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14 September 2006 11,404 views 15 Comments

Just a quick postlett to let those of you not at the ACS in San Francisco that La Clair got through his talk without a single question about hexacyclinol. Interesting. I’m not there either, but my informant quotes:

“I sat in on the LaClair lecture, and it was poised for big news. Seriously, it got very busy. I played safe and stayed in the lecture theatre 40 minutes before it was due to start, sitting through two distinctly average lectures from the Trauner group. I’m glad I did though, seriously, they were queuing up outside come 3:20.

Sadly it didn’t live up to expectations. His title was “Application of total synthesis to probe biological systems”, but basically, it seemed to be a completely biological talk about attaching fluorescent tags to molecules, without a single synthetic arrow in the damn talk. This is somehow in the “Total synthesis of complex molecules” section. No-one took a chance to ask a question (there was time for one quick one), partly out of embarrassment, and partly because we’d been bombarded with so much biology that anyone could think of a polite way of saying “yeah, well hexacyclinol, you didn’t really make it did you?”. He made two nods to hexacyclinol. He started by saying some bullshit about Xenobe, and how it is a virtual research lab, and how he’s going to remake it and put stuff up about it in a year’s time, and also he concluded the acknowledgements with a picture of the T-shirt with “Hexacyclinol – the proof is in the synthesis” (or whatever that slogan is).

So sorry, but there weren’t much newsworthy there. I was even stalking him afterwards for a few minutes in case anyone decided to start having a go at him, but the nearest anyone got to it was to get their picture taken with him. I felt sorry for the person after him, the room pretty much cleared after it was over. The chair tried to start the next talk, but there were so many people still leaving he stopped.

Not really what I’d hoped for. I wanted a big one with conspiracy theories, and raging arguments and contentious questions asked. Or at the very least, bearing in mind the fact it was a total synthesis section, a few synthesis steps would have been nice.”

My informant shall remain unnamed for now…

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  • […] Update III There is a second take on it at Totally Synthetic right now. […]

  • Disillusioned Hamster says:

    Not really surprised by this. I heard Porco talk about his synthesis of hexacyclinol a couple of weeks ago and in the Q&A he was asked about LaClair’s synthesis and he wouldn’t really comment – ummed and ahhed and said he had to be given the benefit of the doubt.
    No matter what anyone may think or say in private, in public they’re not ging to run the risk of making accusations that would piss people off and possibly harm their careers in future.

  • JB says:

    If Xenobe is a “virtual” research lab as he said. Did he just acknowledge that his hexacyclinol is a virtual synthesis?

  • Tot. Syn. says:

    What, you mean “fill in the yields” on the research proposal, change the tense, and submit to ACIEE? Never… who would do such a thing??!

  • guigui le chimiste says:

    I don’t understand how LaClair could give a talk at an ACS meeting after the Hexacyclinol fiasco.

  • Tot. Syn. says:

    Well, no “official” action has been taken against him, there’s nothing stopping him. He has published quite a lot in recent years, so would make a fairly decent speaker. This whole debate really has lost momentum now – I really can’t see him publishing on the matter again. He’ll be hoping that the synthetic community will forget it all soon…

  • lonestar cowboy says:

    JJ has no official affiliation with a university and no federal funding, so there’s no institution with authority to investigate or sanction. As long as he can sell himself to collaborators and talk his way past reviewers, he’ll keep going.

  • Thio says:

    Hi, just saw ur new front page of the site. To be honest, I didn’t like it that much. Totally synthetic is a nice website which I visit at least once per day but in this particular case the front page seems to indicate that the fault was completly with Sezen. If u go through the whole issue, it is clear that she was ready to repeat the experiments under Sames but he was the one who retracted the papers even without informing or consulting her. So at least u can put Sames’ name in the heading along with Sezen.

  • ddd says:

    totally synthetic – may advice, keep your front page, but avoid names. Put “inspired by retracted JACS papers” or something like that, this way no one can blame you for being too offensive

  • Tot. Syn. says:

    Dammit guys, that whole case was rotten right-through. But fair enough – I’ve changed it. The fault wasn’t completely with Sezen, and the buck stops with Sames, but who was it that finally sat down and thought, “Hmm, these experiments don’t work… but if I make it up…”.

    Sames had the decency to stand-up and retract the publications (that’s more than the author of a certain total synthesis of hexacyclinol). If Sezen wants to clear her name, she can do that from the convenience of her own lab in Germany. She’s had nearly six months – and guess what – nothing forthcoming.

    This whole episode stinks, and that’s why I did that spoof. That, and most people find it quite amusing :)

  • Mitch says:

    Keep it. Although, I’ve been known to make wrong ethical decisions in the past.

  • Deejay says:

    Hi All

    Guess who the fortunate lads were to have a pic taken with LaClair? A couple of Aussies who had the balls to ask for one!

  • […] For those of you who have been watching the hexacyclinol controversy (1,2,3,4,5,6) we just worked with John Porco’s group and used a CASE approach to generate the correct assignments for the molecule. The work is presently being submitted for publication under the following abstract. […]

  • Another Article! Also, the Hexacyclinol Debate…

    OK, if you don’t know it by now Antony J. Williams, M.E. Elyashberg, and Gary E. Martin are publication writing machines. On the Chemspider Blog, Tony points us to their latest publication (reportedly 2 years in the making) that is…

  • […] written loads about this in four posts (1, 2 – which contains my opinions, 3, 4), and frankly nothing has changed, other than the fact that some fancy DFT calculations have […]