Richard J. Bolte Sr. Award for Supporting Industries

2017 Bolte Awardee Peter Young at Heritage Day

Whether it is by providing laboratory space, moving freight around the world, or creating software to help in the lab, supporting industries make possible much of the science on which we rely.

To honor those who provide products or services vital to the continuing growth and development of the chemical and molecular sciences community, the Science History Institute created the Richard J. Bolte Sr. Award for Supporting Industries in 2006. It took the name of the first winner of the award, the founder and chair of BDP International, and it is presented annually at Heritage Day, our annual celebration of the achievements and promise of the sciences and technologies that shape material culture.

2018 Awardee: W. Graham Richards

W. Graham Richards

W. Graham Richards

W. Graham Richards

W. Graham Richards, founder and chair of Oxford Drug Design, received the 2018 Richard J. Bolte Sr. Award for Supporting Industries on Heritage Day on May 9, 2018.

Richards was a pioneer in the field of computer-aided molecular design for industrial applications, particularly pharmaceuticals. As part of the first generation of researchers using computers in the 1960s, he collaborated with James Black of Smith, Kline and French to search for antagonists of histamine. The result was cimetidine and a Nobel Prize for Black. Richards went on to develop numerous techniques and produced the first color graphic molecular images.

In addition to his long academic career at Oxford University, where he chaired the chemistry department from 1997 to 2006, Richards has been deeply involved in the commercialization of technologies. He organized the Screensaver Lifesaver project—the largest ever computational chemistry project that involved use of idle time on more than 3.5 million personal computers in more than 200 countries. The project screened billions of compounds in the search for drugs to treat cancer and to protect against anthrax and smallpox. Based on this project, in 2001 Richards founded Oxford Drug Design (formerly InhibOx) and has been its chair ever since.

Richards helped found Oxford University Innovation, the university’s technology transfer company, and cofounded its first spin-off, the successful Oxford Molecular, which provided software to researchers. He also helped develop the company IP Group, where he was for a time chair and is now a venture partner.

In 2004 the American Chemical Society gave him its Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. In 2010 he was appointed as one of two vice presidents of the Royal Society of Chemistry and in 2011 elected as a fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

Richards is the author of 350 scientific articles and 20 books, and holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford.


Previous Winners of the Bolte Award

  • Peter Young (2017)
  • Roy Eddleman (2016)
  • Abdulaziz Al-Zamil (2015)
  • Atsushi Horiba (2014)
  • Alan G. Walton (2013)
  • G. Steven Burrill (2012)
  • Lawrence Evans (2011)
  • Berdon Lawrence (2010)
  • David and Alice Schwartz (2009)
  • Jerry Sudarsky (2008)
  • Eugene Garfield (2007)
  • Richard J. Bolte Sr. (2006)