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A chemistry major who’s interested in drug development is getting a taste of research this summer by testing over-the-counter medicines in the chemistry lab.

Daniel Ruddy ’03 is measuring ingredients in several remedies, versus what is stated on the package labels, using a technique called high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC). He says HPTLC is less expensive than the method more commonly used by the pharmaceutical industry, yet equally effective.

A participant in Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, he is working with Joseph Sherma, Larkin Professor of Chemistry. In EXCEL, students assist faculty members with research while earning a stipend.

“We started out with caffeine drugs and then Immodium anti-diarrhea tablets. Next week, we’ll do a diuretic,” says Ruddy. “We’re trying to show that this method is cheaper and just as good.”

The student says HTPLC costs less than the more commonly used column high performance liquid chromatography because it requires, and wastes, less solvent.

The testing found that the ingredients stated on the drug packages were within 95 to 105 percent of the true amount in the drug, according to the student. One of the bonuses of the project is that Ruddy expects to publish the results
“That’s good for any resume,” he says. “It’s not very common. It’s always good to do research and get published.”

Sherma says two papers are actually ready to submit to journals. “He’s just terrific,” he says of Ruddy.

Ruddy says he will be looking into graduate school, possibly in organic chemistry, because he is interested in drug development.

“I’m not sure why. I don’t like getting sick and taking medicine,” he muses. “I’m interested in health, but I don’t have the stomach to be a doctor.”

A graduate of Dunmore High School in Dunmore, Pa., Ruddy is treasurer of the Lafayette chapter of the American Chemical Society, a member of the physics club, and a participant in intramural sports, including football and basketball.

Categorized in: Academic News