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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 29, 2013

Science Gifts: Medicinal Chemistry Books

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Posted by Derek

I hope my readers who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday had a good one. Everything went well here, and there are plenty of turkey leftovers today. My wife always looks forward to a sandwich of turkey in a flour tortilla with hoisin sauce and fresh scallions. I can endorse that one, and I'm also a fan of turkey on pumpernickel with mayonnaise and horseradish. But to each their own! It's a big country, and can accommodate turkey quesadillas, turkey with mango pickle and naan, turkey with barbecue sauce, and who knows what else.

Over the next week or two, as I did last year, I'll be posting some science-themed gift ideas along with my regular postings. I should mention, as I do from time to time, that this blog is an Amazon affiliate, so links to Amazon from here will earn a small commission, at no change in the price on the buyer's end. So if you have some big online shopping to do, I encourage you to pick a blog or site that you've enjoyed during the year and use their affiliate links if they have them - everything that's ordered after such a redirect will send some money back to the site's owner. In my own case, I pledge to use a significant part of any proceeds to buy still more books, thereby stuffing my head with even more marginally useful knowledge.

I'll start off with gifts that you might well be ordering for yourself - books on medicinal chemistry and related fields. This is an updated version of the list I posted last year, with some additions.

At various times, I've asked the readership for the best books on the practice of medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. Here are the favorites mentioned by readers over the last few years (nominations for others are welcome):

For general medicinal chemistry, you have Bob Rydzewski's Real World Drug Discovery: A Chemist's Guide to Biotech and Pharmaceutical Research. Another recommendation is Textbook of Drug Design and Discovery by Krogsgaard-Larsen et al. 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, Repic's Principles of Process Research and Chemical Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry, and Process Development: Fine Chemicals from Grams to Kilograms by Stan Lee (no, not that Stan Lee) and Graham Robinson. On an even larger scale, McConville's The Pilot Plant Real Book comes recommended by readers here, too.

Case histories of successful past projects can be 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. This is a new edition of the book recommended in this post last year.

Another newer book on a particular area of med-chem is Bioisosteres in Medicinal Chemistry by Brown et al., which also comes recommended by several readers.

For chemists who want to brush up on their biology, readers recommend Terrence Kenakin's A Pharmacology Primer, Third Edition: Theory, Application and Methods, Cannon's Pharmacology for Chemists, 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. Another recent PK-centric book is Lead Optimization for Medicinal Chemists. For getting up to speed in this area, there's Pharmacokinetics Made Easy by Donald Birkett.

In a related field, standard desk references for toxicology seems to be Casarett & Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons and Hayes' Principles and Methods of Toxicology Every medicinal chemist will end up learning a good amount toxicology, too often the hard way.

As mentioned, titles to add to the list are welcome. I'll be doing a post later on less technical general interest science books as well.

Comments (19) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Science Gifts


1. Anonymous on November 29, 2013 7:49 AM writes...

"For getting up to speed, several readers recommend Graham Patrick's An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry."

Great book, I actually enjoyed reading it from cover to cover. Twice!

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2. KeithD on November 29, 2013 8:18 AM writes...

As a non- chemist, I've regularly reached for John Emsley's 'Nature's Building Blocks'. A great reference book for very basic information on the elements.

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3. Artemisinin on November 29, 2013 11:36 AM writes...

I am a medicinal chemist recently moved from infectious disease area to oncology area. Any recommendations about (targeted) cancer drug discovery?

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4. donna on November 29, 2013 12:44 PM writes...

I'll pass it along to my biochem grad and see if he's interested in any of them. Thanks!

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5. Anonymous on November 29, 2013 2:42 PM writes...

do you really wonder why they let chemists go in this field?

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6. dearieme on November 29, 2013 3:43 PM writes...

Anyone considering entering medicinal chemistry really should read this first.

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7. Sherif El Sheikh, Cologne University of Applied Sciences on November 29, 2013 6:38 PM writes...

There is a fantastic book out there about the history of drug discovery that spans from the stone age to our modern medicinal and biopharmaceutical research era, and it is perfect for beginners in chemistry/pharmacalogy as well as for professionals. In any case it will show the reader that everyone who works in this field is standing on the shoulders of giants.

I highly recommend it either as a gift or for yourself: "The Evolution of Drug Discovery" by Enrique Raviña :
Wiley VCH, ISBN-13: 978-3527326693.

It is an inspiring read for my students and for me as well!!

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8. p on November 30, 2013 5:03 AM writes...

Happy Accidents, by Morton Meyers

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9. jackgg on December 1, 2013 12:08 PM writes...

Thanks, that's very good list. Could you please list some good biopharmaceutical books as well?

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10. dogbertd on December 2, 2013 7:07 AM writes...

@3. Maybe not drug discovery, but for a good general introduction have you tried Bob Weinberg's "The Biology of Cancer"? This is good on mechanistic approaches (for a clinical approach to the 250+ diseases that make up cancer I'd still recommend De Vita - and deep pockets).

Again, not really from a chemistry POV I always liked Bev Teicher's "Anticancer Drug Development Guide" (Humana Press) which covers many of the important facets of early drug development.

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11. Morten G on December 2, 2013 9:04 AM writes...

I loved The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution by Eugene Koonin
There's a one-star review on Amazon by try googling the name of the reviewer.
I'm a structural biologist so I have a lot of molecular biology background but it is a really good book for getting your genetics knowledge up to date, to remind you that evolution doesn't have telos, and to get the big perspective that allows you to transfer the view to economics and culture.

I think I've pushed this book before in these comments :/

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12. Curious Wavefunction on December 2, 2013 10:05 AM writes...

What about "The Billion Dollar Molecule"? A sequel will be out in February.

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13. Hap on December 2, 2013 10:26 AM writes...

Has anyone read "Chemical Technology", by Jess and Wasserschied? It seemed like an interesting textbook if you were interested in chemical industrial technology (though it's tangential to medicinal chemistry, at best).

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14. rtw on December 2, 2013 11:47 AM writes...

I recommend "Laughing Gas, Viagra, and Lipitor: The Human Stories behind the Drugs We Use" by Jie Jack Li (Sep 7, 2006)

Triumph of the Heart: The Story of Statins by Jie Jack Li (Apr 3, 2009)

and many others he has written (Do a search on Amazon) I particularly like his books on Named reactions.

I use to work with Jack and he is an entertaining, and enthusiastic author on many topics.

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15. NJBiologist on December 2, 2013 1:16 PM writes...

My recommendation for the PK list: SC Khojasteh et al (2011) Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics quick guide. NY: Springer. Short enough to be an easy read, but still covers lots of ground.

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16. Lunar Landing on December 2, 2013 8:23 PM writes...

One of the best compilations on drug discovery case studies edited by the venerable depth, authoritative and well worth the reading. Not out of date at all. I highly recommend this as it goes from discovery, med chem, scale-up through to clinical design/execution

Drug Discovery and Design, Volume 56
(Advances in Protein Chemistry)

Editor-Edward M. Scolnick; Series Editor-Frederic M. Richards; Series Editor-David S. Eisenberg; Series Editor-Peter S. Kim

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17. Artemisinin on December 3, 2013 11:27 AM writes...

Thank you very much for the recommendations. Very helpful.

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18. Anonymous on December 3, 2013 1:32 PM writes...

A while back, you recommended "Medicinal Chemistry: The Modern Drug Discovery Process," by Erland Stevens. I picked it up, and I like it quite a bit. I'm planning on using it to teach a short med-chem class to undergrads -- does anyone have any advice on other texts I could use?

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19. Chris D on December 3, 2013 8:06 PM writes...

As a medicinal chemist, I highly recommend Terry Kenakin's pharmacology books, especially the recent "Pharmacology in Drug Discovery: Understanding Drug Response". It is a terrific introduction to real-world pharmacology (with lots of good examples and simple charts), and it also gives a good overview of the process of drug discovery for anyone new to the field.

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