Issue Date: June 4, 2012
Seemon H. Pines
Seemon H. Pines, 86, a retired vice president of process research and development at Merck & Co., died on May 18.
Born in Portland, Maine, Pines was drafted into the Navy in 1944, serving two years as a radioman. After World War II, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University, in 1948. He then attended the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, earning a master’s degree in chemistry in 1949 and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1951 under Nelson J. Leonard.
After finishing his education, Pines joined Merck as a process development chemist, conducting research to develop the process for producing cortisone. Later, he conducted research on a variety of projects, including those to produce niacin, penicillin, bacitracin, neomycin, glutamic acid, methyldopa, and sulindac.
He also contributed to the synthesis and commercial development of Primaxin, a carbapenem antibiotic. For this work, he received the Directors’ Award, the highest honor Merck bestows on its researchers. Pines donated the prize money to the University of Illinois’ chemistry department to sponsor its annual Allerton Research Conference, which offers students and chemistry researchers the opportunity to present their work. To foster student development, he also established the Pines Travel Award and the Seemon Pines Award, which is granted each year for the most outstanding research presentation given at the Allterton Research Conference.
After retiring from Merck as a vice president in 1991, Pines consulted for companies, including Sapphire Therapeutics. He is credited with more than 30 publications and 50 patents. He was an emeritus member of ACS, which he joined in 1951.
He was an avid photographer, and his photos were exhibited on the walls of the research buildings at Merck. In retirement, he documented his extensive travels through photography.
Pines is survived by his son, David; daughter, Marcia Philipson; and three grandchildren. His wife, Natalie, predeceased him.
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