Who's Who of Professional Women


Janet Rideout

Science has been Janet Litster Rideout’s love for as long as she can remember. It intrigued her as a child, and she became determined to contribute to the field. Dr. Rideout moved from analytical chemistry to elementary physical chemistry as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College, where she discovered a passion for delving into theory. She earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from the school in 1961 and 1963, respectively, as well as a PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo, or simply the University at Buffalo, in 1968.

Degrees in hand, Dr. Rideout set out to make her mark. She started as a research chemist in the Experimental Therapy Department of Burroughs Wellcome Co. in 1968, and was promoted to senior research chemist in the department in 1970. From there, Dr. Rideout advanced to positions like group leader of the department and group leader, assistant director, and associate director of the Organic Chemistry Division. She left in 1995 to join Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Inc., as the director of the chemical department. After a year, she rose to the role of senior director of discovery at the institution. Her final role before retiring in 2002 was vice president of discovery.

The results of Dr. Rideout’s work were groundbreaking. She was one of the scientists who discovered that azidothymidine (AZT) could be used as an antiretroviral agent to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Dr. Rideout also played a key role in the development of acyclovir, the first effective treatment for herpes simplex virus. She holds numerous U.S. and foreign patents for her findings.

In recognition of her profound contributions to organic chemistry, Dr. Rideout was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Alumni Association of the University at Buffalo and the Dean’s Award from the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. She also received the Distinguished Chemist Award from the North Carolina Institute of Chemists.

When Dr. Rideout has free time, she enjoys reading, painting, sports, artwork, and financial investing. She works with husband, Ralph L. Rideout Jr., on financial stock investments.

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