Purdue radio program focuses on 'Engineering Pharmaceuticals'

May 24, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The life-saving potential - and soaring cost - of developing new drugs is the subject of the third installment of the Global Challenges radio series.

"Engineering Pharmaceuticals" has been produced by the Purdue University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Purdue College of Engineering, and WFYI Public Radio in Indianapolis.

"Engineering Pharmaceuticals" is available online at http://www.pharmacy.purdue.edu/radio.php and https://engineering.purdue.edu/Engr/AboutUs/News/Radio and is being broadcast nationally on public radio stations.  Public Radio station WBAA, located at Purdue, will air "Engineering Pharmaceuticals" at 2 p.m. June 18 at AM 920.

The program, narrated by Barbara Bogaev, former host and editor of "Weekend America," looks at the science and technology being used in the hunt for new drugs targeted to very specific forms of disease. It explores the labyrinthine process of gaining approval from government regulators. And it follows the path of those who figure out how to manufacture new drugs for efficacy and safety.

Much of the program centers on the experiences of Matt Grossman, a freshman at Landmark College in Putney, Vt. Five years ago, a few weeks after his bar mitzvah, Matt was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The list of drugs he has been given is long and frightening. The drugs have left him with problems such as trouble processing information. That's why he's at Landmark, a college designed for youths with problems like cognitive deficits, dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Yet, he's survived a disease for five years that only 30 years ago killed 100 percent of its victims.

"To be quite honest, if I hadn't had chemo, I probably would have been dead," he says on the program.

Researchers whose work is highlighted in the program include Marietta Harrison, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology and director of the Oncological Sciences Center at Purdue; Charles Buck, director of operations at Purdue's Bindley Biosciences Center; and Gintaras "Rex" Reklaitis, professor of chemical engineering at Purdue, and Fernando Muzzio, professor of chemical engineering at Rutgers University, partners in a National Science Foundation-funded program to improve the pharmaceutical manufacturing process.

Among others interviewed are Jeff Hatfield, CEO of Vitae Pharmaceuticals; Jerome Kassirer, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, who gives a critical view of the pharmaceutical industry; and Craig Lustig, a cancer survivor and cancer patient advocate.

The series of radio programs is designed to spotlight the role of engineering and other disciplines in solving pressing global challenges.

The first two programs in the series, "After Oil" and "Sustainability," also can be heard at https://engineering.purdue.edu/Engr/AboutUs/News/Radio 

Writer:  Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu   

Sources:   Rwitti Roy, Purdue director of brand and advertising, 765-496-9799, rroy@purdue.edu

                   Lori Plummer, WFYI director of media relations, 317-614-0462, lplummer@wfyi.org