ACS Industry

Process chemistry pioneer, ACS supporter Maryanoff accepts Perkin Medal

Blog Post created by ACS Industry on Oct 12, 2015


During her distinguished career, Cynthia A. Maryanoff has blazed new trails in the field of process chemistry. And at the same time, Maryanoff, who is a strong supporter of American Chemical Society programs, has worked to give back to industry and the science community. Not surprisingly, she has received countless accolades that highlight her commitment and achievements.

And last week, Maryanoff, Foundation Distinguished Professor at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute in Doylestown, Pa., accepted the 2015 Perkin Medal, one of the chemical industry’s most prestigious awards. It is bestowed annually by the Society of the Chemical Industry (SCI) in honor of outstanding work in applied chemistry in the U.S.

The honor recognizes Maryanoff’s exceptional work in process organic chemistry leading to drugs for treatment of epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disorders, AIDS, tuberculosis, and type 2 diabetes. She received the medal at a dinner in her honor on Oct. 6 at the Hilton Penns Landing Hotel in Philadelphia.



“Dr. Maryanoff is the rare chemist who has not only demonstrated a mastery of science through her work in chemical synthesis, but also in her keen understanding and application of scale-up and commercialization,” said Mike Graff, chairman and chief executive officer of American Air Liquide Holdings and chairman of SCI America. “Throughout her distinguished career, she has been instrumental in developing an astounding number of life-changing medicines in use today.”

After receiving a B.S. in chemistry from Drexel University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University, Maryanoff joined Smith, Kline & French Laboratories. She then moved to McNeil Pharmaceutical, a Johnson & Johnson company.  After taking on a series of roles with increasing responsibilities at J&J, she was named a distinguished research fellow and in 2000 was named head of the ChemPharm Department  with responsibility for 150 employees in the U.S., Belgium, and Switzerland.  In 2013, she retired from J&J and continues her scientific career at the Blumberg Institute. Maryanoff  is credited with 67 U.S./European patents and has published more than 100 scientific papers.


Throughout her career as an industrial process chemist, Maryanoff has consistently demonstrated scientific excellence in taking products from the laboratory to commercial manufacture. Moreover, her focus on early process research emphasized a green-chemistry approach.  She has influenced or directed the development of nearly 1,000 drug candidates in the fields of antipsychotic and antiepileptic treatments, strong analgesics with transdermal delivery, pulmonary surfactants, cardiovascular disease, endocrine function, and antiviral agents. She played a major role in the development of  Topamax, an anti-epileptic drug; Ultram,  an atypical analgesic used to treat moderate to severely moderate pain; and Cypher, a drug-eluting stent /medical device.



At the same time, Maryanoff has remained active in ACS, serving on the Executive Committee of the ACS Organic Chemistry Division for 27 years. She is also involved with the Governing Board for Publishing (2015-2019); the Committee on International Activities (2013-2017), the ACS Development Advisory Board (2011-2016); and the ACS Petroleum Research Fund TEVA Scholars Program. She has organized and chaired 25 award symposia at ACS national meetings.

She and her husband and lifelong colleague, Bruce, currently fund a scholarship for the ACS Scholars Program. Their intent: to support students who are excited about the chemical sciences so that they can enjoy their studies and contribute to the future.


In recognition of her commitment to her work and the scientific community, Maryanoff received the ACS Garvin-Olin Medal in 1999, the ACS Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management in 2005, the ACS Henry F. Whalen award for Business Development in 2007, and the American Women in Science Elizabeth Bingham Award in 2010.


She was named an ACS fellow in 2009 and a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1991.

“Cynthia combines many talents, said Madeleine M. Joullié, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, in a recent Chemical & Engineering News article . “She is a top-notch researcher, a creative administrator, and an inspiration and support to women, minorities, and education. She is a true humanist.”

Images from top to bottom: Cynthia A. Maryanoff displaying her Perkin medal; Cynthia with ACS President Diane Grob Schmidt; Cynthia with Dave Harwell, Assistant Director for Industry Member Programs at the ACS.


Susan Ainsworth is the Manager of Industry Member Programs at the American Chemical Society.