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Web Date: June 7, 2013

Bruce Roth Awarded 2013 Perkin Medal

Honors: Chemist was the first to synthesize the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin, also known as Lipitor
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: Bruce D. Roth, Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry, awards
Credit: Genentech
Bruce Roth
Credit: Genentech

The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) has selected Bruce D. Roth, vice president of discovery chemistry at Genentech, as the winner of the 2013 Perkin Medal. The annual award is recognized as the highest honor given for outstanding work in applied chemistry in the U.S.

“I look at the list of people who have won this award, and I’m humbled to know that my name will be listed with them,” Roth says, noting that one of the past recipients was Herbert W. Boyer, cofounder of Genentech. “It’s a tremendous honor to be a part of an incredible group of famous chemists.”

Roth notes that this medal does not represent his achievements alone, but that of all chemists working to improve people’s lives. “I hope that I can well represent our industry,” he says. “I hope [this award is] an inspiration to the many chemists and others who work in our industry who are dedicating their lives to bringing life-changing medicines forward.”

Roth is best known for being the first to synthesize the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug, atorvastatin, which goes by the brand name Lipitor (C&EN, Oct. 31, 2011, page 36). The drug has become the world’s fastest-growing and top-selling pharmaceutical since its launch in 1997.

“Bruce Roth is chemistry’s $10 billion man,” said Andreas Kramvis, chair of SCI America and president and CEO of Honeywell Performance Materials & Technologies. “In 1985, when he was barely past his 31st birthday, Bruce synthesized atorvastatin and improved life for untold millions around the world.”

In addition to his discovery of atorvastatin, Roth is the inventor or coinventor on 42 patents and the author or coauthor of 48 manuscripts, 35 published abstracts, and eight book chapters. His research at Genentech focuses on small-molecule drug discovery for treating life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Prior to joining Genentech, he was vice president of chemistry at Pfizer.

Roth will receive the medal and present an address at a Sept. 17 dinner in Philadelphia, after Innovation Day events at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. The medal, one of the chemical industry’s most prestigious awards, is named for Sir William Henry Perkin, who developed the first synthetic dye, the so-called Perkin mauve, in 1856.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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