Richard van Breemen
The Power List 2021
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Linus Pauling Institute and College of Pharmacy, Oregon State University, Oregon, USA
In another life… Instead of pursuing a career as an analytical scientist, I would probably have focused on the development of fuel cells or batteries. Growing up during the Apollo space program in the 1960s, I was fascinated by the fuel cell used to generate electricity from hydrogen and oxygen on board the Apollo spacecraft. As an undergraduate chemistry major, I had planned a summer internship during 1979 at the Lewis Research Center near Cleveland, Ohio, (now the NASA Glenn Research Center) where the Apollo fuel cell was developed. When this internship was canceled due to budget cuts, I was fortunate to obtain an amazing summer position in the pharmacology laboratory of the late Larry Fischer at the University of Iowa, where I operated a quadrupole MS for the first time. During that internship, I used GC-MS for the quantitative analysis of human metabolites of the anti-seizure drug diphenylhydantoin. In 1981, I joined the biomedical MS laboratory of Catherine Fenselau at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for my dissertation research on phase II drug metabolism and have continued to carry out related research ever since!