Gerald Rosen, PhD, JD, the Isaac E. Emerson Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been named the Maryland Chemist of the Year by the Maryland Chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) - the most prestigious honor given by the chapter.
Rosen and colleagues are developing real-time Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Imaging (EPRI) to measure critical oxygen levels after stroke, in tumors, and to improve drug development.
Angela Sherman, PhD, of the ACS Maryland Chapter, presented the award to Rosen at a ceremony at the School in Baltimore on Dec. 8 (pictured at right).
"Dr. Rosen's groundbreaking work to develop real-time imaging of brain function after a stroke or other events offers medicine an unprecedented new tool for evaluating and potentially treating brain injury," said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, dean of the School.
Rosen has devoted his career to the synthesis of the organic compounds called nitroxides as probes used to study physiology in targeted places in whole living organisms, and in real time.
Rosen, a faculty member in the School's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, uses specifically designed and synthesized nitroxides that will pass the tenacious blood-brain-barrier that separates blood circulating in the body, and thus restricts passage of compounds into the brain.
For years, Rosen synthesized different nitroxide candidates to find the appropriate chemical structures that would measure and quantitate oxygen levels in the brain and other tissues. Rosen said at his award ceremony that the first time the team discovered the transport of his synthesized nitroxides across the brain barrier "we were ecstatic, we were on the way to real-time measurement of oxygen, essential in defining brain function after a stroke, and the damage that had taken place."
In the early 1980s, Rosen was one of the first scientists to synthesize nitroxides as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) agents.
In 2009, he received the inaugural University System of Maryland Board of Regents Award for Faculty Collaboration for his research with Joseph Kao, PhD, of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, on the new biomedical imaging method, EPRI. Rosen and Kao are developing EPRI to track and visualize cell movements in real time within the body, such as the spread of metastatic cancer cells, or the sites where stem cells localize after they are introduced into the body.
Rosen and Kao are focusing on EPRI probes that can detect changes in the physiological status of tissue. Depending upon the specificity of the probe, EPR imaging can even monitor changes in brain oxygen levels that can assist in therapeutic interventions after a stroke.
Eddington said, "Dr. Rosen has a long record of excellence in research, having focused on developing novel methods to characterize free radicals, and more recently, to design innovative agents to be used in the enhancement of MRI and EPRI. His body of work has moved free radicals and imaging research forward and really sets him apart as a truly distinguished scientist."
EPRI in conjunction with MRI can be used to define specific regions of the brain that are affected by diminished oxygen after a stroke.
In concluding a seminar at the Chemist of the Year ceremony, Rosen said, "I'm not through. I am just beginning." He said he is eager to use the new technology to also help companies with their drug development by using real-time imaging of the drugs' effects on tissues in the body.
Rosen joined the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1988, as chair of the then Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. During the past 38 years, he has published more than 260 papers on the development of nitroxides, specifically targeted to study important physiological parameters.
In 1990, Rosen was appointed the Isaac E. Emerson Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School, an appointment that led to the Maryland Higher Education Commission naming him an Eminent Scholar.
Rosen obtained a PhD in organic chemistry from Clarkson College of Technology in Potsdam, N.Y. and holds a JD degree from Duke University School of Law.
In 2006, another University of Maryland School of Pharmacy professor, Alexander MacKerell Jr., PhD, was chosen as the Maryland Chemist of the Year by the ACS chapter. Rosen and MacKerell are colleagues in the School's Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.