SABR member Dick Cramer honored by American Chemical Society

SABR member Dr. Richard D. (Dick) Cramer will be the recipient of the 2013 Herman Skolnik Award, presented by the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Information.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to and achievements in the theory and practice of chemical information science and related disciplines. The prize consists of a $3,000 honorarium and a plaque. Dr. Cramer will also be invited to present an award symposium at the Fall 2013 ACS National Meeting to be held in Indianapolis. SABR member David W. Smith, founder and president of, will also speak at the conference.

Cramer is a sabermetrics pioneer and co-founder of SABR’s Statistical Analysis Committee. Back in the 1970s, the only baseball analytics activity was letters between Dick and Pete Palmer, highlighted by Dick’s challenge to the existence of “clutch performance.” In 1981, Dick co-founded STATS, LLC and then built its technology, working closely with future GMs Doug Melvin and Dan Evans, as detailed in the books Moneyball and The Numbers Game.

Today, Dick actively contributes to Retrosheet and was a panelist at the inaugural SABR Analytics Conference in 2012. In 1974, Dick also co-organized SABR’s first Philadelphia regional chapter meeting, including its first (and too-challenging) trivia contest, on Phillies second basemen.

In the scientific world, Cramer is best known as the inventor of the technique of Comparative Molecular Field Analysis (CoMFA) and its introduction to the molecular and drug design fields (JACS 1998, 110, 5959-5967). The technique and its implementation was one of the one of the first widely available and usable 3D QSAR software methods and was developed in collaboration with David Patterson and Jeffrey Bunce. The CoMFA process was one of the first patents in the cheminformatics and computational chemistry fields and has been used in the pharmaceutical industry as the standard method for small molecule bioactivity prediction for the last twenty-five years.

Early in his career, in the research group of E.J. Corey, he was involved with the first artificial intelligence methods to predict chemical synthesis, coining the acronym ‘LHASA’ (Logic and Heuristics Applied to Synthetic Analysis) for the project, which is known today as one of the very first attempts at computer aided design in chemistry. While his entire later career has been in industry, Cramer has taken an academic approach to solving complex problems and this has resulted in a number of break-through developments that are synonymous with innovation in chemical information and QSAR.

Cramer has remained active in research and publishing at the forefront of his field. His work on ‘topomeric’ descriptors, (J. Med. Chem. 2003, 46, 374-388) which allows CoMFA without tedious alignment of ligands, is proving a very successful tool in drug discovery (as recently shown in. J. Med. Chem. 2011, 54, 3982-3986) allowing the design of more selective ligands.

Admired by his colleagues, Cramer is described as personable and open to discussing science with all and any interested parties, a “gentleman” scientist.

Dr. Cramer received his A.B. degree from Harvard University in Chemistry and Physics in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. Dick worked for Polaroid Corporation from 1967 through 1969 and then completed a two year fellowship under direction of Dr. E. J. Corey. After more than a decade working with Smith Kline & French Laboratories, he moved to Tripos in 1983 as Vice President of New Products. He currently serves as Senior Vice President, Science, and Chief Scientific Officer for Tripos, a Certara Company.

Originally published: August 19, 2013. Last Updated: August 19, 2013.