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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

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

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

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« How Not to Do Science Education | Main | Lessons For a New Medicinal Chemist »

June 6, 2012

Drew University Visit

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Posted by Derek

I'm writing this from Logan Airport, on my way down to New Jersey, where later this afternoon I'll be giving a talk at the Drew University medicinal chemistry school. I took that course back in 1990, so it's rather odd to be coming back as the keynote speaker. Thinking about some of the people who were there with me, I can see that quite a few of them are no longer in the industry (although everyone that I know about on that list has still done fine for themselves and their families).

I suspect that many readers here may have been through the Drew course as well, especially if they started out with one of the big NJ companies back when. I'll try to give everyone an interesting talk!

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blog Housekeeping


1. PPedroso on June 6, 2012 10:50 AM writes...

What will you be talking about?

General med chem or a specific topic?

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2. DPowell on June 6, 2012 11:32 AM writes...

Someday someone should give a talk/training session at the Drew session on best practices for getting and analyzing all the data provided to Med Chemists-it could be vendor agnostic.

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3. Mr. Fixit on June 6, 2012 11:59 AM writes...

Hi Derek,
I still open my binder that week. It was a great time! any chance you could post your slides, or a youtube video?


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4. exGlaxoid on June 6, 2012 1:57 PM writes...

Wow, that brings back memories. I took the Drew course almost 20 years ago there as well. It was pretty good except the computational part was dry as the Sahara. I still remember some of the materials as well as a few of the people I meet there. I also remember being the victim of a hit-and-run at a traffic light (in a rental car, no less) while I was there, so drive carefully. Ah, beautiful, scenic northern Jersey...

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5. NoDrugsNoJobs on June 6, 2012 5:39 PM writes...

Talk about bringing back old memories! It was an enjoyable experience, not sure if I can remember too much now. Even if I could, I reckon its changed a bit since then!

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6. Anonymous on June 6, 2012 8:24 PM writes...

We're going to 54 main street. Hope to see you there!

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7. A Deer on June 7, 2012 12:49 AM writes...

I had no idea that Drew State Park & University had a med chem course!

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8. jackgg on June 7, 2012 12:13 PM writes...

I look forward to seeing your slides published here or somewhere else. I attended the 20th Drew MedCourse in 2006.

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9. Toad on June 7, 2012 3:06 PM writes...

I too took the course, now 21 years ago, and the same guy presenting the computational field is still doing it. There are at least, imho, more applicable and interesting things ongoing in the area that early med chemists can learn from and apply.

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10. newnickname on June 8, 2012 3:22 AM writes...

Soon-Yi Previn attended Drew U but I don't think she took the Med Chem Crash Course. I did not attend Drew U but I did take the Med Chem Crash Course there. I thought it was good but not great. Some of the sessions I attended were good but some were stinkers. Everything was, pretty much, mainstream and almost no dissenting opinions were discussed (or tolerated).

Does Drew U still still have the research labs reserved for retired Big Pharma Big Wigs? Back then, I was already wondering if maybe some retired Small Wigs, much closer to the bench, didn't have better ideas and deserve a chance to teach and work with students to try to implement them. I guess Small Wigs don't bring in the Big Donations the way Big Wigs do.

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11. ppp on June 8, 2012 5:21 AM writes...

I also took the course in 1990. I came in as a synthetic organic chemist and came out as an embryonal medicinal chemist.....sweet memories.

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12. Ronald J. Doll on June 8, 2012 6:49 AM writes...

As an organizer for the Drew Univ. Residential Medicinal Chemistry Course (ResMed), and a past colleague of Derek, I can report that Derek did a fantastic job at describing the state of the industry, and how we as scientist can help get things back on track. Thank you Derek for a great presentation. I can also report that the Drew Univ. ResMed course is still going strong in training new and veteran drug discovery scientists on the modern science and techniques of discovering drugs.

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13. Iridium on June 8, 2012 12:36 PM writes...

I was actually at the Drew course this year and attended your lecture. Overall, your presentation was very enjoyable and I would agree with many of the points made on state of the industry and on how to potentially fix/help it. For those who were interested in the content and slides from the talk, if you are a frequent reader of the blog I expect you will not be terribly surprised as much of the content has been discussed and presented in nearly the exact same way here over the past months/years.

@Commenters on Drew ResMed Course: As a relative newbie to the industry, but having my graduate experience in a medchem program, I found my experience at Drew ResMed this past week to be a bit remdial, yet still very educational in certain areas (Randy Miller's lectures on PK and protein plasma binding were highly discussed and enjoyed by many attendees). For those who are truely new to the industry and have little to no knowledge regarding medchem and biology, I would expect that it was quite helpful for many, even if it may have been a bit like trying to 'drink from a firehose' for some.

Overall, I think the course has a lot of value, particularly if pharma professionals are able to attend early in their careers. However, as some of the commenters above have criticized, it is not really a place where highly detailed information for specialized areas of the industry will be presented. But, nor do I think it should be. I can imagine there are venues more appropriate for that type of information.

Yet, the following obsrevation may be say something to address my previous statement regarding the level of detail presented at Drew ResMed. Over the course of the week, there were many probing questions asked by attendees on various topics that aimed to go beyond the basic principals presented or gain insight on issues the industry has grappled with in recent years. In many cases, the presenters really couldn't provide answers beyond the expected 'we do not know how to address this yet,' 'the best we have is to still rely on 10-20 year old technology X,' or 'you simply have to keep your eyes open and thinking cap on.' Maybe this is just a reflection of the fact that, in certain areas, we simply still do not understand things as well as we would like after 10, 20, or even 30 years. I should qualify my assessment of the lecturer's responses though by saying that they tried to direct people to 'potential' solutions or technologies that could help, even though they haven't been proven 'silver bullets.'

Overall, excellent experience despite the pseudo-bruises obtained from the springs in my dorm room matress. =D

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