The life and times of a younger member volunteer and medicinal chemist.

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May your reactions in 2014 always be of high yield and purity (following simple aqueous work-up).
Posted by David Foley on Dec 14, 2013 2:01 PM GMT
As you are no doubt aware, I am very passionate about providing opportunities for early-career chemists to network with their peers both within and across the chemistry disciplines.

I would therefore like to highlight the following dates for your 2014 calendar:

Feburary 27th-28th, Blankenberge, Belgium: The Royal Flemish Chemical Society will host the 12th Chemistry Conference for Young Scientists. During this conference, young academic researchers will have the opportunity to present the results of their research through an oral or a poster presentation in English. The conference topics are organized in parallel sessions with common plenary lectures. The best oral and poster presentation of each session will be awarded by a jury of experts. The focus of this conference is quite broad with its aim to span the whole spectrum of chemistry. Details can be found hereNOTE THE DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS IS THE 15TH DECEMBER.

March 26th-29th, Jena, Germany: The young chemists of the German Chemical Society (GDCh/JCF) will host the 16th JCF Spring Symposium. It is an exciting opportunity for young chemists from all over Europe and all fields of chemistry to present their research to a young international audience. Registration details and confirmed speakers can be found here.

April 29th-May 1st, 
Coimbra, Portugal, : The Young Chemists Group of the Portuguese Chemistry Society will host the 4th Portuguese Young Chemists Meeting (4th PYCheM) The main ambition of 4th PYCheM is diffusion of scientific work in chemistry between young researchers in Portugal and abroad. It is also intended to emphasize the bond between fundamental scientific research and its applicability in industry by pointing to new professional opportunities and motivating the enterprising spirit of the participants. In addition to projecting and deepening the interest in chemistry in the society, this congress aims to reinforce the development of working networks between the young researchers, promoting their communication and work capabilities. For more information, please visit their website.

June 24th, Birmingham, UK: The RSC Younger Members Network will host the 3rd RSC Younger Members Symposium (YMS2014). YMS 2014 aims to facilitate the development of young chemists by providing them with the opportunity to: present at a national conference; interact with emerging talent from academia and industry and network specifically with their peers. Registration opens on the 20th of January. For more information, please visit their website.

If anyone has any other young chemists conference they would like promoted here, please leave a comment here or message me on LinkedIn or ResearchGate.
Posted by David Foley on Dec 14, 2013 1:53 PM GMT
I know a lot has been said on bigger and better blogs than mine already about the recent announcement by Randy Schekman that he intends to boycott  the "tyranny" of the big three scientific journals (Nature, Science and Cell).

I tend to agree with the sentiment that it is all well and good for a Nobel Laurate to take to this stance, but far more difficult for a young researcher.

I will be more convinced about Prof. Schekman's declaration when the young academics in his department (and in general) no longer have to publish in these journals to secure tenure and promotion.

Posted by David Foley on Dec 14, 2013 1:13 PM GMT
Picture the scene: It is 3 am in the Hilton Meteropole in Brighton. My hands, still red raw from applauding the RSC Award winners at the General Assembly, are clasped around my nightcap and I’m having a lively discussion with two other volunteers about the merits of a chemistry degree.

The provocative question arises: “So, would you want your kids to study chemistry?” As a medicinal chemist, given the turmoil in my industry, a quick answer in the negative would be all too easy!

I’ve been asked variants of this question before, usually when my colleagues find out I go into schools on a regular basis to promote chemistry as a career. The general gist of the argument is that wages are far higher in many other jobs. The typical example of the chemistry (post)graduate who abandoned the lab for the shining lights of the City to find their wages doubled overnight (even excluding London allowances) is oft quoted in support of my portrayal as a deceiver of children. After all, “There’s no money/future/life in chemistry”.

If we’re all honest, there isn’t anyone in any job who wouldn’t take more money for the same (or less) work. If we’re also honest, we will acknowledge that such a dream scenario doesn’t really exist. The six and seven figure salaries oft-quoted in the media are real; but far less coverage is given to the commitment required to reach that dizzying height or the thousands of others who fail in the attempt.

If the world made any sense, farmers would be the real billionaires. After all, to quote the great Dr. Sheldon Cooper: “We have to take in nourishment, expel waste and breathe in enough oxygen to keep our cells from dying. Everything else is purely optional.” But economics doesn’t work like that, nothing comes for free and sometimes money isn’t everything.

When I speak to students, I tell them these things. I tell them that a career in the sciences is unlikely to make them super-rich. I tell them that yes, a science degree is valued by the City, that many scientists go on to have great careers in finance, law, business and politics. I also tell them there is no shame in wanting to get rich, because some people in the audience will surely have a talent for it.

Then I ask them to name a famous banker? A famous lawyer? A famous scientist? We can’t all win Nobel prizes; we can’t all have apples fall on heads; fly kites in thunder-storms; realise there is more to the shape of a birds beak than aesthetics or discover antibiotics – but some of us might. Some scientists will leave a massive and indelible mark on the history of our planet. And those that don’t will always be acknowledged by (the best of) those that do for their “silent” contribution to their ground breaking discoveries. As do the best business leaders, who acknowledge that their profits come from the innovation of their research and development departments.

So the lawyers will get the rich. The bankers will be rolling in it. The doctor will save your life. But ultimately the scientist (and the farmer) will be responsible for it all. For me, the ability to contribute to making a real difference to humanity, along with the miniscule chance of true immortality (not temporary celebrity) is worth a salary that will (probably) never hit the highs of other careers.

And now to think of a counter-argument to this for when my boss brings it up at my annual appraisal….
Posted by David Foley on Nov 13, 2013 10:14 PM GMT
Thanks to Totally Microwave - check out Chemistry by Design, a fantastic organic chemistry learning and revision tool, from Jon Njardarson at the University of Arizona. Finally. a game organic chemists will (should) always win!!
Posted by David Foley on Oct 28, 2013 6:33 PM GMT
Vitae Research Staff Conference 2013: Inspired Futures
7 November 2013, Birmingham
Vitae are pleased to invite you to attend the fifth annual Research Staff Conference 2013 taking place on 7 November 2013 at the Crowne Plaza Birmingham City Centre. The conference will be held in partnership with the UK Research Staff Association and will explore the options open to research staff - from following an academic path to channeling skills and knowledge into career options outside academia.
During the day participants will have an opportunity to:
·         Learn more about becoming a research leader
·         Explore alternative options to an academic career and hear from those that have successfully adapted to roles outside academia
·         Consider the role of research staff associations in enhancing employability
·         Talk to exhibitors and funders about opportunities/options open to research staff
The speakers for the opening plenary, "Inspiring Careers: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and New Directions", include:
·         Rebecca Braun, Lecturer in German Studies, Lancaster University and AHRC Early Career Fellow
·         Tim Dafforn, Professor of Biotechnology and Director of Knowledge Transfer, University of Birmingham
·         Emma Hennessey, Head of CSA's Team, Strategic Evidence and Analysis, Defra
The closing plenary will focus on "Funding Priorities and Making an Impact":
·         Iain Cameron, Head, RCUK Research Careers and Diversity, Research Councils UK
·         Ged Hall, Innovation and Enterprise Senior Training and Development Officer, University of Leeds
Plus interactive workshops on hot topics such as starting or developing an RSA, becoming a PI, equality & diversity, coaching and mentoring, and more!
To view the programme and book your place please visit:
Posted by David Foley on Oct 24, 2013 6:16 PM BST
I’m attending the 17th RSC/SCI Medicinal Chemistry conference in Cambridge at the moment.

We’ve had some fantastic talks, including a really provocative and thought-provoking talk from Chas Bountra at the Structural Genomics Consortium on a new model of pre-competitive collaborations between industry and academia as a way to reduce Phase II attrition.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. We’ve had a lot of really interesting talks on improving the properties of drugs to improve success. For example, Tim Ritchie talked about all the parameters we used to asses compounds (LogP, LE, LLE, MW, PSA etc. etc.) and debated which of these should we actually use to guide our decisions and when. He concluded that PFI and Fsp3 are some of the most generally applicable ones, which is in agreement with a recent paper from Michael Shultz (which is well worth a read).

We also had a talk from Simon Hodgson about the importance of solubility (and why, even though we all know it’s important we still make insoluble compounds!). However, these talks were followed by this beast from Gilead:

This compound is in various Phase III trials. It works, somehow!

This is why I love medicinal chemistry. If any of us knew what we were doing, if any of the “rules” worked, the robots would have taken over long ago!
Posted by David Foley on Sep 10, 2013 9:08 PM BST
Just a link to Derek Lowe's blog on this - he took the owrds out of my mouth (but wrote them down so much better than I ever could!)
Posted by David Foley on Sep 7, 2013 10:54 AM BST
28th Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group Postgraduate Meeting
Thursday 19th September 2013
Astex Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge.

This one-day meeting provides the opportunity for postgraduates to give oral or poster presentations on their research. If you wish to nominate one of your students, please use the form attached in the circular. We envisage 6-8 postgraduate student talks and a poster session over lunch. All speakers will receive an Amazon voucher and there will be additional £100 prizes for the best talks and poster.

Abstract deadline: 31st August 2013. Registration by 10th September 2013.

As well as the student talks, there will be lectures by the following:

Professor Jim Naismith (St Andrews)
Dr David Rees (Astex Pharmaceuticals)
Dr Ilesh Bidd (CDT)

Please circulate the meeting details amongst your group, colleagues and departments.

A registration form is available from Adrian Dobbs - all participants must register to be allowed on to the Astex site.

Students: free (but must register). £20 for H&SG members; £30/£40 others.
Lunch provided.

The Group thanks Astex Pharmaceuticals for hosting this meeting.

Contact Adrian Dobbs or see the form on MyRSC for further details

Posted by David Foley on Aug 30, 2013 8:31 PM BST
Posted by David Foley on Jul 30, 2013 8:43 PM BST
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