'Heroes of Chemistry' honored for improving health, environment

08/22/05

WASHINGTON — Revolutionary treatments for psychosis, myeloid leukemia and dental disease; a process that yields cleaner gasoline; and materials to make smaller denser computer chips and microprocessors are the accomplishments of the 2005 Heroes of Chemistry, who will be honored on Sept. 28 during the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Eighteen research chemists from five companies were named Heroes of Chemistry by the ACS for improving health and well-being by creating new drugs or other products and inventing environmentally friendly and more effective technologies. The awards specifically honor "chemical innovators whose work has led to the welfare and progress of humanity" in a significant way in the past decade.

Multidisciplinary teams from Colgate-Palmolive Co., ExxonMobil and Albemarle, IBM Research, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development and Novartis have been recognized by the ACS for their innovative work. Individuals are nominated by their companies and the winners are chosen by an ACS panel in recognition of industrial work that has lead to the successful development and commercial sale of a technological product.

"Heroes save lives and change things for the better," says ACS President William F. Carroll, Jr., Ph.D. "Through their inventions, these Heroes of Chemistry have done just that. We at ACS celebrate them and the thousands of others who bring the benefits of chemistry to us all every day."

The Heroes of Chemistry program, started in 1996 by the ACS, honors industrial chemists and chemical engineers who create commercially successful products that improve the quality of life.

The keynote speaker for the 2005 Heroes awards program is Tom Peters, international bestselling author, consultant, columnist and stage performer, who is credited with helping to reshape new management thinking with his energy, style and ideas.

Following are descriptions of the companies' products and achievements, followed by the names of the 18 people selected as this year's Heroes of Chemistry:

Colgate-Palmolive Co., Piscataway, NJ., developed Colgate Total® toothpaste, the first toothpaste approved by the Food and Drug Administration to fight cavities, gingivitis, plaque and tarter, and to fight bad breath for up to 12 hours. Colgate Total® has been endorsed by 31 professional dental associations throughout the world. Its unique patented formula contains a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent plus a special combination of polymers to deliver it. The total cost of dental diseases in the United States is expected to reach nearly $90 billion by the end of 2005. This toothpaste has been shown to reduce gingivitis by 88 percent.

ExxonMobil and Albemarle developed SCANfining and SCANfining II — gasoline sulfur reduction processes that significantly lower the amount of sulfur in gasoline and, in conjunction with advanced treatment of vehicle exhaust emissions, will lead to improved air quality. Over the past 30 years, large reductions in hydrocarbon, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions have been achieved in the United States through cleaner burning fuels and improved vehicle technology. Government mandates are now requiring even lower vehicle emissions and lower sulfur fuels. SCANfining selectively removes sulfur from catalytically cracked naphtha –– used for gasoline blending –– while retaining 80 percent more octane value compared to conventional sulfur-removal processes. High octane components are important for the high performance of today's internal combustion engines.

IBM developed chemically improved materials that are now the "gold standard" for creating smaller, denser computer chips and microprocessors. Before IBM developed these new materials, the industry was facing a roadblock: Prevailing photolithography technology could not produce the smaller features needed to make more advanced microelectronics. IBM's family of "chemically amplified photoresist" materials uses a self-sustaining catalytic process to provide the improved resolution required to create the smaller features. Now used universally, these materials have permitted the miniaturization of electronics that have enabled such diverse computing advancements as teraflop supercomputers, global positioning receivers, multifunction cell phones, devices that improve health care delivery, and expansion of the Internet to enable mapping of the human genome.

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development developed RISPERDAL®, considered a standard in the treatment of psychosis, which helped revolutionize anti-psychotic therapies. It is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of bipolar I disorder, or to treat acute to manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. FDA also recently approved it for treating bipolar mania. RISPERDAL® is approved for use as therapy alone or in combination with drugs called mood stabilizers, such as lithium or valproate. Symptoms of bipolar mania are thought to be caused by imbalances of dopamine and serotonin, chemicals in the brain. Exactly how RISPERDAL® works is unknown, but it seems to adjust the balance of dopamine and serotonin. While it's not a cure, RISPERDAL® may help control symptoms, allowing patients to reconnect with their lives.

Novartis developed Gleevec®, a new class of "molecular medicines" that specifically targets an enzyme responsible for the uncontrollable growth of cancer cells in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. This is one form of cancer of the blood-forming tissue, primarily the bone marrow and lymph nodes. Historically, chronic myeloid leukemia has been nearly always fatal. In clinical trials with Gleevec®, the white blood cell count returned to normal for 98 percent of chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with the medication. Unlike traditional cancer treatment, which targets normal as well as cancer cells, this new therapy more often spares the normal tissue and thus avoids causing some of the serious side effects seen with some chemotherapies.

The Colgate-Palmolive Co. winner:

Abdul Gaffar, Ph.D., is vice president, growth technology development, Colgate-Palmolive, Piscataway, N.J. He received a Ph.D. in immunochemistry/microbiology in 1967 from Ohio State University.

The ExxonMobil and Albemarle winners:

Garland B. Brignac is an advanced research associate at ExxonMobil Process Research Laboratories, Baton Rouge, La. He received a B.S. in general studies in 1974 from Louisiana State University.

Bruce R. Cook, Ph.D., is a senior research associate at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co., Annandale, N.J. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1986 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne.

Richard A. Demmin, Ph.D., is an engineering associate in the EMPR Compositional Modeling Section at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co., Paulsboro, N.J. He received a Ph.D. in 1986 in chemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

John P. Greeley is an advanced engineering associate at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co., Fairfax, Va. He received a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1980 from Rutgers University.

Thomas R. Halbert, Ph.D., is a distinguished research associate at ExxonMobil Process Research Laboratories, Baton Rouge, La. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1977 from Stanford University.

Jeffrey L. Kaufman is a distinguished engineering associate at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co., Baytown, Texas. He received an M.S. in chemical engineering in 1972 from Purdue University.

Mark Lapinski, Ph.D., formerly of ExxonMobil, is a senior technical specialist at UOP, Des Plaines, Ill. He received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1989 from the University of Texas, Austin.

Steve Mayo is development manager at Albemarle Catalyst Co., LP, Houston, Texas. He received a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1983 from Texas A&M University.

Craig A. McKnight, formerly on loan to ExxonMobil Process Research Laboratories, is a senior research associate at Syncrude Canada, Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He received an M.A.SC. in chemical engineering in 1987 from Queens University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Kenneth L. Riley, Ph.D., an ExxonMobil annuitant, is a senior scientist for Albemarle Catalyst Co., LP, Houston, Texas. He received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1967 from Louisiana State University.

The IBM winners:

Hiroshi Ito, Ph.D., is research staff member, IBM Research's Almaden Research Center, San Jose, Calif. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1976 from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

C. Grant Willson, Ph.D., formerly with IBM Research, is now a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1973 from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development winner:

Ludo Kennis, Ing., is a senior research fellow at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., in Beerse, Belgium. He received a degree in industrial engineering in chemistry in 1966 from the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

The Novartis winners:

Peter Graf, Ph.D., is on the Exploratory Development Team at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Basel, Switzerland. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1972 from the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Ulrike B. Pfaar, Ph.D., is an expert pharmacokineticist, Business Unit Oncology, Novartis AG, Basel, Switzerland. She received a Ph.D. in physiological chemistry in 1988 from the University of Bonn, Germany.

Peter M. Traxler, Ph.D., is retired, but is a consultant to Novartis and several start-up companies. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1969 from the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Jürg Zimmermann, Ph.D., is head of a unit at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel, Switzerland . He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1988 from the ETH - Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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