The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines (Paperback)

The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines By Donald R. Kirsch, Ogi Ogas, Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom (Foreword by) Cover Image


"A must-read for a 'behind the scenes' look at new drug development.” —Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, NBC News Health Editor. The surprising, behind-the-scenes story of how our medicines are discovered, told by a veteran drug hunter.

The search to find medicines is as old as disease, which is to say as old as the human race. Through serendipity— by chewing, brewing, and snorting—some Neolithic souls discovered opium, alcohol, snakeroot, juniper, frankincense, and other helpful substances.

Ötzi the Iceman, the five-thousand-year-old hunter frozen in the Italian Alps, was found to have whipworms in his intestines and Bronze-age medicine, a worm-killing birch fungus, knotted to his leggings. Nowadays, Big Pharma conglomerates spend billions of dollars on state-of the art laboratories staffed by PhDs to discover blockbuster drugs. Yet, despite our best efforts to engineer cures, luck, trial-and-error, risk, and ingenuity are still fundamental to medical discovery.

The Drug Hunters is a colorful, fact-filled narrative history of the search for new medicines from our Neolithic forebears to the professionals of today, and from quinine and aspirin to Viagra, Prozac, and Lipitor. The chapters offer a lively tour of how new drugs are actually found, the discovery strategies, the mistakes, and the rare successes of drug hunters from the US, UK, Germany, and other nations.

Dr. Donald R. Kirsch infuses the book with his own expertise and experiences from thirty-five years of drug hunting, whether searching for life-saving molecules in mudflats by Chesapeake Bay or as a chief science officer and research group leader at major pharmaceutical companies.

About the Author

Donald R. Kirsch, PhD, coauthor of The Drug Hunters, was a drug hunter for more than thirty-five years, holds more than two dozen drug-related patents, has written more than fifty research papers, and has been a reviewer for prestigious scientific journals. He served as a director of neuroscience research at Wyeth, the director of molecular genetic screen design at Cyanamid, the leader of a Research Group in Microbiology and Cell Biology at Squibb Institute for Medical Research, and the Chief Scientific Officer at Cambria Pharmaceuticals. He has taught in the biotechnology department at Harvard Extension School and currently teaches at Columbia University. He lives in Westchester, NY.

Ogi Ogas, PhD, is a professional science writer. He is the coauthor of A Billion Wicked Thoughts and Shrinks and has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Wired, Glamour, Seed, and Psychology Today. He lives in Boston, MA.

Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom is an award-winning clinician, scientist, health journalist, and author. She is a national media expert in the field of health and wellness with a particular focus on mindful living.

Praise For…

"A must-read for a 'behind the scenes' look at new drug development.” —Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, NBC News Health Editor

"An absolutely fascinating read that is especially remarkable for its adherence to factual detail in a history that reads with the smooth fluidity as a novel . . . Extraordinary, unique, and unreservedly recommended."—Midwest Book Review

"A well-written and highly informative book . . . Recommended for The ASCO Post readers, especially as a travel companion."ASCO Post

“Kirsch, a veteran drug hunter, and Ogis, a talented science writer, expertly chronicle the search for lifesaving medications . . . A fascinating read full of surprising facts and intriguing connections."—Booklist

“This lucid, anecdote-rich book covers familiar ground for specialists but offers a bright overview for the rest of us of humankind's hunt for medicines . . . Kirsch tells the fascinating stories of historic drug discoveries over the centuries . . . Highly informative.” Kirkus

“A lively and sweeping look at the history of drug discovery and how difficult, expensive, and pivotal the search has proven to be. It’s an enlightening, if ominous, survey.” Publishers Weekly

"Dr. Kirsch brings a lifetime of experience to bear in separating common misconceptions about drug discovery from the reality, in which skill and luck combine to bring new medicines to the public."—Dr. Eric Gordon, Adjunct Professor, Stanford University, and CSO of Arixa Pharmaceuticals

"The Drug Hunters is an entertaining account of how new medicines are discovered. Fascinating stories and important lessons abound, and readers will be amazed and delighted to learn where and how some drugs with which they're familiar originated. Kirsch says that discovering a new drug is more like making a new movie than designing a new tablet, and I agree."—Dr. Richard B. Silverman, inventor of the Pfizer drug Lyrica

Product Details
ISBN: 9781628729863
ISBN-10: 1628729864
Publisher: Arcade
Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
Pages: 304
Language: English