COMMITTEE ON THE HISTORY OF THE NEW
Dr. John Sharkey
The author of this annual report and committee chair is indebted
to members of the committee, indicated below, who continue to support the
chemical heritage of the ACS New York Section.
Dr. John Sharkey, Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org; 212 346-1344)
Dr. Donald Clarke (Clarke@fordham.edu; 718 817-4444)
Dr. Anne O’Brien (email@example.com; 914 631-5241)
Dr. Yorke Rhodes (firstname.lastname@example.org; 973 875-9799)
The year 2009 was a particularly active year for the Committee
on the History of the New York Section, as two nominations for designation
as National Historic Chemical Landmarks within the New York Section were
considered by the National Landmarks Committee. I am pleased
to report that one of these designations was approved and a second is under
consideration by the Committee.
This will be the 7th designation of a national Historic Chemical
Landmark within the Section, which places the New York Section as number
one out of all the local sections of the Society. The History
Committee has also been working to develop a closer relationship between
the New York Section and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, located in Philadelphia.
In this regard, the Chair of the History Committee arranged for Rick Sherman,
the Director of Development at CHF, to be our keynote speaker at the Section’s
2009 Annual Conference.
This designation is intended as a public outreach effort
in order to remind the public the significant drug development and production
that took place at this laboratory in order to benefit humanity.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE VARIAN A-60
The development of the Varian A-60, the first broadly applied
commercial nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, was used
by chemists to make a wide variety of discoveries both in fundamental and
applied research, including the invention of magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI). There are two significant dates in this development:
1961- The introduction of the Varian A-60 at PittCon.
1973- MRI is first demonstrated on small test tube samples
by Paul Lauterbur working with a modified A-60 at SUNY Stony Brook
The A-60 was the first commercial NMR instrument intended
for the non-specialist chemist unlike earlier instruments that were custom-built
for particular applications and incorporated very heavy and expensive components.
The A-60 provided major new capabilities for chemists in identifying molecular
structures and following the progress of reactions. Moreover, the A-60
enabled the development of applications of special interest to the public
such as MRI and prospecting for water, oil, and minerals (a technique which
has only come into its own in 1990s, although Varian conducted successful
experiments dating back to 1970s).
The National Historic Landmarks Committee, which prepared
the nomination for this landmark (and was endorsed by the New York Section),
chose to memorialize the development of the first broadly available commercial
NMR because it made this technique accessible by the wider chemical community
and to highlight the importance of entrepreneurship in the development
of science and its application in society. There were however antecedent
advances in science and instrumentation that led to the Varian A60.
But the discoveries and study of new atomic phenomena dating back to 1946
and the work of E. M. Purcell, H. C. Torrey, and R. V. Pound at Harvard
University and F. Bloch, W. W. Hansen, and M. E. Packard at Stanford University
were largely made by physicists. By the early 1950’s chemists such as Herbert
Gutowsky at the University of Illinois became seminal contributors,
Key discoveries were then being made ever more simultaneously by still
larger groups of scientists, still mostly physicists, and these discoveries
are therefore difficult to prioritize (and yet more difficult to explain
to the public today). In terms of instrumentation, Varian itself
had in fact already built the HR-30, -40, -60 and -100, in very limited
numbers, but each of these was very expensive and employed very heavy electromagnets—unlikely
candidates to revolutionize a whole field of study.
In the case of MRI, we have an application of NMR that the
public could readily identify. Chemist Paul Lauterbur actually used a Varian
A-60 in proving the concept that NMR could be used to create multi-dimensional
images of subjects. There continues to be an argument concerning how much
credit should be assigned to Raymond Damadian in the development of MRI.
We have sided with the Nobel Prize Committee which awarded Lauterbur and
Peter Mansfield the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2003.
That award focused on imaging rather than on other magnetic resonance phenomena.
(In the early 1970s Mansfield improved the resolution of MRI images and
the speed at which they could be gained.) Damadian did in fact in
1971 show that nuclear magnetic relaxation times of healthy tissues and
tumors differ, and, four years after Lauterbur’s seminal contribution,
did succeed in making the first whole [human] body scanner. Damadian will
of course be mentioned in the landmark brochure.
The nomination for this landmark was prepared by members
of the National Historic Chemical Landmarks Committee and was endorsed
by the Board of the ACS New York Section. The designation will take
place sometime in 2010 or 2011 at two locations, Varian Inc. Headquarters
in Palo Alto, CA and Chemistry department, SUNY Stony Brook.
(The above information was abstracted from the nomination
document prepared by members of the National Historic Chemical landmarks
THE SYNTHESIS OF 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (18FDG)
FOR USE IN POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY(PET).
The Chemistry Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory
has resubmitted a pre-nomination to the National Historic Chemical Landmarks
Committee. The pre-nomination has been endorsed by the Board of the
ACS New York Section and is currently under consideration by the Landmarks
18FDG is the standard molecule for PET functional imaging.
Used with 18FDG, PET has become an important research and clinical tool
for functional medical imaging. During 2008, 1.5 million FDG PET
scans were performed. In the late 1950s, emission and transmission
tomography for imaging distributions of radionuclides was developed by
Kuhl and Edwards at the University of Pennsylvania. By the early
1970s, [14C]-2-deoxyglucose was shown to be useful for mapping brain glucose
metabolism because it is transported into the brain by the glucose transporter
and is phosphorylated by hexokinase and the product [14C]2-deoxyglucose-6-phosphate
is trapped intracellulary. However, the short range of _-particles
(electrons, produced by the decay of C-14) through tissue required sectioning
of organs for autoradiography, precluding studies in living subjects.
A new radionuclide was needed which did not require sacrifice of the animal
to be studied, and for the radionuclide to be incorporated into a nontoxic
compound which crossed the blood-brain barrier and was metabolized like
glucose. The synthesis and development of the compound 18F 2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose
met these requirements
And permitted the explosion in the use of PET for brain research.
Using 18FDG, PET has assumed roles both as a research tool
and a clinical tool. PET is used for clinical studies by oncologists,
neurologists, neurosurgeons, and cardiologists seeking diagnostic information
about biochemical changes in tumors and lesions before anatomical changes
make such problems evident. PET, in conjunction with other techniques,
such as computed tomography (CT) shows promise in the diagnosis and treatment
of lung cancer, evaluation of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and coronary
This is a pre-nomination, which is currently being considered
by the National Historic Chemical Landmarks Committee. Should the
Committee approve, Brookhaven will be invited to submit a full nomination
to the Committee
(The above information was abstracted from the pre-nomination
document prepared by staff at the Chemistry Department of the Brookhaven
THE CHEMICAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION
In order to foster a closer relationship between the New
York Section and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Director of Advancement
at CHF, Mr. Rick Sherman, was invited to be the keynote speaker at the
Section’s 2009 Section Conference. It was apparent that many of our
members did not know much about the mission of the CHF, and the wealth
of information and programs that are available at CHF to members of the
chemical community. Mr. Sherman did an excellent job of informing
our members of these opportunities. The Chair of the Section’s History
Committee is also a member of the CHF Heritage Council, representing the
ACS. He has encouraged the CHF to continue its outreach to members
of the chemical community, especially educators, through its wonderful
library, its museum, and its educational resources, such as the magazine
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Anne O’Brien has recently
been appointed to the Heritage Council by the Chairperson of the Board
of the ACS.
John B. Sharkey
Chair, Committee on the History of the New York Section
December 3, 2009