January 30, 2009 at 11:05 am | | science community

Whoa. Djerassi is pissed at Trost.

[Trost’s] demeaning treatment of the key work of earlier investigators in the field of natural products by chemists who then undertake the total synthesis of the molecule in question is unfortunately all too common—either because of sloppiness or as a discreet attempt to eliminate any reference to the initial discoverers. (C&E News)

I don’t know the whole story here—does this go back to previous battles between the two Stanford profs? does Trost have something against Pettit?—but it’s certainly entertaining!

I agree with Djerassi that citing original work is important. However, at some point, we should be able to move on and cite reviews of an entire field. Also, I’m not sure C&E News is an appropriate forum to call out one individual: Trost’s paper is not the only example of inadequate citation.

UPDATE: I’m also a little confused, because the Trost paper does cite Pettit … at least three times. Maybe they aren’t the original papers, so it doesn’t look like Pettit worked with bryostatin first?


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  1. Some authors have always been good at giving credit where credit is due. Others… aren’t. Trost has always been the latter it seems.

    Comment by excimer — January 31, 2009 #

  2. […] here, […]

    Pingback by Douche battle! | The Chem Blog — January 31, 2009 #

  3. I don’t know the specifics in the Djerassi/Trost feud, but I don’t think it was so much that Trost didn’t cite someone, but that (1)because he didn’t cite someone, (2)his work was presumed that much more important/groundbreaking, (3)even garnering the attention of C&EN.

    But I think there’s a lot of truth to the “dropping [original authors] into the black hole of third-person reviews”. A breakthrough paper is taken for granted, making it seem less transformative and too obvious when cited like this. On purpose, this is basically a backhanded citation. On accident, it’s just sloppy.

    Anyway, aren’t these guys in the same building? Can’t they just have a quiet conversation in the hallway about this?

    Comment by PI — February 3, 2009 #

  4. i don’t see Djerassi around very often anymore.

    Comment by sam — February 3, 2009 #

  5. In the area of natural product total synthesis it is appropriate to cite the original isolation paper(s). Reviews may be appropriate for summaries of previous synthetic work if this literature is extensive and there are mandated citation limitations or overall length limitations.

    Comment by Tex — February 4, 2009 #

  6. When Trost was Department Chair he tried to stop (stopped?) pay for emeritus faculty who taught a single non-chemistry course and didn’t pursue research (ahem…guess who)

    Comment by Bobby — February 5, 2009 #

  7. Knowing Trost’s fondness for $$$ and his eternal fight to save up to the last penny, I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear that…

    Comment by European Chemist — March 25, 2009 #

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