising a pathological immigration policy does not imply despising the immigrants who leverage it.

But that's not your take pal. You're a Reptilian political manipulator through and through. Play the race card because it works. You slob...

More cheap talk from someone who has ridden the rails of a gamed system and wants to see his pals get similar access when the American economy is totally tanked.

Pig farmer, you're not done posting. You'll continue to post more craptasic arguments under a pseudonym, (Reptile Farmer?) swinging the dead cat of Liberal guilt hoping to induce the self-flagellation of native born Americans to beg and plead for H-1B saturation out of inchoate guilt.

BTW, I was a Chemist but got out to do something else that does not have an H-1B intersection. So it's not personal. It's the rank, vile illogic of imbecile apologists like Pig Farmer, southern chemist, the intellectually atrocious AlchemistOrganique and whomever else finds it convenient to ignore the laws of simple economics.

Pig Farmer - You got that right. You're exactly that - Bah...

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70. @SteveM on June 26, 2011 8:45 PM writes...

"BTW, I was a Chemist but got out to do something else that does not have an H-1B intersection."

If you're no longer a practicing chemist and therefore immune to the H1-B plague, why are you even trolling this thread? Your negativity doesn't help anyone, plus you're probably going to get Barrett's esophagus. I don't think anyone that you're attacking is trying to brainwash native-born Americans into sycophants chanting "mea culpa".

Fine, let's talk about basic economics, which ultimately boils down to choices. We are in this economic mess because of bad decisions from ALL segments of society, whether it's the corporate execs who throttled American manufacturing in favor of overseas labor or gullible homebuyers who over-extended themselves with obscene mortgages.

In order to retain the perceived value of the profession, many law schools are reducing their class sizes in order to mitigate the current glut of lawyers. Why can't we do the same with chemistry grad programs? Well, the administration has *decided* to promulgate the myth that we are in need of more scientists. As counter-intuitive and atrocious as this may sound, maybe the NIH and NSF research budgets *should* be cut to the point where even top-tier professors have to hustle for money. That would be a great way of culling the herds ("Sorry, can't accept you, not enough funding").

If you're going to criticize other people's sanctimony, at least try to hide your own hypocrisy better (compare your posts #48 and #54). I'm glad that American weaponry still has a great reputation worldwide, at least others are willing to pay us beaucoup cash for it. The Chinese and Russians can't beat the quality of our Tomahawks or Predator Drones. As further testament of the high quality of US arms, our landmines are still dismembering people in Southeast Asia and the Taliban is still using rifles that we supplied them 30 years ago. If American bomb assemblers don't lose sleep over the "morality" of their trade, why should I? Hopefully, I'm not being too politically correct for your taste!

You want the politicians to listen? Talk with your wallet. Support a sincere advocate (if one even exists) for American labor. Boycott foreign goods or anything that has the slightest chance of being produced by H1-Bs or scabs. In fact, don't buy anything of modern convenience (smartphone, double-shot espresso, whatever) and become a hunter-gatherer in the untamed wilds. That way, you wouldn't have to worry about threatening an American job or exploiting an overseas laborer...double win situation.

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71. Mr. Perceptive on June 26, 2011 9:08 PM writes...

Re: "@SteveM" So Pig Farmer sprouts a pseudonym. How Convenient...

Re: My note of using "inchoate guilt." as liberal sledgehammer.

Well there you go.

Thanks for the intellectual satisfaction of calling a mediocre spade a mediocre spade...

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72. anon (aka 64 & 68) on June 26, 2011 9:30 PM writes...

Dudes, are you STILL going at it? Put this bitchfest to sleep! Maybe Derek will post a topic tomorrow that's not so inflammatory.

@Pig Farmer: Do you still have a British accent? If so, is it more like Patrick Stewart or Simon Cowell? I bet your insults sound awesome!

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73. SteveM on June 26, 2011 9:39 PM writes...

Re: @72 "anon" Addressing people as "Dudes" and using terms like "bitchfest" is really lame.

What, is Pig Farmer teaching you mediocre forensic argument?

Go shove off on your skateboard kid...

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74. don't discard experienced American chemists! on June 26, 2011 10:20 PM writes...

Ever peruse postings for entry level MBA positions?

Majority state "no foreign sponsorship available". Must be easier to maintain demand for your own labor if you are the holder of the keys to the kingdom.

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75. milkshake on June 27, 2011 2:00 AM writes...

One thing the government can do in this situation is to restrict state/federal funding and subsidies that go into chemistry grad programs - and do it without any discrimination about the country of origin. The idea is to simply make it more expensive for universities to crank out PhD chemists so that they could employ the grad students for cheap labor. When you go to law school or med school you have to pay the tuition or take a loan - whereas most grad students in chemistry get TA positions or scholarships. I heard of a pretty ridiculous situation: One not-too-famous Florida university recently made a recruitment drive in Taiwan to fill its chemistry grad program with candidates from East Asia because they could not get any good students from US... I understand why the university would want to do this but it only works on the government money.

Another thing that the government can do is to make the H1-B visa more expensive for everyone - 10k, for example, without any cap on the number of visas issued.

Anyway, I think the visa discussion is a distraction and the main problem is with pharma downturn and outsourcing mania and the turn to the protein-based therapeutics.

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76. thanks milkshake on June 27, 2011 7:40 AM writes...

As always, you provide the voice of reason.

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77. Virgil on June 27, 2011 8:02 AM writes...

@pigfarmer, southern chemist et al.
Excellent posts backed up by real numbers, nice work.

@Laura, SteveM, Joseph et al.
WTH? Just for the record, I came here as an H1-B in 1998. I now employ 4 Americans - caucasian white males who were born here, not naturalized foreigners. I can get their genetic histories if you want? Of course, their parents or grandparents were immigrants, but then I guess so were yours, so we'll call it even.

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78. Virgil on June 27, 2011 8:04 AM writes...

@pigfarmer, southern chemist et al.
Excellent posts backed up by real numbers, nice work.

@Laura, SteveM, Joseph et al.
WTH? Just for the record, I came here as an H1-B in 1998. I now employ 4 Americans - caucasian white males who were born here, not naturalized foreigners. I can get their genetic histories if you want? Of course, their parents or grandparents were immigrants, but then I guess so were yours, so we'll call it even.

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79. Industry Guy on June 27, 2011 8:19 AM writes...

everyone pays taxes....actually Immigrants probably pay more if they are legal....

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80. RespiSci on June 27, 2011 9:20 AM writes...

@26 "The question about how well the outsourcing to China/India is working cannot be asked yet. The answer? Too soon to tell.
Everyone on this board knows that as well (whether they want to admit it or not). One must evaluate the drug discovery process in decade (or 2 decade) increments and I don't believe the true outsourcing model was put into effect until just a few years ago."

I agree that the timeline to fully evaluate outsourcing is insufficient. To continue with your axiom, are you suggesting that the problems with today's pharma are a result of decisions made a decade (or two) ago? And which do you consider to be the biggest errors?

I enjoyed reading ex Merck exec Peter de Vilbiss's views on the industry failings on Mathew Herper's blog at forbes

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81. BCP on June 27, 2011 9:43 AM writes...

Back to the topic at hand....what really puzzles me are comments to the effect "how long will it be before we know if outsourcing works?". This isn't combichem or the human genome, it's just finance. The nature of the work being done hasn't changed (certainly not for the better), there's no scientific basis to expect a different outcome in terms of numbers of NDA's filed or approved. We'll just be doing what we were doing before but for a bit less money. And we all know how well that's been working, right?

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82. chem grad student on June 27, 2011 9:49 AM writes...

I am surprised that so many people here have talked abt immigrants getting the chem jobs, but now as many of you are concerned abt outsourcing.....dont u guys think that its outsourcing which has lead to all these deep job cuts ?

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83. Cellbio on June 27, 2011 10:06 AM writes...


Yes, the outsourcing is happening, and as Milkshake points out, the general downturn is the bigger driver. Read just today that Ph3 failure rates are up, and there is less spending on Ph1&2 (Fierce Biotech). You can imagine then, that enthusiasm for spending on early pipeline work has eroded greatly. Research is a 'cost center' that is not supporting the current level of investment. Pfizer's new model hopes to replace company biologists with academics; I have my doubts. I don't know if this is the low point from which we will recover a bit, or if this is only the beginning, but I am afraid the overall trend will be much fewer biologists employed. Hell, I am no good for company value if not paired with a chemist/protein chemist.

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84. CR on June 27, 2011 11:38 AM writes...

@38, ProcessChemist:
"Not too soon at all, applying the usual metrics of our industry. Too soon for NDAs, but what about other checkpoints of the drug development process?
In India some biotechs produced some candidates that entered the clinic but from China no clinical candidates at all, from the local big pharma research centers too, as far as I know."

The only measure of success is products on the market. Want to change the course of pharma research? Get new drugs on the market to generate sales. No other metric matters. And, it is too soon to make a judgement regarding whether outsourcing has worked.

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85. partial agonist on June 27, 2011 11:42 AM writes...

After some success in getting funding, I have received well over 200 applications for postdoctoral positions in my academic lab. The three open positions I have now filled pay NIH-recommended wages- not great bucks, but it's about 40K with some upward adjustments possible depending upon experience.

I am not aware that any of the >200 applicants have been US Citizens that were born here and that were educated here from bachelor's degree through Ph.D.

My institute doesn't do HIB sposorship, which is a tough issue. Still the folks happy with J1 status apply.

I am trying to fill fully-funded slots with quality people, to do good work, and the vast majority of those interested at all in coming do not look like Beaver Cleaver or Ritchie Cunningham. I don't have a problem with that. I'd be happy to hire the All-American postdoc. I just never see them applying. Maybe it is different for famous academic advisors... I don't know.

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86. processchemist on June 27, 2011 12:04 PM writes...


Sure, a clinical candidate (or ten) doesn't imply a drug on the market in five years, but with no candidates it's a bit difficult to file an NDA.

And, by the way I'm sure that the metrics I've talked about have been applied quite extensively in the westen research facilities. I always wondered why same criteria doesn't apply to asian research structures/outsourcing partners. Maybe the answer is always the same: they're cheap. And cheap is good, period. Because in the long term, we'll be all dead.

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87. CR on June 27, 2011 12:21 PM writes...


Responding to the original post regarding success of the outsourcing model - and the only way to measure is drugs on the market. It doesn't matter what metrics are used to quantify western research facilities. Guess what? If western research labs were producing drugs on the market, these other metrics would not be used. They are being used because of the failure of western labs to produce the only metric needed - marketed drugs.

In 5 - 10 years we can all comment on success or failure of this fad in the industry. Too late for us, unfortunately.

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88. Anon+former_H1 on June 27, 2011 12:21 PM writes...

I came to the US as an undergraduate, went on to one of the premier organic groups to complete my Ph.D. and got a job at a top Pharma company as a medicinal chemist. I truly find the level of xenophobia to be disgusting. Probably reflects the tru f&&^ing stupidity of some Americans that also drive the national dialog.

Blame foreigners for lost jobs - think of contributions that immigrants or their kids have made to this country. Einstein, Corey (son of immigrants), Breslow, MacMillan, Kishi, Jacobson (son of immigrants). Would you really have been better off if these people never came to the US? Not to mention the data that does not show a correlation between H1B's and wages.

I got out of chemistry, and I am glad I did. The outsourcing and general disrespect that chemists are subjected to (unique to the US, if I may say so, and driven by the st^&%dity of AMERICAN consulting companies, CEO's and Wall St.) Please put the blame where it should be, not on some FOX news type scapegoat. Is is the unimaginable greed, lack of accountability, search for quick profits and arrogance that has lead to this state of affairs.

Did you mor*&%s also notice that GSK and Novartis are actually poised to be quite profitable over the next 10 years?

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89. ex postdoc on June 27, 2011 3:55 PM writes...

@partial agonist

Perhaps "Beaver Cleaver" is content with a finance job that pays twice (with only a B.A.) what you're offering for a post-doc.

If $40k is the NIH base salary, it's a disgrace. No wonder American kids are eschewing science.

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90. GreedyCynicalSelfInterested on June 27, 2011 4:22 PM writes...


You don't seem to understand that most poeple want to minimize competition when they can. It's not motivated by "xenophobia" unless you are also going to accuse upper management of "xenophilia."

Just saying someone is a racist or nationalist is not an argument against someone who resents competing with abundant, docile, cheap labor. Especially when this immigration is encouraged by sleazy, lying, self-serving plutocrats.

Minimizing competition is what businesses or trades do to each other all the time. See the article, "Rules for Fools" in the Schumpeter column of the May 14, 2011 Economist. That's another reason why big businesses support more regulation, even if it costs them money. It keeps out start ups who may upset "their" market.

The present environment is a perfect storm of the collapsing welfare state, adjustment of the American standard of living vs. the rest of the world, the financial crisis and big pharma's implosion.

Why should the unemployed want more competition? It's only what every other economic actor does.

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91. Rotovapit on June 27, 2011 5:58 PM writes...

This article instructed me in the fundamentally arrogant and disrespectful nature of the people we have allowed into the United States recently.

No doubt these people are stealing our technology and sending it back to their real homes! Shame on you!

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92. nimrod on June 27, 2011 8:49 PM writes...

#91 Rotovapit

They may be stealing our technology. But what I find worse is the dips$%& who are essentially giving our technology away via outsourcing!

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93. MDACC Grad Student on June 27, 2011 10:40 PM writes...

@85 Of the Americans I know, only 1 is interested in a career in academia. The rest are trying to get out as fast as they can. People are dropping out (our school has a 30% attrition rate), trying to be writers, get into industry, be school teachers, go to med school...anything but research. The problem is the working conditions aren't very good (you are isolated in a lab, expected to be at the bench through late hours, weekends, holidays, and then to catch up on the literature on your own time) and the quality of life outside of work isn't either (you've lost your personal life, and aren't even being compensated fairly).
If I do a postdoc I will be starting at $38k and will be 30 years old. Realistically, I could get another Bachelors degree in less time than it takes to do a postdoc...and end up making more money.
Personally, I am one of those trying to figure out a different career path.

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94. GreedyCynicalSelfInterested on June 28, 2011 3:40 PM writes...

@MDACC Grad Student

I would do another bachelor's degree if you know what you want to get into. The jobs for lab refugees have dried up since they've all been filled now. The law area is full as far as I've been able to determine. I've been unemployed for over three years and got a few interviews but no offers. Write your Ph.D. off as a total loss and just go into an area that you like and does not require an advanced degree. I know people with 4 year engineering degrees that make 6 figures. I wish that I had written off my Ph.D. as a total loss and went into something else entirely.

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95. True on June 28, 2011 11:20 PM writes...

94 speaks the truth. A PhD in chemistry is now on par with flipping burgers or cleaning toilets. Go into finance or medicine and omit the PhD from your resume.

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96. yey we're saved on June 29, 2011 7:50 AM writes...

Lilly just announced that it's going to hire 40 scientists to help develop "multi-specific" therapeutics (see the Indy Star website). Half will be based in Indianapolis, half in San Diego. Then again, one would think that Lilly has freed up some investment funds after purging 5,000 employees...

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97. MDACC Grad Student on June 29, 2011 4:43 PM writes...

@95 We are "Cancer Biology," but your advice is well heeded.

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98. Anon on July 5, 2011 3:06 PM writes...

One presumes that sooner or later Pfizer will realize that someone has to design and make the molecules and this works better if that someone is here and actually knows something. So, sooner or later they will start hiring again. Would anyone in their right mind, knowing how they treat employees, take a job with them?

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