Dr. Mary McCourt, professor of chemistry at Niagara University, has received the 2020 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal in recognition of her achievement in chemical technology.  

Dr. McCourt was selected for the award by the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society “in recognition of her pioneering contributions to the development of drug delivery methods for the treatment of breast cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease and for her outstanding dedication to teaching and mentoring.”

A member of the faculty of NU’s Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics since 1999, Dr. McCourt holds 14 patents for the CholestosomeTM technology, which was developed at Niagara University and is moving toward commercialization. Cholestosomes act as a “cocoon,” protecting drugs so that they can be delivered orally as well as intracellulary. Her present work is focused on developing therapies for treatment of coronaviruses, in particular COVID-19, using this technology.

Since March, Dr. McCourt and her Niagara University colleagues, Dr. Lawrence Mielnicki, Julie Hughes, and Mary Irving in partnership with Dr. Jerome J. Schentag, chief executive officer of CPL Associates LLC and emeritus professor of pharmacy at SUNY Buffalo, have been testing ways the Cholestosome technology can be applied to therapies that would reduce the viral load in patients with COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. The results of this early-stage testing appear promising, McCourt notes.

Dr. McCourt has also conducted extensive research on urine-based biomarker analysis for diagnostic screens focused on both breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Western New York section of the American Chemical Society has awarded the Schoellkopf Medal, which was named in honor of chemical industry entrepreneur Jacob F. Schoellkopf, founder of National Aniline Works, to one locally based chemist each year since 1931. It is the oldest ACS local section award in the nation and, in part, is a testimony of achievement in chemical technology on the Niagara Frontier.

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