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Design of experiments -- on the rise and in the news

Nearly a century old, the technique of design of experiments (DOE) is more popular than ever at chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

So says an article in Chemical and Engineering News by Rick Mullin that includes historical milestones, such as the contributions of R.A. Fisher and the late George E.P. Box to the development and use of DOE, as well as present-day applications of the technique. Here's a key excerpt from the article, which has quotes from Bradley Jones of JMP, Scott Allen of Novomer and Julia O'Neill of Merck & Co.:

"BASF and Novomer are among the chemical and pharmaceutical companies to have achieved breakthroughs in recent years using DOE. The technique, created nearly 100 years ago, nowadays relies on computers to generate graphic images of a complex system’s response to changes in variables. It is experiencing a renaissance as scientists find that they can use DOE to reduce the number of experiments they conduct and get a better handle on their chemical processes.

"Behind the technique’s rebirth is the rising importance of statistical analysis in research and manufacturing. Also key is a 2011 guidance document from the Food & Drug Administration promoting its use in submitting New Drug Applications. And advances in DOE software are delivering new insights to chemistry researchers."

You can read the full story online at the Chemical and Engineering News website.

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1 Comment

Mike Clayton wrote:

When I talk to Pharma folks, they seem to called it Design for Quality, not Design of Experiments.

I suppose the drug makers do not like the image of "experimentation" when they are doing "clinical trials." But DfQ looks strange. Maybe they are on to something! Design for Quality has a nice ring to it. If anyone has an explanation for this, or if their approach (FDA approved I assume) is a subset of DOE, let me know. Kind of like Design for Six Sigma. But a rose by any other name...