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Richard Silverman Awarded Prestigious Perkin Medal

March 17, 2009 | by Megan Fellman
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Richard B. Silverman, the John Evans Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, has been awarded the Perkin Medal by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI).

The prestigious international award, the highest honor given for outstanding applied chemistry in the United States, is named for Sir William Henry Perkin (1838-1907) who created the world's first synthetic aniline dye, which revolutionized color chemistry and opened up new possibilities for a range of industries, notably textiles and clothing. SCI, with members in more than 70 countries, furthers the application of chemistry and related sciences for the public benefit.

Much of Silverman's research has been in the area of epilepsy, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. His interdisciplinary group investigates the molecular mechanisms of drug action, rational design and syntheses of medicinal agents that primarily inhibit enzymes, and the mechanisms of enzymes.

He is a member of Northwestern's Center for Drug Discovery and Chemical Biology, Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, Institute for Neuroscience and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

He is author of three books, including the widely used text, "The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action," now in its second edition, and 250 articles in organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry and enzymology. Silverman holds 40 patents, and his research has been supported by numerous grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health.

Silverman has received numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the Arthur C. Cope Senior Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award, the Northwestern University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award and the E. LeRoy Hall Award for Teaching Excellence. He also was the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence. Silverman is a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1989 Silverman and his Northwestern research group first synthesized an organic molecule, which ultimately was marketed as Lyrica, a drug used to combat epilepsy, neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia that is sold by Pfizer, Inc. Northwestern and Silverman receive a portion of the sales income as royalties.

Silverman donated to the University a portion of the royalties that he receives from sales of the drug. The gift from Silverman and his wife, Barbara, is helping fund the construction of a new building, expected to open this fall, named the Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics and Diagnostics.

Silverman Hall will house 16 research groups in chemistry, biology and engineering. The focus of the building is to enhance interactions and collaborations among the chemists, biologists and engineers in Silverman Hall for the advancement of biomedical research through the development of new medicines and diagnostics.
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