By David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®
This is going to be a necessarily shorter than usual post given the fact that it’s hard to maintain the pace of the last few months of travel.
In case you didn’t know, there are few states that are doing as much in the green chemistry arena as Michigan appears to be doing. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend part of a day at Hope College in Michigan and the remainder of the day at Michigan State’s Bioeconomy Institute.
Hope College is a small liberal arts college with a big chemistry impact. They have graduated about 50 chemistry majors each of the past 5 years, and given that the school has an enrollment on the order of 3,400 students, that’s very impressive. The chemistry department also has enviable facilities and a faculty that involves students in their research. It is also quite impressive to see how successful the faculty members have been raising grants from public and private sources to fund their research and how dedicated they are to exposing undergraduates to research. While they have not done as much as some colleges in integrating green or sustainable chemistry into their curriculum, I am optimistic that they are heading in that direction given the focus on environmentally-related research. They are certainly talking about doing more, which makes me very optimistic given all the green chemistry activity in Michigan.
The MSU Bioeconomy Institute is an ex-Pfizer pilot plant and R&D building that was thankfully saved from the wrecking ball through a unique arrangement between Pfizer and Michigan State University. This former Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert/Pfizer facility used to make Lipitor and Neurontin among other drugs, and at one time was a significant multi-purpose chemical manufacturing facility. It’s a bit sad, all that remains of a once thriving plant is one large building surrounded by a remediation site. The good news is that building is serving a very, very useful niche in the low volume, small chemical manufacturing arena. I’ve spoken before about the need for facilities and the associated technical capability to scale up processes or perform small volume manufacturing for sustainable and green chemistry entrepreneurs. The Bioeconomy Institute serves that niche and it’s great to see them grow their business. In a sense, their success is a bellwether for the success of implementing more sustainable and green chemistry businesses. I look forward to the day when they are operating at close to 100% utilization.
There are so many great things happening that I’d like to talk about, but all I will say is that I think that the planning for the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference is in a great place and we are very grateful for all the work that the technical program chairs, Dr. David Leahy, Dr. Bruce Lipshutz, and Dr. Richard Wool are doing. They are working together with a great organizing committee to make next year’s conference a resounding success. I’m also excited by the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable’s next grant cycle and I’m looking forward to that being awarded soon. Last but certainly not least, we are excited by John Warner (pictured right, on left with Paul Anastas at the ceremony) receiving the Perkin Medal and celebrate his achievements in green chemistry.
As always, let me know what you think.
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