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Top Allium Chemist Achieves 30 Years of NSF Funding at UAlbany

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

Eric Block

Professor Eric Block in his lab.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 20, 2008) -- With a grant of $474,800, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has extended UAlbany Professor Eric Block’s chemistry research funding through 2011, marking 30 years of continuous NSF support.

Since 1981, Block, one of the world's foremost experts in Allium chemistry, has researched organic compounds in garlic and onions. His research contributions have helped develop anti-cancer agents and environmentally-benign pesticides derived from garlic, and have challenged prevailing dogma on the cholesterol-lowering benefits of garlic.

"Eric Block’s 30-year program of federally funded research demonstrates the highest level of scholarly accomplishment," said UAlbany Vice President for Research Lynn Videka. "It is through great intellect, dedication, and persistence, as his research program exemplifies, that scientific knowledge is advanced. We are delighted that UAlbany is the home of Dr. Block and his outstanding and highly productive chemistry research program."

As a leading authority in Allium research, Block, who holds the University's Carla Rizzo Delray Distinguished Professor chair, has authored more than 200 scientific papers and monographs, and was consulted in the documentaries "Garlic" (1997) and "The Gift of the Gods - The Vital History and Multiple Uses of Garlic" (1991).

"I am particularly honored by this vote of confidence in my research," Block said. "I have been very fortunate to have funding from NSF to support a group of talented graduate students and postdoctoral associates whose skill and hard work led to the discoveries and publications necessary to get my grants renewed."

Block will highlight the science and folklore of garlic, onions and other genus Allium plants in his book Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science, to be published by the Royal Society of Chemistry (U.K.) in 2009.

Block has also obtained research grants from other sources, including the American Heart Association, NATO, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, totaling 43 grants and $5.5 million over a period of 40 years.

After earning an undergraduate degree at Queens College, New York, he received his master's and a doctorate at Harvard University, studying under 1990 Nobel Laureate E.J. Corey. In addition, Block has been a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University and the Weizmann Institute of Israel.

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