Tag Archives: Biochemistry

Jews of the Week: Louis Lloyd Winter and Bernard Sherman

Barry Sherman of Apotex

Barry Sherman of Apotex

Louis Lloyd Winter (1924-1965) was born in Toronto, the youngest of six children. He studied biochemistry at the University of Toronto, and after graduating with a Master’s Degree, borrowed $10,000 from his father to open his first company in the family garage. There, he would process blood work and pregnancy tests for local med offices, and his business skyrocketed quickly. Seeing that prescription drugs were way too expensive, and many could not afford them, Winter started a generic pharmaceuticals company. By 1959, he had to purchase a whole building for his operations and created Empire Laboratories Ltd. By 1964, it was Canada’s largest pharmaceutical, offered over 100 products, and supplied the US military through a branch in Puerto Rico. The following year, Winter’s life was cut short at the young age of 41 when he had a sudden aneurysm. 17 days later, his wife died of leukemia. The company was taken over by their nephew Bernard Charles Sherman (b. 1942). “Barry” Sherman lost his father when he was just 9, and grew up working for his uncle’s drug company. After graduating from the University of Toronto, then getting a Ph.D in astronautics at M.I.T, he was able to take charge of Empire. By 1974, he sold Empire and instead launched Apotex, growing it to become Canada’s largest generic drug maker. Today, the company ships its products to 115 countries and has branches in biotechnology, medical, and chemical research. Meanwhile, its charitable arm – the Apotex Foundation – has donated over $17 million in free medications. Sherman himself has donated over $50 million to the UJA, as well as a number of other philanthropic causes in the Toronto area and beyond. He is currently Canada’s 7th wealthiest man, and continues to head Apotex with a passion to bring affordable medication to the masses.

UPDATE: Tragically, Barry Sherman and his wife Honey Sherman were found dead in their home on December 15, 2017.

Words of the Week

Wherever I go, I’m always going to Israel.
– Rebbe Nachman

Jew of the Week: Isaac Asimov

Master of Science Fiction

Isaac Asimov: “I am Jewish.”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Born in Belorussia as Itzhak Yudovich Ozimov, his family immigrated to New York when he was only three, starting a chain of candy stores where he worked. After serving in the US Army, Asimov became a biochemistry professor at Boston University. He wrote his first book in 1950, and would go on to write and edit over 500 titles. His short story Nightfall is considered the greatest science-fiction piece of all time. Fluent in Yiddish, he would continue to speak the language throughout his adult life. Interestingly, he writes critically of his father for not having taught him the Orthodox Jewish way. In the opening of Wandering Stars, he writes: “I attend no services and follow no ritual and have never undergone that curious puberty rite, the bar mitzvah. It doesn’t matter. I am Jewish.”

Words of the Week

The wicked in their lifetimes are called “dead”; the righteous in death are called “living”.
Talmud, Berachot 18

Jew of the Week: Melvin Calvin

Happy Tu B’Shvat!

Melvin Calvin – A Plant’s Best Friend

Melvin Calvin (1911 – 1997) One of the greatest biochemists of the last century, this man mapped the entire chemical process of photosynthesis. He won the Nobel Prize for this in 1961. Of course, the mechanism bears his name: the Calvin Cycle. Since today is the holiday of Tu B’Shvat (the “New Year of Trees”), it is appropriate to feature Melvin Calvin. After all, he is known as the one who revealed their age-old secret: photosynthesis. (Also, we had Hans Krebs a few weeks ago, and it would be unfair to feature the Krebs Cycle and not the Calvin Cycle).



Words of the Week

Because each life form, even fruit, is entrusted to a specific angel. By saying a blessing over a fruit, we empower that angel to reproduce more of that fruit. One who refrains from partaking of a fruit deprives the world of the spiritual influence that the blessing would have provided.
– Chemdat Yamim (from the Tu B’Shvat Seder)