Forgotten Molecules: The Fruits of an Emeritus Professor’s 40-year Career are Contributing to the Modern Search for New Medications

On a rainy day last fall, chemist Scott Wildman left his office on the UW–Madison campus and drove to a retirement community on the city’s west side to bring 40 years of scientific work out of the dark.

His trip brought him to the home of Laurens “Andy” Anderson, emeritus professor of biochemistry. There, packed away in a closet, Wildman found a cache of dark green boxes holding nearly 800 meticulously organized vials of purified chemicals, each one stoppered with real cork and labeled with intricate handwriting. Many of the vials boasted a tiny drawing of a structural chemical formula for identifying the white or sometimes colored powders inside. Wildman wrapped the glass treasures in protective plastic and chaperoned them to their new home — and new purpose — at the UW Carbone Cancer Center’s Drug Development Core (DCC).

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