|"Quiet! Management thinks we're doing that stupid Project A!"|
..."loose cannons and mavericks" does not equal non-conformist innovators. The history of Drug Disco is filled with examples of the latter.
1. Cimetidine started out as a two-person project (chemist and biologist) who were inspired by Black's work on H2R antagonists. As it was told to me by those who were there, they were repeatedly told to stop work on the (back burner) project. As other SKF projects withered and died, pre-cimetidine results FINALLY merited further examination, the project was green lighted. Cimetidine / Tagamet saved SKF. The two guys who took the heat were non-conforming innovators.
2. I've heard that Prozac was a 2-man (chem + bio) project for a while at Lilly until it picked up speed. I think it was the biologist who, from the literature or a meeting, first wanted to go after an SRI. It was not some corporate committee that set a mandate or a glorified thought leader. It was a scientist with an idea and it worked and everybody took a pill and chilled out (and cashed in!).
3. I can't think of others cases at the moment. (IBM threatened to fire Bednorz and Mueller if they didn't stop work on the unofficial yet Nobel worthy superconductor project.)Later in the thread, London Chemist has another one:
the Germans working on gabapentin were repeatedly told to stop working on it by W-L's* US management.*Warner-Lambert
I think it is terribly interesting how often scientists will say "Oh, yes, sir, I've been working all day on Project A" and in a hidden hood somewhere, they're actually running Project B experiments, too. I've done it before, and I don't doubt that I'll do it again sometime in the future. In the classic New York Times Magazine article "Lethal Chemistry At Harvard", the chemistry students of Harvard actually had a name for it:
They spoke of ''submarine science,'' in which graduate students feel obliged to spend their days doing experiments suggested by their adviser -- even if they are certain they won't work -- and wait until after hours to try what they wanted in the first place.I wonder if advisers/managers ever realize that, chances are, their students/employees are working on something on the side? I wonder if they ever try to make sure to quash that behavior ("Johnson, I want 100% effort on Project A! 6 reactions a day!") or if they just don't care, just as long as Project A is meeting its milestones.
(I'll tell ya one thing -- if I'm ever the boss (that'll be the day), I just won't care.)