The Right Chemistry

Welcome to the new home of Terra Sigillata, a blog about the pharmacology and chemistry of natural product drugs and dietary supplements, issues of under-represented groups in the STEMM disciplines, science and medical journalism, and the influence of science in popular culture.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you more about the blog itself but I wanted to launch with a personal narrative of how I got here.

Hello, my name is David…and I’m a science blogger

I’m your humble blogger, David Kroll, a molecular cancer pharmacologist and professor in the pharmaceutical sciences at a state university in the southern US. If you are an old-time reader of Terra Sig, you’ll know me as Abel Pharmboy, the pseudonym I selected to honor John Jacob Abel.  Abel is considered the American father of pharmacology, having founded the first US departments of pharmacology (at Michigan and Johns Hopkins) as well as the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

But feel free to call me Abel. It’s a habit for many and folks in my daily life still know me as Abel.

And if you followed me on Twitter @abelpharmboy, just go ahead and follow me now @davidkroll.

After a fantastic four year run at, Terra Sig has spent a month in indie blog limbo while I searched for the right home for us. Some of my very dear friends are now at the wonderful new blog collective, Scientopia. I do hope to have a presence there in an educational capacity.

But where to bring little ol’ Abel and his Terra Sigillata?

I was fortunate to have a post of mine picked up last October by Dr. Carmen Drahl, an associate editor at Chemical & Engineering News and co-blogger at the CENtral Science pharma blog, The Haystack. Carmen referenced my defense of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz, and Ada Yonath “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”

On the morning of the award, I anticipated the response of my chemist friends as to this prize being given for a series of biological work.  However, I noted from the prize announcement a chemical scheme representing catalysis by the ribosome and noted, “if I see electrons being pushed around, it’s chemistry.”

Carmen’s coverage of my post made it to the editor’s page of a subsequent issue of ACS Chemical Biology – I submit that pharmacology was the original chemical biology – and I had the chance to meet her at ScienceOnline2010, an international science writing and communications conference held in Research Triangle Park, NC, each January.

Truth be told, my scientific career would be nowhere if not for my collaborations and friendships with chemists. As I remind my graduate students and postdocs about the Antibody and ELISA kits from MyBiosource. You have to work with someone who can synthesize it or, in our case, isolate it from plants or filamentous fungi.

The Ballad of Carmen and Rachel (with apologies to my wife)

When I left ScienceBlogs, I tweeted Carmen and inquired as to whether CENtral Science might be interested in giving a home to an itinerant pharmacology blogger who plays well with chemists. She introduced me to C&EN Online Editor, Rachel Pepling, an erudite University of Florida graduate who has worked behind the scenes to make today possible.

I have to say one thing about these C&EN folks: some of my best friends, IRL or otherwise, have been made at ScienceBlogs. But the last few weeks of e-mail and telephone interactions with Rachel and this week’s visit with everyone at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston has been nothing but the warmest of welcomes that extends all the way up to C&EN Editor-in-Chief, Rudy Baum.

The hardened journalists here at C&EN are going to have to get used to the fact that I am a maudlin softie and must portray them as the kind people they are. A Sunday night dinner at the home of Boston editor, Amanda Yarnell, with C&EN staffers told me that I had picked the right place to come.

The right chemistry.

Today, I had the good fortune of participating in a ACS Medicinal Chemistry Lunch-and-Learn session on pharmaceutical and chemistry blogging led by Carmen. The dignitaries I served with were the legendary medicinal chemist pharmablogger, Derek Lowe (In The Pipeline), the venerable pharma business newsman and blogger, Ed Silverman (Pharmalot), and a postdoc who shows me our future is in good hands, chemist and K-12 outreach devotee, Michael Tarselli of Scripps Florida.

According to the liveblog of the session by Lisa Jarvis at The Haystack, Terra Sig joined CENtral Science at 12:45 pm EDT.

I’ll soon be porting over some classic posts, firming up the blogroll, and just generally settling in while we have the fresh-new-blog-smell. I apologize in advance to longtime readers that commenting requires registration with WordPress if you don’t already have one. But just do it once and you can comment here and at the excellent blogs here at CENtral Science.

I’m reminded that I wouldn’t have this opportunity here if it were not for your loyal readership and robust participation in the discussion threads of our posts.

Welcome to our new digs and thank you for your support over the years.

More tomorrow on why “Terra Sigillata” has anything to do with pharmacology and chemistry.

Author: David Kroll

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  1. w00t! Glad to see you landed safely.

    • Jason, you win! Commenter #1! I’ll have to find something to send you – thanks!

  2. Sweet! Looks like a cozy, warm home!

    • Thanks, blogfather – couldn’t have gotten here without you and your years of support!

  3. Hi, Abel! Nice move 🙂 I look forward to more of you fantastic blogging at your new home!

    • Indeed, ‘belle. Chemistry. w00t!

  4. Excellent! Congrats, look forward to reading.

    • Awww, thanks! I’ve been commenting at Tara’s since before I even started Terra Sig v1.0. You and Maryn will be interested to know that C&EN has been having great coverage on the return of some companies to searching for antibiotics with novel mechanisms of action.

      Looking forward to blogging about Maryn’s upcoming SUPERBUG tour to North Carolina, too!

  5. WOOT!!! Big congrats on the new home for the blog!!

    • JP and Namnezia – make sure to keep on me to get my blogroll constructed – you two have been writing some fantastic stuff!

  6. Wow! Very professional sounding!

    Looks like a great fit for you. Feed transferred, blogroll being updated!

    • Kev, looking forward to now following you IRL as you do your PhD in marine biology at UNC-Wilmington (and finally having a chance to rock out!). There’s a great marine natural products group there. Take plenty of naproxen as you load and unload the moving truck!

  7. Hi David,
    Sometimes it’s great to get a refresher on our favorite bloggers bio. Glad to get the history again.
    Good luck in your new home.

    • Hey Jamie, yes, it was fun to revisit and update. Congratulations on the move to DC – I hope to catch up with you when I’m next up for study section or visiting the folks at C&EN!

  8. Fantastic! Great to see you in your new home.

    • Thanks so much, Liz – have you checked out The Safety Zone here yet? It’s good stuff.

  9. Hi Abel! Your new digs look great!

    • Great to see you professor – all the way from Adelaide! Can always count on you to contribute (and double-check) my pharmacology and chemistry. Hope all is well.

  10. When’s the housewarming party? Nice new place!

    • Come to ScienceOnline2011 and I’ll buy you a housewarming beverage!

  11. Looks great Abel! Glad to see you taking up some new blogchallenges and very much looking forward to getting to know CENblogs a little bit better.

    • Hey, Brother Drug – another place for us to spread some JWH-018 love!

    • PiT, thanks so much – and don’t let the deadwood get you down!

    • Yes, I’m from New Jersey, my friend, but I’ve had my Jersey gene has been largely silenced by DNA methyltransferase acquired by living my adult life in Colorado and the South. But you started this: you were nice to me first.

      And hey, you’re the one who chose to get a Ph.D. at Princeton so you’ll have to deal with the occasion “Dr.”

      I love the idea of the counterpoint with Chembark – let’s plan it!

  12. Congratulations with the new place Abel, looking forward to continue reading your stuff

    • I very much appreciate your loyalty, Kris.

  13. Ditto what Carmen said. You’re too kind, and we’re lucky to have you come play with us. And I definitely vote for the Nobels counterpoint.

    • Pure and simple: You are good people. And pros. That’s an increasingly rare combination these days.

      And apologies for not acknowledging your journalism graduate degree from Johns Hopkins – being a Florida undergrad trumps that (Go Gators!)

      Thanks so much for the opportunity here – I know my readers will appreciate the expansion of my chem and drug interests by reading you other fine folks here.

  14. excellent place to land, david. even though we’re at different places now, i look forward to wine tasting with you once more at ScienceOnline 2011 in NC in January.

    • Hey Grrl, as Evan Lerner congratulated me, he reminded me that the internet is the network. I appreciate your many years of kindness and linking to me when I was a pup.

  15. yea! glad to see your new diggs.

    • Thanks, Sandy – keep up with all of your digital bio educational venutres.

      Thanks, DNLee! Hoping you can make it to ScienceOnline2011 this year – and thanks for being cool in catching up with my student this summer!

  16. Gosh darn it, quit movin’ around! :p

    Loving the new digs. 🙂

    • Done, Samantha – Terra Sig will be staying here for more than a month!

  17. Yea on the new home! Blogroll appropriately updated.

    • Hey Pal – thanks. Lots of good pharm business stuff here to keep an eye on for all of your blogging and the Forbes gig.

  18. Congrats on the new home. I really like to see professional societies getting involved on-line, and ACS couldn’t have picked up a better blogger.

    • *sniff* – thanks, Anne. It’s an exciting time here since CENtral Science expanding to a multi-blogger platform in March as the superb writers, scientists themselves, started using this as a more immediate and less formal communications medium.

      Keep on carrying the geology torch!

    • Thanks, Liz – this will be a great place to follow up on all the great Miracle Mineral Solution/chlorine dioxide madness you’ve been alerting me to.

      I tend also to think of U2’s, “I Will Follow.”

      (damn, they look SO young!)

  19. Updating my bookmarks is easy. Programming myself not to call you Abel may take a while.

  20. Nice to find you on CEN. Chemistry may need more bloggers. “What do science bloggers blog about? My study of the Wikio Top 100”

  21. I was worried because I wasn’t receiving your feeds but now I see that you also took part in the great science blog diaspora. No problem, I’ll remain your faithful reader from these tropical lands. Congratulations.

  22. ahh! Pharmboy from Terra Sig! those were the days had some good times.


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