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Vol. 32 No. 2
March-April 2010

IUPAC in Glasgow, Scotland: Division Roundups, Part III

CHEMRAWN: CHEMical Research Applied to World Needs

by Leiv K. Sydnes, CHEMRAWN chair

The CHEMRAWN Committee had a hectic program during the General Assembly (GA) in Glasgow. In addition to its biannual meeting, the committee was heavily involved in a symposium on ethics as part of the 43rd IUPAC Congress. The Ethics, Science, and Development symposium came about after the committee chair was challenged by organizations and individuals, as well as the congress program committee, to organize such a meeting. The symposium, part of the CHEMRAWN series of meetings (CHEMRAWN XVIII), was held over two half days and gathered quite a few participants in spite of the fact that a considerable number of other events and sessions took place at the same time (see www.iupac.org/web/ins/2009-013-1-021 for more details about the symposium).

Leiv Sydnes addresses the Ethics, Science, and Development symposium.

The most important agenda item at the biannual meeting was undoubtedly the discussion of global and regional problems that can be understood and solved in a sustainable fashion only if scientists with competence in the chemical sciences become engaged. This was particularly important because there were, in essence, no new conference ideas in the CHEMRAWN pipeline when the GA in Torino ended (August 2007). Discussions in Glasgow centered around possible themes that arose from the off-year meeting held in Puerto Rico in July 2008. Each of these ideas was presented by a committee member who had been given the task of developing the idea further. The discussions were lively and very constructive, and it was most encouraging to see that several young observers and others who joined in contributed in a creative fashion.

The committee deemed two ideas to be of particular importance and ripe enough to be explored further with the purpose of generating themes for new CHEMRAWN conferences in two to four years. Their working titles are Biofuels and Herbal Medicines. The former topic is especially significant since the current drive to produce biofuels from biomass, including certain food crops, has resulted in a biofuel-food-environment triangle that some have coined a “trilemma.” Soon Ting Kueh from Malaysia volunteered to chair a task group to work on this issue.

Bernard West of Toronto, Canada, discusses “Industrial Awareness and Responsible Care.”

The second potential conference theme is closely related to the fact that modern pharmaceuticals are, and will remain, out of reach for a large proportion of the human population for the foreseeable future. This has gradually created an appreciation of the need to use alternative and traditional medicines, largely herbal in nature, against diseases. However, to facilitate such a development, a number of chemical and other problems have to be analyzed, discussed, and resolved. A task group, to be chaired by Mohammed Mosihuzzaman from Bangladesh, was appointed in Glasgow to look into this challenge.

Compared to previous GA CHEMRAWN meetings, there were two new items on the agenda in Glasgow. One was a report about the joint COCI/CHEMRAWN involvement in the Second Session of the International Conference on Chemical Management (ICCM2), held in May 2009 in Geneva, which dealt with the implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). The IUPAC delegation was involved in plenary and group discussions, and, in close cooperation with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, COCI and CHEMRAWN were engaged in two side events, one about effective capacity building in a scientific perspective and another entitled “Science in Support of SAICM.” IUPAC participated in the conference to help ensure a scientific basis for policy development, to nourish capacity building in relation to chemistry and its application, and to identify emerging issues of concern to health and the environment (see feature, page 8 in print).

Sospeter Muhongo, director of the ICSU Regional Office for Africa, talks about “Science, Ethics, and Development: Africa’s Perspective.”

The second item was a report from Zafra Lerman about the Malta IV Conference, “Frontiers of Chemical Sciences: Research and Education in the Middle East,” which is nicknamed as such because the first two meetings were held on the island of Malta in 2003 and 2005. The fourth conference, held in Amman, Jordan, in November 2009, was the first to be run under the CHEMRAWN umbrella (see www.iupac.org/web/ins/2008-044-1-020). The meeting format is unique in the sense that it is probably the only event where scientists from 14 countries in the Middle East meet for days for scientific discussions and where almost all lectures are delivered by Nobel Laureates. As reported by Lerman, joint projects involving scientists from Israel and neighboring countries are now under way. During the meeting in Amman, progress reports were presented in several workshops. (for earlier Malta reports see May-June 2008 CI, pp. 31–34 and Mar-Apr 2009 CI, pp. 9–11.)

A final point raised during the discussion was whether it would be a good idea to establish closer formal contacts between the CHEMRAWN Committee and the Union’s divisions. This idea was supported by everyone in attendance, and it will be proposed that each division appoint a liaison to the CHEMRAWN Committee as soon as possible.

The committee acknowledged the service of several members who stepped down after years of involvement; they were all thanked for their dedicated service. In particular, Stanley Langer from the UK, the committee’s secretary for several years, deserves special thanks. Langer is succeeded by Gary van Loon from Canada. The complete membership is available at <www.iupac.org/web/ins/021>.

Division VIII: Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation

by Ture Damhus, division secretary

The main activity at the annual Division VIII Committee meeting is to review publications and current and prospective projects. The nomenclature and structure representation area is quite active, with around 15 ongoing projects (about half of these jointly with Division IV, the polymer division) and 8–10 new ones in preparation.

A prominent and rather widely publicized current project is concerned with coding and disseminating the IUPAC International Chemical Identifier (InChI). The division heard from Steve Heller on the latest progress and, in particular, on the formation of the InChI Trust, whose main purpose is to provide continuing funding for further work on the InChI code. The work will continue to be directed by the InChI subcommittee of Division VIII. The InChI developments have been featured on the IUPAC website and here in CI, and further articles are underway for CI and for Pure and Applied Chemistry. A website is also being configured at <www.inchi-trust.org> (see also <www.inchi.info>). The shorter InChIKey for online searching requires a look up table to identify the corresponding structure. ChemSpider <http://inchis.chemspider.com> aims to provide such a table.

Another important endeavor is the preparation of a second edition of the popular IUPAC introductory book Principles of Chemical Nomenclature. A working group headed by Jeff Leigh has produced a draft that will hopefully, after final editing, reach the publisher during the year 2010.

Other business of the division is to manage its membership and its contacts with and representatives in other IUPAC bodies, such as the other divisions, and the various standing committees. As far as membership and personalia are concerned, at this meeting, we recorded with sadness the passing of Alan Sargeson, former chairman of the Commission for Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry and Val Metanomski, who had very many IUPAC assignments over a period of many years and was one of the authors of the first edition of the Principles book mentioned above.

Like all other IUPAC bodies meeting in Glasgow, Division VIII brainstormed about activities for IYC 2011, and shared our ideas with the Committee for Chemistry Education.

Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI)

by Mike Booth, former committee secretary

The turnout at the Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) annual meeting from 2–3 August 2009 exceeded all previous records, with 11 COCI members, 4 Safety Training Program Fellows, the president and vice president of IUPAC, 3 divisional representatives, and 10 observers and invited participants in attendance. The meeting focused on the committee’s role and strategic priorities, organizational structure, programs, accomplishments, and plans. Prior to the meeting, members of the committee took the opportunity to interact with members of the divisions at their respective meetings to foster and continue the collaborations started at the General Assembly in Torino in 2007.

Mike Booth addresses the Safety Training Program Workshop.

COCI is actively involved in the International Year of Chemistry through the participation of COCI Chair Mark Cesa, Colin Humphris, and Michael Droescher on the IYC Management Committee and its subcommittees. COCI hopes to be an active participant in raising funds from industry for events organized by IUPAC around the world and in contributing to cornerstone events.

COCI has been instrumental in obtaining NGO status for IUPAC in the Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management (SAICM). The IUPAC delegation at the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM2) in Geneva in May 2009 included IUPAC Vice President Nicole Moreau, CHEMRAWN Chair Leiv Sydnes, Paul LeClair of the IUPAC Secretariat, Safety Training Program Fellow Fabián Benzo, John Duffus from Division VII, and Mark Cesa. IUPAC presented information on its capabilities, sponsored a booth at the exhibition, and offered to hold a science event in conjunction with the IYC and in advance of ICCM3 (see feature, page 8 in print). It was clear that additional effort will make IUPAC more familiar to SAICM participants. However, there appear to be opportunities for our involvement as a science body in the SAICM ”QuickStart” program and in discussions on the role of science in SAICM. Due to the work of Colin Humphris, IUPAC continues to enjoy the benefits of our association with the International Council of Chemical Associations.

Through the efforts of Bernard West, a case study on the “Responsible Handling of Chemicals” has been submitted for publication as part of the project on the safe handling of chemicals (www.iupac.org/web/ins/2006-047-1-022). West also participated in the Congress Symposium on Ethics coordinated by CHEMRAWN.

The Safety Training Program arranged training for an Indian chemist in Denmark in 2008. There is no shortage of trainees wishing to participate in the program, and host companies continue to be sought. A Workshop on the STP, in which six trainees presented their experiences on how they had used their training in their home countries, formed part of the Glasgow Congress. An Internet-based safety training course started in Uruguay by Fabián Benzo, has reached the point that the course will be distributed in South America in 2010 to promote better safety at universities.

During the COCI East Asia Regional Workshop earlier in 2009 in Tokyo, new projects were proposed based on deliberations with representatives of companies and national chemistry societies from China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. Internships with Company Associates, life-cycle analysis, and success stories with technology transfer were discussed for future development. At the COCI meeting in Glasgow, David Evans also reported on the proposal to hold a CHEMRAWN on Biofuels in 2011.

A number of longstanding members, Alan Smith, Akira Ishitani and Secretary/Treasurer Mike Booth, will be leaving COCI at the end of 2009. Their contributions to the committee over many years were recognized with certificates of appreciation. The attendees welcomed the new leadership of COCI for 2010–2011: Michael Droescher as chair and Colin Humphris as secretary.

Mike Booth <caiainfo@iafrica.com> is director for Information Resources at Chemical & Allied Industries’ Association in Auckland Park, South Africa. He has been a member of COCI since 1992, and secretary from 2006 to 2009.

Committee on Printed and Electronic Publication (CPEP)

by Bohumir Valter, former committee secretary

The Committee on Printed and Electronic Publications (CPEP) has responsibility for the publications of IUPAC, including its journal Pure and Applied Chemistry (PAC), the online Compendium of Chemical Terminology (the Gold Book <http://goldbook.iupac.org>), and the IUPAC website and printed books.

PAC has grown in impact in recent years with its emphasis on publishing conference material and also because a full archive of the journal from its inception in 1960 was made freely available online <www.iupac.org/publications/pac>. Many Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry have published in PAC <www.iupac.org/publications/pac/nobelists>. An under-recognized feature of PAC content is its citation stamina with high and growing citation levels for some of the older volumes in this survey. Perhaps this is an early augury of the salutary effects of a comprehensive website archive and adherence to open access practice. Much credit for the continued strength of PAC must go to its scientific editor, James Bull.

Important developments on the website (apart from the improved access to PAC noted above) include an upgrade to the Gold Book, with important interactive features, and a general improvement to appearance and access. These changes are the responsibility of CPEP titular members from the Czech Republic (Bohumír Valter and Miloslav Nič) and their colleagues (principally Bedřich Košata). Further improvements and developments are anticipated, including the inclusion of other Color Books online. Many enhanced capabilities of the website are due to it being moved to a server at FIZ-Chemie, Berlin, generously provided through the auspices of René Deplanque.

The Royal Society of Chemistry published the third edition of the Green Book (Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry) in 2007. The committee plans to produce this in XML format for web publication.

Division III: Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry

by Pietro Tundo, division past president

The Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division meeting, held 1–3 August 2009, was attended by 15 members and 5 observers.

The division elected new officers for the 2010–2011 biennium: Gerrit-Jan Koomen will be president, Pietro Tundo will become immediate past-president, Krishna Garnesh will be vice president, and Mary Garson will be secretary. The committee also welcomed a number of new titular and associate members and national representatives.

Division III is characterized by a large number of subcommittees, which are very active in six specific sectors. They organize international conferences and workshops, promote and manage projects, and publish the results in special issues of Pure and Applied Chemistry. The subcommittees met in Glasgow and each provided ideas for new projects for the next biennium. The ideas will be formulated into draft project proposals.

The committee currently has about 15 projects in progress, including projects led by other IUPAC divisions to which Division III is contributing. At the Glasgow meeting, the division allocated its remaining project funds for the biennium to three new projects:

  • Translation into Greek and dissemination of a monograph for secondary schools on Global Climate Change
  • Evaluation of measurement methods and QA/QC for PCDD/F, PCB and PAHs in environmental matrices (air quality, soil, sediments and wastes) used in estimation of global pollution
  • Green Chemistry: Sustainable Education and Environmental Development in Latin America

Division III administers two important prizes. The first, the CHEMRAWN VII prize for Atmospheric and Green Chemistry (USD 5000) will be awarded every two years to a young investigator from a developing country. Its inaugural presentation will be at the 3rd Green Chemistry Conference to be held in Ottawa, Canada, from 15–19 August 2010. The second prize, sponsored jointly by Georg Thieme Verlag and IUPAC, is the Thieme-IUPAC Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. The prize is presented every two years and will next be awarded at the International Conference on Organic Synthesis, which will take place in Bergen, Norway, from 1–6 August 2010.


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