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MSU Chemist Emeritus Receives Inaugural Lifetime Contribution Award

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Michigan State University chemist emeritus Chi-Kwong (“Chris”) Chang, received the first Lifetime Contribution Award established at the inaugural Asian Conference on Porphyrins, Phthalocyanines and Related Materials (ACPP-1) and the Sixth National Conference on Porphyrins, Phthalocyanines, and Related Materials (NCPP-6) for his seminal contributions to synthetic porphyrin and biomimetic chemistry of natural tetrapyrrole cofactors, which have been recognized widely for decades.

Chi- Kwong Chang

MSU chemist emeritus, Chi-Kwong (“Chris”) Chang, received a prestigious Lifetime Contribution Award for his seminal contributions to synthetic porphyrin and biomimetic chemistry. Courtesy photo

Chang’s research focused on the development of methodology that allowed the synthesis of novel compounds of the porphyrin family, while also designing and testing models that could serve as structural and functional biomimics of porphyrin-containing natural systems.

“This award has given me great satisfaction in knowing that my research is read and appreciated by the active and younger generations of scientists working in the field that I loved and on which I spent a great deal of time,” Chang said. “It also supplied me a venue to thank my wife (who was invited to accompany me to the conference) for her support and tolerance over the years.”

Porphyrins are a family of disk-shaped macrocycles. Often referred to as the pigments of life, they are the ligands and cofactors of biology. The most common example of porphyrins are hemes (found in hemoglobin, cytochromes, catalases and peroxidases) and chlorophylls. Heme-containing proteins are found extensively in nature, with heme indispensable for all organisms. Hemoglobin and myoglobin are two O2-binding proteins that contain iron porphyrins. The Heme group gives myoglobin and hemoglobin the ability to bind oxygen because of the presence of the iron atom.

Biomimetic chemistry works to mimic natural systems in their appearance, structure and function by using small chemical building blocks.

“Biomimetic modeling gives chemists a handle to dissect various aspects of a complicated biological process, in the hope that a better knowledge of ‘God’s chemistry’ would enable the development of useful processes for the chemical industry,” Chang said.

In recognition of the importance of porphyrin research, Chang has established the annual Octaethylporphyrin (OEP) Prize. Octaethylporphyrin is an organic compound related to naturally occurring heme pigments used in the preparation of models for the prosthetic group in heme proteins. It is very expensive and difficult to synthesize.

This prize consists of an annual awarding of two 25g of OEP each to two winners who write to Chang, via email, a one-page description of their qualifications and proposed use of Octaethylporphyrin before the end of February each year.

“I was thrilled to hear that Dr. Chang had received the Lifetime Contribution Award at the inaugural Asian Conference on Porphyrins, Phthalocyanines and Related Materials,” said Robert Maleczka, professor and chair in the MSU Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Science. “It is certainly most deserved, as by any measure Dr. Chang defines what it means to be an expert in their chosen field.

Chang was a faculty member at MSU for nearly 40 years, from 1976 to 2014. During his tenure, he published more than 240 papers that received more than an h index of 62 and 11,000 citations, for which the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) named him one of the world’s 1,000 most cited chemists from 1981 to 1997, based on ISI’s total citations. He also received the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 1991.

In addition to being a Professor Emeritus at MSU, Chang is a visiting expert at the Institute of Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

The ACPP-1 and the NCPP-6 conferences were hosted by the Chinese Chemical Society, organized by the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) and co-hosted by the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB). The conferences were held at the International Conference Center of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in August. 

via NatSci

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