About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Competitive Intelligence: Too Much or Too Little? | Main | Do Industrial Post-Doc Positions Work? »

May 11, 2012

Desperation In the Lab

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

You chemists may have really stretched things to get a reaction to work, but here's a good set of "Conditions You'll Probably Never Be Desperate Enough to Try". Bone meal? Ground carrots? I think he has a point.

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life in the Drug Labs


1. JasonP on May 11, 2012 11:26 AM writes...

Hah, told ya: alchemy. :)

Permalink to Comment

2. Paul on May 11, 2012 12:20 PM writes...

Eye of newt, hair of bat. Remember to stir widdershins by the light of a full moon.

Permalink to Comment

3. partial agonist on May 11, 2012 12:40 PM writes...

Heineken seems like an expensive solvent!

Permalink to Comment

4. sgcox on May 11, 2012 12:45 PM writes...

Much cheaper than DMSO from Sigma !

Permalink to Comment

5. J.S. Boc on May 11, 2012 12:49 PM writes...

BRSM might just be the best blog on organic synthesis in existence (Woodward Wednesdays FTW!).

Permalink to Comment

6. Markus on May 11, 2012 10:49 PM writes...

BRSM reminds me of Tenderbutton..

Permalink to Comment

7. BRSM on May 12, 2012 5:13 AM writes...

Thanks Derek for the link; I have had more traffic in the last 24 hours than I have ever had in a month! Cheers J.S. Boc and Markus - I'll definitely take the Tenderbutton comparison as a complement. Wish I could somehow manage the update frequency that Dylan used to.

Permalink to Comment

8. Secondaire on May 12, 2012 2:54 PM writes...

Hilarious! OMG. I remember reading a few old-timey preps that used things like "cracked gasoline" and "chips of clay plate". A labmate in grad school once proposed a synthesis with a McMurry coupling that involved a catalyst doped on wool. It wasn't well-received.

Permalink to Comment

9. BRSM on May 12, 2012 3:30 PM writes...

@Secondaire just the other day I was reading one of R. B. Woodward's early papers which called for a Palladium-on-asbestos catalyst. That almost made the list but the original paper describing its use was in German, and not available online

Permalink to Comment

10. leftscienceawhileago on May 12, 2012 7:43 PM writes...

Macromolecular crystallography is full of similar lore.

Here is a case of using diet coke for a time varying pH gradient:

Permalink to Comment

11. Anonymous on May 13, 2012 4:44 AM writes...

This is a little off the synthetic route, but we had a post doc in our lab who came from a lab that would calibrate their FT-ICR's (high res MS) with a bottle of guiness they kept in a fridge for years. It was a source of abundant polysaccharides over a large molecular weight range, and a cheaper "standard" than would you could be from anywhere else.

Permalink to Comment

12. mmol on May 14, 2012 7:32 AM writes...

Labs are too often all about stick. It's time we had some carrot......... but it is important for high %ee that it is

Permalink to Comment

13. Sili on May 14, 2012 3:36 PM writes...

"chips of clay plate".
That's still in use. Referred to here as a "dead gull", since the prototypical porcelain is the petit bourgeois gull pattern. Permalink to Comment

14. Secondaire on May 14, 2012 9:49 PM writes...

@ #9: Palladium on asbestos? Perfect for when those hydrogenations get wild on you!

@ #13. Never heard that before, cool. What's the dead gull used for?

Permalink to Comment

15. Phil on May 17, 2012 1:00 PM writes...

Bengu Sezen could have gotten away with it if she'd thought of this! "The reaction was carried out in a bath of boiling mercury under a xenon atmosphere" would have discouraged attempts to repeat the work!

Permalink to Comment

16. newnickname on May 18, 2012 12:22 PM writes...

I seem to recall that the earliest catalytic enantioselective hydrogenation was done using palladium on silk fiber ... in the 1930s.

There's an Org Synth that stipulates that the reaction be poured into a bucket of ice and stirred with a large wooden paddle. I can assure you that a magnet, a small teflon paddle, a piece of lattice rod and other lab stuff didn't work so it was a race down to the shop to cut out a wooden paddle on the band saw and save the reaction.

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry