Issue Date: September 21, 2009
ACS Honors Heroes Of Chemistry 2009
For improving health and well-being through their exceptional R&D work in dentistry, water purification, and in the treatment of high blood pressure, 15 industrial scientists were named as this year's Heroes of Chemistry. They were recognized during a formal dinner at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Washington, D.C., last month.
The Heroes of Chemistry program, which began in 1996, honors chemical innovators for developing commercially successful products or technologies that benefit humankind. The awards are meant to embody the ACS vision: Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry.
Each year, an ACS panel selects the Heroes of Chemistry from a pool of chemical scientists nominated by their own companies. The Heroes of Chemistry innovations are the "result of the support and vision of corporate management who invest in science, understand its application, and advocate for it within their organizations," ACS President Thomas H. Lane said at the awards event.
This year's Heroes of Chemistry "are a visible reminder of the innovation, vitality, and talent that our profession offers to society," Lane said. "Chemistry continues to be an evolving science that serves as the new foundation for every aspect of our lives. Chemistry is new products, new materials, and a new hope for the future."
One of the 2009 heroes, Sumita B. Mitra, a corporate scientist at 3M ESPE Dental Products Division, is responsible for inventions that "have changed the field of dentistry" to the benefit of patients around the world, Lane said. She developed Filtek Supreme Universal Restorative, a composite material for dental and orthodontic applications. It can be used with adhesives, glass-ionomer systems, and nanotechnology-based materials.
Mitra's R&D work in polymer chemistry, adhesion science, and surface chemistry paved the way for development of materials that allow dentists to achieve reconstruction with the translucency, gloss, and mechanical strength of natural teeth. She invented "a whole genre of new materials—including 'white' fillings—that dentists around the world use as adhesives to glue crowns and veneers to teeth and to repair decayed, cracked, or broken teeth," Lane observed.
3M ESPE Filtek Supreme Universal Restorative is the number one selling dental composite in the U.S. To date, her research has resulted in products that have contributed $2 billion in sales to the company.
Two Dow Chemical scientists—William E. Mickols and the late John E. Cadotte—were recognized as heroes for developing and improving a process for reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology that removes salt from seawater, making it suitable for human consumption. In the 1970s, Cadotte developed the chemical technology for making the thin-film composite RO membranes now used by almost all of the world's current producers of these products. Cadotte, who died in 2005 at age 80, was the founder of FilmTec, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical.
Mickols, senior research scientist at FilmTec, later improved on Cadotte's work. He invented high-efficiency FilmTec RO membranes that can treat up to five times more water per hour, with greater energy efficiency and lower cost. This technology helps to provide clean water around the world; these products have saved lives in regional emergencies, such as those resulting from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Sales of these membranes generated $320 million in revenues last year.
In the pharmaceutical realm, a team of scientists from Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research (NIBR) were named as heroes for their discovery of aliskiren, a medication for the treatment of high blood pressure.
Unlike other medications for this condition, aliskiren works by interfering with the action of the enzyme renin, which triggers a process that can contribute to high blood pressure.
Marketed as Tekturna and Rasilez, the aliskiren medication is the first such drug approved for use in the U.S. and the only direct renin inhibitor available to patients so far.
Heroes on the team are Nissim-Claude Cohen, now chair and chief executive officer of Synergix; Richard GÖschke, who retired from NIBR; Peter Herold, vice president and head of medicinal chemistry at Medicines Co.; Joseph Rahuel, a bioinformatics expert in biomarker development at NIBR; Vittorio Rasetti, head of operations for global discovery chemistry at NIBR; Walter Schilling, who retired as director for discovery alliances for Roche Pharma Partnering; Stefan Stutz, laboratory head at Novartis Pharma; Yasuchika Yamaguchi, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Nagasaki International University, in Japan; and Robert Mah, JÜrgen Maibaum, Pascal Rigollier, and Heinrich Rueeger, who are all senior research investigators at NIBR.
Nominations for the 2010 Heroes of Chemistry will be accepted starting in January 2010. Visit www.acs.org/awards for further information.
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