Natural product analysis and multi-step organic synthesis have been the twin pillars of aroma chemical research for the last 75 years. Their importance in research, by our company and by our colleagues in other companies, is clearly evident by the continual flow of papers in the scientific literature and by the new chemicals which you use so creatively.
However, for this discussion, I’d like to relax the pursuit of data and interpretation and discuss instead research philosophy. Since my responsibility is to direct research for both fragrances and flavors I must discuss both, even though I recognize that the majority of this audience is primarily interested in fragrance.
I’d like to begin with two postulates. The first one is that problems are solved rapidly not by putting ten scientists of the same discipline and training on a task, but by putting ten different scientists of three or four different disciplines on the same task. Now that concept doesn’t always make me the most popular fellow among the organic synthesis chemists, because if you ask a good organic chemist what he needs to turn out twice as many good smelling aroma chemicals, be will reply “Twice as many chemists.” But my postulate is to put together multidisciplinary teams even to attack that which appears to be a straightforward synthesis or analytical problem.