The 2014 LCGC Awards (Part 1) - - Chromatography Online
The 2014 LCGC Awards (Part 1)

The Column
Volume 10, Issue 8, pp. 23-28

Major Scientific Contributions: Regnier is known as an innovator who has often bridged the gap between biochemistry and analytical science. He cites Wilson and Law as big influences in that regard. "They told me I should focus on method development, their rationale being that developing new, innovative, original methods always keeps one at the cutting edge," said Regnier. "'You will always be relevant,' they said."

Regnier took that advice to heart: Among his many accomplishments, he has received 45 patents related to the separation and detection of proteins and peptides. His work includes developing the first high-performance chromatography columns for size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), anion-exchange and cation-exchange chromatography, hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC), and macroporous reversed-phase chromatography separations of proteins; describing "footprint" retention models for ion-exchange chromatography (IEC), HIC, and reversed-phase chromatography of proteins; fabricating a variety of capillary and collocated monolith support structure capillary electrochromatography systems; and synthesizing multiple polymeric bonded phases for SEC, IEC, HIC, and affinity chromatography that enabled silica, titania, zirconia, alumina, and poly(styrene–divinylbenzene) supports to be used for protein separations; and the synthesis of gigaporous chromatographic media with enhanced mass transfer and pore diameters exceeding 400 nm.

Figure 2: Regnier’s retirement party. Note the chromatogram on the cake.
When we asked Regnier's colleagues, past students, and friends about his biggest contributions to the field, the responses were as varied as his work. Barry Karger, the James L. Waters Chair in Analytical Chemistry and Director of the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University (Massachusetts, USA), feels Regnier's biggest contribution was the development of perfusion particles for preparative-scale separations of biopolymers. "These packings, developed over 25 years ago, are still widely used today for purification," he said.

Tim Schlabach, a marketing manager at Agilent Technologies and a former graduate student of Regnier's, agrees with Karger. "Critical advances in the fast separation of biomolecules including size-exclusion, ion-exchange, and perfusion chromatography were Regnier's biggest contributions," Schlabach said.

Joseph J. Kirkland, vice-president of R&D at Advanced Materials Technology Inc., points to Regnier's work characterizing biomolecules using HPLC. "Regnier was an early leader in recognizing the potential of HPLC for characterizing biomolecules and establishing effective research programmes to demonstrate this as a premier method," said Kirkland. "His contributions in this area have been enormously important in describing new science that has had a serious impact on improving health issues."

Wolfgang Lindner, a professor emeritus at the Institute of Analytical Chemistry at the University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria), believes that Regnier's knowledge of biochemistry, proteins, and biological systems led to his biggest contributions. "Regnier was always aware of the complexity of biological samples and systems and the great demand to have tools available to deconvolute the samples' complexity," said Lindner. He went on to explain that this awareness allowed Regnier to advance concepts of how LC can separate biomolecules, including peptides and large proteins. "This knowledge makes Regnier a very unique scientist indeed," he said. "There are not many colleagues in the world who have this spectrum of insights in the biochemical and separation science fields."

Figure 3: 2013 ACS medal symposium. Back row, left to right: Ashraf G. Madian, Samir Julka, and Hamid Mirzaei. Front row, left to right: Mary Wirth, Fred Regnier, and Andy Alpert.
Karger echoed this sentiment. "Regnier combined his biochemical background with separation principles in very creative ways," he said. "He has made significant contributions to the advancement of separation science over this career."

Tim Wehr, a staff scientist at Bio-Rad Laboratories, agreed that Regnier did groundbreaking work with biomolecules. "Fred is a pioneer in the field of HPLC of biomolecules, and the first large-pore chromatography columns designed specifically for protein separations were created in his lab," Wehr said.

Michael Dong, a senior scientist at Genentech, thinks that Regnier's greatest contributions were not just his work advancing the fundamentals of protein separations and microfluidics, but also "the idea of using analytical chemistry to solve the most important questions for mankind, which are mostly in biology".


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