Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Meeting a chemist in retirement

Roche has some really lovely looking awards.
Credit: Caitlin O'Hara for The New York Times
In the middle of last week, a story of Dr. Armin Walser, a former Roche medicinal chemist in the New York Times about how one of his inventions has been made into an execution drug. (Dr. Walser is dismayed at this turn of events.)

He does, however, still like talking chemistry and seems to be enjoying his retirement in Arizona.

Best wishes to him, and here's hoping we'll all make it there.


10 comments:

  1. The state of Arkansas should ask itself WWJD (What would (Julius) Caesar Do?). In the case of painful capital punishment, the historian Suetonius says

    LXXIV. His temper was also naturally averse to severity in retaliation. After he had captured the pirates, by whom he had been taken, having sworn that he would crucify them, he did so indeed; but he first ordered their throats to be cut 84.

    84 To save them from the torture of a lingering death.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6400/6400-h/6400-h.htm#linknoteref-84

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  2. The subject of barbiturates no longer being available for lethal injections presents an ethical dilemma. It is quite apparent that midazolam is not acting in the way it should; preventing the agony of being dosed with potassium chloride while lying paralyzed by pancuronium bromide. The result is surely cruel and unusual punishment. While it is difficult to conjure up much sympathy for death row inmates, such a calculated and formalized execution using this evidently torturous protocol is very difficult to justify.

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    1. Let the scum just take KCl straight up.

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  3. Why not just some valium, morphine, and an excess of digitalis?

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  4. The amazing thing is, Dr. Walser looks exactly the same as I remember him from working next to him 25 years ago. (I guess once you reach the rōshi master level you cease changing.) The nicest, kindest colleague ever. He even won the (politically incorrect) poll for the sexiest scientist (whereas I had to console myself with winning the most stubborn scientist vote). Actually he took this little biotech job only as a form of active retirement and did not involve himself in any power struggles - they had to beg him to take on a supervisory role later on. Almost every morning he took long walk with his wife in the Sonora desert, then went to bench and started making new compounds. From him I learned that there is such a mysterious thing called Sonogashira reaction/

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  5. CJ: "Roche has some really lovely looking awards."

    In my (limited) experience, this is something that large organizations do very well. Apparently, Roche is an example of this.

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  6. Midazolam is such an important drug in everyday medicine (millions of outpatient endoscopy procedures, setting broken bones, angiographies, pediatric proecdures, etc.) that it'd be a shame if Walser became primarily known to history as the inventor of a capital-punishment technique.

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  7. Yes I think there is a special training MBAs get as attempts the appease the Masses with pretty plaques and trophies

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    1. Anon 9:33AM here... The MBA-light, low headcount early-stage pharma I worked at was about the least rewarding place I've ever been. That's in plaques-and-trophies terms, informal-thank-you terms and financial terms. Having lots of MBAs on staff doesn't mean that the organization can't recognize good work; not having lots of MBAs doesn't mean that they're a functioning organization.

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    2. "Yes I think there is a special training MBAs get as attempts the appease the Masses with pretty plaques and trophies"

      Yup, the super-smart ones give out red baseball hats with silly slogans.

      Collecting "deal toys" (http://www.cnbc.com/id/100523251) is actually a thing among IBankers....seriously....

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