2013 Herman Skolnik Award Recipient Announced

Richard Cramer

Dr. Richard D. (Dick) Cramer will be the recipient of the 2013 Herman Skolnik Award presented by the ACS Division of Chemical Information. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to and achievements in the theory and practice of chemical information science and related disciplines. The prize consists of a $3,000 honorarium and a plaque. Dr. Cramer will also be invited to present an award symposium at the Fall 2013 ACS National Meeting.

Cramer is best known as the inventor of the technique of Comparative Molecular Field Analysis (CoMFA) and its introduction to the molecular and drug design fields (JACS 1998, 110, 5959-5967). The technique and its implementation was one of the first widely available and usable 3D QSAR software methods and was developed in collaboration with David Patterson and Jeffrey Bunce. The CoMFA process was one of the first patents in the cheminformatics and computational chemistry fields and has been used in the pharmaceutical industry as the standard method for small molecule bioactivity prediction for the last twenty-five years.

Early in his career in the research group of E.J. Corey, he was involved with the first artificial intelligence methods to predict chemical synthesis, coining the acronym ‘LHASA’ (Logic and Heuristics Applied to Synthetic Analysis) for the project, which is known today as one of the very first attempts at computer aided design in chemistry. While his entire later career has been in industry, Cramer has taken an academic approach to solving complex problems and this has resulted in a number of break-through developments that are synonymous with innovation in chemical information and QSAR. He has remained active in research and publishing at the forefront of his field. His work on ‘topomeric’ descriptors, (J. Med. Chem. 2003, 46, 374-388) which allows CoMFA without tedious alignment of ligands is proving a very successful tool in drug discovery allowing the design of more selective ligands (J. Med. Chem. 2011, 54, 3982-3986). Admired by his colleagues, Cramer is described as personable and open to discussing science with all and any interested parties, a “gentleman” scientist.

While Cramer is known to the chemical information world as a top rate scientist, he has made major contributions to another field entirely: baseball1. He became interested in applying computers to baseball statistics and developed a program to feed detailed baseball statistics into the commentator’s box. Cramer consulted with a number of major league teams, and is featured in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis (recently made into a major motion picture).

Cramer received his AB degree in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard University in 1963 and his PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. He worked for Polaroid Corporation (1967-1969) and then completed a two-year fellowship under direction of E.J. Corey. After more than a decade working with Smith Kline & French Laboratories, he moved to Tripos in 1983 as Vice President of New Products. Cramer currently serves as Senior Vice President, Science, and Chief Scientific Officer for Tripos, a Certara-Company.

Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Chair, CINF Awards Committee

[1] Murphy, John. “Still hitting home runs/ PROFILE: Richard Cramer”, Scientific Computing World: September / October 2003 http://www.scientific-computing.com/features/feature.php?feature_id=107