Friday, August 9, 2013

How's that DPU thing working out for you?

Derek Lowe notes the recent Bloomberg story on the GSK mess in Shanghai, and includes this quote from Liu Xuebin, one of the scientists who recently resigned after their Nature Medicine paper on multiple sclerosis was retracted:
“This was my first job in industry and there was a very different culture,” Liu said behind thick, rimless glasses and dressed in a short-sleeve checked shirt tucked neatly into his belted trousers. “I was also not experienced with compliance back then, and we didn’t pay enough attention to things such as recording of reports from our collaborators.” 
There was also a culture in which Glaxo scientists were grouped into competitive teams, known as discovery performance units, which vied internally for funds every three years, he said. Those who failed to meet certain targets risked being disbanded. 
The publication of Liu’s paper in Nature Medicine was initially lauded by Glaxo, he said, adding that the company rewarded his 30-strong team with 20,000 yuan ($3,300), which they spent on a team-building trip.
Derek thinks the emphasis by Liu on publishing in journals is strange -- I agree. But it's apparent that GSK thinks publishing is important; that said, I'd love to know if/whether a 20,000 RMB bonus to 30 people is particularly impressive. It doesn't seem to be very much (median household income in Shanghai appears to be in the 50,000 yuan range.)

Also, I remember being skeptical about the DPU structure. While I am sure that all failings will be blamed on it (as employees are wont to do), I do think it is instructive that Liu decided to mention them, even if (I assume) Shanghai may feel different amount of pressure, compared to DPUs in the US.  


  1. Working together for a common goal? What do you think a company is, a group of people associated with the goal of achieving something greater than each individual collectively could achieve, or a bunch of careerist egos each seeking to prove how special she/he is and in doing so obtain the most money?

  2. I go with the latter statement of biotech toreador.


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