A BIG BOOST to the company's reputation came in 2002 when an engineer at Shimadzu, Koichi Tanaka, shared half of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with John B. Fenn, a chemistry professor then at Virginia Commonwealth University. Although both were recognized for advances in mass spectrometry, the Nobel award committee cited Tanaka for developing a technique that uses laser desorption to ionize large biological molecules without fragmenting them. An adaptation of Tanaka's original technique, known as matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, or MALDI, is widely used today to analyze proteins, peptides, oligosaccharides, and large organic molecules. Even in Japan, Tanaka's prize helped Shimadzu, says Kawami, who has a law degree and held a variety of sales positions in Japan before he became SSI president in April 2007. "Before Tanaka received the Nobel Prize, we sometimes had to explain our business to customers for 10 to 15 minutes. After the prize, most customers knew who we were." That same recognition spilled over into the U.S. Today, Shimadzu ranks seventh among the world's scientific instrument makers, according to 2007 revenue data reported in Instrumenta, a U.K.
by Marc S. Reisch |
October 06, 2008