Photo of Stephen J. Lippard

Stephen J. Lippard

  • National Medal of Science
  • Chemistry

For pioneering research in bioinorganic chemistry, which enriched our understanding of how metal compounds interact with DNA, provided important synthetic models for the active sites of metalloproteins, and elucidated key structural and mechanistic features of methane monooxygenase.

Stephen Lippard on marrying his varied interests

Between supporting friends running long-distance races, joining college or community groups, or pitching in an extra dollar at the supermarket, millions of Americans have contributed in some small way to fundraising for cancer research. But where does that money go?

Often, it goes to researchers like Stephen J. Lippard, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology bioinorganic chemist whose research focuses on the role of metals in biological systems. Perhaps Lippard’s most famous achievement is his discovery of how a platinum based-family of anticancer drugs, most notably cisplatin, works. By determining that the drug destroys cancer cells by unraveling the double-helix structure of their DNA, Lippard has provided a framework upon which researchers can build as they develop even more effective cancer treatments. Lippard’s work has also helped to advance new clean fuel technologies, and shed light on the role of metal ions in signaling processes in the brain.

In addition to his work in the lab, Lippard is famous among chemists for the superb mentorship he provides his students, many of whom have gone on to groundbreaking careers in the profession themselves.

By Jeremy Gordon