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Voice of a Chemistry Alumnus: Tom Eckrich

A 1979 graduate of IUPUI Department of Chemistry, Tom Eckrich was born and raised in Beech Grove, IN. He graduated from Cathedral High School when it was still at 14th and Meridian in downtown Indianapolis, then spent one year studying accounting at what is now Marian University. Needing additional elective credits he attended IUPUI during the summer of 1976 and took General Chemistry, C105, with Professor Gordon Fricke. Tom failed his first exam in this course, but Prof. Fricke encouraged him to continue. Six weeks later Tom had completed C105, and had decided to take the second semester as well. This led to a career decision to transfer to IUPUI for the BS program in Chemistry.

Tom's love of chemistry blossomed during his sophomore year. He met Prof. Marty O'Donnell during C343 organic chemistry, and accepted his suggestion to try research in his laboratory as one of several students developing Schiff Base synthons for amino acid chemistry. He accomplished the first catalytic synthesis of amino acids by Phase-Transfer Catalysis, which led to groundbreaking publications and presentations prior to his graduation in 1979. Tom's decision to pursue a doctorate (Harvard, E. J. Corey) was cemented by his passion for chemistry, and a strong desire to use the science to benefit society. Tom matriculated from Harvard in 1984, and immediately took a position at Eli Lilly in the Process Research Division. During the next 30 years, Tom developed the manufacturing process for loracarbef, and worked at several levels of middle and senior management in the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) development organization. During the 1990's, Tom was asked to move his family to Brussels, Belgium to assume the role of site head for the Lilly Development Centre at Mont-Saint-Guibert. Towards the end of his career, Tom focused on developing partnerships with Contract Manufacturing Organization (CMOs) and other third parties, providing essential capacity for development of manufacturing processes and supply of Clinical Trial materials. Tom accepted an early retirement opportunity in 2014, and now is Founder and Principal of Eckrich Consulting Services, LLC, where he is actively developing RGI-2001 (REGiMMUNE Corporation, Tokyo) and PT-112 (Phosplatin Therapeutics, New York).

In Tom's personal life he is married to Patti (1979), with whom he has two daughters Jackie and Maddie. Jackie lives in Carmel, Indiana and is the mother of two young boys. Maddie decided to pursue her lifelong dream to live in New Zealand, now living in Wellington for 5 years. Additionally, Tom is an amateur musician, playing euphonium and tuba in the Crossroads Brass Band (crossroadsbrass.org). Crossroads is a conforming, competitive British Brass Band, and a member of the North American Brass Band Association. Tom has also played tuba with the Greenwood Community Band, the Indianapolis Brass Choir and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

His personal perspective is one of good fortune, "At each stage of my life I have benefitted from the generous help I have received from my family, teachers and friends. I have especially benefitted from my professors at IUPUI and Harvard who guided my learning development." He says he misses the addicting experience of laboratory research, but relishes the opportunity to work with young scientists developing his two clinical candidates.

Tom continues to live in Indianapolis, however spends about 30% of his time traveling for consulting. Anyone wishing to contact him can send an email to indyhotdog@gmail.com.