News Release

Wyeth chemists honored for Prevnar® first combined pneumococcal vaccine for infants

Grant and Award Announcement

American Chemical Society

Eight research chemists from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals of Sanford, N.C., have been named Heroes of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, for developing Prevnar®, the first and only combined vaccine to help protect infants and young children against invasive pneumococcal disease. The disease is caused by seven common strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae, which are linked to such illnesses and conditions as pneumonia, hearing loss and brain damage.

The Wyeth Pharmaceuticals team will be honored Sept. 7 at the American Chemical Society's 226th national meeting in New York City, along with chemists from Abbott Laboratories, Merck Research Laboratories and Pfizer Inc. Those to be recognized from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals are Steven H. Doares, Ph.D., Ronald J. Eby, Ph.D., the late Chia-Lung Hsieh, Ph.D., Bradley E. Kosiba, Ph.D., Maya Koster, Kent D. Murphy, Velupillai Puvanesarajah, Ph.D., and Dan Joseph Speelman.

"The broad range of invaluable products that our Heroes of Chemistry have developed and commercialized has dramatically advanced the health, well-being and lifestyles of children around the world," said ACS President Elsa Reichmanis, Ph.D. "The chemical advances made by the honorees serve as testimonials to the valuable role chemists and chemical engineers play in improving lives. It is with pride that the ACS recognizes them as Heroes of Chemistry."

Many have termed the introduction of Prevnar® the most important advance in pediatric medicine in the last decade. Prior to the development of the vaccine, Streptococcus pneumoniae was a leading cause of meningitis, bacteremia, pneumonia and bacterial otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear) in young children. If untreated or resistant to treatment, pneumococcal disease can result in hearing loss, learning disabilities, speech and hearing problems, and brain damage. Each year, more than one million children throughout the world die as a result of pneumococcal disease.

The Heroes of Chemistry program will be held in conjunction with a celebration for the 80th anniversary of Chemical & Engineering News, the society's newsmagazine. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, will be the keynote speaker at the joint event. Carson has gained worldwide recognition as the principal surgeon in the separation of the conjoined Binder twins in Germany and, most recently, for his role in the separation of the Bijani twins from Iran.

Started in 1996, the Heroes program honors industrial chemists and chemical engineers who create commercially successful products that improve the quality of life. Each year Heroes of Chemistry are nominated by their own companies to recognize their talent, creativity and innovation within specific segments of the chemistry industry.

This year's Heroes' ceremony recognizes industrial chemists and chemical engineers who improved children's health and wellness by creating commercial products based on chemistry.

The Wyeth Pharmaceuticals award winners:

Steven H. Doares, Ph.D., is associate director, bacterial vaccine development department. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Georgia in 1990

Ronald J. Eby, Ph.D., (retired) was distinguished research scientist and manager, carbohydrate chemistry department. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 1974.

Chia-Lung Hsieh, Ph.D., (deceased), was Vice President, Vaccine Development, Wyeth Lederle Vaccines. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Utah in 1972.

Bradley E. Kosiba, Ph.D., is director, vaccine development operations. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Brandeis University in 1981.

Maya Koster is senior research scientist. She received her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., in 1982.

Kent D. Murphy is manager, technical services. He received his M.S. in chemical engineering from Manhattan College in 1986.

Velupillai Puvanesarajah, Ph.D., is director of analytical development. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from York University, Canada, in 1983.

Dan Joseph Speelman is associate director, analytical development. He received his M.S. in virology from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 1981.


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