Ernest H. Volwiler
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Ernest Volwiler begins this interview by briefly discussing his early years in Ohio, leading to college study at Miami University, where he first became interested in chemistry. He remembers the influence of faculty there and his wish to undertake graduate studies at the University of Illinois. He recounts the circumstances of his decision to proceed to the PhD program after completion of his Master's degree. Research work with Roger Adams and the summer organic chemicals production enterprise helped to introduce Volwiler to drug synthesis. His long career with Abbott Laboratories started in organic synthesis, including some plant production responsibilities. Volwiler recalls Dr. Abbott as well as some of his fellow workers in the laboratories in the 1920s and 1930s. World War II saw the production of penicillin and company expansion. Volwiler was a member of the pharmaceutics investigating team sent to Germany immediately after the end of the war and he describes his experiences there. Post-war advancement led Volwiler to the presidency of Abbott Laboratories, and he discusses how he trimmed the production line and initiated development into new areas. His ACS activities culminated in his election as Society President in 1950. Volwiler ends his interview with Bohning by reflecting on the nature of the modern pharmaceutical industry.
|1914||Miami University of Ohio||BA||Chemistry|
|1916||University of Illinois at Chicago||MA||Chemistry|
|1918||University of Illinois at Chicago||PhD||Chemistry|
Reilly Township Public School
Miami University of Ohio
University of Illinois at Chicago
Modern Pioneers Award
DSc (Honorary), Miami University
Honor Scroll Award, American Institute of Chemists
DSc (Honorary), Northwestern University
Centennial Award, Northwestern University
LLD (Honorary), Coe College
LLD (Honorary), Knox College
DSc (Honorary), Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science
Chemical Industry Award
Industrial Research Award
D Med Sc (Honorary), Southwestern at Memphis
D Sc (Honorary), St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Allied Sciences
Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
Citation of Honor, Indiana Technical College
Sesquicentennial Award, Miami University
D Sc (Honorary), University of Illinois
Gold Medal Award, American Institute of Chemists
DHL (Honorary), Lake Forest College
Inventors Hall of Fame
Table of Contents
Growing up in Hamilton, Ohio. One-room schoolhouse and a small high school.
Courses and Faculty of Miami University. Laboratory studies and summer employment. Graduate study at the University of Illinois, research with Derick and Adams. The summer organic chemicals manufacturing program and introduction to drug synthesis.
Synthetic organic chemistry; plant production. Anesthetics. Recruitment of chemists for Abbott Laboratories. Colleagues and outside collaborators. Pharmacological testing. Drug synthesis, organization of research work, publications and patents.
Penicillin production. Development of antibiotics and the production of sulfa drugs. Company expansion. Fact-finding mission to Germany.
Growth of the pharmaceutical industry. ACS activities and Presidency of the Society. Trimming production line at Abbott as company president, development of new areas. Company acquisition in pharmaceutical industry, target strategies in research and development.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.