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

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« Okay, One More Merck Point | Main | Gritting Our Teeth »

August 22, 2005

Mutual Suspicions

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Posted by Derek

I'm not saying these are all true, or true all the time. But here are three things that industrial pharma researchers tend to believe about academic ones:

1. They talk too darn much. Don't even think about sharing any proprietary material with them, because it'll show up in a PowerPoint show at their next Gordon conference. How'd that get in there?

2. They wouldn't know a real deadline if it crawled up their trouser legs. Just a few weeks, just a few months, just a couple of years more and they'll have it all figured out. Trust 'em.

3. They have no idea of how hard it is to develop a new compound. First compound they make that's under a micromolar IC50, and they think they've just discovered Wonder Drug.

And (fair's fair), here are three things that academic researchers tend to believe about industrial ones:

1. They have so much money that they don't know what to do with it. They waste it in every direction, because they've never had to fight for funding. If they had to write grant applications, they'd faint.

2. They wouldn't know basic research if it bonked them on the head. They think everything has to have a payoff in (at most) six months, so they only discover things that are in front of their noses.

3. They're obsessed with secrecy, which is a convenient way to avoid ever having to write up anything for publication. They seem to think patent applications count for something, when any fool can send one in. Try telling Nature that you're sending in a "provisional publication", details to come later, and see how far that gets you.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Academia (vs. Industry)


1. Tom Bartlett on August 23, 2005 8:38 AM writes...

"First compound they make that's under a micromolar IC50, and they think they've just discovered Wonder Drug"

And they think IC50 is the whole story. Forget about niceties like Lipinski's rules, or cytochrome induction or commercial viability.

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2. GrrlScientist on August 23, 2005 11:47 AM writes...

According to Robert S. Desowitz, MD, 73% of all pharma patent applications are based on publically-funded research. Is this true? I'm not sure where he got that statistic, but I've heard it widely repeated during my grad school experiences.

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3. Tom Bartlett on August 23, 2005 12:21 PM writes...

Girl scientist: Patent APPLICATIONS? Not patents?

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4. xpharma on August 23, 2005 1:05 PM writes...

From my experience, the 73% could only be true if you include distant links to pubically-funded research. i.e. the molecular target was published on by academic groups. While this may be helpful for target validation, the majority of drug patent applications are based on internal work (with perhaps a bit of influence from your competitor's compound disclosures).

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5. Derek Lowe on August 23, 2005 1:52 PM writes...

I'd like to know where that figure came from, too - I'd be interested in writing about it if I could see what the assumptions were in it. GrrlSci, it's interested that you've heard figure brought up a lot - what was the context?

I've addressed the similar "drug companies do nothing but rip off NIH" idea here before, though - scroll down to the series of posts in September 2004 in the "Academia vs. Industry" category.

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