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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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November 30, 2012

Science Gifts: Actual Med-Chem Books

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Posted by Derek

A few years ago, I asked the readership for the best books on the practice of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery itself. These may not be exactly stocking stuffers, at least not for most people, but I wanted to mention these again, and to solicit nominations for more recent titles to add to the list. So, here's what I have at the moment:

For general medicinal chemistry, you have Bob Rydzewski's Real World Drug Discovery: A Chemist's Guide to Biotech and Pharmaceutical Research. Many votes also were cast for Camille Wermuth's The Practice of Medicinal Chemistry. For getting up to speed, several readers recommend Graham Patrick's An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry. And an older text that has some fans is Richard Silverman's The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action.

Process chemistry is its own world with its own issues. Recommended texts here are Practical Process Research & Development by Neal Anderson and Process Development: Fine Chemicals from Grams to Kilograms by Stan Lee (no, not that Stan Lee) and Graham Robinson.

Case histories of successful past projects are found in Drugs: From Discovery to Approval by Rick Ng and also in Walter Sneader's Drug Discovery: A History.

Another book that focuses on a particular (important) area of drug discovery is Robert Copeland's Evaluation of Enzyme Inhibitors in Drug Discovery.

For chemists who want to brush up on their biology, readers recommend Terrence Kenakin's A Pharmacology Primer, Third Edition: Theory, Application and Methods and Molecular Biology in Medicinal Chemistry by Nogrady and Weaver.

Overall, one of the most highly recommended books across the board comes from the PK end of things: Drug-like Properties: Concepts, Structure Design and Methods: from ADME to Toxicity Optimization by Kerns and Di. For getting up to speed in this area, there's Pharmacokinetics Made Easy by Donald Birkett.

In a related field, the standard desk reference for toxicology seems to be Casarett & Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons. Since all of us make a fair number of poisons (as we eventually discover), it's worth a look.

As mentioned, titles to add to the list are welcome - I'll watch the comments for ideas!

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Book Recommendations | Science Gifts


1. ChemE on November 30, 2012 12:04 PM writes...

While not remotely as academic as the above recommendations, The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum is a great read (The Basic Science of Poisons reminded me of it). It presents the history of forensic science and medicine in old New York, and the escalating battle between poisoners and forensic scientists. Very approachable, goes into the science of specific compounds and their chemistry and effect on the body.

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2. Chemystery on November 30, 2012 12:15 PM writes...

'Bioisosteres in medicinal chemistry' (ed. Nathan Brown, Wiley 2012) is an interesting and recent read

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3. Anonymous on November 30, 2012 1:53 PM writes...

The Quest for the Cure: The Science and Stories Behind the Next Generation of Medicines By Brent R. Stockwell (Columbia University Press, June 2011)

Someone called Derek Lowe has reccomended it!

"This book deserves a readership, and there is certainly a need for it. As a drug companyresearcher, I have often wished that more people understood what the field was like and how simultaneously fascinating and frustrating it can be- Derek B. Lowe Cell 7/8/11"

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4. Anonymous on November 30, 2012 1:59 PM writes...

Any article/site/blog for RSS reader and feeds list of organic and medicinal chemistry journals/news?

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5. Derek Lowe on November 30, 2012 2:24 PM writes...

#3 Anon - that one's coming up in a "Non-specialist science books" post next week, actually. Fear not!

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6. MoMo on November 30, 2012 3:13 PM writes...


Lest you forget the Grand-daddy of all drug discovery books--The Billion Dollar Molecule- The story Vertex by Barry Werth

You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll see true science and human dysfunction embrace!

And after reading the post about target vs cell based screening- You'll know why it took so long for VRTX to finally be successful!

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7. Anonymous BMS Researcher on November 30, 2012 9:46 PM writes...

Yes, Kerns and Di is an excellent book. A key take-home lesson of their book: don't optimize for one property to the exclusion of others, that's you paint yourself into a corner with compounds that are really really good at binding the target but have awful solubility or PK.

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8. Curious Wavefunction on December 1, 2012 12:55 AM writes...

"The Billion Dollar Molecule" makes drug discovery scientists alternatively look like rock stars and tragic Greek heroes. I love it and find myself coming back to it every few months; it definitely provides a lot of inspiration.

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9. Curious Wavefunction on December 1, 2012 1:06 AM writes...

I would also recommend Joseph Cannon's "Pharmacology for Chemists" and Povl Krogsgaard-Larsen, Ulf Madsen and Kristian Stromgaard's "Textbook of Drug Design and Discovery".

For popular accounts, I really liked Peter Pringle's "Experiment Eleven" (on the discovery of streptomycin) Jie Jack Lie's "
Laughing Gas, Viagra, and Lipitor: The Human Stories behind the Drugs We Use" and of course, Roy Vagelos's "Medicine, Science and Merck" which makes your eyes glaze over with nostalgia for the lost golden age of drug discovery.

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10. processchemist on December 3, 2012 6:00 AM writes...

"Principles of process research and chemical development in the pharmaceutical industry" by Repic
and "The pilot plant real book" by McConville should be added to the books by Anderson and Lee in the process chemist library.

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11. Dogbertd on December 3, 2012 7:27 AM writes...

I'm a non-chemist, so perhaps I see it differently, however I'd take A. Wallace Hayes "Principles and Methods of Toxicology" over Casarett & Doull. The thing I like about Hayes is he's very good on the *actual assays* used in regulatory tox, as well as all the usual stuff you'd expect from a toxicology book.

Perhaps not light reading, and of course it's $$ but it's what I have on my shelf for reference when I need to know exactly what's required for the Irwin FOB.

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12. Yancey Ward on December 3, 2012 12:58 PM writes...

Or, in other words, a list of books Marcia Angell has never read.

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13. Curt F. on December 6, 2012 6:46 PM writes...

If anyone is still reading this thread, I have a question: is process development for *biologics* handled in any of the process dev. books mentioned? Especially purification and formulation.

I realize its a different beast entirely but am hopeful there is one book that discusses at least examples of both.

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