Drug Discovery Today – Highlights of 2012

Dear reader,In this, the last Editors Choice eNewsletter of 2012, I decided that in common with many other forms of media such as newspapers, radio, television etc., I would review some of the highlights of the past year.To avoid Editorial bias, I thought that I would choose the highlights purely upon the number of times articles were downloaded in each of the first three quarters of the year. Simple, I thought; although selecting the articles was easy and unbiased, it did throw up some issues with respect to highlights of 2012.

The most downloaded article of the 3rd Quarter of 2012 came from the pen of Ish Khanna and is entitled: Drug discovery in pharmaceutical industry: productivity challenges and trends” The review analyzes reasons for continued low productivity in pharmaceutical industry and discusses innovative model and strategies to boost productivity and build risk mitigated discovery portfolio. This sort of article is very frequently highly downloaded. This highlights an issue in publishing and particularly in publishing articles on the topic of drug discovery. Although very highly downloaded, articles on this sort of topic are not necessarily highly cited. This raises the question of whether articles with smaller likelihood of citation should be commissioned, as one of the major metrics of journal success is Impact Factor. Although probably of less interest to industrial authors than academic, it is still one of the factors that helps the selection of possible vehicles for publication of your work. So, should Drug Discovery Today abandon publishing such articles in the chase for Impact factor? Well, my opinion is a definite NO. I think articles should influence HOW you do your job or how you think about it. The citation of an article by research papers is very flattering and a reflection by your peers of how influential your work is, but I recall a comment by Dave Tupper (one of the inventors of olanzapine) at Eli Lilly who put me in my place when he said: “…we’re here to make drugs, not write papers.” So articles that inform and influence behaviour are, in my opinion, as, if not more, important than standard reviews of a particular field of science.

This leads me on to the most downloaded article of the 2nd Quarter of 2012, which, as I mentioned before, gave me some food for thought as to whether I should include it. The article, which you may have already read, is by Hartmuth C. Kolb and K. Barry Sharpless and is entitled: “The growing impact of click chemistry on drug discovery.” The reason why I was unsure as to whether I should include this in the highlights of 2012 is that it was published 9 years ago, almost exactly to the day. What is remarkable about this article is that it has been in the 25 most downloaded articles (generally in the top 10) every quarter since it was published. I’ve just looked on SCOPUS and, to date, it has been cited 1138 times. I believe it is the most cited article ever published by Drug Discovery Today. Perhaps this goes against my previous statement about an article being used, not just cited. Just let me get the record straight – there is no problem with an article being influential in the way it is used AND being highly cited. This would obviously be the ideal; articles such as this are potential game changers (and I wish I was better at recognizing them). Any suggestions for such game changing articles are always welcome, please address your suggestions to

Last, but by no means least, comes the most downloaded article of the first Quarter of 2012. This article, written by Sara Núñez, Jennifer Venhorst and Chris G. Kruse is entitled: “Target–drug interactions: first principles and their application to drug discovery.” The authors indicate that the utilization of the kinetic and thermodynamic signatures of preclinical leads is proving pivotal in their triage and rational optimization towards clinical candidates with maximal in vivo efficacy devoid of adverse events. Again, this article is similar to the other 2 articles in that it does not deal with a particular therapeutic area, but outlines an approach that can be applied to many (or all) therapeutic targets to improve the overall drug discovery process.

I hope that you enjoy these articles and I wish you all every success in the coming year in all your endeavours. Should reading these spark off any major thoughts and ideas for other reviews, don’t hesitate to contact me.


Steve Carney was born in Liverpool, England and read Biochemistry at Liverpool University, obtaining a BSc.(Hons) and then studied for a PhD on the Biochemistry and Pathology of Connective Tissue Diseases in Manchester University, in the Departments of Medical Biochemistry and Histopathology , supervised by Dugald L Gardner. On completion of his PhD he moved to the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, where he worked with Professor Helen Muir FRS and Professor Tim Hardingham, on the biochemistry of experimental Osteoarthritis. He later joined Eli Lilly and Co. and held a number of positions in Biology R&D, initially in the Connective Tissue Department, but latterly in the Neuroscience Department. He left Lilly in 2002 to take up his present position as Managing Editor, Drug Discovery Today, at Elsevier. He has authored over 40 peer-reviewed articles, written several book chapters and has held a number of patents. He currently is honorary lecturer in Drug Discovery at the University of Surrey.

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