Category: Drug Development

Power of Failure

“All I wanted was the opportunity to fail” – Jack Goeken, Founder of MCI

You can’t have successes without risking failure

When medical students are taught about appendicitis, we are taught that 20% of the appendectomies should find that the appendix does not need to removed. In other words, we should have such a low threshold for surgery that in 20% of the cases, we should be wrong. If only 10% of the surgeries are wrong, we are killing patients because Continue reading “Power of Failure”

Simpson’s Paradox

Simpson’s Paradox is one of the classic paradoxes, made famous by the UC Berkeley’s experience,

In 1973, the admission rate for men and women were noted to be very different for UC Berkeley. The admission rate for men was 44% and for women was 35%, The difference was statistically different. Continue reading “Simpson’s Paradox”

IC50 Means Nothing

In drug development, there are certain terms that people throw around that signifies that they know something about a field they’re not an expert in. These are shorthands for asking, is that compound any good?

“What’s the p-value?” (buzzword for clinical data)

“Does it meet Lipinski’s Rule of Five?” (buzzword for medicinal chemistry)

“What’s the IC50?” (buzzword for Continue reading “IC50 Means Nothing”

Braess’s Paradox

In 1990, New York City closed 42nd Street in observance of Earth Day (1).

The 42nd Street is a major thoroughfare, and its closure was expected by many to be a disaster. Manhattan’s traffic is bad enough on an ordinary day: surely the closure of a major artery could only make it worse.

To everyone’s surprise, except certain mathematicians, the closure significantly improved traffic that Continue reading “Braess’s Paradox”

Small Sample Size Paradox

Small Sample Size Illusion is an illusion that will eventually make it into my next iteration of the cognitive optical illusions slide set, but in the meanwhile, I am posting it on the blog.

Let me start with an example borrowed from Howard Wainer’s article in the American Scientist, “The Most Dangerous Equation.”  If you were Continue reading “Small Sample Size Paradox”

Dahabreh’s Paradox

In the Feb 23, 2011 issue of JAMA, there is an article that discusses a little-recognized but important paradox.  I think it’s as important as Simpson’s Paradox, which I plan to write about in a future blog.  However, unlike Simpson’s Paradox, which is widely appreciated, Dahabreh’s Paradox is not well-recognized. Continue reading “Dahabreh’s Paradox”

Castalia, Kinetics, Space

In a novel, The Glass Bead, by Herman Hesse, the rulers of a world round up all the intellectuals who may be threat to them and shut them away in an isolated world called Castalia, to play a game called glass beads. The intellectuals play this game and occupy themselves, convinced that this internally self-consistent game is the most Continue reading “Castalia, Kinetics, Space”

(Don’t) Blame the Chemists

Couple of days ago, I was talking to a medicinal chemist about why drug development productivity might have decreased.

Now, mind you, this guy was an “excellent chemist.” He’s been at this for over 30 years. He’s run big discovery groups for major pharmas. More recently, he’s been at small biotechs, and he’s been very productive. With 50 chemists or so, he’s managed to pop out 3 candidates in the last several years, all of which have been partnered with Continue reading “(Don’t) Blame the Chemists”

Whence the Low Productivity?

One of the most intractable problems in drug development has been productivity.

Some feel that productivity has decreased substantially while other believe that it has merely remained obstinately the same.  What is clear is that investment and costs have been rising, and the output has at best remained constant.

I’ve had a lot of conversations about this with Continue reading “Whence the Low Productivity?”