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One of the First People to Synthesize an Enzyme Dies

Ralph Hirschmann, who led one of the teams that first synthesized an enzyme, died from kidney disease at the age of 87, reports the Los Angeles Times. In 1969, Hirschmann and his colleague at Merck, Robert Denkewalter, and an independent group made up of Bruce Merrifield and Bernd Gutte at Rockefeller University announced that they had synthesized ribonuclease. In 1984, Merrifield received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his methodology. Hirschmann led the medicinal chemistry team at Merck Research Laboratories, where he helped develop Mevacor (for high cholesterol), Vasotec (for high blood pressure), and Proscar (for enlarged prostates). After retiring from Merck in 1987, Hirschmann worked on peptidomimetics at the University of Pennsylvania until 2002. He received the National Medal of Science in 2000 from President Clinton. "His creative contributions to chemistry and chemical biology inspired a whole generation of scientists to pursue the discovery of new medicines," says Paul Anderson, a former president of the American Chemical Society and friend.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.