My final attendance at the National Organic Symposium was Wednesday evening. An award was presented to editor-in-chief, Scott Denmark, on behalf of the monograph series Organic Reactions. The original editor was none other than Roger Adams. Denmark presented a retrospective slide show on the history of Organic Reations.

The speaker for the evening was Prof. Paul Wender from Stanford.  Wender presented a long but fascinating talk on his work with several complex molecules including bryostatin. I have to say that I was rather blown away by this work. I guess I’ve been living on a desert island.

Wender has the great fortune of having access to facilities and people who can do complex chemical synthesis and biological assays and all of the other wondrous things that are necessary to rapidly expose a valuable biopharmaceuticals. The payoff is that questions relating to the biological activity of particular derivatives can be answered rapidly and productive leads can be isolated and further cultivated.

This confederation of resources is perhaps as important to Wender’s productivity as anything. My point is that to be a Wender, you need more than just smarts and money. You need a network of like-minded coworkers whose particular strengths can mesh with yours to produce these kinds of results.  I think that his ability to pull together these kinds of resources is just as impressive as his native ability with chemistry.