Chair’s Message, September 2016

At the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia last month there was an abundance of technical presentations in the fertile interdisciplinary zones between chemistry and bio/agro/medicine. Examples included symposia on Controlling Zika Vector Mosquitos, The Chemistry, Safety & Technology of GMO Foods, and Chemical Neurotransmission: What Are We Thinking?

You can hear and view directly the authors speaking about these interdisciplinary advances with the ACS pressroom’s posting of video interviews.  Some examples follow.

In a symposium on how chemists are involved in the Obama administration’s BRAIN program – Brain Research through Advancing Innovating Neurotechnologies – Watching Thoughts and Addiction Form in the Brain describes cell-based brain-implanted detectors of neurotransmitter release.  The detectors – optical biosensors that emit light that is captured with two-photon microscopy – distinguish between norepinephrine and dopamine.

Combining the topics of energy and diagnostics, Batteries You Can Swallow to Enable Future Edible Medical Devices describes batteries made with nontoxic melanin pigment to someday power ingestible devices for diagnostics and therapy.

Addressing the need to distinguish viable pharmaceutical products from falsified or degraded counterparts, a paper card was displayed containing sets of reagents that detect materials or functional groups found in active pharmaceutical ingredients, degradation products or common fillers. Paper-based Detection of Falsified or Degraded Drugs demonstrates the card’s chromatographic activity, coupled with visual indicators, in differentiating between degraded and viable antibiotics.


In a refreshing event to boost the careers of younger scientists, C&ENews hosted the symposium The Talented 12: Twelve Young Chemical Scientists Whose Next Moves You Won’t Want to Miss.  The twelve each took the podium and described their science under colorfully named monikers such as ‘proteomics provocateur’, ‘contaminant catcher’, ‘molecule machinist’, and ‘image interrogator’. In case this sounds familiar, the August 22, 2016 edition of C&ENews featured many aspects of these twelve young scientists’ lives.

One perk of being at the ACS national meetings is access to decision-makers.  In conversation with the editor of C&ENews, Bibiana Campos Seijo [‘Bibi’], I repeated my request made over many years  that the periodical’s technical reports be made available to the public.  My requests arose from my  bringing copies of articles relevant to lessons I was teaching to high school classrooms where I’m a Science Coach.  Having to tell the teachers and students that they could not access the articles directly was, and still is, an embarrassment.  An important role of the ACS is to educate the public!  This time Bibi, a relative newcomer to the ACS, provided the encouraging response that modes for nonmembers to gain limited access to C&ENews are under consideration.   I look forward to an update in our next conversation at the Spring 2017 San Francisco ACS meeting.

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