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M. Frederick Hawthorne '49 Honored With Prestigious Chemistry Award

M. Frederick Hawthorne ’49 was recently awarded the prestigious Priestly Medal, the highest honor awarded by the American Chemical Society. The annual award is recognition of distinguished service in the field of chemistry.

Hawthorne majored in chemistry at Pomona College and went on to receive his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from UCLA in 1953. He’s considered a pioneer in boron chemistry, having created, alongside colleagues, a collection of boranes, carboranes and metallacarboranes, which have been used in a variety of applications, including medical imaging, drug delivery and nanomachines.

Hawthorne is currently the director of the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and he spent 32 years at the helm of the journal Inorganic Chemistry. He has authored or co-authored more than 500 research papers and 10 patents, and has received international recognition and numerous awards.

According to an interview with Chemical & Engineering News, Hawthorne says his most important work may soon come to fruition. He couldn’t test his creation of “nontoxic carborane-containing liposomes that selectively target cancer cells for destruction by boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT)” at UCLA, where he had taught since 1969 and was appointed University Professor of Chemistry, the most distinguished faculty title in the UC system, because of the lack of the proper testing equipment. So he left for Missouri where a research neutron beam line was available to his team. He now expects to start BNCT animal trials this fall and human trials within five years and, according to the article, “believes carboranes will eventually be ubiquitous in pharmaceuticals.”

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