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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chemistry Nobel laureate Richard Heck dies a pauper !!!

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2010 was awarded jointly to Richard F. Heck, Eiichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki "for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis". It was stated that ‘there is an increasing need for complex chemicals. Humanity wants new medicines that can cure cancer or halt the devastating effects of deadly viruses in the human body. The electronics industry is searching for substances that can emit light, and the agricultural industry wants substances that can protect crops’. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2010 rewards a tool that has improved the ability of chemists to satisfy all of these wishes very efficiently: palladium-catalyzed cross coupling.


Following a tradition in organic chemistry, the reaction pioneered by Dr. Heck carries his name, and it is known throughout the world of chemistry as the Heck reaction. In the language of chemistry, it is a palladium-catalyzed carbon cross-coupling reaction.That title may not do full justice to his discovery of a process that, according to the Nobel Prize organization, “would transform modern organic chemistry.”

Richard Heck, who shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for creating a reaction that has been widely hailed for its prolific usefulness in many areas of modern life, such as drug development, electronic display screens and DNA sequencing, died a couple of days earlier on Oct. 10 in the Philippines. He was 84.

Dr. Heck’s death in Manila was reported by the University of Delaware, where he was a professor emeritus.According to the Reuters news agency, quoting relatives of Dr. Heck’s late wife, who was Filipina, his death followed years of illness. Ailments included diabetes, slight dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There are problems in life ~many of them dwell around money.  People think that a jackpot windfall can only change their fortunes.  But – it may not. Some lives had become notably worse after they got super rich, and they managed to lose it all quite quickly.Money isn’t always the answer to all of life’s problems. In fact, sometimes money can create even more problems – as, it seems, is too often the case for lottery winners. It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to end up with even less than they had before their windfall and sometimes they even end up with nothing at all.  This is not the fault of the World but their own making - lack of financial planning and foolhardy spending habits linked to an inability to manage such enormous and unexpected spending power.

A lottery win has huge power to change people for the better – or for the worse.  Some people manage it well, while some even donate a portion of their winnings to a noble cause. …. … ..  understandable when it happens to an illiterate, foolish person ~but this report in Times of India of date, is shocking.

TOI reports that Nobel laureate Richard Heck died in Manila on Saturday under tragic circumstances as he was reportedly turned away from a private hospital because of unpaid bills. Heck the Nobellaureate  in 2010, was 84 and had been suffering from several ailments.  Heck had retired in the Philippines in 2006 along with his Filipina wife, Socorro NardoHeck. Socorro died two years after Heck won his Nobel prize, said Michael Nardo, Socorro's nephew, who had been looking after Heck since his wife's death, according to Reuters. The couple was childless.Heck was relying on his monthly pension of $2,500 to get by, the nephew added.Two personal nurses took turns taking care of him in his home in recent months.

One of the nurses, Jane Rose Pido told GMA News that Heck was rushed to a private hospital due to severe vomiting, but was refused admission due to unpaid bills. “It was painful to see, that the man was fighting for his life but he was left to die, because he did not have money. How could it end up like that? We didn't know which hospital to take him to, so much time was lost.He could have been revived,“Pido reportedly said. Pido said they were forced to take him to a public hospital, where his vital signs deteriorated within hours, until he died.

Heck was affiliated with the University of Delaware in the US when he developed his work on palladium as a catalyst, called the Heck reaction, in the 1960s and early 1970s, according to Reuters. The two Japanese scientists came through with their variants of the same process in the late 1970s.

Grim reminder of the wildest twists that life can offer !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Oct 2015.

Photo credit : Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2010

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