The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently announced its Heroes of Chemistry for 2017 and the list includes Janet’s team at Genentech. The Genentech heroes were recognized for the discovery and development of ERIVEDGE® (vismodegib), the first medicine to be approved for the treatment of metastatic or locally advanced basal cell carcinoma.
The ACS describes its Heroes of Chemistry awards as recognition of the “talented industrial chemical scientists whose work has led to the development of successful commercialized products ingrained with chemistry for the benefit of humankind. Heroes … are scientists and engineers who have made the world better through their effort, ingenuity, creativity and perseverance. The life-saving treatments and conveniences of the modern world would not be possible without the materials, drugs, and other products of chemistry.”
Update: When I read the C&EN announcement I recalled a conversation that I had had with my colleague, Prof. Rebecca LaLonde [2013-], about her time at Genentech (2003-5). I walked down the hall to check on my memories, and it turns out there is a second Reed tie-in to the ERIVEDGE® project. Before entering graduate school at U. California-Berkeley, LaLonde ’01 worked in Janet’s Genentech laboratory and synthesized key precursors to the new medicine. Rebecca left Genentech for graduate school at UC Berkeley, and so her name doesn’t appear on the list of ACS honorees, but she’s still a hero in my book. -Alan