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Wrapping up 2016

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
December 5, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 48

For many of us December is synonymous with Christmas. Dec. 1 marks the day when tree and decorations come out of the attic or basement to get us in the mood for the festivities later on in the month. But these days, in addition to the tinsel and lights, there’s another traditional feature that we have come to associate with the beginning of December: little red ribbons adorning coats and jackets everywhere. These ribbons represent a global red symbol of solidarity with those who are HIV-positive or living with AIDS. Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, an event that was held for first time in 1988, a mere four years after the HIV virus was discovered. Since then, 36 million people worldwide have died of AIDS and another 35 million live with HIV, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

In this issue we commemorate World AIDS Day with a feature article that looks at a clinical trial that was recently launched in South Africa. It is the first trial in 7 years to test the efficacy of an HIV vaccine, so the stakes are high: The trial could yield the first licensed preventative HIV vaccine. Read more about it on page 18.

We also dedicate a large portion of this issue to the first part of our annual Year in Review package. At C&EN, we are constantly caught up in deadlines, bringing you the most up-to-date news happening in the world of chemistry. The Year in Review package is our opportunity to look back and reflect on the stories we covered over the previous 12 months. This allows us to spot trends and generate ideas for the following year, as well as to celebrate the most important and impactful advances and developments of the year.

We kick off our Year in Review in this week’s cover story by examining what 2016 held for the pharmaceuticals field. On page 38, for example, we look back at the Zika outbreak and how drugmakers’ efforts to combat the outbreak have yielded diagnostics and the first vaccine trials.

On page 43, we remember the merger that never was: the Pfizer and Allergan megadeal, which was supposed to bring together the makers of Viagra and Botox in a $160 billion merger. For more on pharma giants you can check out the list of the top 10 drug firms of 2016 on page 41. And if that’s not enough, turn to page 37 to read about drug pricing and the controversial Epipen story that has recently been grabbing headlines.

In the U.S., the year ends in a climate of uncertainty after Donald Trump’s election as President. What outcome that will have for the pharmaceutical enterprise or funding agencies is still unknown, so we can only wait and see. For our analysis, check page 40.

And a final note: Next week, there won’t be an issue of C&EN, but continue to watch our website for daily updates. We’ll be releasing fresh Year in Review content throughout the month at Look out for stories on CRISPR, TSCA reform, Brexit, and the Flint water crisis as well as our picks for the year’s top research papers, and much more.

Or catch up with all our Year in Review analysis in our special Dec. 12/19 double issue. Happy December!

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