Prof. Richard B. Silverman
Professor Richard B. Silverman


Prof. Kazuo Nakamoto
Professor Kazuo Nakamoto (1922-2011)

2015 Nakamoto Lecture

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that this year's Nakamoto Lecture will be given by Professor Richard B. Silverman, John Evans Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. The lecture, "CPP-115: A Novel GABA Aminotransferase Inactivator and Potential New Treatment for Epilepsy, Addiction, and Hepatocellular Carcinoma," will be held on Friday, April 10, 2015.

Prof. Silverman received his B.S. degree in chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University in 1968 and his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1974 (with time off for a two-year military obligation from 1969-1971). After two years as a NIH postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of the late Professor Robert Abeles in the Graduate Department of Biochemistry at Brandeis University, he joined the chemistry faculty at Northwestern University. In 1986 he became Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology. In 2001 he became the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence for three years, and since 2004 he has been the John Evans Professor of Chemistry.

His research can be summarized as investigations of the molecular mechanisms of action, rational design, and syntheses of potential medicinal agents acting on enzymes and receptors.

His recent awards include Arthur C. Cope Senior Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society (2003), Alumni Fellow Award from Pennsylvania State University (2008), Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame of the American Chemical Society (2009), the Perkin Medal (2009), the Hall of Fame of Central High School of Philadelphia (2011), the E.B. Hershberg Award for Important Discoveries in Medicinally Active Substances from the American Chemical Society (2011), Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2011), Sato Memorial International Award of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan (2012), Roland T. Lakey Award of Wayne State University (2013), BMS-Edward E. Smissman Award of the American Chemical Society (2013), Centenary Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2013), Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2013), Medicinal Chemistry Prize of the Israel Chemical Society (2014), iCON Innovator Award of the iBIO Institute (2014), Northwestern University Trustee Medal for Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship (2014), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2014), Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (2014).

Professor Silverman has published over 335 research articles, holds 62 domestic and foreign patents, and has written five books (one [The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action] translated into German and Chinese). He is the inventor of LyricaTM, a drug marketed by Pfizer since 2005 for epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia and has completed Phase I clinical trials of another drug for infantile spasms.


Kazuo Nakamoto was born in Kobe, Japan. He received his B.S. and D.Sc. from Osaka University and remained at Osaka as a member of the faculty for an additional four years, except for the two years which he spent at Iowa State University working in the laboratory of Robert E. Rundle as a Fulbright Scholar. In 1958 he joined the faculty at Clark University, moving to Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961 and in 1969 he became the first Wehr Professor of Chemistry at Marquette University.

Professor Nakamoto directed the research of more than 85 graduate students and postdoctoral associates and published more than 210 papers and 15 review articles. He was a pioneer in the use of metal isotopes to elucidate the involvement of metals in low frequency vibrations in metallic complexes, a discovery that helped fuel the rapid growth in the developing field of bioinorganic chemistry. He then turned his attention to biological problems and began a vigorous research program dealing with heme-related compounds. He was also amongst the first to use matrix isolation techniques to prepare and characterize unstable species, including the biologically relevant ferryl heme complexes, an important intermediate in many oxidative heme enzymes. His interest also included DNA and the process of intercalation. Using oligonucleotides synthesized to include specific sequences, he established criteria that can be used to deduce the site specificity of these compounds. He was able to differentiate between exterior (groove) binding and interior (intercalation) binding through careful vibrational analysis.

In keeping with his life-long interest in communicating the excitement of science, he authored several influential texts in the field of spectroscopy, including his very famous 2-volume work on Infrared and Raman Spectra of Inorganic and Coordination Compounds, the sixth edition of which was issued in 2009, and in 2008 coauthored a new book entitled Drug-DNA Interactions: Structures and Spectra. Remarkably, his passion for science and dedication to accomplishment were clearly manifested, even up to the final weeks of his life, as he was continually pondering new points to include in planned future editions of his books. In spite of his great scientific success, he remained a genuinely modest man who will long be missed by the many of us who knew and admired him.

Previous Nakamoto Lecturers


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