February 2018 General Meeting

(posted on Saturday, January 13, 2018)

The February general meeting will be held on Wednesday. February 21, 2018 at Papa Joe's Restaurant. Dr. Michael Fricke will present a talk entitled “Cleveland’s Mousetrap and the Age of Arsenic.” The program is free and open to the public. Dinner reservations are due by Friday, February 16, 2018. RSVP to Walter

5:30 pm  Networking
6:30 pm  Dinner ($25 for professionals, $10 for students)
7:15 pm  Program - “Cleveland’s Mousetrap and the Age of Arsenic.”


The first synthetic organometallic compound was an arsenical. In 1760, attempts by French chemist Louis Claude Cadet de Gassicourt to invent an invisible ink led to the creation of a noxious liquid that was soon named cacodyl (evil smelling). This compound was identified as As2(CH3)4 nearly 100 years later through the efforts of Robert Bunsen. At the turn of the 19th century twin discoveries spurred a golden age of arsenic research that would last a generation. Paul Erhlich's careful study led to the creation of the first rationally designed chemotherapeutic agent, Salvarsan and the beginnings of the research driven pharmaceutical industry. A few years later, the organoarsenic compound Diphenylchloroarsine was used as a vomiting agent on the western front during the trench warfare of World War I. The United States was late to the chemical weapons game but in 1918 Winford Lee Lewis formed the Chemical Warfare Service unit at Catholic University and soon turned his attention to a 1903 dissertation of a young priest who had studied the reaction of Acetylene and Arsenic trichloride in the presence of Aluminum chloride. The resulting compound was named Lewisite and became the focus of American offensive capabilities. By July 1918, the Chemical Warfare Service began construction of a secret Lewisite manufacturing plant twenty miles east of Cleveland, in Willoughby, Ohio. The facility was nick-named The Mousetrap because due to the secrecy, the men who went in did not come out until the end of the war. Within five months, the site reached full production of ten tons a day. The war ended before Lewisite could be used and the US stockpile of Lewisite was loaded into barrels and taken 50 miles offshore of Baltimore and pushed into the ocean.

Bio – Michael Fricke

Michael Fricke, Ph.D. is an analytical development chemist based in Bedford, Ohio. He is the global lead for elemental impurities with Hikma Pharmaceuticals with responsibilities including USP <232>/<233> site preparations, new product API selection, HPLC method development/remediation, stability sample management, pilot plant support and Out-Of-Specification (OOS) investigations. Previous pharmaceutical experience includes analytical development with Nektar Therapeutics, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck and Schering Plough. Michael received an undergraduate chemistry degree from the Ohio State University in 1997 and his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 2004. His graduate and post-doctoral research was devoted to the study of arsenic. This work culminated in the discovery, successful synthesis and then isolation of dimethylthioarsinic acid (DMTA). DMTA has since been identified as the most cytotoxic metabolite of arsenic in humans and may prove critical to understanding the toxic effects associated with low-level chronic arsenic exposure. Michael is a founding partner of Trident Design, LLC and has contributed to the development and marketing of several innovative products including the Powersquid, the Coolest Cooler and the Carbon Flyer. Michael is an avid wood carver and artist and has been featured in C&EN Newscripts for his Quasicrystal inspired patio. Michael has two sons, Connor (10) and Matthew (5). 

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