SILVER SPRING, MD. - Dr. Amel R. Menotti, 96, a retired vice president and research/scientific director for Bristol Laboratories (now Bristol Myers Squibb), died on Oct. 28, 2009 at his home in Silver Spring, Md. of complications associated with bladder cancer. He was the son of David and Maria Menotti of East Carbon City, where he grew up.
David Menotti was the long time proprietor of the Carbon Grocery Company, a general merchandise retail store serving the local area. Dr. Menotti was a long time resident of Fayetteville and Cazenovia, N.Y. before moving to Maryland.
Dr. Menotti led a distinguished career as a pioneer in the pharmaceutical industry. He began his career in the World War II penicillin program. In prior wars, more than half of combat deaths were from infection, not trauma. The penicillin program was intended to provide a tool to save these lives. However, penicillin was a laboratory curiosity at the time. No one knew how to produce it in quantity, so an industry had to be invented to do so. Dr. Menotti, as research director for a fledgling company that became Bristol Laboratories (and ultimately Bristol Myers Squibb), was one of the inventors of this industry. The penicillin program had a priority second only to the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb. Dr. Menotti was fond of remembering his frustrations when needed equipment was lost to the Manhattan Project. He wondered what "those engineers in Manhattan" needed these things for. In August of 1945, he had a "now I get it" moment.
The World War II penicillin program spawned the modern pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Menotti remained with Bristol Laboratories for the remainder of his career, retiring in 1975. His research group was responsible for developing a number of important drugs, including a family of semi-synthetic penicillins (Syncillin, Staphcillin, Cloxacillin, Dicloxacillin, Ampicillin, Amoxicllin), Kanamycin (another antibiotic), and several anticancer drugs (Bleomycin and Mutamycin). Some of these drugs remain in wide use to this day. When he joined the company, the research department consisted of one person - Dr. Menotti. When he retired, the group had a staff of five hundred.
Amel R. Menotti was born on Oct. 7, 1913 in Cervara, Italy, a small hill town in Northern Tuscany. He came to the United States in 1920 as a six year old, and grew up in East Carbon, then known as Dragerton. He graduated from Antioch College in 1937 with a Bachelor of Science degree, and from Ohio State University in 1940, with a PhD in organic chemistry. He was a life member of the American Chemical Society, and a former chairman of the Gordon Research Conferences. He enjoyed woodworking and reading, and was an avid sportsman, enjoying hunting, fishing and skiing in particular.
He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mary Pia Menotti, of Silver Spring, Md.; a sister, Elsie Parker, East Carbon; four children: David Menotti, Potomac, Md., Marilyn Raymond, Bethesda, Md, Robert Menotti, Clinton, N.Y., and Nancy Huntzinger, Toledo, Ohio; nine grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.