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Knighthood For Campbell And Poliakoff

by Stephen K. Ritter , Linda Wang
January 26, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 4

Credit: MPP Image Creation/Royal Society of Chemistry
Photo of Campbell.
Credit: MPP Image Creation/Royal Society of Chemistry

Two chemists—one from industry and the other from academia—have been knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2015. The annual event recognizes several hundred U.K. citizens with a range of awards for their good works.

Credit: Brady Haran
Photo of Poliakoff.
Credit: Brady Haran

Simon Campbell, a medicinal chemist who is considered the father of Viagra, and Martyn Poliakoff, Research Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham, in England, were honored for their broad contributions to the chemical sciences.

Campbell spent 26 years at Pfizer Central Research, in Sandwich, England. He retired in 1998 as senior vice president for worldwide discovery and for medicinals research and development in Europe.

Campbell was a key member of the research teams that discovered Cardura, which is used for treating high blood pressure and prostate problems, and the calcium channel blocker Norvasc, which is used to treat high blood pressure and angina. He also initiated and oversaw the research project that led to the discovery of Viagra, the first oral treatment for male erectile dysfunction.

Campbell was the first chair of the Medicines for Malaria Venture, a public-private partnership to develop and facilitate the delivery of new, effective, and affordable antimalarial drugs. He was also heavily involved in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s effort to improve the public’s image of chemistry through its Campaign for Chemical Sciences. He served as president of the Royal Society of Chemistry from 2004 to 2006 and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, the U.K.’s national academy of science, in 1999.

Poliakoff is a global leader in green and sustainable chemistry. In particular, he’s contributed to the development of supercritical carbon dioxide and supercritical water as solvent systems for industrial processing to replace traditional organic solvents. He is also a global science ambassador, serving as vice president and foreign secretary of the Royal Society.

But Poliakoff might be best known for his frizzy mane of hair and the quixotic chemistry-themed neckties he sports as host of a series of YouTube videos about chemistry. “The Periodic Table of Videos” produced by Poliakoff and a daring band of his Nottingham chemistry colleagues has been inspiring would-be scientists and chemistry enthusiasts with a variety of exciting experiments showing the properties of the chemical elements.

The project includes videos dedicated to each element and a host of additional topics including molecules, aspects of physics, famous scientists, and holidays. “The Periodic Table of Videos” effort launched in 2008, and the clips have been viewed more than 80 million times worldwide. One of the latest videos is a special release to celebrate Poliakoff’s knighthood.

Linda Wang compiles this section. Announcements of awards may be sent to



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