Using financial returns that are a direct spinoff of fundamental research in the laboratories of Professor Ronald Breslow, the chemistry department now has a new endowed Professorship.   Titled the Esther Breslow Professorship in Organic or Biological Chemistry, the new chair has been awarded to Professor Ann McDermott, in recognition of her outstanding research achievements in the field of biological chemistry. (Esther Breslow is a professor of biochemistry at Cornell Medical School; the chair will be renamed upon Ron Breslow’s retirement to recognize him as well.)


The story of this endowed chair began with the development of a new anti-cancer drug in Professor Breslow’s research lab, in collaboration with scientists at Sloan-Kettering.  This led to formation of a start-up company, which ultimately was purchased by Merck.  Merck now markets the compound as the prescription drug Zolinza.   Part of the proceeds from this venture were donated by Professor Breslow to create the endowed chair and also to support research in the chemistry department.  You can read more about this story online on the website of the Columbia Campaign, University President Bollinger’s initiative to attract investment in Columbia’s future.


Professor Ron Breslow, the Samuel Latham Mitchill Professor of Chemistry, joined Columbia’s chemistry department in 1956 after receiving undergraduate and graduate training at Harvard with Professor R. B. Woodward and following postdoctoral work in Cambridge, England, with Lord Todd.  In recent years, his primary research interests have been on the synthesis and study of molecules that imitate enzymatic reactions.  This work has included the development of remote functionalization reactions and the development of artificial enzymes.   Professor Breslow has been the recipient of many scientific awards and awards for teaching.   You can find a biography of Professor Breslow along with information about his research group’s efforts on his laboratory’’s website.