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Largest corporate gift ever to UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry helps launch new center for organic chemistry
30 Aug 2000

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley - The University of California, Berkeley, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. have jointly announced a $1 million gift from the pharmaceutical company to the university to advance research and graduate training in synthetic organic chemistry.

The five-year grant is a shared commitment between the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

The gift - the largest corporate contribution ever received by UC Berkeley's Department of Chemistry - establishes Bristol-Myers Squibb as the first sponsoring member of UC Berkeley's Center for New Directions in Organic Chemistry. Formed last year, the center will provide new opportunities to enhance graduate training and research through collaborations among research groups and between academe and industry, according to its director, former chemistry chair Paul A. Bartlett. Bristol-Myers Squibb's support reflects the company's recognition that graduate training in organic synthesis is a high priority for the pharmaceutical industry.

Organic synthesis is critical to a broad range of industries in the areas of health and technology, especially those engaged in pharmaceutical discovery and biotechnology, and in the development of new materials. UC Berkeley's new center has two foci, which span the medicinal and materials applications of organic synthesis.

The growth of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries has increased the need for scientists skilled in synthesis. At the same time, advances in areas like combinatorial chemistry and biological catalysis require more sophisticated training at the graduate level.

"There is thus motivation in both industry and academe to find new approaches to support organic synthesis, to augment traditional funding mechanisms and continue to make the field attractive to new students and faculty members," Bartlett said.

"We are very excited by this opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with UC Berkeley, and we look forward to collaboratively addressing the issues associated with supporting and maintaining high quality research in organic chemistry," said Dr. Peter S. Ringrose, chief scientific officer and president of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Pharmaceutical Research Institute, in announcing the grant. "The grant reflects the company's continuing support of exemplary academic research in synthetic organic chemistry, as well as the ongoing training of new scientists."

"This magnificent grant will advance both graduate education and research, which are inseparable in Berkeley's top-ranked chemistry department," said Clayton H. Heathcock, dean of the College of Chemistry and one of the center's organizers. "We are enormously grateful that Bristol-Myers Squibb has become a sponsoring member of the center."

Currently, the center has seven other industrial members, who are participating at a more modest level. The funds contributed by industry will be used to modernize laboratories, as well as to support the on-going work of the center. These activities include short courses taught by UC Berkeley faculty for industrial participants, summer internships provided by industry for UC Berkeley students, and a graduate course in industrial research featuring speakers from participating companies.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a leading diversified worldwide health and personal care company whose principal businesses are medicines, nutritional products, medical devices and beauty care. Its foundation supports activities that extend and enhance human life. Headquartered in New York, the company has some 54,000 employees worldwide.

The Department of Chemistry at UC Berkeley is both the top ranked chemistry department in the nation and the largest, with 50 faculty members, 350 graduate students and 250 postdoctoral fellows carrying out advanced research across all fields of chemistry.



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