A Leading Kenyan Scientist Based in the U.S. Named a "Hero of Chemistry" by American Chemical Society
Dr F. George Njoroge, a native of Kenya and a leading scientific researcher based in Indiana, United States, has been inducted into the coveted scientific "Hall of Fame" as a 2012 Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.
In a ceremony held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 19, 2012, Dr Njoroge, along with his team - Dr. Srikanth Venkatraman, Dr. Stephane Bogen, Dr. Frank Bennett and Dr. Ashok Arasappan were honored for the discovery and development of the Hepatitis C drug Victrelis™ (scientifically known as Boceprevir or SCH 503034) while working at the global pharmaceutical firm Merck Research Laboratories.
Approved in May 2011, Victrelis™ is the first oral Hepatitis C virus protease to be approved by the FDA. It is expected to benefit a big population of the 130-170 million people worldwide who suffer from Hepatitis C. It is currently approved in 43 countries and is already on market in 23 of these countries. According to market reports, sales of Victrelis™ stood at $238 million through the second quarter of 2012.
Dr Njoroge has great passion for science and feels very privileged to have been involved in solving challenging problems that have culminated in benefiting mankind in a very significant way. "I am committed to contributing to future innovations that I believe will lead to discovery of new drugs that will make a difference to the lives of our fellow humans," Dr Njoroge tells Mwakilishi.com.
About Dr F. George Njoroge
Dr. Njoroge is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Lilly. Previously, he was a Director in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Merck Research Laboratories in Kenilworth, New Jersey where he oversaw chemistry program in infectious diseases platform. Through research leadership at Merck, an anti-HCV viral drug Victrelis™ (also known as Boceprevir or SCH 503034) was discovered; this medicine was approved by FDA on May 13th 2011 as the first-in-class therapy for HepC treatment and is currently in the market. Dr. Njoroge led his chemistry in the discovery of the second generation HCV protease inhibitor Narlaprevir® that has completed Phase IIb clinical trials and has now been licensed to a Russian company R-Pharma. He has also worked extensively in the oncology area, especially in the discovery of therapeutic agents that are geared towards intervention of signal trunsduction process in proliferating cells: this work led to discovery of Sarasar®, a farnesyl transferase inhibitor that is currently in Phase II for the treatment of Progeria.
Dr Njoroge attended Thika High school after his primary education at Kiawairia and Kamuchege primary schools. He accomplished his ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels in 1973 and 1975 respectively. After graduating from University of Nairobi, Kenya in first class honors, George completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio in 1985 and joined Schering Plough Research Institute (SPRI) in 1988. Dr. Njoroge’s research at SPRI has focused on the design and synthesis of orally bioavailable small molecules for treatment of viral diseases and cancer.
Dr. Njoroge has published extensively in professional journals on synthetic organic chemistry and drug design. Dr. Njoroge is an author or coauthor of more than 120 scientific publications and 78 US granted patents. In addition to the Heroes of Chemistry award, Dr Njoroge is a recipient of numerous other awards, including Emerald Award for Professional Achievement in Industry and Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for emerging therapies. He is a member of the American Chemical Society.
About the Heroes of Chemistry Program
(Video: Dr Njoroge and other Heroes of Chemistry at an ACS Heroes Press Conference)
The ACS Heroes of Chemistry Program honors chemical scientists whose work in traditional or nontraditional fields of chemistry and chemical engineering has led to the successful innovation and development of commercial products based on chemistry. These industrial scientists are celebrated for their contributions to their companies, the chemical enterprise, and humankind.
Heroes of Chemistry are nominated by their companies, who recognize the talent and creativity of their scientists in specific industry segments of the chemical enterprise. The Heroes of Chemistry have demonstrated their ability to commercialize cutting-edge scientific and technological advances for the benefit of society.
Nominees for the 2013 ACS Heroes of Chemistry program will be accepted starting in January 2013. Visit www.acs.org/heroes for further information.
Dr Njoroge’s Message to Fellow Kenyans
Saying Kenya and Africa in general lags behind in scientific research, Dr Njoroge urges Kenyan universities to ensure they develop technologically qualified graduates. “We should change the emphasis of university education and put more weight on research rather than just concentrating on informational based teaching. The quality of education should be emphasized and government agencies should make sure that this is not compromised what so ever,” Dr Njoroge tells Mwakilishi.com.
He also challenges Kenyan venture capitalists to support start-up biotechnology companies, saying such investment will not only lead to discovering remedies for diseases that have greatly afflicted human suffering such as AIDS and malaria, but will also lead to innovations that can spur industrialization and bring great financial and economical benefits to the country. He hopes to in the near future have a chance to conduct research that can lead to development of new products in Kenya, and has close contacts with researchers in Kenyan who he hopes to collaborate with in future endevours.
Dr Njoroge’s advice to young people interested in careers in drug discovery and research is that they are careers that require persistence and patience in addition to requisite skill and scientific discipline. While noting that failure in discovering new medicine is very common, he points out that scientific research careers are very rewarding because of the huge benefits they offer to the health and well-being of mankind.
Related Article: Kenyan Researcher In The US At The Center Of Medical Discovery
Thou art it again! This is a well deserved KUDOs for positively standing firm in the endeavors of medicinal discoveries. Many in your class will most likely agree that to get this status requires lots of time and a real human heart. Congrats!!
These are signs that salvation shall come from the hills of Kirinyaga, said Mugo wa Kibiru. You are a shining beacon in our history a hero to our children who have aspirations to rise to such memorable moments.
We are proud of you!! Your message is clear, 'lets get our country to conduct research and make a better day tomorrow for mankind'....global!
Good good job Prof Njoroge!! We're proud of u as Kenyans and Africans as well. Keep up the spirit and may line to mentor many who need ua skills as well!!
It is always a great pleasure to see you continuing to excel and set the bar higher for all humanity, not just Kenyans. Continue the good work that God has given you the gift to do and maybe more of us will be inspired to become better and classy human beings.
Thumbi (wa Mumbi).
Hello Dr. Njoroge, I must personally congratulate you for the great work you are doing towards discovery of novel therapeutics in the area of Hep C. I knew there are other Kenyans in the field but have never come across some of our own that are such accomplished in doing such breakthrough science to ease human suffering.
It is with great enthusiasm that I write to you knowing that you are an encouragement to us as young Kenyan scientists and a good example that we can emulate to achieve our dreams. It is also a beacon of light to our young nation to know that we can change the face of science and healthcare system by establishing and pushing for changes that will create the environment for cutting edge science through putting focus in our education system that will prepare the next generations.
I am no politician but I know full well that our current government has put science so much behind by not encouraging its growth through institutions and the right resources and technology to compete with other nations. I BELIEVE WE CAN MAKE THE CHANGE!!
Again, I would like to congratulate you and encourage you to keep on the good work.
Thank you, Moses.
Tunashukuru sana all your work for the entire WORLD!! It gives me pleasure to say ASANTE SANA and I know you understand me. NIWEGA MUNO!! That too.
You are a beacon to the all aspiring African/Kenyan scientist young turks who are looking to leave a 'foot-print' on this Earth. You have.
It is a shame that the Kenyan Government cannot give you a forum to encourage the very bright students in Kenya to see how high they can actually go.
I see you being refered to as Baba Joy, I pray that your JOY does follow your footsteps and become a Dr like you.
Great job Dr. Njoroge. Keep up the good job Baba Joy.
Well done Baba Joy!
well done daktari.
Congrats Dr Njoroge! you are an inspiration to not just kenyans but also africans and Black people at large. You continue to make a difference in saving lives adding more days to others with ease. I wish you continued success. We are proud of you.
Congrats George for achieving such a feat. I am sure this will inspire many budding Kenyan scientists. Your achievement is due to your passion in scientific research in your area of specialization and the desire to alleviate human suffering from ailments.
I feel proud to have shared those formative years at Thika High School with you and to have been a close friend to date. Thanks for the brief visit to my home and I trust that God willing you will visit us again when you come to Kenya. May God protect you and your family as you explore new horizons in your field.
Kenya needs inventors like you Dr Njoroge i look forward to achieve what you have achieved in your career.