Monroe E. Wall, Ph.D. served as Chief Scientist in Chemistry and Life
Sciences at the Research Triangle Institute. Dr. Wall studied at Rutgers University, New Brunswick,
NJ, where he received B.S. (1936) and M.S. (1938) degrees
in chemistry and a Ph.D. degree in agricultural biochemistry
(1939). In 1941, Dr. Wall joined the Department of Agriculture's
Eastern Regional Research Laboratory. He directed a research
group in the first large-scale screening of plant products
for potential precursors of cortisone and other steroids.
More than 7,000 plants were collected, and the group's findings
led to the preparation of cortisone. In 1958, his group discovered
that extract of Camptotheca acuminata had antitumor activity.
Dr. Wall came to RTI in 1960 from the USDA specifically to
start a chemistry research group. In addition to carrying
on his own research, he served as research vice president
from 1971 to 1983, during which time he helped build RTI’s
staff and capabilities in the areas of analytical and environmental
chemistry, life sciences and bioorganic chemistry, organic
and medicinal chemistry, and toxicology. In addition to the
Kettering Prize, the highest honor in the field of cancer
research, Dr. Wall was the recipient of the USDA Superior
Accomplishment Award, the American Pharmaceutical Association’s
top research prize for natural products chemistry, and the
Research Achievement Award of the American Society of Pharmacognosy.
In 1998 he was awarded the American Chemical Society’s
Alfred Burger Award, the most prestigious award in medicinal
chemistry. The Wall-Wani discoveries of Taxol and camptothecin
in the 1960s helped revolutionize modern cancer research.
Dr. Wall worked at RTI until he died in 2002 at the age of