Chemistry Counts

November 8, 2019

Senior Research Investigator of Incyte Pharmaceuticals Tim Martin, Ph.D. led the presentation and activities focusing on how chemists in the pharmaceutical industry employ critical thinking and creativity to devise treatments for numerous conditions and diseases we face.

Tim studied biochemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware and organic chemistry in graduate school at the University of North Carolina. After earning his doctorate, Tim pursued post-doctoral studies in catalysis, worked as a Principal Chemist at a renewable fuel/chemical start-up company, and is currently a Senior Research Investigator at Incyte in Wilmington, where he is a process chemist working with a diverse team to help develop and advance novel treatments for cancer.

The coolest thing about the café was the activities, especially experimenting with making different compositions of pill coatings to model how real pill coatings work. The teens were very conversational and interested in Martin’s presentation and asked a variety of questions about his career and general chemistry.

After learning about organic chemistry and pharmaceuticals, the teens tried their hand at creating their own pill coatings to test how coatings could withstand acidity, while at the same time seeing real pill coatings in action by dissolving four types of pill coatings in vinegar. To create the pill coatings they made mixtures with flour, cornstarch, sugar, and oil–with the “pills” being Skittles–then tested the coatings in Sprite. This experiment modeled how chemists try to prevent the breaking down of pills until they reach their desired location. Overall, the participants had an enjoyable and entertaining time experimenting in this field, learned loads, and expressed their excitement for cafés to come!