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Pomona College Professor Named to Chemistry Hall of Fame

In August at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National meeting in Boston, Pomona College Professor Emeritus Corwin Hansch, recognized as the father of
modern drug design, was inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Division, Hall of Fame, which recognizes inductees for their overall outstanding contributions to medicinal chemistry through a combination of research, teaching and service.

Established in 2006, the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame now has 52 members, which include winners of the Division’s major awards. Hansch was the only
inductee from a liberal arts college. The other recipients are from pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and universities.

Hansch pioneered the ground-breaking field of quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR), which revolutionized computer-assisted molecular drug
design. His work on the interactions between chemical compounds and living systems extends from pharmaceuticals to the environmental toxicity of chemicals. His seminal work on the experimental quantification and computation of the lipophilicity (similar to fat solubility) of a molecule has helped in the understanding of how this property governs the transport and distribution of chemical compounds in biological systems including membrane penetration, crossing of the blood-brain barrier, uptake in the intestines, and central nervous system activity.

Hansch taught organic chemistry at Pomona from 1946 until 1988. During that time, numerous well-established scientists, postdoctoral associates and undergraduate students interned in his laboratory and later contributed greatly to the advancement of the use of computers in rational drug design.

Hansch is still an active researcher based at Pomona College, developing and organizing QSAR correlation equations based on data collected from the global literature. His electronic database, CQSAR, contains more than 20,000 QSAR mathematical models. With this system biological QSAR equations are compared with chemical QSAR equations so as to yield insight as to how chemicals react with each other and how they interact with biological systems.

In 1975, Hansch received the Medicinal Chemistry Division’s first Smissman Award, which is given to a living scientist “whose research, teaching or service has had a substantial impact on the intellectual and theoretical development of the field of medicinal chemistry."

Pomona College, founded in 1887, is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges. Pomona’s hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research. Pomona College is one of only a handful of schools that has need-blind admissions and meets the full financial need of each accepted student.