I believe Stu Borman was the first to cover the Division of Medicinal Chemistry’s First Time Disclosures symposium for C&EN, but it was Carmen Drahl who began the practice of hand-drawing and tweeting the clinical candidates as they were disclosed in real time. This seems like an oddball practice to folks who aren’t at the meeting. Why not just take a picture of the relevant slide? Well, that’s against the rules: There are signs all over the ACS National Meeting stating that photos, video, and audio recording of presentations are strictly prohibited. In San Francisco, symposium organizer Jacob Schwarz repeatedly reminded attendees that this was the case. Carmen’s brilliant idea to get around this rule was to simply draw the structures as they were presented, snap a photo, and then tweet it out.
I’ve inherited the task since Carmen left the magazine a couple of years ago. I find it incredibly stressful. For an even that’s billed as a disclosure, the actual disclosing is fairly fleeting. The structures are often not on the screen for very long, and I’m never confident that I’ve got it 100% right. Last year in San Diego I tweeted out one structure and I heard the following day from Anthony Melvin Crasto, a chemist in India, that based on the patent literature he thought I had an atom wrong. I was certain that I had written this structure correctly, so I contacted the presenting scientist. He had disclosed the wrong structure!
I agree that there should be some sort of database established afterwards, and I think you all have done great work on that front. I think you’ll find the pharmaceutical companies reluctant to help you out in any way. They guard these compounds so fiercely that it often makes we wonder why we have this symposium to begin with.