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SCIENTIFIC PIONEERS TO BE HONORED FOR WORKS

Aviation icons Lawrence D. Bell and William C. Moog are among nine innovators whose achievements will be celebrated during the 2004 Western New York Pioneers of Science Awards dinner Thursday in Kleinhans Music Hall.

Honorees in addition to Bell and Moog, who will be cited posthumously, are Erich Bloch, Dr. Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Clifford Stoll, Esther S. Takeuchi, Dr. Edmund A. Egan, Bruce A. Holm and Dr. Claes E.G. Lundgren.

Pioneers of Science was begun in 2002 by Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute to recognize acclaimed figures in various fields whose talents were nurtured in the Buffalo area. Following the same script, this year's dinner in Kleinhans' Mary Seaton Room will be preceded by morning lectures and seminars in the Buffalo Museum of Science. The educational program will give 300 area high school science students an opportunity to interact with the award winners, whose accomplishments just might get the youngsters thinking about careers in science.

The honorees at a glance:

Bell founded Bell Aircraft Co., which eventually became Bell Aerospace, in Buffalo in 1935. The company achieved more than 20 aviation firsts, including America's first turbojet airplane, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier -- the Bell X-1 rocket plane -- and the first commercial helicopter.

Bell, who died in 1956, was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1977 and the International Aerospace Hall of Fame earlier this year. His company left the Niagara Frontier years ago but lives on as Bell Helicopter-Textron, a leading helicopter manufacturer.

Moog, a founder of Moog Inc., was a mechanical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur whose servovalves revolutionized aircraft and missile flight controls and are still used in high-performance aircraft, satellites and launch vehicles, as well as sophisticated industrial machinery.

Though Moog died in 1997, his East Aurora-based company has grown to include facilities in more than 24 countries, with more than 4,000 employees, annual sales exceeding $700 million and a worldwide reputation for top-notch products.

Bloch, an electrical engineer and University at Buffalo graduate, is a principal of the Washington Advisory Group and a member of the President's Council on Science and Technology. At IBM, where he worked for more than three decades, he was responsible for the STRETCH supercomputer systems project and for the groundbreaking IBM Systems 360 computer, two developments that revolutionized the industry. In 1985, Bloch was awarded the National Medal of Technology. He was director of the National Science Foundation from 1884 to 1990 and is a member of the the National Academy of Engineering.

Pericak-Vance, a native of Buffalo, is director of Duke University's Center for Human Genetics, where she focuses on discovering genes that cause disorders such as autism, Lou Gehrig's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, multiple sclerosis and various forms of muscular dystrophy.

Pericak-Vance, who also holds the titles of James B. Duke professor and chief of the medical genetics section in Duke's department of medicine, was inducted into the Western New York Women's Hall of Fame in 2002 and was elected this year to the Institute of Medicine.

Stoll, who grew up in North Buffalo and graduated from the University at Buffalo, is a planetary astronomer who helped designed optics and telescope mechanics for the Keck Observatory, built image-processing software for the Hubble Space Telescope and designed graphics systems for the Asteroid Watch Camera project at the University of Arizona.

An authority on the uses and abuses of computers, Stoll has written three books on the subject that drew wide acclaim -- "The Cuckoo's Egg," "Silicon Snake Oil -- Second Thoughts on the Information Highway" and "High Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in School."

Takeuchi, a chemist, is vice president of battery research and development at Wilson Greatbatch Ltd. She holds more than 110 patents for her work in areas ranging from electron transfer to new sources of chemical energy to new components for medical devices.

Takeuchi, who was inducted into the Western New York Women's Hall of Fame in 1998, was also elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 1999. Earlier this year, she was named to the National Academy of Engineering for developing batteries for implantable cardiac defibrillators and cells to power implantable pacemakers.

Egan and Holm developed the drug Infasurf-Neonatal, which has helped reduce the mortality rate among premature newborns. In 2003, the figure was 5 percent, compared with 90 percent in the 1960s. They also hold patents for Infasurf-Adult and a method of rapidly purifying surfactant proteins.

Holm is UB senior vice provost, executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and a UB professor of pediatrics, pharmacology and toxicology, and obstetrics and gynecology. Egan is a UB professor of physiology and pediatrics and president and chief executive officer of ONY Inc., which makes infasurf drugs.

Lundgren is an internationally known physiologist whose research focuses on diving physiology, breathing with diving equipment and the design and development of underwater breathing devices. He currently working to develop an artificial blood that could revolutionize trauma care.

Lundgren's more than 100 patents include one for Nicorette gum. He is a UB professor of physiology and biophysics and director of the university's Center for Research and Education in Special Engineering.

Pioneers of Science sponsors include the John R. Oishei Foundation, KeyBank, McDonald Financial Group and the Lewis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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