Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Douglas '66 to receive Black History Makers Award

Frank L. Douglas '66

Frank L. Douglas ’66 will receive the Black History Makers Award in April, an honor previously bestowed on such notable recipients as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, and acclaimed poet, actress, producer, director, and educator Maya Angelou.

“At first, I thought someone was pulling my leg,” says Douglas, a world-renowned innovator in pharmaceutical research and development for the past two-plus decades. “Obviously, I’ve enjoyed success during my career, but the list of people that have won this award before me is staggering.”

Douglas will join four other honorees at the 2007 awards dinner and reception to be held April 11 at the New York Marriott Marquis (Broadway at W. 46th Street) in New York City. They are: Tony Dungy, the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl earlier this year with the Indianapolis Colts; Lovie Smith, the head coach of the Chicago Bears (the team that lost to the Colts in the Super Bowl in February); David Patterson, the lieutenant governor of the state of New York; and Carla Harris, managing director in Global Capital Markets at Morgan Stanley.

The awards are presented by Associated Black Charities, a private not-for-profit charitable federation that promotes the delivery of quality health and human services to African Americans through a system of voluntary community-based organizations.

Douglas will receive the 2007 Black History Makers Award in the name of Percy Julian, a man who is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished African-American scientists of the 20th century. Julian was recently the subject of a PBS documentary entitled Forgotten Genius, a film that included two Lehigh University professors, John K. Smith and Ned D. Heindel, as experts about the scientist’s life and contributions.

(Click here to read more about the PBS documentary.)

“The fact that I’m receiving an award with Percy Julian’s name attached to it is quite an honor,” Douglas says. “He was a black scientist who overcame extreme prejudice to not only perform important research, but to blaze trails for African-Americans in the sciences.”

Douglas, currently Professor of the Practice at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and Executive Director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation in the MIT Schools of Management, Engineering, and Science, is a trailblazer in his own right. Over the span of his 22 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Douglas led the discovery, development, and market launch of more than 20 drugs, including Allegra, Anzemet, Cardizem, Lovenox Ketek, and Exubera.

During his time as executive vice president of Aventis, he was the recipient of the Global Pharmaceutical R&D Director of the Year Award in 2001 and in 2004. He is still the only two-time recipient of that award.

As head of global research at Aventis, the surviving company following the merger of Hoechst Marion Roussel and Rhone Poulenc Rorer, Douglas transformed what was then a traditional R&D organization into a novel organization called Drug Innovation and Approval, versions of which are currently the operative models in the pharmaceutical industry.

In his current role leading MIT’s Center for Biomedical Innovation, Douglas’ mission is “to transform the discovery, development, manufacture, and distribution of cost-effective therapeutics and devices.” Douglas will direct collaboration of academia, government, and industry “to generate and disseminate high-impact systemic solutions that enhance efficacy, safety, and quality of patient care, worldwide.”

The Black History Makers Award is the latest in a long line of accolades that Douglas has received. Among his many awards for achievement are the Heart of the Year Award from the Chicago Heart Association and the Louis B. Russell Memorial Award from the American Heart Association, both for his development of high blood pressure screening and control programs for African American churches in Chicago. Douglas was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. In addition, Germany’s University of Frankfort awarded Douglas the Wolfgang von Goeth Medal of Honor, an honor only bestowed 23 times in the past 60 years.

Prior to working in the pharmaceutical industry, Douglas was Assistant Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology and Director of the Hypertension Clinic of the Pritzker School of Medicine at University of Chicago; Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Science & Regulatory Section of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America; member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and a member of the Chemistry Visiting Committee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After graduating cum laude from Lehigh University, Douglas earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and M.D. from Cornell University and completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution and a Fellowship in Neuroendocrinology at the National Institutes of Health. He is a past president of the Student National Medical Association and was President Jimmy Carter’s host at the unveiling of Mr. Carter’s 1976 national healthcare plan.

Douglas is a Fellow of the High Blood Pressure Council. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Lehigh University and the Wolfgang von Goeth University of Frankfurt. Douglas also serves on the board of directors of Gene Logic, Inc., Nitromed, Inc., and is chairman of the board of directors of Alantos Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Visit the Black History Makers Awards Web site for more information or to find out how to get tickets to the event.

--Bill Doherty

Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2007

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