Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Late Night with Chemjobber, Friday, November 27, 11 PM Eastern

Another plug for Late Night with Chemjobber; it'll be two hours* of guests and call-in fun, starting at 11 PM Eastern on Friday night, November 27.

Booked guests: @pinkyprincess (11 PM slot), @seearroh and @drrubidium (11:30 PM slot)

Final details will be posted by noon Eastern time on Friday.

*If I have a bunch of folks still interested in calling in at the end of the show, I'll start another show, maybe.

"Lower your shields and surrender your ships."

"We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness
to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us."
Credit: Brent Saunders
Much like Derek, I don't have high hopes for scientists for the Pfizer-Allergan merger. I hope I'm wrong.

Readers, your best caption? 

Process Wednesday: gotta wait until the dryers are done

From Francis X. McConville's "The Pilot Plant Real Book" and its short section on dryers, a comment about dryer characteristics:
The properties of product from pilot drying equipment may be significantly different from that of product dried in laboratory vacuum tray dryers. This is particularly true of units that agitate the cake mechanically such as orbiting screw conical dryers. Particle attrition or agglomeration can result in major differences in particle size distribution, bulk density, compaction and flowability. These things in turn affect solubility, bioavailability, formulation, processing, packing and shipping. Therefore, it is not valid to base projected product properties on the results of tray-dried samples when different equipment will be used on scale-up. 
The behavior of a given product in different dryer types cannot be easily predicted. Bench or small pilot-sized test units are available for tumble or paddle dryers, but the dynamic similarity to large-scale equipment is poor. 
The best way to determine what the product will look like is by performing pilot studies in representative drying equipment. Sometimes the actual product characteristics will not be known until the first production batch comes out in the dryer. 
Just in case you thought you could predict the future in this sense, you cannot. Gosh, it is remarkable to me how much is not known in this business. 

Daily Pump Trap: 11/24/15 edition

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

Seattle, WA: Seattle Genetics has a manufacturing scientist opening.

Tampa, FL: Moffitt Cancer Center has an opening for a M.S./Ph.D. medicinal chemist.

One more time: PharmAgra Labs, back again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Job posting: associate professor, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Advanced Assistant Professor or Associate Professor, Applied Science 
The candidate is expected to establish and maintain an externally funded, world-class research program that inspires a highly motivated graduate student body as well as undergraduate students. Collaborations with existing departmental activities in the fields of photon-based/ultrafast characterization, carbon nanostructures, protein-based high-performance materials, electronic and magnetic materials, medical imaging, and surface and thin film characterization are expected. Other significant collaboration opportunities are available with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Eastern Virginia Medical School and NASA Langley Research Center. William & Mary also has a strong tradition of excellent teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and the successful candidate will play an important role in the educational mission of the Department of Applied Science. 
The successful applicant will have full access to a state-of-the-art solid-state NMR facility, which currently has only one other user. The position comes with five years of support at the 100% level for a technician to maintain the NMR equipment who will report to the successful candidate. The NMR facility houses two Bruker wide bore superconducting magnets operating at field strengths of 17.6 T and 7.05 T, each controlled by Bruker AVANCE I high power consoles optimized for solid state experiments, along with several probes capable of temperature controlled (−100 °C to +100 °C) magic angle spinning experiments. Additional shared instrumentation include a PHI Trift-II ToF/SIMS, and a Hitachi S-4700 SEM, as well as a vast array of other characterization instruments. The startup for the position will be competitive.
Best wishes to those interested.  

Ivory Filter Flask: 11/24/15 edition

A few of the academically-related positions posted on C&EN Jobs:

Newark, NJ: New Jersey Institute of Technology wishes to hire two assistant professors (inorganic chemistry/biomaterials.)

Baldwin City, KS: Baker University wishes to hire a tenure-track assistant professor of chemistry; looks to be a physical chemistry position.

Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is seeking an assistant professor of analytical chemistry.

Saint Paul, MN: Hamline University desires to hire an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Winnipeg, MB: The University of Manitoba is looking for a "Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Surface Chemistry." (what is that? ahhh.)

Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta desires an assistant/associate professor of medicinal chemistry/drug discovery.

Flint, MI: The University of Michigan - Flint is searching for an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Farmville, VA: Hampton-Sydney College wishes to hire a visiting assistant professor of bioorganic chemistry. 

Got a minute (or 120?) on Friday night? Time for Chemjobber Late Night

Friends, I have long had the dream of doing a late night talk radio show, and here's my chance.

On Friday night at 11 PM Eastern, I'll be going live with Blog Talk Radio. Come here on Friday morning, and I'll have the details laid out. 

You'll be able to click on a link and listen live, you'll be able to call in and yell at me about my lack of Monday posts and generally have a good time. I hope you'll join me. I'm hoping to have guests lined up for each half-hour slot.

Wanna be a special guest? E-mail me at

The link and number will be posted on Friday by noon Eastern time. Talk to you then. 

This week's C&EN

A very late post on this week's issue of C&EN:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekend longreads: red mercury

An incredibly interesting long article in The New York Times Magazine by C.J. Chivers about a legendary, mythological material called "red mercury", which I had never heard of. Here's a demonstration of the stuff: 
...Two years before in Ras al-Ain, another Syrian border town, Abu Omar said, he was with a group of Islamic fighters that organized a test with 3.5 grams of liquid red mercury and a container of chlorine. The experiment was led by Abu Suleiman al-Kurdi, who commanded a small fighting group that has since joined the Islamic State. Al-Kurdi gathered the jihadists around his materials as the test began. ‘‘I will count to 10, and whoever stays in the room after that suffocates and dies,’’ he warned. 
The chlorine was held in a foil-lined container, Abu Omar said. As the group watched, al-Kurdi dipped a needle into the red mercury and then touched the needle to the chlorine, transferring a drop. ‘‘Everything interacted with everything,’’ Abu Omar said, and a foul vapor rose. All of the fighters were driven away, first from the room, then from the house. 
The powers of red mercury, Abu Omar said, were real. 
Almost every aspect of this story, like so many other breathless accounts of red mercury, was unverifiable. And even if something did happen in that room, the noxious vapors could have a simple explanation: Chlorine alone damages the respiratory tract and can be deadly if inhaled. 
But Abu Omar had answered the question. He stood firmly in the red-mercury camp. He was hardly alone...
Gonna hafta start blaming deviations in the plant on unknown red mercury leaks. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Weekend Ask CJ: ADD/#chemjobs in Philly

From the inbox, a request from someone who: 
  • has a B.S. in chemistry, 
  • and has anxiety/ADD issues,
  • does not want to work in the lab
Two questions: 
  • Does anyone have any experience working in the lab with ADD? 
  • Does anyone have a good position outside of the lab for people with ADD?
Seems to me that a sales position might work? I dunno. 

Also, anyone have suggestions for someone who is a synthetic chemist in the Philadelphia area? 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bleg: old chemistry texts?

It must be Chemistry Book Day in the chemblogosphere, with Derek asking about ideas for new drug discovery/development texts.

Here's my question: what is your favorite pre-1980s chemistry text/reference book?, i.e. a book that chemists use (not a popular chemistry text). Bonus points if it is an organic chemistry text. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Those that management likes are eccentric, those they don't are fired for their goat

Credit: Navy Times (MC3 Diana Quinlan/Navy)
From Navy Times's David Larter, the story of an an odd U.S. Navy captain: 
On the cruiser Lake Erie, investigators found a grueling schedule with arbitrary weekend workdays; a supply officer so offensive that he was ordered not to speak to any E-6 or below; a crew that spent hours repeatedly cleaning the same places just to look busy; work done and redone because of miscommunication with the shipyard. 
And the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance: a seafaring pygmy goat named Master Chief Charlie. 
Under commanding officer Capt. John Banigan, Master Chief Charlie was more than a mascot — he was a shipmate. Charlie sailed on the ship's homeport shift from Hawaii to San Diego in 2014, tied up on the aft missile deck where crewmembers fed him and policed his droppings. 
And he was a fixture at command events. He hobnobbed with distinguished visitors, including the Navy's top officer and, allegedly, the strike group boss, and served as the ring bearer at a junior officer's wedding aboard the ship. 
But the Navy's most adorable master chief would also end up costing Banigan his command....
The story isn't just about the goat, it's mostly about the poor treatment of the sailors and the poor morale. That said, the story would not be nearly as eye-catching without the goat. (It's a funny thing, the goat. If Captain Banigan were a great motivator and well-loved, I sense that even the legal troubles with the goat could not possibly interfere with his career.)

I've worked for some pretty odd ducks in my time, but I've yet to meet a pet goat. Readers, got any good stories? 

Medchem, commodified

In a recent Reddit AMA, Michael Gilman, the CEO of Padlock Therapeutics in Cambridge, opines on the future of medicinal chemistry in the United States:
I would add that, unfortunately, medicinal chemistry is increasingly regarded as a commodity in the life sciences field. And, worse, it's subject to substantial price competition from CROs in Asia. That -- and the ongoing hemmorhaging of jobs from large pharma companies -- is making jobs for bench-level chemists a bit more scarce. I worry, though, because it's the bench-level chemists who grow up and gather the experience to become effective managers of out-sourced chemistry, and I'm concerned that we may be losing that next general of great drug discovery chemists.
I wish I could disagree with any of this, but I really can't.  

Think it's time for a special visa?

The Indian Business Standard notes a problem in Indian drug industry regulation, as summarized by FiercePharma:
The reputation of India's massive $15 billion drug industry is being threatened at the federal and state level by a lack of properly trained personnel and a shortage of funding that points out possible changes may be needed in how the country finances inspections and quality control work, according to a report in the Business Standard. 
The newspaper said almost half of all regulatory positions in the country's central and state drug offices remain unfilled and that "existing staff (are) not trained to meet the regulatory requirements of the growing sector." 
These worries come despite the country setting aside $273 million to beef up the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and $132 million to beef up state regulators, the report said....
Sure sounds like a STEM shortage to me!

(All joking aside, it sounds like red tape and low pay is to blame?)

Daily Pump Trap: 11/19/15 edition

A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs this week:

Greensboro, NC: Syngenta is looking for a M.S. chemist to be a formulator. Can't quite tell if the position is entry-level or not? Probably 1-2 years industrial experience desired.

Shanghai, China: Eli Lilly is looking for a process chemistry group leader.

Hyderabad, India: I see Novartis is looking for folks in Hyderabad.

A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and show (respectively) "1000+", 610, 10,189 and 13 positions for the search term "chemist." LinkedIn shows 975 positions for the job title "chemist", with 119 position for "analytical chemist", 39 for "research chemist", 18 for "organic chemist", 8 for "polymer chemist", 6 for "synthetic chemist" and 0 for "medicinal chemist." 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Parable of the Experiments

14 For it will be like the advisor before a journey, who called his charges and entrusted to them his laboratory. 15 To one he gave five experiments, to another two, to another one, to each according to their ability. Then he went away.

16 The postdoc who had received the five experiments went at once and performed them, and she published two papers more.

17 So also he who had the two experiments performed them and published one paper.

18 But he who had received the one experiment searched the literature and found his advisor’s experiment already published.

19 Now after a long time the advisor returned and held group meeting once more.

20 And she who had received the five experiments came forward, bringing two publications more, saying, ‘Professor, you delivered to me five experiments; here I have made two publications more.’ 21 Her professor said to her, ‘Well done, good and faithful postdoc. You have been faithful over a little; I will call on my acquaintances to employ you. Enter into the favor of your professor.’

22 And he also who had the two experiments came forward, saying, ‘Professor, you delivered to me two experiments; here I have made one publication more.’ 23 His advisor said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful graduate student. You have been faithful over a little; I will bestow additional projects of promise. Enter into the favor of your professor.’

24 He also who had received the one experiment came forward, saying, ‘Professor, I knew you to be a hard advisor, being cited where you had no publications, and speculating where you had no data, 25 so I was cautious, and I further searched and found precedent in the literature showing your experiment would not bear fruit.’

26 But his advisor answered him, ‘You wicked and willful graduate student! You knew that I speculated where I had no data? 27 Then you ought to have read the literature and developed your own project. 28 So take the experiment from him and give it to him who has the two experiments. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and they will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’

30 And he cast the woeful student out of the laboratory with no recommendation. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

with apologies to Matthew