There is growing concern that as industry teams are downsized or shuttered, antibiotic scientists have moved to other firms, shifted to different biomedical areas, or retired, leading to the loss of valuable institutional knowledge and expertise. Antibiotic discovery has a long history, but much of the published research is buried in old journal issues or out-of-print books, and other research never makes it to publication. Organizing this body of research and making it accessible to the scientists who need it is critical for advancing discovery. Valuable knowledge may include compilations of screens that have been run before and information on past research programs. While much of this information is publicly available, what may be most useful is an account of what projects failed, and why.If we deployed 5 or so scientists to go and interview the men and women who worked in antibiotic drug discovery over the last 20 or 30 years, and get them to tell about their projects and what worked and what didn't, I think it may uncover some important insights for the future.
Like any good Gen Xer, I could fill many pages of blog comments about the faults of the Baby Boomers. That said, they are probably the most scientifically advanced and technically knowledgeable generation in the history of humankind. Knowledge that hasn't been published or written down somewhere about antibiotic medicinal chemistry is, over the long run, likely worth the ~$10 million bucks it would be to get a couple of smart people to get them to talk about their scientific stories.