Inventor of the year

Medicines for All

“The Innovation Gateway at VCU has been a great partner with my research group, particularly in the area of the new catalysts that we have developed. They have allowed us to secure what we expect will be valuable intellectual property in the future that we can share with our industrial pharmaceutical partners.”

B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D.
Professor and chair
Department of Chemical
and Life Science Engineering

Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao, Ph.D., once asked, “So ideas are wonderful, but how do we take those ideas and put them in an environment in which they will benefit a maximum number of people in the world?”

VCU’s researchers are making ideas real. Just look to B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., the Floyd D. Gottwald Jr. Chair and chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering. Since 2014, Gupton has championed cutting the cost of AIDS treatments by accelerating more efficient ways of synthesizing the active ingredients in medications. His efforts signal a dramatic change in future pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, including medicines that treat malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries.

Last year, the VCU School of Engineering was awarded $25 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish the Medicines for All Institute and to fund the institute’s work on a wide range of essential global health treatments. Over the previous four years, the Gates Foundation had awarded nearly $15 million to Medicines for All.

This past November, Gupton was honored by VCU Innovation Gateway with the 2017 Billy R. Martin Award for Innovation for his work to drive down costs of essential medicines in developing countries. Gupton credits his success at VCU to “the collaboration I was able to establish in the 10 years I’ve been here.”

Billy Martin, who died in 2008, was the chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, a ground-breaking researcher, a prolific inventor and a world-renowned neuropharmacologist.