CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has named Richard van Breemen as the director of the university’s Linus Pauling Institute.
Van Breemen, professor of pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will succeed Balz Frei as director and endowed chair of the institute, which studies the role of vitamins and other micronutrients in enhancing health and preventing disease.
Van Breemen characterized his new role as director of the Linus Pauling Institute as a “dream job.”
“Richard brings the prestige and accomplishments we were looking for in a new director,” said Cynthia Sagers, vice president for research at OSU. “He runs a National Institutes of Health-funded center for botanical dietary supplement research and is someone who makes things happen. He is very collaborative and people here already know his work. Richard feels a real passion for the work we do here at OSU and at the Linus Pauling Institute in particular.”
Van Breemen has a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Johns Hopkins University and was a post-doctoral scholar at Johns Hopkins in mass spectrometry. His undergraduate degree in chemistry is from Oberlin College.
His research includes clinical trials regarding prostate cancer prevention, and the safety and efficacy of botanical dietary supplements used by women.
At the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has worked since 1994, van Breemen is the founding academic director of the Mass Spectrometry, Metabolomics and Proteomics Facility for the university’s Research Resources Center. He is also the director of the Botanical Center for Dietary Supplements Research, which has NIH funding through 2020 and has been continually funded since 1999.
From 1986 to 1993, van Breemen was a faculty member at North Carolina State, where he founded and directed the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory for Biotechnology Research.
Linus Pauling, who died in 1994 at age 93, was an Oregon State alumnus and is the only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes – for chemistry in 1954 and for peace in 1962. A chemistry professor at California Institute of Technology, he founded what would become the Linus Pauling Institute in 1973.
Pauling bequeathed his vast scientific archives to OSU, and in 1996 the institute moved from Palo Alto, Calif., to Oregon State. The following year, Frei became director and endowed chair, a position he held until his retirement in June 2016.
Van Breemen met Pauling shortly before his death when the Nobel laureate spoke at a symposium at North Carolina State.
“Of course I had followed his work with dietary supplements for years, and I also got to know Balz upon visits to Oregon State,” van Breemen said. “I have visited several times and gotten to know the investigators and other faculty and have always known it to be a wonderful place to live and work. OSU and the Linus Pauling Institute offer a wealth of infrastructure and support that is unparalleled. The institute can help the work I have been doing be even more productive and make a bigger imprint and footprint on society.”
Van Breemen will start Jan. 1, 2018. Fred Stevens, professor of medicinal chemistry in the Oregon State College of Pharmacy, will continue as the interim director until then.
Van Breemen’s appointment at OSU will also be in the College of Pharmacy.