Does the much-maligned carbon dioxide, a driving force behind global warming, deserve its bad rap?

In his upcoming Distinguished University Professor lecture, Gordon L. Amidon will explore carbon dioxide from many angles in his talk titled “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

Photo of Gordon L. Amidon
Gordon Amidon

The lecture will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Rackham Amphitheatre. The lecture and reception that follow are free and open to the public.

Amidon is the William I. Higuchi Distinguished University Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He also is the Charles R. Walgreen Jr. Professor of Pharmacy. His research aims to understand the gastrointestinal factors that control drug absorption from an oral drug product.

“I will present a modest attempt to resurrect the image of carbon dioxide,” Amidon said. “While global warming and the role that atmospheric gases play in the ‘greenhouse’ effect has received considerable attention in the scientific and public press, I will point to the more positive role of carbon dioxide in evolution and in biology.

“A theme in my research over my career has been the mysteries of the gastrointestinal tract and in particular oral absorption from a drug product and its therapeutic efficacy in patients. Most recently, my laboratory has determined that carbon dioxide and its aqueous form, bicarbonate ion, play an essential role in the absorption of many drugs.

“I will track this theme from my graduate student days at the University of Michigan up until today. It has been a marvelous and much enjoyed journey.”

Amidon has received numerous national and international awards and three honorary degrees for his contributions to pharmaceutical sciences. He earned a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from the State University of New York, Buffalo, and a Master of Arts in mathematics and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Michigan. He joined the U-M College of Pharmacy in 1983, after 10 years on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin.

A Distinguished University Professorship is the highest professorial honor bestowed on U-M faculty.

Amidon chose to recognize his mentor and graduate adviser William I. Higuchi by naming the Distinguished University Professorship in Higuchi’s honor. Higuchi, an internationally recognized pioneer in the area of biopharmaceutics and delivery, has made significant contributions in drug transport.

Higuchi joined the College of Pharmacy as associate professor in pharmaceutical chemistry in 1962. He was named the Albert B. Prescott Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy in 1976, a title he held until he left U-M in 1982.

Higuchi currently is professor emeritus of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Utah. He received an honorary doctor of science degree from U-M in 2013.