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Welcome to “In the Pipeline”

Welcome (old readers and new) to “In the Pipeline”. I’m very happy to be moving here to Science Translational Medicine. For those encountering it for the first time, this blog is apparently one of the longest-running science blogs on the internet (perhaps the longest-running, since it’s been going continuously since January 2002). I’m a medicinal chemist by profession, and I started the site because every time I told people what I did for a living, they seemed to find it interesting, while at the same time most of them had no idea that there was any such profession.

I’ve been a researcher in the drug industry since 1989, at several different companies. Over that time, I’ve worked on projects directed against schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis, many types of cancer, resistant gram-negative bacteria, and several nasty viruses (among others). You may notice that we still have all these diseases with us, and that might be the best single reason for this blog’s existence. Although I write about a range of scientific topics (with a special focus on chemistry), drug discovery is its heart. It’s a really interesting field, and a bizarrely difficult one: for example, I have never once worked on any compound that has made it all the way to the market, not in 26 years and counting. If you want to know how come your prescriptions cost so much, it’s me.

So you’ll hear a lot about the successes and the failure of this business, where it’s come from and speculations on where it might be going. I still work in the lab myself, although for obvious reasons I’ve never been in a position to blog about my day-to-day activities. But although when I started the site I worried about running out of material to write about, that has never been the problem. Things just keep happening; news keeps coming, and discoveries keep being made. I have not, over the years, been particularly shy about praising things that I like and dumping some scorn on things that I think deserve it, and that’s just how I plan to continue here. As it says up on the masthead, this blog is editorially independent of the entire Science publishing organization, and I appreciate their being willing to give me this platform. I’ve only been threatened with lawsuits once or twice; things should work out fine.

The Categories sidebar on the right of the page contains the blog’s archives – thirteen years worth of being stuck with me in an elevator – and looking through them will give you a good idea of what’s to come. I post daily, and usually more than once, so there should always be some new material. And be sure to check out the comments section – that’s been one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about blogging, seeing the amount of good information and opinion that shows up in the comments. I realize that this is not the usual comments-section experience, but the signal/noise at the old site was always high, and I look for that to continue here.

Enough blather! Time for some science.

Update: for those of you looking for an RSS feed, it’s here:

67 comments on “Welcome to “In the Pipeline””

  1. Chemjobber says:

    Snazzy redesign and clean lines!

  2. dlib says:

    comment speed test 🙂

  3. Alejandro says:

    Is there an RSS feed for the blog itself? I only see the link to Science mag’s own feed…

  4. Wanted to be the first to welcome you to the new home but CJ beat me to it as usual! Cool new look.

  5. muletonic says:

    I can’t seem to find an RSS feed specifically for In The Pipeline (or even one that includes it currently). Has anyone else found one? If not, could we get one implemented? Thanks!

  6. PorkPieHat says:

    Congratulations, Derek! I toast your new site – may you have many years of smooth service delivery and enhanced features to your blog.

  7. Returning reader says:

    RSS feed is here:

  8. Markus says:

    Congratulations, Derek, It looks great!

  9. petros says:

    An impressive looking makeover

  10. anon says:

    Testing the commenting on this new site.

    Thank you for continuing your blog, Derek! I know that many people in the chemistry community value your commentary and appreciate your bright written voice.

    I hope the commenting remains as it did on the Corante site. I don’t think the blog would be nearly as interesting without it.

    (small suggestion: the commas (,) look very much like periods (.) with this font. Hurts readability somewhat)

  11. jiharmer says:

    A colour mugshot!
    The world will never be the same again…

  12. Jonathan says:

    In before the first ‘peroxynitrite’! 😉

  13. cancer_man says:


  14. scott_leman says:

    I have read your blog for some years now and it’s become apparent that you spend a lot of your time ‘at the bench’. Given that you’ve been in the field for 26 years, and likely at Vertex for several of those, I would like to ask (with no offence intended) why you have not moved out of the lab?

  15. MLB pitcher and Medicinal Chemist says:

    Will there be more posts about your career as a MLB pitcher? What was it like to know Pedro Martinez?

  16. milkshake says:

    on your new picture here, you smile like master Pai Mei

  17. KazooChemist says:

    WOW! What a great new look. Another milestone in the history of your blog. Looking forward to many insights and cogent analysis of the state of the art in the pharma industry.

  18. Stephen says:

    “….excellent commentary……” ? ironic or blowing your own trumpet? Anyway keep up the good work

  19. dlib says:

    One issue….what continent are the posting times set to??

  20. Mark Thorson says:

    I liked the old website design better. 🙁

  21. SomeGuy says:

    Looks great! Like the new pic too. 🙂

  22. cancer_man says:

    “….excellent commentary……” ? ironic or blowing your own trumpet? Anyway keep up the good work

    Nah. The Powers That Be at wrote that. Derek is still Derek.

  23. Ron Burgundy says:

    the legend continues…

  24. PorkPieHat says:

    As did @cancer_man, I thought the “excellent commentary” phrase was a bit self-congratulatory too.

  25. DN says:

    Nice! Can we get rid of the “Read more” link and always show full stories? This isn’t When I come here, I always want to read the whole thing.

  26. RoundsComplete says:

    Thank you for continuing with this blog, Derek.

    I’m not a chemistry or medical professional, but I can say with full confidence that your blog functions as my antidote to the deluge of under-informed crap the internet seems to circulate. I’ve linked a lot of people to the old site at Corante to try and refute some of the junk info I see circulating and I’ll continue to do so here. “Things I won’t work with” has been a constant source of entertainment, along with “How not to do it”.

    I hope you have the freedom to switch the fonts though – the period (.) and the comma (,) are hard to tell apart. This comment section’s also a bit less readable than the old one, but that’s more forgivable.

    1. RoundsComplete: estoy de comun acuerdo con sus apreciaciones sobre el uso de Internet por parte de muchisima gente. Estabien que se entretenga la gente, pero hay un nuevo paradigma hoy dia como dice ARIANNA en su libro THRIVE: es el momento de desconectarnos y prestarle mas atencion a la vida, la salud itegral, las cosas sencillas de la vida, bueno y mucho mas. Que bueno que podamos intercambiar mucho conocimiento sobre el giro de la medicina. Soy un investigador independiente en biomedica, y acualmente esudio Genomica en COURSERA. Me esfuerzo en profundizar en Oncologia. Mi conyuge lleva tres años de tratamiento antineoplasico, por lo que debo estar al tanto de las nuevas terapias antes de seguir las proxima citas con los oncologos.
      Gusto en conocerla,
      Abrazos , JOSE A R.

  27. Derek Lowe says:

    Yeah, I didn’t write the “excellent commentary” part myself – just noticed it today.

    1. Peter Lund says:

      I also miss a way to see all the posts of a given category instead of just the first page of them 🙁

  28. Hap says:

    I like the format and look, but is there a way to put a “Next Page” link at the bottom of the topic divisions? For example, if you choose “Things I Won’t Work With”, you get to the bottom after ten or so posts and can read no further – there’s no way to advance beyond the first set of posts (at least that I saw).

  29. Tomas says:

    A fascinating blog. Thank you and look forward for the daily insights into drug discovery, science and society.

  30. MolecularGeek says:

    Huzzah on the completed migration, and here’s to another however many years of insights into the cussed business of designing and building bioactive molecules!

    1. MolecularGeek says:

      And a genuine, working reply to comment feature, too?!? “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

  31. Thank you Derek for continuing this great blog here. I’d like to add my voice to the others mentioning the difficulty in distinguishing periods from commas in the text.

  32. Shion Arita says:

    Welcome to the new world! Hopefully gone are the days of long wait times and quadruple posts.

    Threatened with lawsuits once or twice?! Care to share (in as general or specific terms as you desire) what that was about?

  33. anon says:

    Besides the “excellent” comment people have mentioned already, I’ll point out that the way the site loads causes Derek’s face to first appear in a large box and then to be shrunk down into the circle above. Seems like an unintentional html bug, but makes for a funny greeting whenever I reload the page.

  34. See Arr Oh says:

    Congratulations on the new digs, Derek. Like the muted red-on-black theme, but the new font (Science CSS?) will take some getting used to. Best wishes and many happy returns.

  35. DLIB says:

    One more thing to consider…the color contrast between the text and the inline hyperlinks is low.

  36. PorkPieHat says:

    Once nice feature of the Corante blog was the numbered comments section…any way to introduce numbering here, or are the features fixed in the STM blog format? Its hard not to sound like we’re stuck in the Corante ways…there were definitely some things we disliked about it…
    – the awkwardness in posting (not knowing if your post took or not, the long post times)
    – the lack of internal search function
    – the weird way it suddenly went all italics at times
    – the occasional loading of only one blog-post when you know there were more
    – the times when it would not display any comments, or only a few of several that were posted
    – the several other technical difficulties which took excessive time to correct.

    There was a lot to like too:
    – the numbered replies
    – fast loading page (no loading-time-consuming graphics)
    – the full blog post – sans ‘Read More’
    – the clear font
    – the post previews (prior to actually posting…non-mandatory, but useful)
    – the links section to other blogs
    – the bold red headlines to the individual blogs
    – ability to add links to the comments section
    – NOT having to type your email address in every time you post
    – the unregistered commenting (thanks for continuing that tradition…really)
    – automated categorization of blogposts (although it had its limitations)

    This has been a most enjoyable and successful blog, for many reasons…your blog-posting frequency, the subject matter you address, the color/tone of the posts, the thoughtful comments section (which often was as compelling and even more information-laden than the original post), to mention a few. Really glad you continue to find the time to do it.

  37. entropyGain says:

    I can’t even remember when I started reading your blog. Long, long ago in a galaxy far away. It is a discussion starter around every company I’ve been at since you started. I hope there is a book in the works to take the Billion Dollar Molecule up to present time.

    I wonder if this comment will appear three times? Nice improvement on performance.

    I kinda miss the pictorial evolution of the blogger over the years. Current pic is way too polished and I’ll bet you never look that cool in real life 🙂

    Derek- keep up the good work. Keep advocating for the art of drug discovery. Keep pointing out the foibles of our industry. This blog matters.

  38. diver dude says:

    A very snazzy new site and I’m looking forward to many more years of informed, frustrated, yet hopeful discussion on the pitfalls of the business.

    I always meant to ask – what was the book you were reading in “College chemistry, 1983” Corante pic?

  39. Chemjobber says:

    @entropygain: The sequel to “The Billion Dollar Molecule” was published last year by Barry Werth.

  40. Mark says:

    If we could get rid of the “read more” thing, that would be great. Clicking on that for every single post is going to get old very quickly…

  41. Nick K says:

    Congratulations on the new look! The server responds far faster than the old Corante one. The only thing I miss is the numbered comments, which made replying to other commenters much easier. Some explanation of the HTML jargon below the comment box would also help.

  42. Fluorine Chemist says:

    While scrolling through the comments I kept looking out for the usual duplicates/triplicates, but sadly that feature has not re-appeared so far. I like the new look and just like with everything new, it needs some time to get used to. Looking forward to some great posts!

  43. colintd says:

    Great that the move has completed successfully.

  44. Wile E. Coyote, Genius says:

    I really like that a login is not required to access. I am an independent “work at home” scientist, and don’t have access to an institutional library to get me past the pay walls.

  45. colintd says:

    Overall great new site, but is it possible to have the comment numbering back, ideally going forward but if not at least on the archives?

    It was common/easy to refer to posts using those numbers and now they are missing many of the archive discussions don’t make as much sense.

  46. anon says:

    Congratulations on the successful migration of your site!

    One thing that is already bugging me:
    I am not a fan of the “Read more”-buttons – I very much prefer to have the entire texts straight there and just scroll through. So much quicker to see what’s coming and whether I actually want to read it. And they feel fairly unnecessary on a blog, given the immense “loading times” of a blog post.

    Just my 2 cents.

  47. anon says:

    Excellent redesign, congrats!

  48. anonymous says:

    “…every time I told people what I did for a living, they seemed to find it interesting, while at the same time most of them had no idea that there was any such profession.”

    Once I was in a cab and the driver asked what I do for a living. I told him I worked in medicinal chemistry, and explained what that was. He said he had a question, something he’d always wondered about: when you go to the drugstore, and you give the pharmacist your prescription, and he goes in the back, and twenty minutes later he comes out with your drug… is he, like, making the drug?

    I agree the commenter who said the commas and periods are hard to tell apart, and with the commenter who recommends that the comments be numbered. That said, the new site is very nice!

  49. kissthechemist says:

    Long may the blog continue……above all, please keep the Snake-Oil posts coming………and I have to say, your photo is a bit son-of-Santa!!

  50. MarkySparky says:

    Congratulations on the move. I have been reading since 2004, and look forward to the next decade of posts.

  51. David Borhani says:

    Congratulations on the move, Derek! Looking forward to the next 13 years of being stuck in the elevator with you. 😉

    Font: if it looks bad on Windows, try going through the ClearType setting process, but actually cancel at the last step — strangely this fixed it for me, though the “,” are still indistinguishable from “.” (and “;” from “:”).

    Reiterating other blog formatting suggestions:
    – bring back comment numbering;
    – fix comment sorting, which seems OK at first, but then you see something like “August 4, 2015 at 12:54 pm” followed by “August 4, 2015 at 9:24 am” ;
    – bring back comment post preview;
    – only the first (sometimes as few as 5) entries on a given topic chosen from the “elevator shaft”, how to see the rest?;
    -get rid of the “read more…”, or at least show a few more lines;-
    no email requirement to post a comment (I assume it won’t care if your name is given as “A Nonny Maus”);
    – comment text window seems to have a (smallish) maximum resize (may be browser dependent).

    Hearty thanks again for all your efforts to create the best blog on the Internet!

  52. Joseph says:

    I’m having trouble accessing anything other than the ten most recent posts in any topic, i.e. I click on “blog housekeeping” and I see the ten most recent posts, and cannot access posts eleven and onwards.

  53. Rule (of 5) Breaker says:

    Congrats on the new site. Anyone else notice the site is hell on mobile? It was for me anyway.

  54. Bagnar says:

    Dear Derek,
    First of all, congratulations ! I’m reading “In the pipeline” since two years now, and I’m definitely an addict !

    But. There is always a but.
    I do not like (at all) this comments section. There are not much differences between lines in answers. Will it be possible to highlight the core of each answer, the way it was made on Corante.Com ? I spend way much time to seek for the answer in all that lines “Nickname / Date / Answer to the comment / Core of the comment”…
    Cheers !

  55. @SuperScienceGrl says:

    Congrats on the new blog, Derek! It’s a great improvement to Corante. Keep up the good work!

  56. anon says:

    With or without the “excellent” in the tagline, the quality of the commentary speaks for itself.

    But yeah, at the default zoom in my browser the comma in Benton Sans WGL is virtually indistinguishable from the period. There are better typefaces for this….

  57. JimM says:

    Out of the Wasteland and into the City on a Hill — can Redemption be far?

  58. Daen de Leon says:

    Yey! *insert emoji for ticker-tape parade here*

  59. Yazeran says:


    Nice to see that there is now possible to see more than 10 entries in a section (like How not to do it) by clicking on the numbers in the bottom.

    Nice work Derek

  60. Lindsay says:

    The “categories” list is still there and that fills me with relief, However. the commas in this new typeface look awfully similar to the fullstops, It makes it a little confusing to read. at times,

  61. Wyrd Smythe says:

    I’m no chemist, but I love this blog and have been a lurking reader a long time. Welcome to your new digs!

  62. Wyatt says:

    I had missed this, but it’s quite the redesign, Derek. And with Science, too! That’s really great. Better still, it looks like all of the comment threads were preserved in the transition. You’ve always cultivated a pleasant and inquisitive group of posters, so this is undeniably a Good Thing.

    However, I have a question about this migration: will you or your local web masochist be able to go through and fix it so all the links to the old version don’t just fail? Maybe set them up as redirects to the new version of the same or just leave the old one as an archived copy? Or something? Because, as it is, every link to your old blog — all thirteen years of it — now suddenly 404s, and that’s pretty unfortunate.

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