Biomembrane Pioneer Stephen Matson Joins WPI
Sepracor Co-Founder & NAE Member to Hold New Frances Manning Chair
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/October 7, 2002
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616
Worcester, Mass. - October 7, 2002 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announces the appointment of Stephen L. Matson to the newly created Frances Manning Chair in WPI's chemical engineering department. A pioneer and champion of new membrane reactor technologies, Matson joins WPI after a successful 20-year career in the private sector. He has a track record of not only conceiving new technologies, but developing them into successful commercial ventures - most notably as a co-founder of the publicly traded, specialty pharmaceutical company, Sepracor. His numerous accomplishments led to his election as Director of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
At WPI, Matson will continue his exploration into synthetic membranes, focusing on membrane reactors as platforms for applications as diverse as advanced chemical processing and high-throughput DNA sequencing. Like much of his work, these problems involve both fundamental aspects of chemical engineering science and applications. He also hopes to begin work on the fabrication and exploitation of ultrathin films from a variety of "interesting" and somewhat exotic materials such as self-assembling liquid crystals.
"We are blessed to have such an esteemed and well-known researcher, scholar and entrepreneur as Steve Matson decide to join us here at WPI," says Ravindra Datta, head of the WPI's chemical engineering department. "I think this speaks highly of our department and WPI. Additionally, for our students, Matson will be an extremely positive influence in imparting his real-world, commercial experience and excitement about the discipline to guide future engineers and researchers."
Since his Ph.D. thesis work at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1970s, Matson has been a leader in developing membrane reactors. His work is considered by many as the first to envision and demonstrate the use of catalytic membranes for practical applications.
At Sepracor, Matson led an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers in the commercialization of membrane reactors, an effort that culminated in the construction of a full-scale enzyme membrane reactor plant used in the production of the angina and hypertension drug Cardizem®. Today, Sepracor focuses on developing improved single-isomer and active-metabolite versions of existing drugs, and markets or out-licenses a number of respiratory drugs including Allegra®, Clarinex® and Xopenex®.
Matson has also participated in founding two other companies, Versicor and Otter Coast Automation, based on combinatorial chemistry as applied to drug discovery, and he has served in various capacities with several Sepracor spin-offs including Biosphere Medical (focusing on embolotherapy), ChiRex/Rhodia (chiral synthesis/separations), and HemaSure/Whatman (leukoreduction). Previously, Matson served for two years as director of research for Bend Research, Inc., and before that he was engaged in membrane research for ten years at GE's Corporate R&D Center.
Despite the proprietary nature of much of his activity, Matson has published actively in the scientific and patent literature. The body of his scientific and technical work has been recognized by his peers by his receipt of the Professional Progress Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in 1993; his election as a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering in 1997; and his induction into the National Academy of Engineering in 1995.
Matson earned a Ph.D. in chemical and biochemical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from Cornell University.
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