Monday, May 27, 2024

Memorial Day; back tomorrow

Sacramento Valley National Cemetery
Credit: Tech. Sgt. Daniel Peterson, 349th Air Mobility Wing 

Today is Memorial Day in the United States; it's a national holiday.

Back tomorrow.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Have a great weekend

Well, this has been a restful week, so I'm not going to complain. I hope that you had a great week, and that you have a great weekend. See you on Tuesday. 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Job posting: Postdoctoral Research Fellows - Air Force Science & Technology Fellowship

Via C&EN Jobs: 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine administers postdoctoral and senior fellowship awards at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), and the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) under the Air Force Science & Technology Fellowship Program (AF STFP).

We are seeking highly qualified candidates who are U.S. citizens and hold, or anticipate earning, a doctorate in a variety of fields of science or engineering.

Application deadline dates (four annual review cycles):

  • February 1
  • May 1
  • August 1
  • November 1

Awardees have the opportunity to:

  • Conduct independent research in an area compatible with the interests of the Air Force laboratories
  • Devote full-time effort to research and publication
  • Access the excellent and often unique Air Force research facilities
  • Collaborate with leading scientists and engineers

Awardee benefits include:

  • Base stipend starting at $76,542; may be higher based on experience
  • Health insurance (including dental and vision), relocation benefits, and a professional travel allowance

For detailed program information, to search for AFRL, AFIT, and USAFA Research Opportunities, and to contact prospective Research Adviser(s), visit www.nas.edu/afstfp

Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

France has scratch-and-sniff stamps?

Via the New York Times

Joining the ranks of the screen goddess Brigitte Bardot and the Eiffel Tower, another French treasure is being celebrated with its own postage stamp: the baguette.

And this one is scratch-and-sniff.

The latest showcasing of French cultural heritage as Paris prepares to host millions of visitors for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the new stamp features a cartoon image of a baguette wrapped in a tricolor ribbon.

It was unveiled by France’s postal service on Thursday — May 16, the feast day of Saint HonorĂ©, the patron saint of bakers.

“The baguette, the bread of our daily lives, the symbol of our gastronomy, the jewel of our culture,” the usually not-flashy postal service raved in its description of its new offering...

...Thanks to scratch-and-sniff technology, it will also transport “bakery fragrances” to those lucky enough to receive a letter from France.

I suppose that it doesn't surprise me that there are scratch-and-sniff stamps, but I guess I would be curious as to which European flavorings company was given the contract to develop "baguette smell." 

(From the essential "Nose Dive" by Harold McGee, 'white bread crust' has the components of acetyl pyrroline, methylbutanals, methylbutyric acid, methional, diacetyl, furaneol, furfural and pyrazines.) 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 556 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 556 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On May 30, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 628 research/teaching positions and 83 teaching-focused positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the second, open thread. Here's a link to the current, third open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Monday, May 20, 2024

Job posting: Principal Scientist/Senior Principal Scientist, Discovery Chemistry, Gilgamesh Pharmaceuticals, remote

From the inbox: 

We are seeking a dynamic and experienced professional to join our team as a Principal Scientist, Discovery Chemistry. The successful candidate will play a pivotal role in driving the design, selection, and advancement of small molecule drug candidates across a variety of CNS targets. 

This position requires broad-based expertise across chemical synthesis, molecular design, pharmacology, and ADME, and an ability to integrate this diverse expertise to both deliver on individual goals and interface with and assist other members of the company’s small and dynamic team. Specific responsibilities will include management of external chemistry FTEs, compound and synthetic route design, management of compound inventory and logistics, advancement of compounds through a screening funnel to identify development candidates, analysis of biological and ADME data to guide iterative design, and preparation of patent applications. The position will report directly to the CSO/Head of Chemistry and will work closely with multiple colleagues in the discovery team, across chemistry, biology, and ADME functions.

Remote role, ideally in the NY/NJ area. Full ad here. 

Interested? Email mike@gilgameshpharmaceutical.com

Best wishes to those interested. 

C&EN: "Ginkgo to cut costs as pandemic-related business slows"

Via this week's C&EN (article by Matt Blois): 

Ginkgo Bioworks is cutting costs and laying off staff after losing $166 million in the first quarter. Revenue from its disease-monitoring business surged during the COVID-19 pandemic but was down more than 50% compared with the first quarter of 2023. Its business that engineers microbes for biomanufacturing customers slowed because fewer start-ups were seeking help. Ginkgo plans to cut spending on laboratory space by 60% and labor by 25% over the next year...

That stinks for Gingko workers. Best wishes to them. 



Friday, May 17, 2024

Have a great weekend

Well, this has been a better week than I thought. Getting things done, but not quite at the rate I hoped. Here's hoping for a great weekend for you, and we'll see you on Monday. 

House Oversight and Accountability Committee advances BIOSECURE Act

Via Politico:

A group of China-based biotech companies faced a setback on Wednesday as the House Oversight and Accountability Committee overwhelmingly advanced legislation that has them in the crosshairs, Megan reports.

The bill, called the BIOSECURE Act, would effectively ban the operations of Chinese “companies of concern” in the U.S. by prohibiting them — and any businesses that use their products — from receiving federal contracts, grants or loans.

One of those companies, WuXi AppTec, is used by many large drugmakers to help develop and bring medicines to market. In the leadup to the markup, WuXi AppTec and WuXi Biologics, which have China-based parent companies, had been urging lawmakers on the House panel to remove them from the bill.

The companies have been pushing back on lawmakers’ accusations that they have ties to the Chinese government and pose a national security risk. WuXi AppTec flew executives, including Richard Connell, the company’s U.S. and EU president, to Washington as part of the push. Elizabeth Steele, one of WuXi Biologics’ lobbyists, said the company has been working to “educate legislators on what our company does and doesn’t do.”

Last month, a spokesperson for Complete Genomics, a California-based company owned by MGI Tech, said its inclusion in the bill “is based on misunderstandings and representations about the company.”

The BIOSECURE Act has continued to gain momentum since a Senate committee approved its version in March.

It will be fascinating to see what happens with this. I predict passage in the House, and either passage in the Senate, or a quiet death there. 

Sodium hydroxide tanker explodes in Ohio

Credit: Akron Beacon Journal/News 5 Cleveland
Via the Akron Beacon Journal, this news: 

A tanker carrying sodium hydroxide exploded at the Royal Chemical plant Wednesday morning in Macedonia resulting in three reported injuries, according to Macedonia Fire Chief Brian Ripley.

Two of the three people injured were transported to Metro General Hospital in Cleveland, one of them with life-threatening burns and the other with non-life-threatening, but critical burns, Ripley said.

The third individual was evaluated on the scene.

Investigators are still unsure what caused the explosion, which Ripley said occurred around 11:40 a.m. He said when crews arrived, the tanker had been split in two due to the explosion with half of the tanker inside of the building and the other half outside of the building...

I'm genuinely surprised this happened, i.e. how does sodium hydroxide cause anything to explode? I predict two things - either the tanker was over-pressured (i.e. the loader decided to pump it in without a vent) and ruptured, or the tanker had water in it and sodium hydroxide fluid was pumped in and it got hot, boiled and then ruptured. Kind of strange. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Job posting: Senior Scientist, Chemical Synthesis, AstraZeneca, Waltham, MA

Via BlueSky: 

We are seeking for a highly motivated organic chemist who is passionate about organic synthesis to join AstraZeneca in our Waltham, MA location. This is laboratory-based position within world-leading global Oncology Chemistry group with a strong record of delivery and innovation. We are dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, and we welcome individuals from all backgrounds to apply.

You will be responsible for conceiving and implementing innovative synthetic strategies within projects, use your personal lab delivery expertise to help solve complex synthetic chemistry problems to deliver the next generation of oncology medicines. This includes traditional small molecules, and new targeting modalities to treat cancer. You will have the opportunity to get involved in multi-disciplinary teams and contribute to oncology pipeline progression. You will use your extensive knowledge of organic synthesis, in combination with high throughput experimentation and automation, to discover innovative approaches to synthetically challenging molecules, and to develop robust chemistry amenable to scale-up.

Essential Qualifications:

  • PhD in organic chemistry and 0-5 years of relevant industrial experience OR BS/MS and 5+ years of relevant industrial experience
  • Expert knowledge of modern methods of synthetic organic chemistry including late-stage functionalization
  • Passion for organic synthesis with demonstrated expertise in multi-step synthesis, new synthetic routes design and optimization
Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Congress pushes out BIOSECURE Act deadlines to 2032, WuXi denies transfer of IP

Via Reuters (May 10), this update to the BIOSECURE Act: 

A new version of a congressional bill that would restrict U.S. business with certain Chinese biotechnology companies including WuXi AppTec and BGI would give U.S. companies until 2032 to end work with the firms, extending the amount of time to find new partners.

The latest Biosecure Act also adds WuXi Biologics, opens new tab to a list of biotech companies of concern, according to a copy seen by Reuters. The other companies on the list are BGI, MGI, Complete Genomics and WuXi AppTec. 

The companies are largely contractors that do research and manufacturing work for pharmaceutical and biotech firms around the world.

The revised bill was introduced on Friday. A U.S. House of Representatives committee is expected to decide next week whether to move it forward, according to a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability spokesperson.

The committee markup, expected Wednesday, is a procedural step where they discuss and vote on the text of the bill. A similar Senate bill was approved by a committee there in March.

I'm not surprised this happened, i.e. Congress isn't that stupid and doesn't want to be on the hook for cutting off American medicine supplies. But I am, overall, pretty surprised that this is actually seeming to march its way through Congress and onto the President's desk. We'll have to see what comes out of markup today, I suppose. 

In other news, WuXi denies that it gave information to the Chinese government (article by FiercePharma)

Of all the allegations thrown at WuXi AppTec during an ongoing U.S. biosecurity crackdown, a recent intelligence report that the company had transferred an American client’s intellectual property to Beijing without consent was one of the most damning. Facing potential sanctions, the contract research and manufacturing giant is now rebutting the claim in a new letter to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

WuXi Apptec’s leadership is “not aware of, would never approve, does not condone, and has a zero-tolerance policy against any attempt to mishandle or transfer a customer’s intellectual property (IP) to any unauthorized party,” the company said in a recent letter penned by co-CEO Steve Yang and its U.S. and European president Richard Connell, Ph.D.

The WuXi executives addressed the May 3 letter to the DOD’s assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, Laura D. Taylor-Kale, Ph.D.

It's somewhat less than Shermanesque*, but a denial is not a studied silence either. 

This is all very fascinating, and it remains (although not much remains!) to be seen whether the BIOSECURE Act will gain Congressional approval and a presidential signature. 

*"did not and would never hand over customer intellectual property to the government of China" would be my proposal if I were the one to write it

(An obvious, though impertinent question - why hasn't WuXi simply donated several million dollars to the Trump 2024 campaign, and simply purchased their support much like a TikTok investor attempted to do? If this is really happening and it would obviously have a very large impact on future business, time to give it a shot? Time for WuXi to buy a ticket to Miami?) 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 556 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 556 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On May 23, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 627 research/teaching positions and 82 teaching-focused positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the second, open thread. Here's a link to the current, third open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Monday, May 13, 2024

Paraffin as rocket fuel?

Via Bloomberg, this news: 

Companies are trying all kinds of things to find their way in the increasingly competitive space industry.

A German startup is adding candle wax to that list.

HyImpulse Technologies last week launched a sounding rocket powered by a combination of liquid oxygen and solid paraffin – a petroleum byproduct that’s a key ingredient in candles.

Mario Kobald, who co-founded the company in 2018, is taking this approach because he saw too many young companies trying to develop rockets similar to Elon Musk’s industry giant SpaceX, which uses liquid oxygen and kerosene to fuel its workhorse Falcon 9 rockets.

“You cannot compete with the costs of a system that’s already on the market for many years when you have established players like SpaceX,” says Kobald, who started HyImpulse with several former classmates from the University of Stuttgart, where he received a PhD in aerospace engineering.

Gotta say, the relative price and safety of paraffin is probably quite attractive... 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Have a great weekend

So this was a great week, all things considered. Sometimes you feel like you phoned it in, but I guess things turned out all right, and that will have to do. It helps to have a great team around you, and I felt like this week was great for learning about that as well. I hope that you had a great week, that you have a wonderful weekend and that we'll see you on Monday. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Beethoven had lead poisoning from drinking wine

Via the New York Times, this science news: 

...Kevin Brown, an Australian businessman with a passion for Beethoven, owned three of the locks and wanted to honor Beethoven’s request in 1802 that when he died doctors might attempt to figure out why he had been so ill. Mr. Brown sent two locks to a specialized lab at the Mayo Clinic that has the equipment and expertise to test for heavy metals.

The result, said Paul Jannetto, the lab director, was stunning. One of Beethoven’s locks had 258 micrograms of lead per gram of hair and the other had 380 micrograms.

A normal level in hair is less than 4 micrograms of lead per gram.

“It definitely shows Beethoven was exposed to high concentrations of lead,” Dr. Jannetto said.

“These are the highest values in hair I’ve ever seen,” he added. “We get samples from around the world and these values are an order of magnitude higher.”

Beethoven’s hair also had arsenic levels 13 times what is normal and mercury levels that were 4 times the normal amount. But the high amounts of lead, in particular, could have caused many of his ailments, Dr. Jannetto said.

The technique used (unsurprisingly) was ICP-MS. (Here's the scientific letter.) It's a shame that a brilliant mind was also poisoned... 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 555 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

The 2024 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 555 research/teaching positions and 86 teaching positions

Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

To see trending, go to Andrew Spaeth's visualization of previous years' list.

On May 16, 2023, the 2023 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 626 research/teaching positions and 82 teaching-focused positions.

Want to talk anonymously? Have an update on the status of a job search? Here's the first open thread. Here's a link to the second, open thread. Here's a link to the current, third open thread. 

Don't forget to click on "load more" below the comment box for the full thread.  

Job posting: Formulation Chemist, ACTEGA North America Technologies, Providence, RI

Via C&EN Jobs, this positions in Providence, RI:  

General Summary:

The Formulation Chemist spearheads the development new products through innovative solutions, while also identifying emerging technologies pertinent to business objectives. Collaboratively build systems and support product/engineering teams and offering expertise in energy cure chemistries to build robust systems. Develop and commercialize new products; Provide scale-up support and technical guidance to production. As well as ongoing project assignments, formal project reports writing, and research & development activities, as needed. 

Essential Job Functions & Responsibilities:

  • Develop Adhesives formulations, preferably UV curable, aimed at achieving best performance specific to well-defined end use requirements.
  • Independently design experiments, execute testing, collect data, and draw conclusions from development work.
  • Develop and support on projects from concept to commercialization.
  • Hands on working in the laboratory environment and support with printing of various UV-curing chemistries on press to test new formulation designs....

Qualifications & Requirements:

  • BS degree with 7 years of experience, or MS with 5 years of experience, or PhD with 3 years of experience in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Science or Polymer Chemistry. Experienced, hands-on scientist with strong laboratory technique and problem-solving skills, including proficiency in designing experiments.
  • Background in formulation and chemistry, specifically with UV-curable and/or water-based inks, coatings, and preferably adhesives.
  • Strong chemistry background in polymer structure property relationships in formulations. Understanding of chemical regulatory regulation for USA, Europe, and United Kingdom for printing inks. Knowledge of the Graphic Arts Printing Industry: flexographic, gravure, screen and offset printing applications. Understanding of various object printing on substrates such as Glass, Aluminum, and plastics is a plus. Ability to work in a small group setting.

Posted salary is "From $90,000 per year + 10% annual bonus target." Full ad here. Best wishes to those interested.