Monash research sparks major change in editorial policy

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Professor Jonathan Baell from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS)

Monash University drug discovery research has led to a change in editorial policy of the world’s largest scientific society, in a move that could save government and industry millions of dollars a year in preventing dead-end research.

Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences' Professor Jonathan Baell identified key types of compounds that can create false positives in early-stage research.  

This can lead to researchers wasting many years optimising promising looking drug candidates that can’t be developed into drugs for the disease they were designed to treat.

His research was originally published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in 2010, and Nature in 2014.

In an effort to alert the scientific community to this problem, and prevent more researchers going down blind alleys, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has recently announced a stringent and uniform editorial policy across all its journals. This is with a view to eliminate publications containing the misleading compounds identified by Professor Baell and his co-authors.

With almost 160,000 members, the ACS is the largest scientific society in the world and publishes many of the most-cited journals in the chemical and related sciences.

Professor Baell said he was both humbled and proud that this work had influenced scientific policy in such a major international setting.

“More efficient approaches to the discovery of new, safe and effective drugs to treat human diseases with unmet needs are desperately needed. To the younger researchers out there, I like to point out that this recognition has largely arisen from a single paper published in 2010, driven by a belief that this research represented an important issue, even though there were many doubters at the time.

“Even in this world of large scale collaborations and interdisciplinary research, individual drive and self-belief still has a role in making a significant impact. That I think is an important message to send to the next generation of researchers,” Professor Baell said.