Issue Date: September 17, 2007
ACS Honors Heroes Of Chemistry 2007
An improved antipsychotic medicine; a cost-effective, environmentally friendly polyester production process; a new treatment for patients with iron overload from transfusions; a new method using corn instead of petrochemicals to create numerous products; and a process that improves packaging for food are the inventions of the 2007 Heroes of Chemistry. Twenty-two of the research chemists responsible for these accomplishments were honored at the recent ACS national meeting in Boston. Individuals were nominated by their companies, and the winners were chosen by an ACS panel.
"Our Heroes of Chemistry this year represent the very best in scientific innovation," said ACS President Catherine T. Hunt at the awards event. "We at ACS applaud them and their corporate management for improving our lives through chemistry in so many ways."
The Heroes of Chemistry program, started in 1996 by ACS, honors industrial chemists and chemical engineers who create commercially successful products that improve the quality of life.
The following are descriptions of the companies' products and achievements and the names of the people selected as this year's Heroes of Chemistry.
Chevron Phillips Chemical, The Woodlands, Texas, developed the Selective 1-Hexene Process (S1H), a revolutionary way to manufacture hexene, a critical component of polyethylene, which is a plastic resin used to produce plastic pipe, film, detergent bottles, and food and beverage containers. S1H is the first and only commercial process to selectively produce comonomer-grade 1-hexene from ethylene, thereby revolutionizing α-olefin technology. The process yields 93% selectivity to 1-hexene with high product purity. The 1-hexene comonomer improves polyethylene, making it an ideal product for packaging foods and allowing for safe and economical shipment and storage of food products around the world.
The individual honored for this research is Ronald D. Knudsen, a former senior research associate at Chevron Phillips Chemical. He is now a senior consultant for the company.
DuPont, Wilmington, Del., with partners Genencor International, Palo Alto, Calif., and Tate & Lyle, Decatur, Ill., developed a new method to use corn instead of petrochemicals to produce propanediol (PDO), which can be formulated into a number of industrial products. Bio-PDO, a key ingredient in the production of DuPont Sorona, a new renewably sourced DuPont polymer for clothing, carpeting, plastics, and other products, uses 30-40% less energy to produce than petroleum-based PDO. Bio-PDO is also being marketed as a glycol replacement in formulations ranging from aircraft deicing fluids to cosmetics and is the key ingredient in DuPont's newest polymer family, DuPont Cerenol polyols. Production of 100 million lb of Bio-PDO is saving 10 million gal of gasoline per year.
Researchers honored for this research are Dennis M. Adkesson, a process engineer with Tate & Lyle, A. E. Staley Manufacturing, Decatur, Ill.; Catherine H. Babowicz, a process engineer at DuPont; Charles E. Nakamura, a biochemist at DuPont; and Gregory M. Whited, a microbiologist at Genencor International.
ExxonMobil Research & Engineering, Fairfax, Va., developed PxMax, the world's most selective catalytic process for producing p-xylene, a key component in the manufacture of polyethylene terephthalate. PET has myriad uses, including woven materials in clothing and home furnishings, containers, liquid-crystal displays, films, and coatings. PxMax dramatically reduces the cost of producing p-xylene. It also has environmental benefits because the process generates less waste and significantly reduces the energy needed to produce p-xylene.
The researchers honored include Jeevan S. Abichandani, R&D manager at Univation, an ExxonMobil joint venture. From ExxonMobil Research & Engineering are Jeffrey S. Beck, manager of corporate strategic research; Art Chester, who retired as a senior scientific adviser; Tom Degnan, manager of breakthrough and leads generation; and Jocelyn Kowalski, a consultant to ExxonMobil's catalyst technology group. Also on the team are Sharon McCullen, an attorney with Morgan Lewis in Philadelphia, and David Olso, who has retired, having worked in ExxonMobil's Central Research Laboratory for more than 35 years.
Novartis AG, Basel, Switzerland, developed Exjade (deferasirox) as a new treatment to help patients who get an iron overload from blood transfusions. A breakthrough in chelation therapy, Exjade is given once daily in liquid form. Iron chelation is often necessary to prevent potentially life-threatening complications of excess iron in patients who receive regular blood transfusions for diseases such as thalassemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, sickle cell disease, and other anemias. Tens of thousands of children and adults around the world have these diseases. For many, the need for transfusions and chelation are lifelong. A single dose of Exjade works throughout the entire day, removing excess iron-including highly toxic labile plasma (unbound) iron-from key organs such as the liver and heart.
Heroes from Novartis who were honored are Peter BÜhlmayer, senior research scientist and program team head in the department of autoimmunity and transplantation; Bernard Faller, who leads the preclinical profiling unit; René Lattmann, a senior research investigator; Hanspeter Nick, senior scientist; Carsten Spanka, senior research investigator; and Paul Zbinden, who was a lab head until 2002, when he moved to Solvias, where he now works as a project leader in the business unit contract synthesis. Also honored is Pierre Acklin, who died in 2006. He had been head of analytical and imaging sciences for the discovery technology department at Novartis.
Researchers at Pfizer, Groton, Conn., developed Geodon (ziprasidone HCl), which was approved by the Food & Drug Administration in 2001. It is an atypical antipsychotic medicine that offers dosing flexibility, proven efficacy, and a favorable side-effect profile. Unlike many other atypical antipsychotics, Geodon does not cause weight gain during long-term therapy, which is a significant advantage. Also marketed under the trademark Zeldox, Geodon is available in more than 85 markets. It became the fastest growing atypical antipsychotic in the U.S. market in 2006 and had worldwide sales in that year of $758 million.
Contributors to this project are Harry R. Howard Jr., retired associate research fellow; John A. Lowe III, a senior research fellow; and Arthur A. Nagel, retired principal research investigator and research adviser with Pfizer.
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