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Roche Symposium Showcases Accomplishments of Next Generation of Chemists


Roche has honored 12 outstanding Ph.D. students and two professors with the company’s Excellence in Chemistry Award for research accomplishments in the field of organic chemistry. The winners participated in Roche’s annual Chemistry Symposium where they gained a real-world perspective on the important role of organic chemistry in pharmaceutical discovery. This year’s fourth annual symposium was held here on June 4 and 5. The event alternates on an annual basis between Roche research centers in Nutley, New Jersey, and Palo Alto, California.

“The Chemistry Symposium is a bridge between cutting-edge researchers in academia and at Roche and is intended to demonstrate the value of chemistry in creating new medications and therapies that help save lives and create a better quality of life for patients,” said Nader Fotouhi, Ph.D., vice president, Roche Discovery Chemistry. “We hope that this next generation of chemists leave with a deeper comprehension of the important contribution they are making through their research.”

During the symposium, students discussed their research projects and were given overviews of the drug discovery process by Roche scientists. In addition, there were plenary lectures by this year’s faculty award winners: Professors David MacMillan of Princeton University and Melanie Sanford of the University of Michigan. The winners also heard case histories in medicinal and process chemistry and were given a tour of the Nutley site.

The students were chosen by Roche chemists in Palo Alto and Nutley through a rigorous selection process. More than 45 faculty members at prominent U.S. universities were invited to nominate students to participate in the symposium. Professors were asked to consider students who might be interested in the pharmaceutical industry and who are one to two years from completing their Ph.D. The submissions required a supporting letter from the nominee, the student’s resume and a short research summary. Besides the opportunity to attend and present their research projects at the Chemistry Symposium, the students each received a crystal award and a cash prize. Professors MacMillan and Sanford each received an unrestricted grant in addition to the award.

Representing a range of prestigious institutions, the 12 winners this year were: Britton K. Corkey (University of California at Berkeley), Lopa V. Desai (University of Michigan), Jonathan F. Lawrence (Harvard University), Ryan M. McFadden (California Institute of Technology), Stephanie M. Ng (Boston College), Sze-Sze Ng (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Alison E. Ondrus (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Ryan Ashok Shenvi (The Scripps Research Institute), Suvi T.M. Simila (University of Texas at Austin), Matthew Volgraf, (University of California at Berkeley), Laura C. Wieland (Boston College), and Yi Zhang (Harvard University).


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