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  • Chemical News

    Thoughts on the Chemistry Nobel Prize

    I wrote up this year’s Nobel Prize awards in chemistry yesterday, and there’s no arguing that they’re significant achievements worthy of a prize at this level. For many chemists, though, I think that this year’s award will join the 2015, 2012, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2003, 1997, and 1993 ones (and there are arguably even mo… Read More
  • Biological News

    The Chemistry Nobels, 2018

    The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has gone to Frances Arnold (for directed evolution of enzymes) and to George Smith and Gregory Winter for phage display. These are worthy discoveries, techniques that have gone on to be used for a huge variety of work ranging from blue-sky research to marketed drugs, and the Nobel committee… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Dissolving One Way And Another

    All right, fellow chemists, you’ve got this hydrophobic/hydrophilic thing down, right? I’m glossing over the fact that our intuition about those things can be wrong, as can much of the software used to estimate it – we at least know about these concepts and have a physical picture of compounds that like to dissolve in… Read More
  • Cancer

    A Nobel for Immuno-Oncology

    As many had expected, the Nobel prize in medicine/physiology this year recognizes advances in immuno-oncology: James Allison (for CTLA4) and Tasuku Honjo (PD-1). For some years now, that has been a huge, massive, unstoppable wave in cancer research, and I would not want to try to estimate how much time, effort, and money has gone… Read More
  • Clinical Trials

    Fighting It Out Over Stem Cells

    This is going to sound weird, but remember stem cells? I know that they’re still an active and important area of research and all, but I’m referring more to the period of political enthusiasm about fifteen years ago. Elected officials at the gubernatorial and national level all had positions on stem cell research, and there… Read More
  • Chemical News

    The Enantioselective Ugi

    This is a remarkable result: a group from Shenzhen reports an enantioselective Ugi reaction. If you’re among the majority of the human race that doesn’t know what an Ugi reaction is to start with, it’s probably the best-known of a rather rare category, a four-component reaction. You take an aldehyde (ketones can work, too), an… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Simple Rings, Simply Wrong

    Medicinal chemists spend a lot of time thinking about the relative greasiness of their molecules. Being professional scientists, of course, we have come up with some slightly more quantitative phrases than “relative greasiness”, but that’s definitely the idea. How hydrophilic/hydrophobic a compound is determines not to what extent… Read More
  • Infectious Diseases

    Vaccines Against a Vanishing Virus?

    Vaccines can be one of the most powerful and effective public health interventions, as experiences with smallpox and polio make clear. But vaccine development itself is quite difficult, which is why there are (relatively) few vaccines out there. Look at dengue, for example: it’s a longstanding viral problem in tropical areas, and would seem… Read More
  • Chemical News

    Versatile Optimization, While You Wait

    You’ll have noticed that scientific discovery often follows a template set by mathematics. A particular result gets generalized to a class, then other fields grow up around the relationship of that class to other classes and around the various ways to make those sorts of generalizations: higher levels of abstraction. Here are examples of some… Read More
  • Analytical Chemistry

    Sitting There For Five Hundred Million Years

    This paper is really a tour de force of analytical chemistry, because it does something that I didn’t think was possible. The team is looking at a rather ancient creature, Dickinsonia. In fact, you could argue that it’s the ancient creature, since it’s one of the Ediacaran organisms that are part of the first explosion… Read More
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