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April 26, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 18


Franklin Institute Awards For 2004

The Franklin Institute has announced the Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award Laureates for 2004. Laureates will be honored formally at a gala awards ceremony and dinner on April 29, at the Franklin Institute, in Philadelphia.

Widely regarded as the American Nobel Prizes, these awards aim to reflect upon the spirit of discovery embodied by Benjamin Franklin, as well as the power of science to inspire lives and encourage future innovation and discovery.

Franklin Institute awards honoring chemists and researchers in related sciences are described.

The Bower Award for Achievement in Science in the Field of Brain Research and the accompanying $250,000 cash prize goes to Caltech geneticist Seymour Benzer for his pioneering discoveries that both founded and greatly advanced the field of neurogenetics. In addition to providing insights into the genetic basis of brain function and pathology, Benzer also is honored for his discoveries in molecular biology and physics early in his career. This is the only cash prize that the Franklin Institute awards.

The Bower Award for Business Leadership in the Field of Brain Research goes to physician and inventor Raymond V. Damadian for his development and commercialization of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used in clinical applications. According to the institute, the development and commercialization of MRI has given the world "a Jules Verne view inside our bodies such that even the inner workings of the brain are now within reach." Today, more than 60 million MRIs are performed each year around the world.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry goes to Harry B. Gray for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of the underlying physics and chemistry that control electron transfer in metalloproteins. Specifically, Gray has applied his knowledge of inorganic chemistry to biological processes. He and his team identified the molecular pathway by which electrons move in proteins that contain a bound metal ion such as iron or magnesium in their structure.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering goes to Roger Bacon for his fundamental research on the production of graphite whiskers and the determination of their microstructure and properties; for his pioneering development efforts in the production of the world's first continuously processed carbon fibers and the world's first high-modulus, high-strength carbon fibers using rayon precursors; and for his contributions to the development of carbon fibers from alternative starting materials.

The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics goes to Robert B. Meyer for his creative synthesis of theory and experiment demonstrating that tilted, layered liquid-crystal phases of chiral molecules are ferroelectric, thus launching fundamental scientific advancement in the field of soft condensed matter physics and in the development of liquid-crystal displays that meet the demands of current technology.


2003 Hillebrand Prize To Kenneth Jacobson

Kenneth A. Jacobson, director of the new Chemical Biology Core Facility at the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., has received the 2003 Hillebrand Prize of the Chemical Society of Washington (CSW), the American Chemical Society's Washington, D.C., section.

Jacobson is a medicinal chemist with interests in the structure and pharmacology of G-protein-coupled receptors, in particular, receptors for adenosine and nucleotides such as adenosine 59-triphosphate (ATP). He has taken an interdisciplinary approach involving synthesis and the in-depth study of both the ligands, which are potential therapeutic agents, and their protein targets. His group was the first to model adenosine and ATP receptors based on a rhodopsin template, and, in 1996, they introduced the first online database of receptor mutagenesis. He was the first to introduce selective, high-affinity agonists or antagonists of the A1, A2B, and A3 adenosine receptors and P2Y1 nucleotide receptors, which are used universally as pharmacological research tools.

Jacobson has developed a "functionalized congener approach" to drug design. His approach to ligand development and receptor modeling of A3 adenosine receptors was featured as a cover story in C&EN (Feb. 12, 2001, page 37).

The annual Hillebrand Prize, awarded for original contributions to the science of chemistry by members of CSW, is named for William F. Hillebrand (1853–1925), one of Washington's most distinguished chemists. It is CSW's most prestigious honor.

Nominations For Smissman Bristol-Myers Squibb Award

Nominations are sought for the 2005 Smissman Bristol-Myers Squibb Award. The award is open to a living scientist, in the U.S. or abroad, whose research, teaching, and/or service has had a substantial impact on the intellectual and theoretical development of the field of medicinal chemistry. In general, the award is intended for scientists relatively late in their active scientific careers whereupon a substantial body of creative work is available and sufficient time has passed to place their work in perspective. Nominations must include a letter of nomination, a seconding letter (optional, but highly recommended), and a recent curriculum vitae of the nominee. All materials must be received by Sept. 1. Nominators are encouraged to contact Wayne Brouillette, chair of the Awards Nominating Committee, before submission. Please submit nominations to Wayne Brouillette, Department of Chemistry, 901--14th St. South, CHEM 201, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-1240; phone (205) 934-8288; fax (205) 934-2543; e-mail:


Boehringer Ingelheim Award To Walsh

The ACS Division of Chemical Toxicology announces that Christopher T. Walsh of Harvard Medical School has been selected as the 2004 recipient of the Boehringer Ingelheim Award. Walsh will present an award lecture, "Antibiotics: Past, Present & Future," on Aug. 23 at the 228th ACS national meeting in Philadelphia.

Walsh was selected for the award on the basis of his definitive studies on the mechanisms by which xenobiotic chemicals affect living organisms. Of particular importance is his work with antibiotics and antibiotic resistance. There is a constant need for new generations of antibiotics as bacterial pathogens inevitably develop resistance to existing antibacterial drugs. Walsh's lecture will survey past triumphs, present strategies, and future challenges to discovery of new antibiotics, as well as the need for new molecules to test against validated targets turned up by bacterial genomics and informatics.



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