Issue Date: September 27, 2004
CHEMISTRY'S HEROES RECOGNIZED BY ACS
The American Chemical Society honored chemists from 3M, QLT Inc., Schering-Plough, and Wyeth at the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia for improving health and well-being through the successful research and development of commercial biotechnology products that involved chemistry or biochemistry contributions.
The chemists were honored at a black-tie gala that featured a guest lecture by James D. Watson, president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery, with Francis H. C. Crick, of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (C&EN, Aug. 30, page 3).
One Heroes of Chemistry Award recognized John F. Gerster and Richard L. Miller of 3M for developing Aldara (imiquimod) cream 5% for the treatment of genital warts, actinic kertoses, and various forms of skin cancer. Aldara is based on imidazoquinolines, a family of immune-response modifiers that stimulate the cell-mediated side of the immune system, causing the body to generate its own protection through production of interferons and other cytokines.
David H. Dolphin of QLT Inc. received a Heroes of Chemistry Award for developing Visudyne (verteporfin), the only current biopharmaceutical treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. Visudyne treats the "wet" form of AMD, which is characterized by the formation of abnormal blood vessels under the central part of the retina. The drug is injected into a patient and activated by shining a nonthermal laser into the eye.
Another award went to Shering-Plough's Duane A. Burnett, John W. Clader, Brian A. McKittrick, Stuart B. Rosenblum, and Sundeep Dugar for developing Zetia (ezetimibe), a drug that represents the first new approach to reducing cholesterol levels since the discovery of statins. Statins block enzymes that produce cholesterol, but Zetia blocks the intestines from absorbing cholesterol.
Wyeth researchers George A. Ellestad, Philip R. Hamann, Janis Upeslacis, Parimal R. Desai, and Donald R. Miller received an award for developing Mylotarg, an antibody-based drug-delivery conjugate used to treat acute myelogenous leukemia. Mylotarg uses an antibody to target cancer cells with a potent antitumor agent while sparing normal tissue.
The Heroes of Chemistry Program is administered by the ACS Membership Division's Office of Industry Member Programs. Since 1996, the Heroes of Chemistry Program has honored chemical scientists whose work in traditional or nontraditional fields of chemistry and chemical engineering has led to the successful innovation and development of commercial products based on chemistry. The program celebrates industrial scientists for their inventive contributions to their companies, the chemical enterprise, and humankind.
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