In recognition of his “revolutionary management in creating, creating, and commercializing revolutionary polymer-based therapeutics and personal-care merchandise by way of a number of profitable start-up firms,” Craig Hawker, professor of supplies, chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara, has obtained the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) 2021 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success.

“That is enormous. I personally put a variety of effort into my college students, in addition to into enhancing the entrepreneurial alternatives, success and recognition at UC Santa Barbara and all through the College of California System, which is what this award is all about,” mentioned Hawker, the Alan and Ruth Heeger Chair in Interdisciplinary Science, who additionally serves as director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) and the Dow Supplies Institute, and is amenities director of the Supplies Analysis Laboratory (MRL).

“We congratulate Craig Hawker on this glorious recognition and honor from his friends,” mentioned Rod Alferness, dean of the School of Engineering. “The award captures his important contributions within the area of polymers from elementary discovery and improvement, to commercialization and main societal affect in areas of medical therapeutics and private care. We’re extraordinarily pleased with Craig, who continues to function a job mannequin for college analysis and innovation that we, at UCSB, worth, encourage and foster.”

The annual Hach was established in 2012 to acknowledge a person who created one thing the place nothing existed earlier than. In 1947, on the age of 25, Hach co-founded the Hach Chemical Firm, which turned instrumental in standardizing water-purification exams and pioneered many world-standard analytical devices. Hach, who earned the nickname “Kitty” for flying her personal aircraft throughout the nation to promote water purification kits, died in June on the age of 97. Hawker mentioned the award has particular significance to him.

“I am doubly honored and thrilled to obtain this award as a result of Kathryn Hach was such an inspiration, and much more so when you think about the present local weather the place range, fairness and inclusion are extra vital than ever,” mentioned Hawker, whose analysis actions give attention to polymer chemistry, and combine cross-disciplinary research with the event of supplies having distinctive bodily and mechanical properties.

Along with advancing elementary polymer and supplies science, Hawker’s groundbreaking analysis has additionally fashioned the premise for greater than 80 U.S. patents and 10 start-up firms. A variety of these firms have developed medicine to enhance the standard of life for individuals who endure from continual kidney illness (CKD).

“From my early days working with Symyx, the thought of treating a metabolic illness with a cross-linked, orally administered polymer was a robust, but underexplored answer to a variety of present issues. The affected person mixes the drug with water and drinks it. Because the polymer passes by way of the gastrointestinal tract, it absorbs undesirable metabolic by-products, primarily filtering out what the kidneys can’t,” mentioned Hawker. “Lots of injected medicine have extra severe unwanted side effects, however we lowered the danger by creating polymer-based medicine that don’t accumulate within the physique or enter the bloodstream and are flushed out when the particular person goes to the toilet.”

Ilypsa, a spin-off from Symyx, developed a drug authorized by the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) to bind to phosphate to deal with hyperphosphatemia, an electrolyte dysfunction by which folks have an elevated degree of phosphate of their blood. After promoting Ilypsa to Amgen in 2007, Hawker mentioned the crew, a lot of whom had been his former college students, felt there was extra work to be finished.

“That is when Relypsa was began, which led to the event of Veltassa, a cross-linked polymer with a unique chemistry that binds to potassium to assist individuals who endure from hyperkalemia,” defined Hawker. The situation, related to elevated potassium ranges, may cause sudden coronary heart assaults and different severe well being points. Veltassa was authorized by the FDA in 2015 with Relypsa being bought to Vifor Pharma in 2016.

After Relypsa, Hawker once more labored with quite a lot of his former college students, this time to ascertain Tricida, specializing in the event and commercialization of Veverimer, a non-absorbed, orally-administered polymer designed to deal with metabolic acidosis in sufferers with continual kidney illness (CKD). A continual situation generally brought on by CKD, metabolic acidosis is believed to speed up the development of CKD and enhance the danger of muscle losing and lack of bone density.

“The design of Veverimer could enhance the standard of life and care for about three million sufferers with CKD in the US,” mentioned Hawker, a fellow of the Royal Society, Nationwide Academy of Inventors, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We’re engaged on FDA approval and hope that Veverimer turns into the primary therapy for continual metabolic acidosis.”

Hawker mentioned that teamwork and reaching throughout boundaries have been fixed themes in his profession. The most effective instance of that is the success of Olaplex, an organization began with native magnificence trade veterans Dean and Darcy Christal, and impressed by analysis carried out by Hawker and his former scholar, Eric Pressly. Working in Pressly’s storage, Hawker and Pressly developed the patented Olaplex hair restore know-how to forestall bleaching and coloring brokers from disrupting disulfide bonds in hair. “We introduced an outsider’s viewpoint to a comparatively mature area and checked out haircare on a molecular degree,” mentioned Hawker.

When contemplating his entrepreneurial success, Hawker says the truth that he’s most pleased with is that almost all the firms he is had the dignity of working with had been pushed by his college students. At Tricida, certainly one of his former UC Santa Barbara undergraduate college students is the pinnacle of chemistry, and leaders embrace former Ph.D. college students and postdocs.

“UCSB has quickly turn into a vibrant group for revolutionary college students who need to make a distinction on the earth. It is such change from my scholar days when the entrepreneurial tradition and assist community didn’t exist,” mentioned Hawker.

He credit multi-investigator applications such because the campus’s MRL, which is funded by the Nationwide Science Basis, and the Institutes for Science and Innovation that had been launched in 2000 by then California Governor Grey Davis for sparking the change. To deal with large-scale issues by way of interdisciplinary analysis and new market purposes, the initiative launched 4 visionary establishments on UC campuses, together with CNSI at UC Santa Barbara and at UCLA.

“CNSI and the opposite institutes are an unimaginable systemwide useful resource. They’ve supplied the infrastructure that enables firms to get began and progress by way of the valley of dying interval,” defined Hawker, referring to the interval in a start-up’s trajectory when it wants funding to scale as much as profitability. “It adjustments the scholars’ mindsets. They suppose, ‘We are able to do that, we are able to have an thought, and we are able to see it by way of to a profitable, high-impact firm.'”

The quite a few on-campus sources now accessible to UC Santa Barbara college students embrace the Know-how Administration Program, CNSI’s Know-how Incubator, the MRL, the New Enterprise Competitors, and the Workplace of Know-how and Trade Alliances. Hawker cites the latest success of Apeel Sciences, based by supplies alumnus James Rogers and recognized as certainly one of Time journal’s 50 genius firms of 2018, as additional proof that the entrepreneurial tradition is producing outcomes with UC Santa Barbara offering an important pipeline of expertise for native firms.

“All of those sources we have been working laborious to ascertain on campus are actually beginning to bear fruit,” mentioned Hawker, explaining that it interprets to a win-win for the native and state economies. “By way of revolutionary analysis on UC campuses, coaching of next-generation entrepreneurs, and the event of incubators, we’re creating an ecosystem which can enable firms to get established after which thrive in California. These firms generate 1000’s of jobs and billions of {dollars} in financial worth for the state.”

Hawker’s entrepreneurial success additionally made an affect on the well being and security of native healthcare suppliers through the COVID-19 pandemic. He used the connections that he made whereas at Olaplex to assist clear up the scarcity of non-public protecting tools and hand sanitizer within the Santa Barbara space.

“With super help from the Christals, we began tapping into that provide chain to make face shields and hand sanitizer. Up to now, we’ve got manufactured and distributed almost 13,000 face shields to county healthcare amenities, at UCSB, and in the local people. I simply acquired a request the opposite day to provide 50 shields for academics at an area elementary college,” mentioned Hawker.

He’ll settle for the award throughout a ceremony in March, held along with the ACS 2021 Spring Nationwide Assembly in San Antonio, Texas. Hawker will obtain a $20,000 prize and might be featured within the official ACS publication, Chemical & Engineering Information.

“I am personally thrilled to get this award. It’s recognition of my great college students and the devoted CNSI and MRL employees. It’s also acknowledgement that we’re having an affect throughout the whole UC system, offering an financial engine for the folks of California, now and sooner or later,” he mentioned.

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