October 25, 2016

The Welch Foundation Celebrates 2016 Welch Award Recipients

Houston, TX – October 25, 2016 – The Welch Foundation, one of the nation’s largest sources of private funding for basic chemical research, awarded Dr. Richard H. Holm and Dr. Stephen J. Lippard with the 2016 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry. Highly-respected and influential leaders in the fields of inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry, Drs. Holm and Lippard are recognized for their important research contributions which have had a significant, positive impact on mankind. They were honored at the Welch Award Banquet on October 24. Drs. Holm and Lippard will share the $500,000 Welch Award.

“Both Dr. Holm and Dr. Lippard represent the intrinsic mission of The Welch Foundation—to improve the lives of others through the advancement of chemical research,” said Charles W. Tate, Chair and Director, The Welch Foundation Board of Directors. “In addition to their important contributions to the scientific and medical communities, they are both respected as remarkable mentors and teachers, helping to usher in future generations of scientists.”

As the Higgins Research Professor at Harvard University, Dr. Holm is credited with changing the manner in which inorganic chemistry is applied. According to his esteemed counterparts, the intellectual rigor Dr. Holm has brought to the discipline transformed the way inorganic chemists approach new synthetic problems and informs the methods of new generations of chemists, thereby raising the standards and enlarging the accomplishments of an entire field of chemistry. His notable achievements in research include developing a rational approach to synthesis of biomimetic low molecular weight complexes that duplicate biological Fe-S centers and creating the chemical and intellectual framework for understanding their function.

Dr. Holm received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and went on to earn his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin, MIT and Stanford University. He joined Harvard University in 1980. Dr. Holm has published numerous research papers in various areas in inorganic chemistry and held more than 90 named lectureships and plenary lectures in the U. S. and abroad.

Dr. Stephen J. Lippard, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at MIT, is widely considered one of the ‘founding fathers’ of bioinorganic chemistry, a new field at the interface of inorganic chemistry and biology. One of his most notable accomplishments is contributing to research that involves the role of metal ions in biological systems, allowing an unprecedented understanding of the mechanism and basis of cytotoxicity of a clinically very effective therapeutic drug, cisplatin. Cisplatin is one of the leading antitumor agents, and platinum drugs are used in the treatment of about half the cancer patients who receive chemotherapy. Cisplatin is especially effective against testicular cancer. Thanks, in large part, to this drug, cures are now possible in approximately 90 percent of cases. In addition, he has addressed critically important clinical issues, including how to deliver cisplatin more effectively and how to design more effective platinum drugs.

Dr. Lippard performed his undergraduate work at Haverford College and received his Ph.D. from MIT. Following more than 16 years at Columbia University, he returned to MIT to join the faculty in 1983. He has authored more than 900 papers, multiple patents and co-authored a classic textbook in bioinorganic chemistry. He has also received multiple awards, including the 2004 National Medal of Science.

“Steve Lippard and Dick Holm are pioneers in the field of bioinorganic chemistry,” said Peter B. Dervan, Chair, The Welch Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. “They have revealed the crucial role of metals in biology and human medicine, as well as inspired and mentored the next generation of researchers.”

The Welch Foundation, based in Houston, is one of America’s largest private funding sources for basic chemical research. Since 1954, the organization has contributed more than $837 million to the advancement of chemistry through research grants, departmental programs, endowed chairs, and other special projects at educational institutions in Texas. The purpose of the Welch Award is to foster and encourage basic chemical research and to recognize, in a substantial manner, the value of chemical research contributions for the benefit of mankind as set forth in the will of Robert Alonzo Welch.

For more information on the Foundation and a list of previous Welch Award recipients, please visit www.welch1.org.


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