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Biological Chemistry

ACS Award for Creative Invention: Richard B. Silverman

by Linda Wang
January 2, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 1

Richard B. Silverman
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Credit: Genie Lemieux, Evanston Photographic Studios
Credit: Genie Lemieux, Evanston Photographic Studios

Sponsor: ACS Corporation Associates

Citation: For his fundamental enzyme inhibitor work resulting in his invention of pregabalin, which has become the blockbuster drug Lyrica, marketed by Pfizer for fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury pain, and epilepsy.

Current position: Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor, Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, Center for Molecular Innovation & Drug Discovery, and Center for Developmental Therapeutics, Northwestern University

Education: B.S., chemistry, Pennsylvania State University; Ph.D., organic chemistry, Harvard University

Silverman on what gets his creative juices going: “The creative juices start to flow when I’m faced with failure (which occurs way too often) and from challenging problems of any nature. As all scientists know all too well, most experiments fail on their first iteration; even before repeating the experiment, I find myself rationalizing what could have happened and beginning to design the next set of experiments. This leads to ideas for new approaches, which are useful even if the original experiment is shown to work after it is repeated.”

What his colleagues say: “Silverman has built a long and distinguished record of ingeniously designing molecules for selective inhibition of enzymes. His basic enzyme inhibitor work resulted in his invention of pregabalin, which has become the blockbuster drug Lyrica, marketed by Pfizer for fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury pain, and epilepsy.”—Stephen J. Benkovic, Pennsylvania State University

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