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Moving Targets
April 2005
by Randall C. Willis  |  Email the author

Well, one issue down, a second one ready for prime time, and several more in various stages of preparation. And already we're seeing changes. But then, whenever you try to accomplish any venture in the drug discovery arena—be it a new pill, instrument, or magazine—you have to be ready to move as the market moves.
It seems like forever ago that Drug Discovery News's publishers and editors were walking the carpet at LabAutomation in California and the related PittCon in Florida—talking to attendees and vendors about the magazine and their own scientific and commercial hopes and dreams—and yet it was only a couple of weeks. Over the years, I have seen many companies come and go at these shows, and I have watched the shows' demographics move from companies touting the latest in analytical instrumentation for the chemical industry to companies offering the newest automated components for biomolecular screening, genomics, and proteomics.
This year, however, it seems that vendors have tried to find a happy middle ground, sensing that the biological application needs of yesterday are merging with the analytical separation and analysis methods of yesteryear. Perhaps the age of analytical biology is finally upon us, offering scientists mechanisms to determine both quantity and quality.
But at the same time that this trend allows companies to reach the widest audience in biotechnology and pharmaceutical development, it also presents them with the challenge of being all things to all people, and I am reminded of the warning about trying to please everyone while truly pleasing no one.
As Frank Laukien, chairman, president and CEO of Bruker BioSciences, explained during a PittCon media session, companies are faced with a large audience of scientists who are interested in performing diverse experiments but have little or no interest in what is "under the hood" of the instruments that they're using. The samples that go in and the data that comes out are the main concerns of these users.
The challenge to vendors, it seems, is to build machines that perform highly complex functions in a manner that is sufficiently transparent for anyone to use. At the same time, however, the vendor must also satisfy the seasoned laboratory veteran who didn't have a problem with the way things used to be done.
In most cases, the user interface provides the solution, satisfying both customer bases with a single solution.
DDN faces a similar challenge. In a crowded market of magazines interpreting events in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology arenas, the response to DDN was quite overwhelmingly positive. People seemed happy to find a magazine that offered them an analytical perspective on the industry, providing insights on stories covered widely and glimpses of stories few
others thought important.
But with that positive feedback comes the responsibility of not just maintaining the status quo, but improving on it with each subsequent issue. And we hope to answer that challenge by continuing to develop the user interface: these pages and our web site. Each month, we will try to bring you more and better stories, supplementing the insights and ideas with extensive links, background, and story updates on our web site.
We also want to give you the opportunity to provide your feedback or thoughts about the industry directly, whether by email, post, or phone. Regularly, we will invite industry leaders to provide their insights on where certain fields in drug discovery are going or in some cases, where they went. In this issue, Entelos's Michael French and Organon's Henri Theunissen offer their thoughts on biosimulation and its role in pharmaceutical discovery and development.
Keep an eye on us and let us know how we're doing. In the meantime, we will continue to move as our readers and the market moves.



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