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ACS Award For Team Innovation: Matthew F. Brown, Paul S. Changelian, Mark E. Flanagan, Michael J. Munchhof, and Chakrapani Subramanyam

by Linda Wang
January 4, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 1

CORRECTION: This story was updated on Jan. 7, 2016. Chakrapani Subramanyam received a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University, not the University of Pennsylvania.

Sponsor: ACS Corporation Associates

Citation: For work leading to the invention of Xeljanz (tofacitinib), the first JAK inhibitor to be approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

What their colleagues say: “I sincerely believe that their landmark discovery of the first successful JAK inhibitor as an oral medicine for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is a dramatic medical advance, which will benefit countless humans for many years to come. I have followed this field and their work for more than a decade and can testify to the scientific excellence, persistence, dedication, and determination of this team.”—Elias J. Corey, Harvard University

Matthew F. Brown

Current position: associate research fellow, Pfizer Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry

Education: B.S., chemistry, Hope College; Ph.D., chemistry, University of California, San Diego

Brown on what gets him inspired:“Data and time to think. I’m most productive when I can carve out several hours of quiet time without meetings or distractions to analyze data, read literature, and formulate new hypotheses. I also find that new ideas often come to me when I’m working out.”

Paul S. Changelian

Current position: director of biology, Confluence Life Sciences

Education: B.S., chemistry, University of Michigan; Ph.D., immunology, Harvard University

Changelian on his current scientific goals:“The understanding of the interplay between the immune system and the development of cancer continues to grow exponentially. My goals for the next 10 years are to acquire greater understanding of these interactions, and to be able to apply my small-molecule drug experience to the development of novel therapies that will further augment the immune response against hard-to-treat tumor types.”

Mark E. Flanagan

Current position: associate research fellow, Pfizer Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry

Education: B.S., chemistry, New York University; Ph.D., chemistry, Colorado State University

Flanagan on what gets him inspired: “Being on a new project; having the sense that our team may be one of the first to work on a newly discovered target or to take a new approach to an existing problem.”

Michael J. Munchhof

Current position: medicinal chemistry consultant, Michael J. Munchhof LLC

Education: B.A., chemistry, Indiana University Southeast; Ph.D., chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Munchhof’s scientific role models: “There are thousands of scientists around the world who are dedicated to finding medicines that benefit those suffering from various diseases. Drug discovery is a challenging and, at times, frustrating endeavor. The majority of research ends in failure with the occasional victory. My role models are the scientists who continue in this challenging field, inspired by knowing that what they do matters.”

Chakrapani Subramanyam

Current position: associate research fellow, Pfizer Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry

Education: M.Sc., chemistry, University of Madras; Ph.D., chemistry, Pennsylvania State University

Subramanyam on his current scientific goals: “I want to continue to innovate and be associated with discovery of drugs to treat cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”



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