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* Robert Linhardt

Robert Linhardt

Linhardt Wins American Chemical Society’s Wolfrom Award

Professor Robert Linhardt has won the 2010 Melville L. Wolfrom Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry.

The organization will honor Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, in August at the Fall 2010 ACS National Exposition in Boston.

“The ACS Wolfrom Award is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Linhardt, a true leader in the carbohydrate chemistry field,” said Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann ’42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer. “Bob is a pre-eminent scientist, researcher, teacher, and inventor. He is a pioneer, and his work continues to be at the forefront of fundamental discoveries and applications that impact society. He is an innovator who has created techniques that employ the most unique solutions to real-world problems. We are truly fortunate to have Bob at Rensselaer.”

Linhardt has made significant contributions in boosting the safety of the blood thinner heparin, helping discover in 2008 a contaminant in the drug that resulted in hundreds of patients falling ill. He is also leading the effort to create a safer, non-animal-derived, synthetic alternative to heparin.

Linhardt and Jian Liu at the University of North Carolina discovered the “recipe” for synthetic heparin three years ago. At the ACS National Exposition in August 2008, Linhardt announced his team’s success in constructing minuscule carbohydrates into a purer, safer alternative — creating the first fully synthetic heparin, and the largest amount ever created in the laboratory.

With Linhardt’s discovery, a fully synthetic heparin can be created in a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment, giving drug manufacturers extreme control over the safety and purity of the product. He has said the drug could advance to human clinical trials within five years.

Government agencies and many foundations and corporations have provided extensive funding for Linhardt’s research. An active contributor to professional publications, Linhardt has served on the editorial board of such top journals as the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, and the Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry. He has published more than 450 research papers and holds 45 patents. In 2009, Linhardt was one of 10 people — alongside U.S. President Barack Obama and business leader Bill Gates — recognized by Scientific American for his “demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity.”

After 21 years on the faculty of the University of Iowa, Linhardt joined Rensselaer in 2003 as a senior constellation professor. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in organic chemistry from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Marquette University.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 7, April 16, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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