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Helen Free

Contributor II
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Free_Helen.jpgHelen M. Free holds a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the College of Wooster, a master's degree in management in the health care field from Central Michigan University, and honorary doctorates of science from both schools. She joined Miles Laboratories (now Bayer Healthcare) in 1944, and her career includes wide experience in laboratory work, management, growth and development, manufacturing, and marketing related to her main interests in the field of clinical chemistry and medical devices, and in management in the health care area. She holds several patents and has published over 200 papers. She has also held many elected positions in scientific societies, including president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in 1990 and president of the American Chemical Society in 1993. Among her national awards are: the ACS Garvan medal, the Hall of Excellence of the Ohio Foundation of Small Colleges, and the Kilby Foundation Award. She and her husband were married for 53 years when he died in 2000 (9 children). Together they were honored by Medical Economics Press and the Laboratory Public Service National Leadership Award. They were inducted into the Science and Engineering Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame for their work on the development of urinalysis reagent strips and self tests for blood glucose used worldwide by persons with diabetes.


Chemistry--Contributions to the Quality of Life

Chemists don't brag enough about their positive contributions that increase our quality of life. Everything we are used to in making our lives more convenient, more enjoyable, safer, longer, healthier, and more comfortable depends on chemistry. Several examples will illustrate how best to communicate to the general public the benefits of chemistry. Some of these relate to the speaker's own experience in the diagnostics industry. The diagnostics industry has provided the health care delivery system with a variety of tests, ranging from sophisticated automated equipment for performing 30 different analyses on a small quantity of blood to simply easy-to-do tests using dry reagents to analyze blood or urine at the patient's bedside or at home. Areas of emphasis include the major contributions to the monitoring of diabetes and the testing for inborn errors of metabolism to prevent mental retardation. Ways to help change the public's perception of chemistry so that they are aware of these great contributions will be illustrated.

Chemistry--The Perception of the Public

The general public must be knowledgeable enough about science so they can vote intelligently on issues in government that relate to science. Often the only items the general public remembers about science are the big stories about occasional chemical spill or about environmental pollution. In light of these media events, yesterday's introduction of a new antibiotic, the discoveries leading to a Nobel Prize, or just the everyday contributions of chemistry are forgotten. It is up to chemists to communicate to and through the media about the ways science makes our lives healthier, safer, longer, easier, and more fun. Some tips will be listed for better communications and for making the general public aware of the good things chemists do.

Dynamic Communications for Career Enhancement

In today's scientific/managerial world of chemistry, we may not realize how basic and how important effective communication skills can be to our careers. The objective of this presentation is to discuss good oral, written, and thinking skills to communicate with our colleagues, subordinates, bosses, and neighbors. Concepts such as the value of bilateral communication, emphasis on good listening as part of communication, the benefits of tailor-making your written or oral presentation based on an analysis of your audience, avoidance of jargon and/or "buzz" words, cooperative group communications versus domination by the strongest most vociferous participants, the frustration of not "getting through" and some tips on how to prevent this frustration, and the use of lateral thinking to develop creative communication skills will be explored.

Global Clinical Chemistry

Clinical chemistry is not the same all over the world. In the United States and western European countries, it consists of automated equipment for determination of multiple analysis in each blood specimen. The trend of multiple analysis has expanded to all departments of the clinical laboratory. Solid-state multiple reagents are stable and easy to use and are about the only reagents suitable for nearly all of the countries of the world. Though the customs ad culture may vary from country to country, a certain core of routine clinical testing parameters is useful worldwide. The similarities and the contracts will both be discussed in the area of disease detection and monitoring the course of treatment of disease.

History of the Diagnostics Industry

During the 19th century, scientists made numerous discoveries of the components of the blood, urine, and spinal fluid. They utilized general analytical methods to identify these components and began to create new analytical reagents. However, there were no clinical laboratories as a regular part of a hospital or clinic. The first clinical laboratory in the United States was established in New York City in 1912 at an institution known as the Postgraduate Hospital. Victor Myers was the director of this laboratory, where chemical tests were performed regularly on blood and urine. The importance of this laboratory service gained national recognition, and by 1930, larger hospitals and laboratories were headed by clinical chemists or pathologists, adapting general reagents and instruments. The first successful commercially available ready-to-use reagent was made by Walter Compton, a physician, and Maurice Treneer, a chemist at Miles. Around 1940, they created a self-heating effervescent copper sulfate tablet to perform the Benefit's test for urine sugar. The advent of this test and the presence of "clinical" laboratories combined to make this the tiny beginning of the diagnostics industry. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dr. Leonard Skeggs at the Veterans Hospital in Cleveland devised an instrument to automatically dialyze blood, mix reagents separate specimens, and measure color to determine diffusible analytes. This first "autoanalyzer" led to a proliferation of instruments specifically designed to do all types of measurements on blood, serum, tissue, urine, spinal fluid, etc. Currently, the diagnostics industry is a multibillion-dollar business in all industrialized parts of the world. There are innumerable reagent systems and instruments providing a leading edge in the progress of medical science and treatment of patients.

PROGRESS for Women Chemists and Chemical Engineers

Abstract is available upon request.

Science and Health Is More than Taking Medicine When You're Sick

We are all familiar with the new advance in therapeutic drugs that would not have occurred without the expertise of chemists. We are less familiar with the contributions scientists make every day in the clinical laboratory in evaluating the status of hospital patients, in the physician's office or clinic in the valuation of the status of us healthy people at our annual physical exams, or in particular instances in which evaluation is made of special population groups. The trend is for each of us to give extra attention to maintaining our own health at the highest level possible. Many more people exercise today than ever before and greater and greater attention is given to good nutrition. Innovations in home testing to evaluate personal health status are described in detail. Such innovations include diabetics testing their own blood sugar and evaluating our own salt intake to help avoid its deleterious effects.

The Diabetes Epidemic

About 16 million Americans have diabetes. And about one-third of them don't even know it! American Diabetes Association estimates predict that a million more individuals will become diabetic every year. Many biochemists contribute to understanding this disease and many clinical chemists are involved with its diagnosis. Many pharmaceutical chemists contribute to its treatment, and many chemists of all kinds provide the novel self-testing reagents and instrumentation used by diabetics to monitor their own blood glucose levels. BUT the best attack against diabetes is prevention and this is entirely up to each individual with the help of his/her medical team. Statistics, risk factors and recommended lifestyle changes will be discussed, and blood glucose testing will be available.

The Many Faces of Careers in Chemistry

Many people have a wrong picture of "a chemist" at work. Elementary students draw an entirely different picture of a "chemist" before and after they have spent a short time at a career session or in a science museum or just talking to a scientist. And even those who are considering a career in chemistry often don't realize the awesome potential for a variety of careers based on a scientific degree. A series of examples of "what chemists do" will illustrate some of the fascinating choices available and give some insight into the life of one industrial chemist.

We're from the ACS and We Are Here to Help You!

Helping teachers is one of the major activities of the American Chemical Society Division of Education. As members of ACS, there is the opportunity to join the Division of Education, which publishes the Journal of Chemical Education. And often local sections have education committees, as well as monthly meetings, devoted to various aspects of education. But the best part of the ACS help to teachers is the variety of resources available. These different and informative items for teachers at all levels will be illustrated and the ensuing discussion will help ACS decide which are most useful and what other programs of activities might be appreciated by those on the front line of teaching.

Wellness: It's YOUR Responsibility

Wellness is more than just health or the absence of disease. It entails a proactive state in which mind and body are efficient and productive and life is enjoyable. It doesn't just happen; one must work at it. Every ten years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services develops a list of goals for our nation's population. These are the Health Promotion/Disease Prevention goals for the decade. It would be good for each of us to develop some individual "wellness" goals and some suggestions will be given. The positive consequences that will result as these goals are attained will be discussed. There are many tests which clincial chemists use to determine the presence or absence of specific diseases. And some of these can also be used as wellness tests. But there are other tests that could and should be developed to determine our state of "wellness" and examples of these will be discussed.


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