With dozens of staffers in attendance, the “drug wake” at Ironwood featured seven-layer dip, homemade cupcakes and a bittersweet send-off.
“It’s hard to say goodbye, so I won’t,” said Mark Charest, who works on regulatory affairs at the company. “I’ll say, ‘Thank you—thank you to the peptide.’ ”
Faced with an environment in which most research projects don’t work out, pharmaceutical companies are going to creative lengths to lighten employees’ frustrations and encourage teamwork.
It’s one approach to a common problem: how to stay motivated despite a high rate of failure.
How to deal with the inevitable disappointment?
At an annual black-tie “Science Oscars” for its biotech unit, AstraZeneca fetes scientists who pursue promising lines of research, no matter the outcome.
Bristol-Myers Squibb gives scientists “Bravo Awards” even for research that doesn’t work out.
Roche’s Genentech tells its scientists that they have a “license” to experiment, whatever the results.
Accepting failure in drug research doesn’t mean an indifference to success, industry executives say.
Rather, they want to promote creativity by giving scientists the freedom to fail, and then to bring projects to a close before too many resources are wasted. “We don’t say, “Go fail.’ We want to encourage people to take chances,” said Ironwood CEO Peter Hecht.
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