Breslow said that the chemistry enterprise faces a “morale” problem. “We used to tell students that, if you take an advanced degree in chemistry, your career will be secure. That’s not true anymore.” Like LaMattina, Breslow took aim at the consolidation of the pharmaceutical industry. “Mergers may make great financial sense, but they are very destructive,” he said. “And not just to the pharmaceutical industry, but to the chemistry community in general.”
Mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry aren’t going away, of course, and LaMattina observed that the biotech industry isn’t immune to the trend. Breslow insisted that the economic strength of the U.S. “is largely based on the strength of our science and technology. Government must continue to recognize that support for science is important.”
Although the discussions and the question-and-answer follow-up were lively and informative, they did not offer much in the way of reassurance for U.S. chemists in the pharmaceutical industry who fear for their futures.I don't know where Ron Breslow has stood in the past, but I think it's very important that senior members of the academic chemical community recognize the economic picture facing current generations of American chemists. I don't know if it's too much to ask senior members of the pharmaceutical industry to be able to make similar statements about our employment futures; Dr. LaMattina doesn't seem to have directly addressed the issue at the forum.
I hope things change, and soon. Best wishes for all of us.