National Academy of Sciences: Dr. DeGrado and Dr. Hirschmann

Dr. William F. DeGrado, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the School of Medicine, and Dr. Ralph F. Hirschmann, the Makineni Professor of Bioorganic Chemistry in SAS, have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. They are among 60 members and 15 foreign associates chosen for "distinguished and continuing achievements in original research."

Dr. Hirschmann is known for synthesis of molecules with specific biological and medicinal functions, producing breakthroughs such as a new class of anti-inflammatory steroids and a new approach to the treatment of insulin-requiring diabetics. An Oberlin alumnus who took his Ph.D. from Wisconsin, he came to Penn as a research professor in 1987 from the senior vice presidency/chemistry of Merck & Co. Inc., where he had spent the first 34 years of his career. He was named to the Rao Makineni chair in 1994. He has received the American Chemical Society's Arthur C. Cope Award and many other honors, including honorary degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Dr. DeGrado, noted especially for his de novo design of biologically active proteins and peptides, has also had a distinguished career that has encompassed both industry and academe. He was an adjunct professor of biochemistry and biophysics here for five years before he left his post as senior director of DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company's Medicinal Chemistry Department to join Penn full time in 1996. He is an alumnus of Kalamazoo College who took his Ph.D. in chemistry from Chicago in 1981 and began his career as a research chemist that year with DuPont. Throughout, he held visiting and adjunct positions in universities--among them Sloan Visiting Lecturer at Harvard; adjunct professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins; visiting professor at CUNY; and Wellcome Visiting Professor at LSU. His honors include the 1992 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry and the DuPont Merck Summit Award for 1993.

 William DeGrado

(Sketch by P. Leslie Dutton, courtesy of DeGrado)

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 31, May 4, 1999


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