Dr. Sydney Archer

A Tribute to Dr. Sydney Archer


Dr. Sydney Archer, one of the founders of INRC, an outstanding scientist and wonderful friend to many of us, passed away on August 22, 1996. Syd was one of a handful of scientists who met in Basel at the International Congress of Pharmacology in 1969 and conceived the formation of what has become the INRC. He served as its second Secretary, immediately following Avram Goldstein. He continued to be active and just a few weeks ago at our meeting on the Queen Mary, Syd offered to host the 1999 INRC in Saratoga, NY, --what better way to illustrate his positive outlook on life! In fact, he had already begun work on it by appointing a program committee and meeting with people from the Saratoga Convention Center. At this year’s INRC meeting, a few of Eddy Way's friends organized a surprise dinner for him at a Chinese restaurant in honor of his 80th birthday. At the dinner Syd Archer served as M.C. He was in great form, charming and funny.

As a scientist, Sydney was one of the outstanding medicinal chemists of our time. He attacked 3 of mankind’s major scourges, drug abuse, cancer and schistosomiasis with equal vigor, creativity and enthusiasm. In the area of drug abuse he made numerous contributions, many more than I can touch on here. He synthesized many compounds of both theoretical and practical interest. His best known compound pentazocine (Talwin) is still in clinical use as an analgesic. He synthesized numerous affinity ligands and other useful compounds and participated in many basic research projects. Most recently, in collaboration with Dr. Jean Bidlack at the University of Rochester, he developed a sensitive fluorometric assay for opioid receptor binding and was hard at work on a promising approach to the treatment of cocaine addiction. He played a crucial role in the creation of the New York State Capital District Center for Drug Abuse Research and Treatment.

During the many years (1943-1973) Syd spent at Sterling-Winthrop Research Institute, he rose to the rank of Vice President for Research. He returned to Academia in 1973, namely, to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where he remained as Professor of Chemistry until his death. He also served as Dean of the RPI School of Science from 1980 to 1985. How well-liked and highly regarded Syd was at RPI, was shown by the overflow crowd that filled the RPI chapel at a recent memorial service for him.

Dr. Archer received many awards, among them the Medicinal Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society in 1968 and the Inventor of the Year Award from the Eastern Patent Law Association. He was the holder of well over 100 patents as well as the author of numerous publications in prestigious journals.

NIDA utilized Syd’s talents in many ways. He served on Study Sections, the Editorial Advisory Board, the Board of Advisors of the Addiction Research Center and on the Director’s External Advisory Committee. He was active in CPDD and served on its Board of Directors. He also served on an Advisory Committee on Schistosomiasis of WHO, for which he did a considerable amount of work and traveling.

On a personal level, I was privileged to interact with Syd in many ways and we became close friends. We served on many committees together, planned meetings for INRC (it was he who persuaded me to succeed him as Secretary) and published a half dozen papers together. I shall always remember his generous introduction at the occasion of my Nathan B. Eddy Award in Lexington, Kentucky.

Irene and I spent an unforgettable week end at Teddie and Sydney’s house with many laughs, excellent food, great discussions and forays to concerts at Tanglewood and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Sydney often came to New York and we always had lunch together on these occasions. Lunch at Bouley, New York’s number 1 restaurant at the time, was a gourmet experience. As many of you know, Sydney was well known as a real gourmet among his myriad of interests.

Dr. Sydney Archer will be mourned and remembered by his family and by many friends and admirers throughout the world.

Dr. Eric J. Simon

INRC Conference