February Member Spotlight: Dr. Piotr Chomczynski, Molecular Research Center, Inc.
Dr. Piotr Chomczynski
Founder, President and Director of R&D
Molecular Research Center, Inc. (MRC)
The life and work of Dr. Piotr Chomczynski is an incredible story. He can be characterized as a remarkable man, scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, business owner, art collector, art advocate, and Polish enthusiast. As Anne Cappel describes him, “Piotr is a scientific genius with the heart of an artist.”
An EACC member since 2007, Piotr leads a quiet life in Cincinnati but has achieved celebrity status within the international science community. A genius living among us, Piotr is one of the most cited scientists in research literature and is credited with revolutionizing the modern field of genetics and molecular research.
Originally from Poland, Piotr caught the attention of the National Institute of Health (NIH) and came to the United States on a grant in 1983 with only $100 in his pocket. Realizing that he could not pursue his research within the political climate of postwar, communist Poland, he officially made the U.S. his home in 1986 and moved his family to Ohio when he accepted a position as a research professor at the University of Cincinnati. Over the course of several years of work, Piotr discovered a fast and cost effective method of extracting the genetic compound RNA, or ribonucleic acid, from biological samples. This discovery revolutionized the scientific world, enabling scientists to more fully understand gene behavior within both healthy and unhealthy conditions. In 1987, Piotr published his groundbreaking study on a single-step method of total RNA isolation in Analytical Biochemistry. Since its publication, the single-step method has become the primary method of extracting RNA from biological samples and it remains the most-cited paper within the last 25 years. Today, Piotr’s methods are used by scientists around the world for innovations related to preventing and treating disease.
In 1989, Piotr established the Molecular Research Center in Cincinnati, in order to supply researchers with a reagent to accomplish the RNA extraction. In response to a growing demand from the international scientific community for innovative technologies in the study of genetic material, MRC established a global presence with direct distribution in over 40 nations and a presence in virtually every other country in the world.
With contacts, business partners and scientific collaborations around the world, the EACC community has significant value for the company and its founder. For MRC, the EACC provides an avenue to establish and maintain international relationships and share constructive and positive business practices between various countries and societies. “The EACC gives me a general understanding of how to operate my business,” says Piotr. “I learn how to sell my products in markets around the world and with international experts coming to Cincinnati through the EACC, I don’t need to travel separately to all these countries to make those contacts and understand how they do business.”
Piotr is also a passionate collector of Polish art and his collection has been described as one of the largest and most interesting in America. He is currently working with a local university on an exhibition featuring a Polish artist and will contribute a 60-foot painting from his collection to the exhibit. “Once you see it, your life is changed,” says Piotr.
Poland will be the first country featured in the EACC’s 2011 European Country Briefing series and in honor of the topic, the EACC would like to thank Piotr for his dedication to the exchange of culture and business between Cincinnati and Poland.
Additional MRC Background:
- Scientific applications using MRC products include the determination of gene expression in cancer cells, the study of HIV, establishing cDNA libraries for molecular cloning, and the analysis of biological samples obtained during Space Shuttle missions.
- The company diversified into the cosmetic and health care fields in the consumer market, establishing a subsidiary in 2003, Cinna Health Products.
- In 2005, Cinna Poland was established in Poznan, Poland to develop and manufacture health drinks. Cinna Poland continues to expand product offerings throughout the European community.
- Piotr holds 7 patents, three of which were secured in 2010.
- He was named to Institute for Scientific Information Superstars from 2003-2006 and was #17 on the Guardian’s Giants of Science list in 2003.
- He has won numerous awards including “Businessman of the Year” in 2005 by the National Republication Committee.
- In 2005, Piotr was inducted into the Knight Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of Poland.
- Piotr is the founder and sponsor of the Parnas Award for Young Biochemists issued by the Polish Biochemical Society.