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M. Frederick Hawthorne, PhD

MU Inorganic Chemistry Pioneer Honored for Outstanding Research Achievements

World’s largest scientific society will recognize M. Frederick Hawthorne

M. Frederick Hawthorne, PhD, a pioneer in boron chemistry and director of the University of Missouri International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine, has been chosen as the 2010 recipient of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Madison Marshall Award for Outstanding Achievements in Chemical Research. The ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, will present the award to Hawthorne in April during a meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

When Hawthorne started his 60-year career working with boron, little was known about the element. His assumption that boron could be used in ways similar to carbon enabled him to create a diverse collection of boranes, which are compounds of boron and hydrogen, and spinoff compounds. He discovered uses for the compounds in applications such as medical imaging, drug delivery, neutron-based treatments for cancers and rheumatoid arthritis, catalysis and molecular motors. One of his significant achievements is the creation of a specific type of nanoparticle that selectively targets cancer cells for boron neutron capture therapy.

Hawthorne attended the Missouri University of Science and Technology from 1944 to 1947, which was then the Missouri School of Mines. He received his undergraduate degree from Pomona College in 1949 and his doctorate in physical-organic chemistry from the University of California in Los Angeles in 1953. He began to synthesize and study boranes in 1956 while working at Rohm and Haas, one of the largest manufacturers of specialty chemicals.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1973, Hawthorne served more than 35 years on the faculty at the University of California in Los Angeles. In 1998 he was appointed University Professor of Chemistry, the most distinguished title bestowed on faculty by the Regents of the University of California. He served as editor-and-chief of the most cited journal in his field, Inorganic Chemistry, from 1969 to 2000. He was a co-winner of the prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Science in 2003 for achievements that will have a profound effect on cancer therapy.

Hawthorne came to MU in 2006 as founding director of the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine and a professor of radiology. He received the ACS’s highest honor, the Priestley Medal, in 2009.


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