posted September 29, 2009

Lecture Follows Firefly Glow to Medical Testing

 How research into the glow of fireflies led to a breakthrough in medical testing will be the focus of the annual Gentile Lectureship presented in conjunction with Homecoming Weekend at Hope College.

Dr. A. Paul Schaap, a 1967 Hope graduate who went on to a career as a research chemist and business leader, will present "Chemiluminescence and 1,2-Dioxetanes: From Fireflies to the Detection of DNA" on Friday, Oct. 9, at 3:30 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Schaap graduated from Hope with a major in chemistry and received a doctorate in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1970. He joined the chemistry faculty at Wayne State University in that year and attained the rank of professor in 1979.

His research at Wayne State focused on the study of dioxetanes (high-energy chemical compounds which can be triggered to generate chemiluminescence or light).  While continuing his teaching and research efforts at Wayne State, Schaap founded Lumigen, Inc. in 1987 to commercialize the dioxetanes which had been developed in his research laboratory. Lumigen began marketing its products in 1989. The dioxetanes are now distributed worldwide by major corporations because of their sensitivity, versatility, and stability as chemiluminescent detection reagents in life science research and medical diagnostics.

While at Wayne State, Schaap directed the study of 18 Ph.D. students and published over 100 papers in refereed research journals.  He served as a visiting professor in 1975 at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and in 1978 at the University of Sussex, England. In 1980-81 he served as a liaison scientist with the United States Office of Naval Research in London, England. At Wayne State, Schaap received an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the Gershenson Distinguished Faculty Fellowship, the Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award and the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was elected to the Academy of Scholars and served as its president from 1992 to 1994.

In 2000, he retired from his position as chemistry professor to become full-time president of Lumigen. The Southfield company was acquired by Beckman Coulter, Inc., a major immunodiagnostic company, in 2006 and Schaap retired from Lumigen in 2007. He remains, however, very active serving on several boards including the Board of Directors of the Wayne State University Foundation, the Board of Directors of Tech Town in Detroit, and the Board of Trustees at Hope.

The A. Paul Schaap Science Center at Hope is named in recognition of a leadership gift he made on behalf of the project.  Hope presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.

The Gentile Interdisciplinary Lectureship at Hope was established in 2005 by faculty colleagues, former students and friends of Dr. James Gentile. Gentile joined the Hope faculty in 1976 and served as dean for the natural sciences from 1988 to 2005, when he became president of Research Corporation, a private foundation in Tucson, Ariz., that supports basic research in the physical sciences.

The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.