6
Facebook
Volume 94 Issue 1 | p. 7 | News of The Week
Issue Date: January 4, 2016

DuPont Shutting Central Research

Corporate R&D: Firm’s restructuring of storied labs comes before its merger with Dow
Department: Business
Keywords: Dow, DuPont, merger, activist investors
[+]Enlarge
Science Center
DuPont’s Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del.
Credit: DuPont
20151218lnp6-ExperStation
 
Science Center
DuPont’s Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del.
Credit: DuPont
DuPont Central R&D Scored Many Victories Over The Years

1903 Francis I. du Pont founds Experimental Station in Wilmington to conduct explosives research.

1911 Station forms a chemical department, forerunner of Central R&D, to work on ammonia synthesis.

1927 Charles Stine pushes basic research programs in physical and organic chemistry, physics, and chemical engineering.

1928 Wallace Carothers begins work at Experimental Station, leading to the development of nylon.

1963 Fred Sweeny develops Nomex m-aramid fire-retardant fiber.

1965 Stephanie Kwolek discovers liquid-crystal polymers, leading to the development of Kevlar p-aramid bulletproof fiber.

1967 Charles Pedersen begins research leading to the discovery of crown ethers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1987.

1971 Richard Rees invents Surlyn ionomer polymer modifier resins.

1975 George Levitt discovers sulfonylurea herbicides.

1994 Charlie Nakamura and associates begin charting a biological route to 1,3-propanediol, a polyester raw material.

DuPont Central Research & Development, one of the most prestigious and accomplished research organizations in the chemistry world, will soon cease to exist.

A Dec. 17, 2015, memo laid out the company’s plan to combine DuPont Science & Technologies and DuPont Engineering into a single organization called Science & Engineering, effective Jan. 1. “As part of this integration, Central Research & Development will be substantially redesigned to become ‘Science & Innovation,’ ” states the memo, attributed to DuPont Chief Science & Technology Officer Doug Muzyka.

DuPont isn’t commenting on the fate of central research labs at its Chestnut Run facility and Experimental Station, both in Wilmington, Del.

It also isn’t clear what the jobs impact on R&D will be. A letter DuPont CEO Edward Breen sent to the firm’s Delaware-based employees on Dec. 29 disclosed that the state will see a total of 1,700 layoffs. The job eliminations and changes to R&D are part of a DuPont program to cut costs by $700 million and employment by 10% company-wide.

DuPont currently has 54,000 employees, some 6,100 of whom are located in Delaware.

The R&D restructuring comes only weeks after DuPont unveiled a $130 billion merger with Dow Chemical (see page 14). The two companies expect a further $300 million in cuts to R&D when they combine. The new firm, DowDuPont, will then break into three separate companies in about two years. One of these companies will be a specialty products firm with headquarters in Wilmington.

DuPont Central R&D is one of the world’s oldest and most venerable corporate research organizations and has often been compared to the former Bell Labs. DuPont plunged into centralized, fundamental R&D in the 1920s under the guidance of Research Director Charles M. A. Stine. Stine hired Wallace H. Carothers away from Harvard University in 1928. Carothers’s work at DuPont would lead to neoprene and nylon.

DuPont’s labs even spawned a Nobel Laureate. DuPont chemist Charles J. Pedersen shared the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Donald J. Cram and Jean-Marie Lehn for work in synthesizing macrocyclic polyethers, also known as crown ethers.

Since it broke, the news about the fate of Central R&D has stoked the passions of chemists. “The closing of a major research facility and the pressure on large corporations to eliminate spending on basic science may benefit a few wealthy investors, but it is a loss for the U.S. and the world,” noted a commenter named Roy Williams on C&EN’s website.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society
Comments
Jack W, Horvath (Wed Jan 06 11:14:53 EST 2016)
A sad event for science. Hard to believe that such a prestigious organization gets canned; however, this is the kind of thing that happens with corporate mergers. Dow Chemical Company has always been strong on applied research. At Dow, a R&D project has had to lead to a process or product in a very few years or it gets shut down.

This is my personal comment and the name of my employer should not be associated with it.
Michael Zviely (Wed Jan 13 07:12:42 EST 2016)
Dark day for R&D and a bright day for the greedy.
Mark Camenzind, PhD chemist, ACS 37 years (Wed Feb 03 22:13:18 EST 2016)
There are still many jobs for chemists, biochemist and R&D in other areas including materials science, biomed devices and pharma. We have a growing and aging worldwide population and many people getting wealthier as China, India, Brazil etc grow. They will all need better foods, nutrition, understanding of health, cleaner environment, greener energy, cleaner water and cures for disease. Small pox is gone, Polio almost gone, Hepatitis C has cure, but still need to work a lot on understanding many neuroimmune diseases that have been neglected, such as M.E, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, (sometimes called CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome). This is an example of disease with 1-2 million affected in US (20 million worldwide, approx), historically neglected, not even tracked by CDC, on not researched significantly by NIH ($5M per year vs $3B/yr for AIDS, even though AIDS is less common now than ME, & less severe, due to decades of research). This is finally changing since NIH director Francis Collins announced Oct 29, 2015 new focus on M.E., and CDC will finally have 1 hour free Webinar on this by four experts 1pm EST February 16th. Please attend if you have R&D or medical interest, or know someone affected by ME/CFS at http://www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/pdf/archives/2016/feb2016ce.pdf Many opportunities to find biomarkers, cures for many diseases, still. Major R&D is starting now, see End-MECFS.org for example, and many other diseases with similar opportunities for good careers, while curing millions, reducing health care costs (for all parties). These are all personal comments, outside the realm of my day job and do not represent in any way, any position by my employer.
Mark Camenzind, PhD Chemist, ACS 37 years (Wed Feb 03 23:06:31 EST 2016)
There are still many jobs for chemists, biochemist and R&D in other areas including materials science, biomed devices and pharma. We have a growing and aging worldwide population and many people getting wealthier as China, India, Brazil etc grow. They will all need better foods, nutrition, understanding of health, cleaner environment, greener energy, cleaner water and cures for disease. Small pox is gone, Polio almost gone, Hepatitis C has cure, but still need to work a lot on understanding many neuroimmune diseases that have been neglected, such as M.E, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, (sometimes called CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome). This is an example of disease with 1-2 million affected in US (20 million worldwide, approx), historically neglected, not even tracked by CDC, on not researched significantly by NIH ($5M per year for M.E., vs $3B/yr for AIDS, even though AIDS is less common now than ME, & less severe, due to decades of research). This is finally changing since NIH director Francis Collins announced Oct 29, 2015 new focus on M.E., and CDC will finally have 1 hour free Webinar on this by four experts 1pm EST February 16th. Please attend if you have R&D or medical interest, or know someone affected by ME/CFS at http://www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/pdf/archives/2016/feb2016ce.pdf Many opportunities to find biomarkers, cures for many diseases, still. Major R&D is starting now, see End-MECFS.org for example, and many other diseases with similar opportunities for good careers, while curing millions, reducing health care costs (for all parties). These are all personal comments, outside the realm of my day job and do not represent in any way, any position by my employer.
Mark Camenzind, PhD Chemist, ACS 37 years (Wed Feb 03 23:06:33 EST 2016)
There are still many jobs for chemists, biochemist and R&D in other areas including materials science, biomed devices and pharma. We have a growing and aging worldwide population and many people getting wealthier as China, India, Brazil etc grow. They will all need better foods, nutrition, understanding of health, cleaner environment, greener energy, cleaner water and cures for disease. Small pox is gone, Polio almost gone, Hepatitis C has cure, but still need to work a lot on understanding many neuroimmune diseases that have been neglected, such as M.E, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, (sometimes called CFS, chronic fatigue syndrome). This is an example of disease with 1-2 million affected in US (20 million worldwide, approx), historically neglected, not even tracked by CDC, on not researched significantly by NIH ($5M per year for M.E., vs $3B/yr for AIDS, even though AIDS is less common now than ME, & less severe, due to decades of research). This is finally changing since NIH director Francis Collins announced Oct 29, 2015 new focus on M.E., and CDC will finally have 1 hour free Webinar on this by four experts 1pm EST February 16th. Please attend if you have R&D or medical interest, or know someone affected by ME/CFS at http://www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/pdf/archives/2016/feb2016ce.pdf Many opportunities to find biomarkers, cures for many diseases, still. Major R&D is starting now, see End-MECFS.org for example, and many other diseases with similar opportunities for good careers, while curing millions, reducing health care costs (for all parties). These are all personal comments, outside the realm of my day job and do not represent in any way, any position by my employer.
Leave A Comment