Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Daily Pump Trap: 9/30/14 edition

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

North Chicago, IL: Nice to see 3 positions posted by AbbVie, as well as this little tidbit:
The Discovery Chemistry group has multiple openings for a Senior Scientist I, Chemistry.
Ponies prance.

Clark, NJ: L'OrĂ©al is looking for a senior chemist. Experience in skincare, makeup or haircare preferred. B.S. in chemistry (8-10 years formulations) or M.S./Ph.D. w/ 2-5 years.

Brevard, NC: I see PharmAgra is looking again. It's like swallows to Capistrano or something.

Germantown, MD: Intrexon desires an M.S./Ph.D. protein LC/MS chemist. Looks to be entry- or early-mid level.

Bartlesville, OK: I see that Chevron Phillips Chemical is hiring a synthetic chemist; looks interesting, especially the comments about organosulfur chemistry.

$$$$: Interesting scientific director position in Las Vegas (all degree levels desired):
MM Lab, Inc. is in the process of designing and building a 2,500 sq. ft. state of the art laboratory to perform all State of Nevada mandated Medical Marijuana testing for usable marijuana, marijuana-infused products, extracts of marijuana and edible marijuana products. The Company’s objective is to deliver a premier model of laboratory services by providing analytical support and professional consulting to marijuana cultivation facilities and the marijuana product industry to insure the safety and efficacy of medicinal marijuana products. 
The Scientific Director ensures that the laboratory achieves and maintains quality standards of practice and also supervises all staff of the laboratory....
Salary: 90,000.00 - 130,000.00, with "Generous bonus program available." Huh.

Job posting: University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy associate dean

From the inbox, an associate dean position:
Applicants or nominees should have a terminal degree in a Pharmaceutical Science or related field and qualify for appointment at the rank of associate professor or professor, with a distinguished career in education, academic research and scholarship. The ideal candidate should have at least three years of administrative experience and at least five years of research and teaching experience at the graduate level. Candidates should have experience in securing extramural funding. Candidates should have demonstrated evidence of creative, innovative and effective teaching, research, leadership, and management. Candidates should have excellent skills in communication, personnel management and evaluation. The ideal candidate should be familiar and have worked with an Office of Research, Graduate School and other related university bodies. Candidates should be knowledgeable of challenges facing educators and research in the pharmaceutical sciences or related fields. Candidates must value ethics and cultural diversity.
Best wishes to those interested! 

Ivory Filter Flask: 9/30/14 edition

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

Stanford, CA: Stanford University is looking for an assistant professor in chemistry.

Columbia, SC: Columbia College desires an assistant professor of physical chemistry; this professor will also be asked to teach physics (that's a little different.) 

Tampa, FL: The University of Tampa is searching for an assistant professor of organic chemistry.

Santa Cruz, CA: UC-Santa Cruz is looking for an assistant professor of theoretical/computational chemistry:
We are interested in candidates with research goals in all aspects of materials design, characterization and applications in fields such as energy, biomedicine and photonics with special emphasis on the development and utilization of electronic structure computational methods. 
That sounds.... specific.

El Paso, TX: The University of Texas - El Paso is looking for an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry; I am amused to note its description of the US-Mexico border. (Actually, I'll bet El Paso is economically and anthropologically fascinating.) 

Monday, September 29, 2014

CMOs and chemistry

Finally, from this week's C&EN, an interesting set of quotes from Rick Mullin's interviews with a number of CMO leaders. Here's the CEO of Hovione, a Portugal-based API manufacturer on what he thinks companies need: 
The contract manufacturing business is moving into a new phase, according to Villax, one that has little to do with the hardware. “Now, you simply can’t just buy the differentiator,” he says. “Success is the result of experience and accumulated knowledge and databases.” 
Data are no small part of the equation, he adds, noting that data-based quality management principles, such as quality by design, are gaining momentum in process development. Design of experiment, a statistical method of multivariable analysis in R&D and process engineering, will be a critical practice as data and statistical analysis become the common ground of chemistry and engineering, Villax says. 
“And it’s not just chemistry and engineering,” says Villax, who is in his 50s. “A lot of what I am describing involves computer simulation skills, things people my age don’t know about. It also requires that an organization have the DNA to accept change. One needs to open the doors to people who are 20 years younger.”
I sure wish I knew what Mr. Villax meant by "computer simulation" -- also, that people in their 50s don't know about computers is, in my opinion, rather an odd thing to think.

Here's Rudolf Hanko of Siegfried, dreaming big:
Rudolf Hanko, CEO of Siegfried, a Swiss CMO, wants even further development of the chemistry needed for API production. The challenge posed by complex drugs, he says, “is that organic chemistry, despite progress over the past 150 years, is still not a science that allows you to synthesize molecules in a convergent way.” Rather than extol the virtues of being able to manage a complex, multistep synthesis, Hanko says, CMOs should seek to design routes that reduce the number of steps or allow them to be taken simultaneously. 
Hanko uses an auto assembly line, that paragon of efficient manufacturing, as a model. “The API is the car in our example,” he says. “It’s impossible to convolute that molecule into eight or 10 components and then say, ‘I have a final step that brings these eight to 10 components together, and after six hours reaction time and six hours of clean-up we have our API.’ ” 
In some exceptional cases two components can be brought to a final reaction stage, he acknowledges, “but then each of these elements has 10, 15, maybe 20 linear steps behind it. That leads to a situation where each step requires two or three days, and the entire pathway might require four weeks, or eight weeks, or for some molecules, four months.” 
The result, Hanko explains, is molecules that cost $60,000 to $100,000 per kg. 
“Yes, organic chemistry has made enormous advances over the past 20 years, but it is still far, far away from where it would ideally be,” Hanko says. “That is why we need the best people, the most talented chemists, and why we need good contact with academia.”
I am kind of confused by which molecules Hanko is talking about (e.g. 15 to 20 linear steps), but nevertheless, the point about truly convergent syntheses is well-taken. 

Anyone want to explain the chemistry of diapers?

This week's C&EN also brings us a rebuttal to a recent Newscripts column on diapers:
...Newscripts recently waxed enthusiastic about Charlie’s Soap, “a laundry detergent brand that is popular among folks concerned about laundry residues” (C&EN, July 7, page 40). Charlie’s Soap is good, we are told, because it contains fewer ingredients than other detergents. It seems to contain only soap and soda ash. 
Charlie’s Soap might actually work—if you are washing in distilled water. That would include approximately none of us. Any hardness in the water at all will precipitate the soda ash as calcium and magnesium carbonate. Even worse, the soap will precipitate as scum. 
Those diapers you were trying to wash to a residue-free condition will be loaded with sharp-edged crystals of calcium carbonate, which will abrade the fibers of the diaper, shortening its life. Additionally, that residue will be alkaline in nature, and hence irritating to the poor child of the ignorant parent. The diapers will also be loaded with soap scum that, in the short term, will make them appear gray and dingy. In the long run, the accumulated scum will make the diaper harsh to the feel and no longer absorbent. 
Formulating any kind of product to the fewest number of ingredients is a truly bizarre, and wholly irrational, goal. Ask anyone who has ever said it for the reason why. I have yet to hear an answer to that question. Mother Nature doesn’t hold herself to such an unrealistic goal. In a recent issue of Inform (published by the American Oil Chemists’ Society), the ingredient list of a common chicken egg was published. The list, almost certainly not exhaustive, contained about 100 different ingredients. 
Unfortunately, the statement about the fewest ingredients goal is never challenged. It’s the kind of thing you would expect to see from Consumer Reports or Greenpeace. But it’s not the way to get things clean. It’s disappointing that C&EN reported it unchallenged. 
I could go on and on about this one little story. Dryer sheets add so little hydrophobic wax to fabrics that they have virtually no effect on absorbency. (Rinse-cycle fabric softeners are a different story.) The ammonia stink from diapers is not due to microbes not removed during washing. The diapers do not come out of the dryer sterile, of course, but they are sanitary. The microbial load comes from what the baby deposits in the diaper. 
The next time you need to know how to get something clean, contact Walt or me. Don’t depend on someone who is trying to make a buck by pandering to the public’s fear of chemicals. 
Dave McCall
I don't really know if calcium carbonate deposits happen in diapers that have been washed with Charlie's Soap -- anyone up for doing some wet chemistry with diaper residues? I didn't think so.

As someone who has been through the cloth diaper wars with 2 kids, the problem really seems to arise from two places:

Diaper rash: Diaper rash shows up mysteriously with your kid, so you start by changing one parameter (the laundry soap). It either goes away or it doesn't, and then you start changing multiple parameters, including having the kid run around naked. Finally, you settle on something that seems to work for you.

Diaper wear: Cloth diapers are a rather high capital cost, so you're tempted to keep re-using them. As the diapers get older, they seem to absorb less and less (as the kid seems to produce more and more waste). So, you start changing the washing routines (detergents, hot/cold washes) to start removing whatever seems to be building up in the fabric... or you buy new ones.

There's probably a lot of science out there about this that I don't know about -- readers?

One final note: I thought it was interesting for Dr. McCall to address the root cause of these concerns to be chemophobia on the part of parents. I tend to agree with him; however, I suspect he misses the emotional appeal of having fewer chemicals touching the nether regions of one's children. Sure, simplicity in diapers is probably a fallacy, but the temptation is understandable. 

This week's C&EN

Lots of interesting stories this week:
(now with correct link - thanks, Philip!)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Help CJ with his Act of Whimsy/Pain for #GeekGirlCon

For my Geek Girl Con Act of Whimsy, I need the number of inaccurate or misleading statements in the following Food Babe videos. If you can help, please listen to just 1 of the 5 following videos and count how many false or misleading things she says. Err on the generous side, if possible.

The Subway video

The Silly Putty video

The one on cellulose

Another azodicarbonimide video

The Mac and Cheese video

Thanks! (And if you want to donate, click here!

Friday, September 26, 2014

This Bloomberg article badly needs some context

Bloomberg Businessweek has an article on ZMapp where they're alleging that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency badly mismanaged the development of ZMapp. I suspect that few people havethe cultural expertise (i.e. knowledge of government/DoD operations) and pharma experience to know who was in the wrong or the right: 
Meade’s time as the business chief at DTRA also coincided with a culture clash within the agency, one confirmed by three other people familiar with the agency who declined to speak on the record. DTRA had hired several people with experience at private pharmaceutical companies who were used to killing programs that were going nowhere and spending money on promising ones. 
The new arrivals wanted to drive products through early trials and to always be shipping. Older employees wanted to focus on publishing research and securing academic prestige. “When you work with a group of scientists who believe that the best thing that they can do is have a published paper, you’re not going to get a lot of productivity when it comes to pharmaceuticals,” says Meade. “Published papers are important in that line of work, but that seemed to be more important to them than anything else.” 
The people with pharma experience, she says, in turn failed to show the patience necessary to work in any government agency. “Frequently, what [government contracting officers] were requesting was ridiculous,” she says, “but you know what, you just do it.” One trick to federal contracting, she explains, is to know when not to fight.
I dunno, I'm relatively skeptical.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

South Korea needs chemists?

Via Linda Wang on Twitter, I see that the South Korean government measures its job opening demand; they're low on finance jobs and high on chemistry ones: 
Employment Information Service (KEIS) announced the results of analyzing the number of jobs per job seeker – the index to gauge the supply and demand of manpower – by calculating it with statistics, as of July of 2014, about finding jobs and people from WORKNET, a state-run Internet site for job hunting. 
If the number is smaller than 1, it indicates that getting a job is challenging due to a shortage of job. In contrast, if the number is greater than 1, it means that securing a job is not so challenging since jobs outnumber job seekers. 
 According to the results, the fields of textile, clothing, electricity, electronics, security, construction, public health, etc. show the index point 0.4~06, which implies that the number of jobs falls short of that of job seekers. 
Unlike those areas, the index point in jobs relating to chemistry (2.33), materials (1.94) – metal, glass, and cement – machinery (1.15), and processed food (0.96) is either over 1 or close to 1, which tells job seekers are highly likely to find a job, although it may be possible for a company to find it not easy to hire a person that it is in favor of. 
Anyone know if this is believable or not? I don't know much about the South Korean #chemjobs market.

Job posting: assistant professors, University of Denver, Denver, CO

The Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Denver is expanding our Molecular Life Sciences Initiative through cluster hires.  The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry invites applications for two tenure-track faculty positions at the Assistant Professor level to begin September 1, 2015.  We seek candidates with research interests in biophysical chemistry/biochemistry that include, but are not limited to the study of protein structure and function and protein-protein interactions.  The successful candidate will have a Ph.D. in chemistry or biochemistry, postdoctoral experience, and a demonstrated potential for leadership in their field, including a record of high-impact research accomplishments.  Expectations include the teaching of undergraduate courses and of graduate courses in areas of expertise and the development of a strong, extramurally funded research program.  Candidates must apply online at www.du.edu/hr/employment/  
The online application should include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, a one-page statement of teaching philosophy, a five-page summary of research interests, and the names and email addresses of three references.  Review will begin November 3, 2014 and continue until the positions are filled.   Questions should be addressed to Prof. Martin Margittai, Faculty Search Committee Chair at biochemsearch@du.edu.  The University of Denver is committed to enhancing the diversity of its faculty and staff and encourages applications from women, minorities, members of the LBGT community, people with disabilities and veterans.  The University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.
Best wishes to those applying!

(Am I wrong in remembering that denizens of this instituion call it "DU"?) 

Two very #chemjobs-oriented personal statements in the DOC election ballot

Members of the Division of Organic Chemistry get to vote on two industrial folks for Chair-Elect, both of whom seem to be oriented towards issues of chemistry employment and unemployment*: 
Paul L. Feldman joined Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina in 1987 following receiving his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley....
Personal Statement: The Division of Organic Chemistry (DOC) of the American Chemical Society has a rich, venerable tradition in serving its membership. Some examples include organizing and sponsoring venues to communicate our research advances, awarding members to honor distinguished research and service to our community, and providing materials and services to support our discipline. Coupled with these important traditions is our rapidly-changing economic, social, and technological environment which requires the DOC to adapt and capitalize on these changes. If elected as chair of the DOC my key objective will be to explore how the DOC can best serve our Division’s evolving demographics in our rapidly changing economic and social environment while maintaining the bedrock traditions and services of the DOC. As examples, how do we best serve our young organic chemists who use different technologies to socialize and communicate and face a more difficult economic environment for job prospects? Furthermore, how do we best serve our retiring members who will become a larger segment of our Division? With advances on this agenda I believe the DOC will be better positioned in the future to serve and add value to its diverse, changing membership. 
Paige E. Mahaney: Born 1969, Parkersburg, WV; B. S. Chemistry 1991, Guilford College, Greensboro, NC; Ph.D. Organic Chemistry 1996, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA... 
Personal statement: My nearly 20 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry has given me a valuable perspective to address the challenges faced by individual organic chemists and the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry, as a whole. Working with the DOC, I am very interested in selecting scientific themes for DOC-sponsored symposia that are highly relevant to current research topics in Organic Chemistry, both for academic and industrial scientists. In addition, I am passionate about career development for organic chemists, not only for scientists who are emerging from academic and post-doctoral programs but also for mid- and late-career organic chemists. Since my research interests span multiple chemistry disciplines, I would also like to foster interactions between the different disciplines in Organic Chemistry, improving interfaces with other ACS divisions and sponsoring partnered initiatives and scientific symposia. Finally, I believe that science, above all, is fun, and I would like to promote a fun and productive environment in the DOC.
I look forward to seeing how either one of these candidates decided to move the DOC towards better serving its members' employment needs.

*Biographies were truncated to the first sentence only.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Warning Letter of the Week: essential oils don't cure Ebola

Dear Mr. Young:

...Based on our review, FDA has determined that many of your Young Living Essential Oil products, such as, but not limited to, “Thieves,” “Cinnamon Bark,” “Oregano,” “ImmuPower,” “Rosemary,” “Myrtle,” “Sandalwood,” “Eucalyptus Blue,” “Peppermint,” “Ylang Ylang,” “Frankincense,” and “Orange,” are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs under section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)], because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.  The intended use of a product may be determined by, among other things, its labeling, advertising, and the circumstances surrounding its distribution, 21 C.F.R. § 201.128. As described below, the marketing and distribution of your Young Living Essential Oil products without FDA-approved applications is in violation of the Act. 
...On the website, www.theoildropper.com, under the heading, “Young Living Versus Ebola Virus”:
Under the subheading, “Be Prepared”:
  • “Since I have become an avid Young Living essential oil user I have learned all about the anti-microbial properties of so many oils, including ANTI-VIRAL constituents in many of our essential oils.”
  • “Viruses (including Ebola) are no match for Young Living Essential Oils”...
...On the website, www.theoilessentials.com, under the heading, “Are you panicked about the Ebola Virus after watching the news this week?”:
“[T]he Ebola virus cannot survive in the presence of a therapeutic grade Cinnamon Bark and Oregano essential oil.” 
I suspect that FDA basically plays a giant game of Whack-A-Mole regarding quack websites like this, but hey, could be worse.


Imagine my dismay to open up the front page of the ACS to see that headline. An example of Betteridge's law in action, for sure. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EdX class in medicinal chemistry

Just like last February, Professor Erland Stevens of Davidson College is teaching a class on medicinal chemistry on EdX. Here's a brief syllabus:
The edX course (Medicinal Chemistry) starts October 13th and runs eight weeks. 
Cost: free with both free and for-pay certification options
Prerequisites: general chemistry (binding energies, intermolecular forces), some organic chemistry (line-angle structures and functional groups), knowledge of cell parts and functions, comfort with logarithmic and exponential equations
Time required: 1 hour of video per week, completing all assignments will require approx. 1 hour per day 
Topics (approx. 1 wk each)
(1) drug approval process (early drugs, clinical trials, IP factors)
(2) enzymes and receptors (inhibition, Ki, types of ligands, Kd)
(3) pharmacokinetics (Vd, CL, compartment models)
(4) metabolism (phase I and II, genetic factors, prodrugs)
(5) molecular diversity (drug space, combi chem, libraries)
(6) lead discovery (screening, filtering hits)
(7) lead optimization (FG replacements, isosteres, peptidomimetics)
(8) important drug classes (selected examples) 
Target audience: anyone with an interest in the structural basis of how drugs are designed.
 Sounds like an interesting class!