Press Releases

UH Engineer Honored For Work in Crystal Engineering, Drug Development


rimer-700 Jeffrey Rimer, Abraham E. Dukler Professor of Chemical Engineering at UH, has received the 2020 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas
By Jeannie Kever, University of Houston | December 4, 2019

An engineer from the University of Houston has received the state’s top honor in engineering for his pioneering discoveries about how crystals form and how they can be dissolved.

Jeffrey Rimer, Abraham E. Dukler Professor of Chemical Engineering at UH, has received the 2020 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, known as TAMEST.

Rimer was cited for his pioneering work in using crystals to improve treatments for malaria and kidney stones, one outcome of his efforts to better understand the process of crystallization, which is central to drug development, petrochemical processing, the design of new materials and other industrial actions.

He likens the field of crystal engineering to solving a puzzle. “A lot of these systems are complex,” he said. “There are a lot of ways that crystals grow, so we have to be creative in how we approach it. You never fully solve the puzzle, but you can fill in enough pieces to see the overall picture.”

The O’Donnell Awards were established in 2005 to recognize Texas’ most promising researchers, whose work is judged by professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness. They will be formally presented Jan. 8 at the TAMEST 2020 conference in Dallas.

“Dr. Rimer is an internationally recognized expert in crystal engineering whose frontier research has produced drugs for treating kidney stones and malaria as well as uncovered chemical techniques in the petrochemical industry,” said TAMEST Board President Amelie Ramirez.

The other O’Donnell Award winners are:

• Medicine: Susan “Bess” Frost, University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio
• Science: Alessandra Corsi, Texas Tech University
• Technology Innovation: Kristine Kieswetter and Deepak M. Kilpadi, KCI, an engineering, consulting and construction firm in San Antonio

Rimer reported in 2016 that a natural fruit extract can dissolve the most common component of human kidney stones, suggesting a major advance in drug development. Human clinical trials are underway and research to find new drug candidates ongoing.

He and collaborators more recently have discovered what happens at the molecular level when antimalarial drugs are combined, work which not only suggested the mechanisms by which the drugs interact but, more broadly, suggests a new platform that can more quickly screen molecules for their potential in drug development.

Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean of the UH Cullen College of Engineering, said Rimer’s work is an illustration of the creativity required for breakthroughs in engineering.

“Dr. Rimer’s work in crystal engineering, whether it is applied to the discovery of new drugs or to improve the efficiency and safety of petrochemical processes, has pushed the envelope in terms of what we know about crystal formation and dissolution,” he said. “He is answering fundamental engineering questions but finding very real solutions to modern problems.”

Rimer received the 2018 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research, given by the Welch Foundation to chemical scientists working in Texas and designed to encourage the fundamental understanding of chemistry. He also received the 2016 Owens Corning Early Career Award and 2017 FRI/John G. Kunesh Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, as well as multiple teaching and research excellence awards from UH.

His research is recognized for its focus at the nexus of fundamental and applied science.

“We’re right at the boundary,” he said. “Often when you do fundamental work, it never sees the light of day, and that’s fine, because your discoveries can move the field forward. But when that work can be translated into a new drug, you realize what you do can have a benefit to society. It is a very humbling feeling.”




Social Posts

profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: Trying to lose weight in the new year? Thinking about intermittent #fasting? @bcmhouston dietitian Emily Monfiletto vi…

21 mins ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@Marissa_lara14 We're thinking of you, Marissa.

1 hour ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @jmills1955: Annual Surgical Jeopardy ⁦@BCM_Surgery⁩ Residents vs Faculty. The Faculty have never won! ⁦@DrRosengart⁩ ⁦@kmattox1⁩ ⁦@drml…

1 hour ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Veterans ask, VA answers: Questions on electronic health record modernization. https://t.co/IkeHFZV0zn via #VAntagePoint

1 hour ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

103-year-old WWII Veteran finally gets the recognition he deserves https://t.co/shJIdq9Ju9 via @CBSEveningNews

11 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Watch to learn how we’re enhancing the ability of patients’ own T cells to fight cancer. #endcancer https://t.co/sFMz5eExco

12 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

Today’s rising #livercancer rates have been driven by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is linked to obesity.But our experts are working with @ScrippsHealth to study an #immunotherapy combination to treat liver cancer and save lives: https://t.co/uwAhLH51uk #endcancer

13 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

College of Charleston looks to send dozens of Valentine’s Day cards to Veterans https://t.co/fFqeaN3T7o via @ABCNews4

13 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

Dorit Donoviel, Ph.D., discusses taking risks in science and what the Translational Research Institute for Space Health is doing to help people in space with @InnoMapHou. https://t.co/wbML42L9Wb #space #spacemedicine

14 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @UH_Pharmacy: Breaking: With 100% chance of rain for Wed, Jan. 22, the "Shine A Light on Mental Health" fair from noon to 2 pm has been…

17 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

For the second consecutive year, Transplant Services at @TexasChildrens was named the top pediatric transplant center in the US, performing a remarkable 106 solid organ transplants in 2019. Learn more: https://t.co/iR6xO02dTC https://t.co/aOPfISdYhs

18 hours ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

Which Shasta are YOU? Check out our new Instagram face effects, available now! https://t.co/POQlqNnN3W

18 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

Join us this Saturday, January 25 for All About HER! (Health, Emotions & Relationships) at @TexasChildrens The Woodlands! To register, visit: https://t.co/7dqWlmWZOg https://t.co/J84AYU8aZW

19 hours ago
profile_image

Texas Children's

@TexasChildrens

Feeling the love on #NationalHugDay 🤗 #AstrosCaravan @OrbitAstros @astros https://t.co/fqD7iWP7AH

19 hours ago
profile_image

TexasHeartInstitute

@Texas_Heart

Belly fat, more than excess weight, may be a factor in the risk for multiple heart attacks, according to a new study. Tackle that belly fat with a heart-healthy diet and exercise. https://t.co/8f3YKQOlPJ via @CNN https://t.co/bDi6EYVVHZ

20 hours ago