August 20th, 2017, WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a ceremony prior to the American Chemical Society fall meeting, the ACS inducted Dr. Vincenzo Summa and Dr. Steven Harper, respectively the Vice President of Drug Discovery and the Head of Medicinal Chemistry at IRBM Science Park S.p.A., into its scientific Hall of Fame as Heroes of Chemistry, 2017. The program recognizes scientists whose innovative work in chemistry and chemical engineering led to commercial products that benefit the world.
Dr. Summa and Dr. Harper were honoured for their important contributions to the discovery of ZAPATIER®, a prescription medicine to cure chronic hepatitis C infection (HCV) in adults, developed in part at IRBM while the institute was part of Merck Research Laboratories. The work of Dr. Summa and Dr. Harper, together with the other winners from the Merck team, led to the discovery and development of the second-generation HCV protease inhibitor Grazoprevir, one of the two active ingredients in ZAPATIER®.
The award was presented to Dr. Summa and Dr. Harper at a gala dinner ceremony in Washington, DC attended by over 200 dignitaries from across the pharmaceutical industry.
Dr. Vincenzo Summa has worked at IRBM, originally the Italian site of Merck Research Laboratories, since 1996. Over the course of his career, he has covered positions of increasing responsibility in the medicinal chemistry field and has been involved in the development of several preclinical development compounds. In addition to ZEPATIER, Dr. Summa has previously been recognized by the ACS for his contribution to ISENTRESS®, a first-in-class HIV integrase inhibitor approved as first line therapy for the treatment of HIV positive patients, as well as ZAPATIER®, He currently serves as Vice-President of Drug Discovery, overseeing the IRBM drug discovery activities.
Dr. Steven Harper also joined IRBM in 1996, and in addition to the HCV protease inhibitor Grazoprevir has made key contributions to the development of clinical candidates across multiple disease indications. Dr. Harper’s expertise in the drug discovery arena is currently harnessed in his role as Head of Medicinal Chemistry at IRBM Science Park.
Matteo Liguori, Managing Director of the IRBM Science Park S.p.A., said: “At IRBM, we strongly believe in the power of experience, and our team reflects it with a strong track record of drug hunting success. Dr. Summa and Dr. Harper are among the most knowledgeable and skilled scientists working at IRBM. The honour of this award reflects the strong belief of IRBM in investing in top scientists as the key to performing high-quality and high-impact research for our partners in drug discovery, and for our internal research programs.”
About IRBM: IRBM Science Park S.p.A. is a privately owned company in Pomezia, Italy. Once part of Merck Research Laboratories, it reorganized in 2009 as an independent partner research organization maintaining and improving the previous operational capabilities, providing fully integrated drug discovery and preclinical development capabilities, and scientific know-how, to its pharmaceutical and foundation partners. The scientific team has long-standing experience in innovative drug discovery programs in the field of small molecules, peptides therapeutics and biologics. IRBM’s track record includes 5 drugs invented by the team and currently on the market, such as ISENTRESS®, Grazoprevir-ZAPATIER®, ZOLINZA®, and most recently ZEJULA®. It won several Italian and European research grants focused on neurodegeneration and anti-infective agents. The company also provides a cGMP CMO facility for investigational adenoviral vaccines, as well as all departments/ units involved in the discovery and optimization of preclinical candidates, including a high-throughput screening hub.
About American Chemical Society: The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
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