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Adriano Afonso

by Susan J. Ainsworth
March 7, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 10

Adriano Afonso, 75, a retired Schering-Plough Research Institute medicinal chemist of West Caldwell, N.J., died on Dec. 10, 2010, from complications of brain cancer.

Born in Panjim, Goa, India, into a family of scientists, Afonso received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in chemistry and botany from the University of Bombay in 1957.

He then came to the U.S. to study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1961, working under S. Morris Kupchan.

After conducting postdoctoral work at Indiana University, Afonso joined Schering-Plough Research Institute in 1963. He made pioneering contributions to the synthesis of various biologically active natural products, most notably steroids, peptides, and β-lactams. He was instrumental in the discovery of the cholesterol absorption inhibitor drug Zetia, and his process for synthesizing penem antibiotics is still used today. He retired from the institute as a senior research fellow in chemical research in 1999.

Afonso held 37 U.S. patents and authored or coauthored 53 scientific publications. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1960.

He founded the Afonso Foundation, which engages in educational activities with existing organizations in Goa and the U.S. and provides counseling to families in crisis.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Beverly; daughter, Suzanne Afonso-Smith; son, Eric; and three grandchildren.

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