American Institute of Chemists names Ralph Hirschmann AIC Gold Medalist

April 16, 2003

PHILADELPHIA - 11 April 2003 -- The American Institute of Chemists (AIC) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) will present the 2003 AIC Gold Medal to Ralph F. Hirschmann. The award ceremony will be part of Heritage Day festivities at CHF in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, 12 June 2003.

"It is fitting that the first AIC Gold Medal awarded jointly by CHF and the AIC be presented to a pharmaceutical researcher with the talent, skills, and insight of Ralph Hirschmann," said Arnold Thackray, president of CHF. "At Merck, he was head of the effort that developed effective drugs to treat hypertension, congestive heart failure, severe infection, river blindness in developing countries, and many other illnesses. His remarkable accomplishments as a researcher include the synthesis of the enzyme ribonuclease in solution, the first example of protein synthesis."

The presentation of the AIC Gold Medal will be part of a day devoted to celebrating the achievement and promise of the chemical and molecular sciences. Heritage Day begins with the awarding of the Othmer Gold Medal to John D. Baldeschwieler and George S. Hammond. In the late afternoon, Hirschmann will receive the AIC Gold Medal. Following a reception, the Winthrop-Sears Medal of The Chemists' Club will be presented at a dinner at nearby Carpenter's Hall.

Ralph F. Hirschmann
Ralph F. Hirschmann is Makineni Professor of Bioorganic Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the Penn faculty in 1987 after retiring as Merck's senior vice president of basic research. He was affiliated with Merck for 37 years, during which time he fostered interdisciplinary research as well as collaborations between academia and industry, practices he has continued at Penn.

Several widely used medications stem from Hirschmann's tenure at Merck, including the parasite-fighting Ivomec. And, in a major theoretical contribution to organic chemistry, he was the first to discover that chemical transformations can be controlled at the same time by both the disposition of electrons and the geometric arrangement of atoms, a concept he termed stereoelectronic control.

In addition to his Penn post, Hirschmann served from 1987 to 1999 as University Professor of Biomedical Research at the Medical University of South Carolina; that university and the University of Wisconsin have both established Ralph F. Hirschmann professorships in his honor. He holds honorary doctorates from these two institutions as well as Oberlin College, where he also served on the Board of Trustees.
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About the AIC Gold Medal
First awarded by the American Institute of Chemists in 1926, the Gold Medal is the AIC's highest award. It recognizes service to the science of chemistry and to the profession of chemist or chemical engineer in the United States. Previous winners of the AIC Gold Medal include Nobel laureates Glenn T. Seaborg and Herbert C. Brown, as well as renowned researchers and engineers representing many facets of the world of chemistry. Recent medalists include F. Albert Cotton, Alfred Bader, Harry B. Gray and Arnold O. Beckman.

About the AIC
Founded in 1923, the AIC advances the chemical sciences by establishing high professional standards of practice and emphasizing the professional, ethical, economic, and social status of its members for the benefit of society as a whole. The AIC engages in a broad range of programs for professional enhancement through the prestigious Fellow membership category, awards program, certification programs, meetings, publications and public relations activities.

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation
The Chemical Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, operates a historical research library; creates and circulates traveling exhibits; develops and disseminates educational materials; publishes books and Chemical Heritage newsmagazine; offers fellowships and travel grants; conducts oral histories with leading scientists and industrialists; and hosts awards, conferences, and public events. For more information, visit www.chemheritage.org

Chemical Heritage Foundation

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