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Helen M. Free received the first ACS Award for Public Outreach in 1995; this award now bears her name. Free has made appearances as a question on the game show Jeopardy and had an appearance as a live portrait on the wall of the US Patent and Trademark Office. She has been the keynote speaker for the Presidential Awards to Science and Math Teachers, given symposium presentations at ACS meetings, and has participated in several ACS speaker service tours. She regularly gives invited presentations to schools and other groups.
Free holds a B. S. in chemistry from the College of Wooster, a master's degree in management in the health care field from Central Michigan University, and honorary doctorates of science from both schools.
She joined Miles Laboratories (now Bayer Healthcare) in 1944, and her career includes wide experiences in laboratory work, management, growth and development, manufacturing, and marketing related to her main interests in the field of clinical chemistry and medical devices, and in management in the health care area. She holds several patents and has published over 200 papers. She has also held many elected positions in scientific societies, including president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in 1990 and president of the American Chemical Society in 1993.
Among her national awards are: the ACS Garvan medal, the Hall of Excellence of the Ohio Foundation of Small Colleges, the American Association of Clinical Chemistry Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Chemistry and the Kilby Foundation Award. She and her husband were married for 53 years when he died in 2000. Together they were honored by Medical Economics Press with the Laboratory Public Service National Leadership Award. They were inducted into the Science and Engineering Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame for their work on the development of urinalysis reagent strips and self tests for blood glucose used worldwide by persons with diabetes. In 2010 the Free’s work was honored as an ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark.