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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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October 24, 2012

The Onion on Oncology Research

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Posted by Derek

I'd say they have it pretty close to reality:

". . .a new Mayo Clinic study with widespread implications for the treatment and potential cure of the disease has found that the malignant growths have begun cruelly mocking researchers. 

The findings—published this week in a rambling, expletive-laden 8,000-word article in The Journal Of The American Medical Association—provides the strongest evidence yet that abnormal cells targeted with cutting-edge cancer treatments are basically flipping off scientists left and right, and get a huge kick out of making oncologists feel like a bunch of bumbling dipshit chumps.

I feel that way about my reactions sometimes. And there were a few points during my PhD when I felt that the only explanation for the way things were going was the existence of a malignant force in the universe, one that for reasons beyond my comprehension was taking a personal interest in me.

Comments (12) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cancer


1. Kaleberg on October 24, 2012 10:47 PM writes...

The Germans call it die tucke des objekts, the spitefulness of things.

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2. Dogbertd on October 25, 2012 2:53 AM writes...

I don't recall who it was that said you should never underestimate the innate hostility of inanimate objects. But if inanimate objects can be hostile, imagine how nasty animate objects can be...

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3. scientistbymistake on October 25, 2012 3:18 AM writes...

I almost always found the success of reactions and purifications to be inversely proportional to their importance.
During my PhD I often wondered if I had incurred some kind of karmic debt that was accruing interest faster than I could pay it off!

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4. Red Fiona on October 25, 2012 5:35 AM writes...

Quantitative assays are particularly spiteful in my experience.

(I also fear the Onion are steering terrifyingly close to the truth.)

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5. Jon on October 25, 2012 8:03 AM writes...

The world is getting so weird that The Onion can basically run a news story straight-up. Look at the article they ran when Schwarzenegger won in California. Or in 2008, when the headline was "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job".

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7. geekosaur on October 25, 2012 12:18 PM writes...

I suspect the universe has taken a personal interest in humanity in general, and oncology is just one of the points where the gestures are clearly visible.

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8. Tracy on October 25, 2012 12:58 PM writes...

Too true; my joke in graduate school was that my lab god was Loki, the trickster. The other joke was that the only way to appease him was with the blood of undergraduates, although I never got to try it.

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9. Anonymous on October 25, 2012 1:40 PM writes...

Any idea of the location of the original article by Dr. Sepkowitz? I'd kind of like the see the 8000 word expletive-laden article in print. I cannot find it on the JAMA website, SciFinder author search, or google.

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10. labrat on October 25, 2012 2:54 PM writes...

I used to do crystallography. We joked about the phase of the moon. And visiting the crossroads to wait for a tall handsome man who cast no shadow. We also had a voodoo doll on the freezer for luck. And before a very successful synchrotron trip I, in a fit of madness, doused my idol to the Pachamama in lab ethanol.

In my current lab, I find that my instrument responds best to verbal abuse. I am also thinking of hanging all the diode lasers that have died on me up on the lab wall as both trophies and a warning.

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11. toxchick on October 26, 2012 11:26 AM writes...

My favorite Onion story about scientists:,1256/

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12. Mike on October 31, 2012 10:32 AM writes...

a buddy of mine had remarkable success in our network test lab when some new piece of kit misbehaved. he would role up the scope cart,
pick up a probe, and wave it at the recalcitrant hardware in a most threatening manner and say,
"Now you've whizzed me off good! This is a *scope probe* and I know how to use it!"

Amazingly, most times the box would magically start cooperating.


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