Humanity in Science Award Winners Announced by Phenomenex and The Analytical Scientist

Torrance, CA (March 10, 2015) — Phenomenex, Inc., a global leader in the research and manufacture of advanced technologies for the separation sciences, along with The Analytical Scientist, a leading industry publication, is pleased to announce the inaugural winners of the 2015 Humanity in Science Award: Dr. Peter H. Seeberger and Dr. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern of the Max-Planck Institutes in Potsdam and Magdeburg, Germany for their groundbreaking work on antimalarial drugs.

The Humanity in Science Award is an international research prize launched in 2014 by Phenomenex and The Analytical Scientist, recognizing a breakthrough in analytical science that has truly changed lives for the better. Applications were received from around the world, addressing humanitarian challenges such as keeping our food and water safe to developing new and better medicines.

“It has been such a pleasure for us to discover the incredible contributions to humanity by so many analytical scientists around the world,” says Fasha Mahjoor, President and CEO of Phenomenex. “Scientists are humble people and, often, their work goes without publicity. We are so pleased to bring light to this amazing life-saving work and to honor our deserving winners with the grand prize.”

Seeberger and Seidel-Morgenstern’s winning essay is titled, “Continuous Flow Production and Purification of Malaria Medications” which allows for cheaper antimalarial medications to be produced.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 584,000 people died from malaria in 2013; 90 percent of deaths were in Africa. The most effective drugs to treat malaria are artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), which are expensive – and prone to counterfeiting. Up to 50 percent of ACTs in Africa and Asia are counterfeit. By coupling flow chemistry with advanced chromatography methods, Seeberger and Seidel-Morgenstern discovered that ACTs can be produced from plant waste material, air, and light. The new process, currently being implemented in a pilot plant in Vietnam, produces an active pharmaceutical ingredient with an HPLC purity of greater than 99.5 percent, which meets the standards set by the FDA and WHO.

“We were all overwhelmed by the quality of the entries received for the Humanity in Science Award,” said Rich Whitworth, Editor of The Analytical Scientist. “The judging process was no easy task – and that’s why we invited an international team of thoughtleaders to assess the entries. I am happy to report, however, that each and every judge was happy with the outcome. We all offer our congratulations to the winners but also to the runners up. I truly hope that this annual award serves its singular purpose – to shine the spotlight on the great work of analytical scientists around the world.”

Seeberger and Seidel-Morgenstern will receive $25,000 in prize money and have their inspiring essay published in The Analytical Scientist magazine in 2015 in print and online. They presented their essay at two special Humanity in Science Symposia held at Pittcon on March 10.

“This recognition of our work by an international jury of leading scientists encourages me to continue our work on translating our scientific breakthrough into a production facility. Thereby, those in need of malaria medications will benefit from better access and lower prices while the dangers of fake medications are reduced,” said Seeberger. “This process is just one example of the power of continuous processes that will revolutionize the production of life-saving medications in developing countries.”

“An efficient isolation of a continuously synthesized target component requires the development of advanced separation processes. Considering the reactor effluents generated in Peter’s group as pseudo-ternary mixtures (an impurity fraction 1, the target, and an impurity fraction 2), artemisinin and artesunate could be purified with our process using several periodically operated chromatographic columns. The approach can be applied to also solve other challenging separation problems,” added Seidel-Morgenstern.

Runners Up

Three runners up will all have their work published in The Analytical Scientist in print and online in 2015.

  • Michael H. Gelb & Frantisek Turecek (Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle)“Analytical chemistry in newborn screening”
  • Don Farthing, H. Thomas Karnes, Lynne Gehr, Christine Farthing, Todd Gehr, Terri Larus, & Lei Xi (Virginia Commonwealth University)“Translational research on the use of a rapid analytical methodology for detecting acute cardiac ischemia, at early onset of a heart attack”
  • Serge Rudaz & Julie Schappler (School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Geneva)“Low-cost analytical device based on capillary electrophoresis (CE) for counterfeit drug detection and sub-standard drug quality control”

About the Winners

Dr. Peter H. Seeberger
After completing his PhD at the University of Colorado and performing research at the Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center Research in New York, Peter Seeberger built an independent research program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was promoted to Firmenich Associate Professor of Chemistry with tenure after just four years. Following six years as professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, he assumed positions as director at the Max- Planck Institute for Colloids and Surfaces in Potsdam and Professor at the Free University of Berlin in 2009.

Seeberger’s research on the chemistry and biology of carbohydrates, continuous flow chemistry and automation of chemistry, carbohydrate vaccine development and a broad range of topics from engineering to immunology has been documented in over 380 peer-reviewed journal articles, more than 35 patents, and more than 680 invited lectures.

Through his work in the area of neglected diseases, Peter Seeberger has also become involved in philanthropic causes. He is a co-founder of the Tesfa-Ilg ‘Hope for Africa’ Foundation that aims to improve healthcare in Ethiopia.

Dr. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern
Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern received his PhD from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin. After working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, he defended a Habilitation at the Technical University Berlin. Subsequently he worked for Schering AG in Berlin, before becoming professor of Chemical Process Engineering at the Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg in 1995. In 2002, he was appointed as a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, where he is head of the ‘Physical and Chemical Foundations of Process Engineering’ group.

The research interests of Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern include heterogeneous catalysis, the development of new reactor concepts, crystallization, adsorption and preparative chromatography. The results of his work are published in almost 400 research papers.

Seidel-Morgenstern is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the German National Academy of Science and Engineering (Acatech).

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The Analytical Scientist magazine, published by Texere Publishing Ltd, integrates all aspects of analytical science, from advances in science and technology to first-hand accounts from the labs that test athlete’s samples; and from progress in business and policy to advice for career development and job satisfaction. The publication encompasses a print magazine, a global website optimized for tablets and smartphones, and an iPad app. The Analytical Scientist can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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