Dr. A. K. Ganguly, Distinguished Research Professor of Chemistry at Stevens Institute of Technology, recently gave the Topliss Award Lecture at the University of Michigan. Named in honor of pioneer pharmaceutical researcher Dr. John G. Topliss, the lectures were established to recognize outstanding lifetime achievements in medicinal chemistry by academic and industrial scientists. Dr. Ganguly's lecture, "Drug Discovery – Lessons Learned," was delivered in Ann Arbor on February 17.
"This recognition is a testament to Professor Ganguly's international reputation among pharmaceutical chemists," says Dr. Philip Leopold, Director of the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology and Biomedical Engineering. "He contributes greatly to the high quality of research towards discovery of biologically active molecules at Stevens."
Dr. Ganguly joined Stevens in 1999, after more than thirty years of pharmaceutical industry research. He received his Ph.D. from Imperial College, London, and continued to work with his advisor, Sir Derek Barton, at the Research Institute of Medicine and Chemistry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Schering-Plough Research Institute, which he joined in 1968 as a Senior Scientist, Dr. Ganguly rose to the position of Senior Vice President of Chemical Research. He has served on the scientific boards of pharmaceutical companies and consulted with biotechnology companies internationally.
Many of his significant contributions are in drug discovery. He is associated with the discovery of Ezetimibe (Zetia), a cholesterol absorption inhibitor, Noxafil (Posaconazole), a potent antifungal, Boceprevir a potent antiviral agent that inhibits HCY protease and Lonafarnib (Sarasar), a highly selective farnesyl protein transferase inhibitor for the treatment of cancer. He is also recognized for his contributions towards synthesis of many other biologically active molecules and determining structures of several antibiotics which advanced to clinical trials.
Dr. Ganguly's lecture, "Drug Discovery - Lessons Learned," discussed the different approaches taken at Schering-Plough towards the discoveries of new drugs. These compounds were discovered following different pathways. The biochemical mechanisms of some of their actions were known before their discovery, whereas in the case of Zetia its mechanism of action was established after its approval for clinical use. In all these projects, detailed metabolism studies helped design and synthesize the final compounds. Dr. Ganguly also covered his ongoing work at Stevens in the design and synthesis of biologically active molecules during after-lecture discussions.
Professor Ganguly is a co-author of two hundred fourteen papers and is a co-inventor of ninety patents. He has been a plenary lecturer at many international meetings and received several awards. Some of his recent awards include the American Chemical Society (ACS) E.B. Hershberg Award, election to the ACS Hall of Fame, the Thomas Alva Edison Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Chemical Society. In 2004, he received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Stevens.
Dr. John G. Topliss, Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Michigan, is a scientist of international renown in the field of pharmaceutical chemistry and drug discovery research. He is considered among the top scientists world-wide in the area of quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) of medicinal agents, an important theoretical field that forms the basis for creating new organic compounds as potential therapeutic agents and provides for a rational approach to drug design. Like Dr. Ganguly at Stevens, Dr. Topliss brought to the classroom a long history of both academic involvement and decades of successful industry experience.