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Birth of an Idea

The Consolations of Pure Research

I mentioned the other day that I’m getting close to another run of experiments on the research idea I’ve been messing with for a couple of years now. For those who haven’t been following this tedious tale, so far I’ve had – well, I’ve had no real success at all. I thought at one point that something might have worked, but it didn’t repeat in any detail.
So, why am I coming back for more punishment? Several reasons: for one thing, I can now think of possible confounding variables in the earlier runs that could have rendered them unable to work. (Many of these are addressed in the current experiments.) Second, I still – in the face of a fair amount of evidence, I admit – believe that this whole thing should work. Some roughly similar chemistry has worked for others, and I think that my modifications (which should make the final technique much more broadly useful, I think) aren’t big enough to mess up the whole system.
And the third reason is that I enjoy this kind of work very much. It’s a luxury to be able to work on your own ideas in industry, outside the bounds of a particular project, that is. (When we’re working on inhibitors of XYZ kinase, I’m free, naturally, to have any ideas I want to about inhibitors of XYZ kinase.) Doing this kind of blue-sky side work is a nice change.
I’ll know in the next couple of days if my colleagues in the analytical group are ready for me, and the first run of experiments will take a couple of days themselves. Then there’s the time it takes to analyze them (on the instruments, that is – once I see the data, I’ll know in a couple of minutes if things have worked out or not.)
Every time I come back to this work, I have a clearer idea of what’s going on, and a better way to see it. If you keep doing that, you eventually break through. Right?

3 comments on “The Consolations of Pure Research”

  1. Derek Lowe says:

    I was afraid that that was the answer!

  2. qetzal says:

    I think what you meant, Derek, was you eventually break down.


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