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At this year’s Spring ACS National Meeting in Dallas, TX, Callie Bryan, PhD, a medicinal chemist at Genentech Inc. and ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable participant, organized a “Greening the Medicinal Chemistry Toolbox: Lunch and Learn” through the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry. The goal of the event was to inject some momentum into the conversation on how to implement green chemistry in industrial and academic research. This forum allowed for just that. leading to discussions on best practices and challenges that are relevant to both industry professionals and students/professors.


Bryan recruited speakers through the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable. Professor Neil Garg of UCLA kicked off the event by speaking about his research on the development of greener nickel-catalyzed cross-couplings, which was funded through a Roundtable grant. This was followed by brief presentations from Roundtable company members and ACS GCI Director, Dr. David Constable, on specific topics that pertain to medicinal chemistry. Dr. Helen Sneddon of GlaxoSmithKline discussed green reagent guidance in companies, and how to encourage culture change through guides and databases. Daniel Richter of Pfizer presented on the adoption of greener solvents and solvent reduction in medicinal chemistry practices. Dr. Stefan Koenig of Genentech gave an overview of basic green chemistry research in pharmaceuticals development. Constable rounded out the talks with a summary of greener chromatography approaches.


Pharma Lunch & Learn.jpg(L to R) Neil Garg, David Constable, Dan Richter, Helen Sneddon, and Stefan Koenig at the Lunch & Learn.


The presentations were followed by an hour of question and answer with the audience of industry and academic chemists. The take-aways were numerous—the main one being that everyone has challenges, but there are low-lying fruit and approaches that can help scientists. According to Bryan the low-lying fruit can be something like switching commonly used solvents—for example a common greener choice is THF to 2-MeTHF (which can be bio-derived). What’s currently more difficult is switching away from solvents like DCM (a high toxicity solvent often used in chromotagraphy) and techniques like silica gel chromatography (which requires large amounts of gel, solvents, and glass use). Another huge challenge is trying to move away from critical elements like platinum and ruthenium (both used in common catalysts), which are increasingly expensive as supply shortens.


There were many graduate students in attendance, wondering how to green their research, and industry professionals inquiring how to gain traction for green initiatives. “If we can provide bite-size guidance, scientists will have a much easier time employing and getting buy-in for greener practices. For industry professionals, encouraging upper management engagement will be key,” Bryan explained. The guidance Bryan mentions was heavily discussed at the symposium. One important factor will be approaches for collecting and distributing successful practices and tools that can lay the groundwork for others. More specifically, Richter and Sneddon described their solvent systems at their respective companies, in addition to the Roundtable’s Solvent Selection Guide. Tools like these are important frameworks for chemists to access and use to improve the safety and efficiency of their reactions. Resources like an upcoming sustainable chromatography manuscript and opportunities like the recent (and currently open) Greener Amide Reductions $50K Grant are other ways the Roundtable is informing and encouraging green engagement.


“The feedback from the event was very positive! There were many inquiries for solvent guides and a lot of research-specific information dissemination,” Bryan said.


To learn more about the topics discussed in the lunch and learn, and if you have any questions, email The upcoming ACS GCI Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in greater Washington, DC area and sustainability-themed 248th ACS National Meeting in San Francisco will be important venues for scientists to convene, continue the discussion, and create new directions for research and implementation. Follow the links to register today!



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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

The Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship is awarded to undergraduate through early career scientists who demonstrate outstanding research or educational interest in green chemistry. Breen Fellows receive financial support to participate in an international green chemistry technical meeting, conference or training program. The 2014 winner is Dr. Jennifer Dodson from the United Kingdom.


JennyDodson.jpgJennifer Dodson did her PhD work under Prof. James Clark at the Green Chemistry Centre at the University of York in the UK on the thermochemical conversion of biomass. While there, she became interested in the how to recover and recycle valuable elements with a mesoporus material she developed directly from fresh seaweed.


Then in 2012, she began a post-doc study with Prof. Claudio Mota from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Brazil. “During her period in my group,” said Dr. Mota, “[Jennifer] did very good work, combining her experience and skills in hydrothermal carbonisation of biomass, with the group’s capability in catalysis, especially related to biomass conversion.”


JennyDodsonWheatField.jpgIn addition to her research interests, Jennifer, or “Jennie” as she goes by, is a strong advocate for communicating science to the public. She has done outreach to hundreds of school children in both the UK and Brazil, and is developing a green chemistry community outreach strategy for UFRJ’s Green Chemistry School. “Jennie is a very dedicated person and was instrumental in setting up our outreach activities in Green Chemistry,” says Dr. Peter Siedl, Professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in the Department of Organic Processes. “She is highly deserving of our recognition and gratitude.”

Jennie has also gained an understanding of science policy communication during a 2011 fellowship at the House of Parliament in the UK where she conducted briefings on sustainable technologies. As a past participant in the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy, she is developing an international early-career network for scientists and engineers.


“Jennie Dodson is one of the most able and motivated young researchers I have had the privilege of working with in my career,” says Prof. Clark.  “She is a very talented research chemist with a wide knowledge and understanding of green chemistry and a real desire to see the principles of sustainability applied in all walks of life.  She is a very fitting winner of this Fellowship that honours the man who started the green chemistry movement in the United States.”


Jennie will be using her Breen Fellowship to travel ACS GCI’s 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference and Student Workshop this June where she will be presenting a poser on her research, “Novel natural solid-acid catalysts from carrageenan for the upgrading of glycerol”, as well as an oral presentation in the Education track, “Network of Early-Career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE): an initiative from the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy 2013.” We are thrilled to have her participation!


Dr. Joe Breen was an US EPA chemist and manager who played a major role in creating the EPA’s Green Chemistry and the Design for the Environment program. He went on to collaborate with colleagues in government, industry, and academia to found the Green Chemistry Institute—which later became part of the American Chemical Society—and is now known as ACS Green Chemistry Institute®.


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

AppliedSeparations_logo.jpgAt ACS GCI’s 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, Applied Separations will award the 4th Annual Supercritical Fluids Education Grant, worth over $30K, to an institute of higher learning to support education in supercritical fluids and their importance to green chemistry.


Applied Separations Unit.jpgBy using Applied Separations' Supercritical Fluid Extraction system, the Spe-ed SFE Prime, a system designed for teaching supercritical fluids in the classroom, professors will be able to educate their students about this green technology and its applications in foods and natural products where solvents can't be used, as well as nanotechnology, materials science and so much more.


Students can be shown how to easily replace petroleum-based or halogenated solvents with supercritical carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is one of the most commonly used supercritical fluids because it is green, safe, inexpensive, readily available and an ideal substitute for many hazardous and toxic solvents. Supercritical fluids are already being used in many industrial processes such as decaffeinating coffee, and countless ways to use apply this technology are being employed every day.


Click here to apply for the grant or to learn more about Applied Separations and its advancements with Supercritical Fluids. You can also call (610) 770-0900.


Award Cropped sm.jpg

Rolf Schlake, CEO Applied Separations gives grant at the 2013 GC&E Conference.

Photo Credit: Christine Brennan-Schmidt


“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

I missed writing something for the Nexus last month and over the period of time since I last wrote there have been a number of significant events I’d like to tell you about.


On the 11th of March I had the opportunity to take part in a gathering at the NASA headquarters here in Washington as part of the LAUNCH initiative.  LAUNCH is a collaboration between NASA, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and Nike that tries to stimulate pivotal innovations in materials.  This year the LAUNCH organizers have decided to focus on a Green Chemistry challenge and that’s an exciting thing. A few new faces were in attendance, but for the most part, the usual suspects from the green chemistry community were sitting at the table.  It was an interesting day and I’m looking forward to seeing how the challenge shapes up.


On the 12th of March the Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference Program Chairs met with the ACS GCI staff to finalize the technical program for the conference. The conference is shaping up to be quite an event and we continue to work very hard to ensure that participants will not be disappointed. The program organizers have been working to maintain thematic coherence and continue to work with session chairs to ensure there will be a high degree of “connectedness” between sessions despite the usual diversity in content. I think you will see a difference in this years’ Conference that we hope to carry forward to future conferences.


The ACS National Meeting in Dallas the week of March the 16th turned out to be a great meeting.  There continues to be a considerable amount of technical programming across many divisions related to sustainable and green chemistry.  Like many areas of chemical research (e.g., nanotechnology, materials research, biochemistry) that are cross- or interdisciplinary, green and sustainable chemistry thinking and practices are being integrated in one way or another into research so it’s hard to decide where to listen in.  This is a very good problem to have.  Dallas was also where the ACS GCI launched its’ “What’s your Green Chemistry?” campaign.  Simply stated, this campaign is trying to capture all the ways people are applying sustainable and green chemistry in what they are doing.  It’s clear that a lot is happening throughout the world in green and sustainable chemistry and it is difficult at times to keep up with all that is happening!


In late March I had the opportunity to attend the Spring meeting of the Pharmaceutical Roundtable (ACS GCIPR) in Vitry, France hosted by Sanofi-Aventis. The ACS GCIPR continues to thrive and is a model for industrial collaboration and partnership. There are now about ten sub-committees within the roundtable working on implementing sustainable and green chemistry like solvent selection, reagent guides, biopharma best practices, grants, medicinal chemistry, etc., and more are being explored. Thinking back on where this group started in 2005 and where it is now is very gratifying and in many ways, pretty amazing. It is certainly our ambition to get all of the ACS GCI roundtables to this point.


This past week I had the great honor to be invited to Gordon College to speak. Gordon is a small school with a large green chemistry footprint. There are actually a significant number of schools, colleges and universities in New England, both small and large, that have been very active in teaching and promoting green chemistry. It certainly helps to have organizations like Beyond Benign, the Warner Babcock Institute, the Yale Green Chemistry and Engineering Institute and EPA Region I working very actively in the region, but many schools are equally active and influential in their own right. Once again, it is quite exciting to see just how many people are integrating green and sustainable chemistry into their education, their research, and into their communities. Green and sustainable chemistry is alive and well!


As always, let me know what you think.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

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