Charlie Thiel

The Charles G. Thiel Award:
For outstanding research and discovery in respiratory drug delivery

In 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the commercialization of the pressurized Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI), and in celebration and recognition of the foundational work done by Mr. Charles G. Thiel in the field of pulmonary drug delivery, the VCU School of Pharmacy established the Charles G. Thiel Award. Sponsored by 3M Drug Delivery Systems, the Thiel Award is presented at RDD meetings held in the USA to scientists who have pioneered significant developments in one or more aspects of science and technology surrounding respiratory drug delivery.

In 2016, the Charles G. Thiel Award was presented to Professor Warren Finlay from the University of Alberta.

Previous Awardees

2016 - Warren Finlay

Warren FinlayThe 2016 Charles G. Thiel award was presented to Professor Warren Finlay, University of Alberta for outstanding Research and Discovery in Respiratory Drug Delivery.

Warren is recognized as a first class teacher, author, educator, researcher and pharmaceutical scientist – as well as a leader and innovator. Warren is best known for his work developing the Alberta Idealized Throat, a manufacturable metal throat, with comparable fluid dynamic and aerosol capture properties to the adult population median. A pediatric version of the Alberta throat is also available.  Because of the thoroughness with which he approached the problem of extrathoracic aerosol deposition, Warren has not only influenced industry scientists but also impacted the development of commercial products known to us all – inhalers from companies including Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis and Chiesi. Unusual for an engineer - he has also tested many of his deposition theories in humans using imaging techniques such as MRI.

2014 - Dieter Hochrainer

Dieter HochrainerThe 2014 Charles G. Thiel award was presented to Dr. Dieter Hochrainer for his significant role in the development of Handihaler and Respimat, two innovative devices in the field. Handihaler is a very successful high resistance capsule based DPI that was the first device to replace gelatin capsules with polymeric capsules to improve inhaler performance. Dieter led the design development team for Respimat and was personally responsible for the studies that defined Respimat’s resistance, spray duration, patient interface and nozzle design - this was one of the first aqueous spray systems to use precision engineering to reduce droplet size and control the respirable dose. In addition, he has served the scientific community serving as Editor in Chief for Journal of Aerosol Science and on the editorial board for Journal of Aerosol Medicine, as well as contributing to international consortia and working groups to benefit aerosol science and respiratory drug delivery. Dieter combines the ingenious developer and the benevolent scientist in one person - he is the German Charlie Thiel!

2012 - Andrew R. Clark

Andy ClarkIn 2012, the Charles G. Thiel award was presented to Andrew R. Clark, Novartis, San Francisco. Andy has an illustrious career and pioneered inhaler developments through scientific understanding and publication across disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology and medicine). He has helped develop some of the most innovative aerosol products of the last two decades including Pulmozyme, the first inhaled protein, Exubera, the first inhaled systemic protein and TOBI Podhaler, the first inhaled dry powder antibiotic, tobramycin.

2010 - Michael T. Newhouse

Mike NewhouseIn 2010, the Charles G. Thiel award was presented to Michael T. Newhouse of Hamilton, Ontario. Mike's contributions to the area as a physician, scientist, inventor and educator have improved the lives of many children and adult patients suffering from lung disease. Mike pioneered the design, manufacture, research into and use of AeroChamber - the device that is now a mainstay of asthma therapy and enables patients to use pressurized metered dose inhalers successfully. Mike has made a substantial contribution to our field as a practicing clinician with an outstanding knowledge of pulmonary physiology and an intuitive understanding of aerosol physics - he continuously reminds the aerosol science community to do 'research meaningful to clinical practice'.

2008 - Lars Borgström

Lars BorgstromIn 2008, the Charles G. Thiel award was presented to Lars Borgström of AstraZeneca. Lars has been at the forefront of correlating and translating in vitro performance of inhaled products to in vivo situations. He has developed and validated charcoal block, isotope labeling and pharmacokinetic techniques for measuring lung deposition, and used these methods to quantify lung deposition in different patient groups. Lars has made a substantial contribution to our understanding of the factors that influence inhaled drug delivery. He has accomplished this at the same time as holding line management responsibilities at AstraZeneca, and an academic position at the University of Uppsala.

2006 - Charles G. Thiel

Charlie ThielIn 2006, the Charles G. Thiel award was presented to Charlie Thiel himself. Charlie has had a long and distinguished career in the industry. He was a joint inventor of the MDI, he designed an early cascade impactor and invented a novel metering valve to improve dosing reproducibility. His passion for high speed photography also gave us insight into the behavior of aerosol sprays. His dedication to the area is made evident by his continued contributions to the United States Pharmacopeia long past retirement.

About Charles G. Thiel

In 1956, the world's first pressurized MDI was introduced. Invented by Charles Thiel and two colleagues at Riker Laboratories, the MDI enabled asthmatics to administer repeated inhaled dosages of medi­cine without cumbersome refilling procedures. The idea was born after the daughter of a Riker president asked "Why can't they put my asthma medicine in a spray can, like they do hair spray?" The invention of the MDI revolutionized the field of respiratory drug delivery and today, over 70 million patients worldwide rely on these devices for their asthma treatment.

In a 46 year career as a Division Scientist in what became in 1970, the Drug Delivery Systems Division of 3M Pharmaceuticals, Charles Thiel recalls one truly defining moment. He was visiting as an invited speaker. After giving a lecture, he was approached by a physician from the audience who gave him a bear hug and told him “If it hadn't been for your invention, I'd be dead.” The physician had suffered from asthma since early childhood.

Mr. Thiel graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1954 with a BS in Chemistry and joined Riker Laboratories, then a subsidiary of Rexall Drug. Armed with a chemistry degree, he started work that spring in a laboratory with a handful of other employees in a non-air-conditioned building in Los Angeles. Thiel's first job involved iso­lating compounds from Indian snakeroot that were used in blood pressure medications.

Two years later he started his work on inhalers. Riker was the first company to develop pressurized MDIs. Thiel changed the inhaler formulation design from one using 50 per­cent alcohol (which burned patients' nostrils when administered as a nasal spray) to one using an inno­vative suspension of the medication in a liquefied gas propellant - a design still in worldwide use today. The new design was also more efficient than previous methods at delivering medica­tion to the lungs. 3M, which still develops MDIs based on Thiel's design, acquired Riker Laboratories in 1970. The MDI revolutionized the treatment of respiratory illness and laid the foundation for what has now become a growing pharmaceutical specialty - the field of respiratory drug delivery.

Peter ByronThe VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award:
For excellence in research, and understanding and defense of work at RDD conferences

In recognition of Peter Byron's accomplished career and influence on respiratory drug delivery, his former graduate students, academic colleagues and personal friends established the VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award. This award is funded by an endowment at Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Foundation. Over the course of his forty-year career, Peter Byron has taught and mentored hundreds of students, and created and nurtured the Respiratory Drug Delivery conference. It is a fitting tribute that the VCU RDD Peter R. Byron Award be selected from among graduate students attending Respiratory Drug Delivery to present their research.

In 2017, the award was presented to Cordula Weiss, Waterford Institute of Technology.

Previous Awardees

2017 - Cordula Weiss

Peter R Byron AwardThe 2017 VCU Peter R. Byron Graduate Student Award was presented to Cordula Weiss, a graduate student at the Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. Cordula's research focuses on the impact of crystallization parameters on the material characteristics of crystalline APIs including beclomethasone dipropionate and how these properties in turn influence the performance of a model binary DPI formulation. Cordula presented her research 'Synthesis and Materials Characterization of Beclomethasone Dipropionate (BDP) Solvates as Precursors for Anhydrous BDP Particles for Dry Powder Formulations' in the Scientific Poster Session. Cordula is also involved in science communication with WIT's science outreach centre.

2016 - Matthias Van Woensel

Peter R Byron AwardThe 2016 the inaugural award was presented to Matthias Van Woensel, a graduate student at ULeuven and ULB, Brussels, in a joint-doctorate program. Matthias' research focuses on the development of intranasal formulations that can transport active molecules from the nasal cavity directly into the central nervous system, to combat brain tumors, in particular glioblastoma.

About Peter R. Byron

Peter Byron is an Emeritus Professor and Director of RDD Conferences at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Pharmacy in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to arriving at VCU in 1988, he held academic appointments at Aston University, Birmingham, England, and the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. Peter is a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and has served as Chairman of the Aerosols Expert Committee of the United States Pharmacopeia and USP representative on the European Pharmacopiea’s Inhalanda working group (1995 – 2005).

Peter has a B.Sc. in Pharmacy and Ph.D. in Immunology, both from Manchester University, England, and holds a number of patents relating to inhaler development. He has been a reviewer and editorial board member for several scientific journals, taught widely at undergraduate and graduate levels throughout the Pharmacy curriculum, and led the internationally recognized Aerosol Research Group in Richmond, investigating physicochemical and formulation factors controlling drug and aerosol generation, deposition, and chemical disposition in the lung.

From the early days in the USA, Peter sought ways to bring together academics, researchers, and entrepreneurs to share their expertise in the rapidly evolving field of inhaled drug delivery. To that end, he created the Respiratory Drug Delivery academic symposium in 1988. Through Peter's efforts and those of others he has introduced to the field, RDD has grown from a handful of speakers and participants to the gold standard in the industry, encompassing top-notch speakers delivering fresh research, scientific poster presenters, technology exhibitors from around the world, and peer-reviewed professionally published proceedings now comprising an archive of over 2500 articles. RDD became global with the introduction of RDD Europe and RDD Asia conferences.


Peter has never forgotten that many of the scientists on the RDD podium began their careers as graduate students. For this reason RDD's Scientific Poster Session and Posters on the Podium have showcased the work of graduate students from around the world. For some of these students it was their first time presenting to a large, influential audience and a launch pad for their careers in pulmonary and nasal drug delivery. From classroom to conference auditorium, Peter has shown a steady commitment to fostering the careers of young scientists, mentoring students who have gone on to their own success as academics, regulators, and industrial scientists, all the while instilling them with his trademark integrity, sense of humor, and above all, an uncompromising commitment to excellence.

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