The SCI Perkin Medal is recognized as one of the highest honors given for outstanding work in applied chemistry in the United States. It commemorates the discovery of the first synthetic dye (Perkin mauve) by Sir William Henry Perkin in 1856. This discovery was a significant step forward in organic chemistry that led to the birth of a major segment of the chemical industry.
The Perkin Medal was first awarded to Sir William at a banquet in New York in 1906. The room was festooned with banners dyed a brilliant Perkin mauve, a piece of which is on display in our museum. Today the award is presented as part of Innovation Day.
2017 Medalist: Ann Weber
Following the 2017 Innovation Day events at the Science History Institute, the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), America Section, presented its prestigious Perkin Medal to Ann E. Weber. This award recognized her outstanding work in the field of medicinal chemistry, especially her work leading to the development of the drugs Januvia and Janumet for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Weber received the medal at a dinner in her honor on Tuesday, September 12.
Ann E. Weber is senior vice president of drug discovery at Kallyope Inc., a New York City–based biotechnology company focused on identification of therapeutic opportunities involving the gut–brain axis. In this role she is responsible for translating biology arising from the company’s state-of-the-art technology platform into drug discovery and development programs. She retired in November 2015 from Merck & Co., where she most recently held the position of vice president of lead optimization chemistry at Merck Research Laboratories (MRL), responsible for the discovery of innovative therapeutic agents across disease areas. She joined MRL as a senior research chemist in 1987.
Weber’s research interests include the design and synthesis of ligands for G-protein coupled receptors, ion channels, and enzymes. Her work has led to over 40 development candidates, including Januvia (sitagliptin), a treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes; Janumet, a fixed-dose combination of sitagliptin and metformin; and Marizev (omarigliptin), a once-weekly treatment for type 2 diabetes that was approved in Japan in September 2015. An additional drug candidate, Vibegron, for the treatment of overactive bladder, is in late-stage clinical trials.
Weber is the author or coauthor of over 80 publications. She is coinventor on over 35 issued U.S. patents. Her awards include the Robert M. Scarborough Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry and the Heroes of Chemistry Award (American Chemical Society); the Discoverer’s Award (PhRMA), recognizing scientists whose work has been of special benefit to humankind; and a Directors’ Award, the highest honor that Merck confers on its employees. She is a 2013 Liberty Science Center Women in STEM Honoree and the recipient of the 2015 Gift of Mentoring Award from the Metro Women Chemists Committee. In 2016 she was named to the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame (ACS).
Before joining Merck, Weber obtained her BS degree in chemistry summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame. She earned her PhD from Harvard University, studying synthetic organic chemistry in the laboratories of David A. Evans.
Previous Winners of the SCI Perkin Medal
The SCI Perkin Medal has been presented since 1906, when the very first award went to Sir William Henry Perkin. For a full list of winners visit SCI’s website.
About the Society of Chemical Industry
SCI is a unique multidisciplinary forum where science meets business on independent, impartial ground. SCI provides the opportunity for sharing information among sectors as diverse as food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental science, and safety.
Established in 1881 as the Society of Chemical Industry, SCI is today a registered charity with individual members in over 70 countries. Its headquarters are in London.
Ever since its foundation SCI’s principal objective has been to further the application of chemistry and related sciences for the public benefit, through our events and publication.