New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame Inducts Two Montclair State Research Scientists

When Montclair State University research scientists Lynn Schneemeyer and John Siekierka were formally inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame on October 27 at the W-Hotel in Hoboken, they joined the ranks of leading New Jersey inventors including Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Herman Sokol, and James Hillier.

During the induction ceremony, Schneemeyer was honored for her pioneering and world-class research in the fields of superconducting, magnetic, electronic and optical materials and devices with over 250 publications, and 21 patents issued or pending. Of particular note was Schneemeyer’s invention of a unique single crystal material that is a critical component in telecommunications optical transmission. This novel material balances thermal and optical changes in a manner that allows the path traveled by light to remain unaffected by temperature change, thus enabling athermal optical elements to be incorporated into high bandwidth optical transmitters used by fiber optic system providers.

Siekierka’s distinguished career in the fields of biochemical, immunological, and drug discovery research, as well as his ground-breaking work in the development of the first drug-eluting cardiovascular stent were cited during the induction ceremony. Siekierka’s early research in the mechanism of action of several immunosuppressive drugs ultimately played a role in the identification of an immunosuppressive (anti-inflammatory) drug that would significantly enhance the efficacy of cardiovascular metal stents by preventing re-blockages of arteries following angioplasty procedures. Based on Siekierka’s earlier research on immunosuppressive drugs, the drug sirolimus was selected by a transdisciplinary development team for incorporation into a polymeric coating on metal stents. The resulting Cypher® Stent was the first of a generation of drug-coated heart stents and a major advance over bare-metal stents. It was launched in the U.S. in May 2003 and by 2005 was the global leader in the coronary artery stent market with $2.59 billion in sales.

The New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame was established in 1987 at the suggestion of former Governor Tom Kean to honor New Jersey’s impressive list of accomplished scientists, physicists, and innovators for their “inventive achievements that have had a significant positive impact on society.” As of January 2011, 286 “recognized luminaries” have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“Building on a legacy of excellence and innovation in science and math education, Montclair State has attracted world class research scientists who are helping advance science and technology in fields important to New Jersey,” Robert S. Prezant, Montclair State’s dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “Drs. Scheenmeyer and Siekierka are exemplars of the capacity of our faculty to build research programs of exceptional power,” he added.

Schneemeyer is associate dean in the College of Science and Mathematics and Siekierka is director of the Sokol Institute for Pharmaceutical Life Sciences and Sokol Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. Herman Sokol–a graduate of Montclair State and one of several U.S.-based research chemists who were pioneers in the discovery, development, and manufacture of the Tetracycline family of antibiotics–was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008.

Each recipient of this prestigious award is inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for lifetime achievements with multiple U.S. patented inventions over many years which showed widespread strong commercialization and/or licensing. Each award winner is considered to be a living or deceased “recognized luminary.” A maximum of six awards are given annually, two of which may be designated as a Pioneer, and a maximum of three per year may be Nobel Laureate inductees.

Partial List of Notable New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees:
•    Thomas Edison
•    Albert Einstein
•    Charles J. Fletcher, Aerospace Inventions
•    Calvin Souther Fuller, Semiconductor Photovoltaic Solar Cell
•    Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith (2008 Inductees, 2009 Nobel Prize Winners - Physics)
•    Sidney Pestka, Genetically Engineering and Manufacturing Interferon
•    Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, Bubble Wrap
•    N. Joseph Woodland, Bar Codes
•    Willis Haviland Carrier, Air Conditioning
•    Roy Plunkett, Teflon
•    James Hillier, Electron Magnification
•    John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, the Transistor
•    Earle Dickson, Band Aids
•    Oberlin Smith, Magnetic Recording Technology
•    Selman Waksman, Streptomycin, (who also coined the word antibiotic)
•    William L. Maxson, the TV Dinner
•    Richard Dehmel, Flight Simulator
•    Leo Sternbach, Valium
•    Abdul Gaffar, Antibacterial Toothpaste