Identity Verified Thinker in Business / Industries / Pharmaceuticals
Dennis Lendrem
Dennis Lendrem
Making Data Make Sense
Oct. 13, 2015 7:51 am
The recent interview with Medicine Maker caught me in a candid and expansive mood saying what I really think about pharmaceutical research and development. In particular I was outspoken in describing how closing the door on faltering projects then opens the door to prospective future gains. Now read on... --- Admitting defeat in pharma R&D and terminating a failing project is a hard...  Read More
Oct. 9, 2015 5:44 am
I've worked with some pretty sharp people in my time, but few as sharp as Prof Stephen Senn. He cuts to the nub of any issue with consummate ease. And his razor sharp wit permits him to demolish shoddy thinking to the music of belly laughing audiences. I don't know how he does it, but he appears to have an encyclopaedic recall of all things and an original viewpoint on everything. And if I...  Read More
Oct. 4, 2015 5:15 am
The first time a scientist is called upon to present a piece of scientific data can be rather daunting. You might hope that lab meetings provide a caring and supportive environments for the new scientist. It doesn't always work out like that. It can be a crucible. Anyone and everyone seems to hold strong views about your data. And everyone appears to be competing to tear your research apart....  Read More
Sep. 29, 2015 7:35 am
I've not been blogging for a while and someone asked what was going on! Well, the thing is, I made an amazing discovery. So amazing, that it has consumed me for the last six months. How is it amazing? I discovered a way of doing something that I thought impossible. In fact, only last year, I foolishly wrote a paper stating that this thing was 'unknown and unknowable'. Don't get me wrong; I...  Read More
Sep. 29, 2015 6:06 am
Already it’s been a busy week. I was reminded again of the 90-90 Rule of project management. The first 90% of the task takes 10% of the time, and the last 10% takes the other 90%.  Read More
May 3, 2015 4:37 am
There is a graveyard in London called Bunhill Fields. Now a public park, it was used as a burial ground from 1665 until 1854. It contains the graves of many notable people, including John Bunyan (d. 1688), author of The Pilgrim's Progress Daniel Defoe (d. 1731), author of Robinson Crusoe William Blake (d. 1827), artist and poet Bunhill Fields also includes the tombs of two famous...  Read More
Apr. 22, 2015 8:13 am
Recently, David Trafimow, Editor of the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology announced that traditional hypothesis testing would be banned from that journal. The flawed rationale was that probability, or p-values, are "logically invalid". In a previous Editorial setting out his position, he cites his earlier paper outlining his thinking[1]. Ignoring the hysteria following the...  Read More
Apr. 6, 2015 3:23 am
I heard a sculptor talking about artistic ideas. She described how her students would come to her and talk excitedly about their ideas. Rather than argue, or point out potential problems, she would set them to work on the idea. Ninety percent of the ideas never came to pass. The ideas were often brilliant. Turning them into a palpable reality was impossible. Clay can be an unforgiving...  Read More
Mar. 29, 2015 1:07 pm
The Wimbledon Effect is used to describe a successful organization that resists the need to change until it is too late for change to be effective. It is named after the English All Tennis Association tournament of the same name. Wimbledon became a victim of its own success in the 1990s after failing to respond to changes in the professional tennis game. One of the key problems was the...  Read More
Mar. 28, 2015 4:03 am
I watched Monica Lewinsky's recent TED 2015 talk and it got me thinking about the internet and the use and abuse of Comments. There are a few places on the internet where Comments are used, for the most part, with respect. Comments in the BestThinking pages, for example, are usually inoffensive. Sometimes you get comments from "passionate people" (British-speak for "loonies"). And...  Read More
Mar. 19, 2015 3:18 am
Everyone has heard of the placebo effect: the expectation of a positive treatment effect can have a positive treatment effect even if the "treatment" is a sham treatment or inert drug treatment. The nocebo effect is the opposite effect. Where negative expectations can have a negative effect on treatment outcomes. List the possible adverse effects of a drug, and sure enough a significant...  Read More
Mar. 10, 2015 8:40 am
Giordano Bruno is a 22 km lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon. It was named after the monk of the same name who fell foul of the Inquisition, and was burned at the stake in 1600. One of the mad ideas that caused such offence was his claim that the stars were distant suns, with their own exoplanets, some potentially capable of supporting their own life forms. The Giordano Bruno...  Read More
Feb. 26, 2015 5:58 am
It is almost 50 years since Martin Luther King visited Newcastle University. Here he is on racism, poverty and war - Newcastle University You can read a transcript or listen to the speech here:  Read More
Feb. 12, 2015 12:20 pm
In the 1990s the pharmaceutical industry decided to increase research and development (R&D) productivity by minimizing cycle time. Cycle time became our key metric. It was an astounding success. What gets measured gets done. Peter Drucker By shoving tasks into parallel we halved the cycle time for successful drugs. Unfortunately most drugs are not successful. 90%...  Read More
Feb. 7, 2015 8:29 am
This week, the ground breaking paper 'Progression Bias and Rational Optimism in Research and Development' was published by the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. It accounts for late-stage attrition in pharmaceutical development, explaining the current pharmaceutical innovation crisis, the rising costs of drug development, capturing the opportunity costs of false positives and false...  Read More
Feb. 2, 2015 11:54 am
Metrics are great. What gets measured gets done. Peter Drucker But you better be sure you’re measuring the right things. Data-driven decisions are only as good as the data driving the decisions. Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein  Read More
Jan. 19, 2015 5:41 am
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” Bertrand Russell Sometimes a succinct quotation captures complex ideas quite simply. In this case, The Dunning-Kruger effect meets Impostor Syndrome .  Read More
Jan. 14, 2015 10:23 am
Next year the International Maths Festival comes to Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK. The theme? Numbers. Anyway, I stumbled upon Alex Bellos' poll on the World's Favourite Number. Number 7 polled highest in a poll of 30,000 internet nerds. The interesting section is on the reasons people give for their favourites. I was especially taken by this one. 7: Nice shape,...  Read More
Jan. 5, 2015 11:14 am
Torture the data long enough and it will confess to anything. Ronald Harry Coase (1910-2013) It is widely known that if you interrogate data hard enough it will confess to virtually anything. Widely known and even more widely ignored. Why jelly beans? The jelly bean problem was coined when scientists established a link between green jelly beans and acne in the satirical...  Read More
Dec. 31, 2014 8:08 am
In drug development there are massive commercial pressures to advance drugs only for them to fail in subsequent development. This progression imperative, or progression-seeking bias, gives rise to massive late stage attrition. This inflates R&D costs and denies patients access to effective medicines. Project terminations are often viewed as losses, and project teams tend to be loss...  Read More
Dec. 22, 2014 11:51 am
Some time ago, I was grumbling about the terrible state of medical journalism and the misreporting of trials and scientific research. I received an email from a journalist saying that it was very difficult for reporters of health news. Most such news is written in a hurry, to a deadline, and journalists rely heavily on the Press Release. Often, those press releases contained exaggerated claims...  Read More
Dec. 11, 2014 11:28 pm
Sex differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. Males are more likely to be admitted to an emergency department after accidential injuries, more likely to be admitted with a sporting injury, and more likely to be involved in a fatal road traffic collision. However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour....  Read More
Dec. 2, 2014 2:04 am
Null hypothesis (noun) (Statistics) the hypothesis that there is no significant difference between specified populations, any observed difference being due to sampling or experimental error. No matter how hard we twist the data, sometimes we are forced to accept the dull hypothesis. But we don't go down without a fight. Norman Einstein, CEO Scientific Radicals I've...  Read More
Nov. 28, 2014 9:28 am
I collect stories of scientific discovery. I stumbled upon the story of Hedy Lamarr. This story is probably better known in the US? But for those who have not come across the name before, Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood actress. She starred in leading roles opposite Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable and James Stewart. But she was also the co-inventor and patent holder, with composer George Antheil, of...  Read More
Nov. 18, 2014 12:26 pm
People have mixed views about benchmarking. "I hate Benchmarking! Benchmarking is Stupid! Why is it stupid? Because we pick the current industry leader and then we launch a five year program, the goal of which is to be as good as whoever was best five years ago, five years from now." Tom Peters Others are happy to steal the best ideas of others. We have always...  Read More
Nov. 9, 2014 4:12 am
Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. Sometimes I hate being human. We are like so fallible. I got my own insight into cryptomnesia when a funny thing happened to me a few years ago. I submitted a paper and it came back with the...  Read More
Oct. 29, 2014 5:05 am
Inflation adjusted pharmaceutical R&D costs have risen ten-fold in the period 1990-2013. Rising R&D costs forced pharmaceutical companies to seek higher risk areas to ensure a return on R&D costs. R&D costs are higher in these areas and the risks are higher driving up late-stage attrition. Late stage attrition drives up R&D costs forcing pharmaceutical companies to seek higher risk areas where...  Read More
Oct. 27, 2014 9:18 am
My son's school was founded in the late 1200s and the school roll lists all the headmasters since 1301. It was refounded under royal charter by Henry VIII 's son and successor becoming The King Edward VI School in 1552. To cut a long story short, this school has been around for a while. But the other day I was reading Jung Chang's biographical story Wild Swans charting the lives of...  Read More
Oct. 26, 2014 5:03 am
There is a story... While visiting the court of Catherine II of Russia, the great Swiss mathematician Euler got into an argument about the existence of God. Eventually he called for a board on which he wrote: Unable to dispute the relevance of the maths, and unwilling to confess their ignorance, the Voltairians gathered at the court were forced to cede the argument. I'm grateful to Professor...  Read More
Oct. 10, 2014 12:55 am
Never tell someone you'll have a report to them by Friday. Even if they get it, they won't want it. They're not going to read it over the weekend. And in the pressure to get it out on a Friday, errors creep in to the report. Mondays are good. Reports can always wait until Monday. And if push comes to shove I'd be finishing the report on Monday submitting late in the day. This freed up...  Read More
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