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Sigma-Aldrich Corporation
Type Public (NASDAQSIAL)
Headquarters United States 3050 Spruce St., St. Louis, Missouri 63103
Key people Jai Nagarkatti, President and CEO
Industry Basic Materials
Products Specialty Chemicals
Revenue $2.2 billion (2008)
Employees >8,000

Sigma-Aldrich Corporation NASDAQSIAL, is a life science and high technology company with over 8,000 employees and operations in 37 countries[1]. Its chemical and biochemical products and kits are used in scientific research, biotechnology, pharmaceutical development, the diagnosis of disease, and as key components in high technology manufacturing[2].



Sigma Chemical Company and Aldrich Chemical Company merged in 1975, producing a current total corporate offering of more than 100,000 chemical products.[3]


Sigma’s early history

The company’s roots spring from 1934 in St. Louis, MO, when two brothers, Aaron Fischer and Bernard Fischlowitz, launched a small consulting firm. The two chemical engineers named their partnership Midwest Consultants – parent company of Sigma Chemical Company – and began to help St. Louis businesses produce a variety of specialty products including cosmetics, shoe dressings, and adhesives and inks for cardboard packaging. The firm incorporated in 1935 and hired Dan Broida, another chemical engineer out of Washington University in St. Louis, to manage the company’s growing consulting and production businesses.

During World War II, Midwest manufactured ammunition components and made felt and paper parts for signal flares. In addition, saccharin was in high demand and short supply. To fill the need, Broida hired new chemists and chemical engineers, gathered equipment (including bathtubs for acid tanks) and formed Sigma Chemical Company as a division of Midwest Consultants. For a year, major distributing companies bought saccharin as fast as Sigma could product it. When the war ended, however, supplies of many raw materials again became plentiful and effectively forced Sigma out of the market.

It its search for a new direction, Sigma’s turn toward research biochemicals came in the form of Lou Berger, a friend of Broida who had completed a MS degree in biochemistry at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine under Nobel Laureates Carl and Gerty Cori. Berger asked if he could occasionally use Sigma’s laboratory. As a graduate student, one of Berger’s tasks had been to extract adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from rabbit muscle. ATP is a major source of energy in living organisms and was used extensively in the Cori’s research.

The Coris and other biomedical researchers at this time were involved in studies requiring ATP in quantity. Berger suggested that Sigma produce the compound on a larger scale and taught his process to Sigma personnel. A small ad in a scientific journal brought orders and Broida expanded production. Within two years, Sigma offered eight additional ATP derivatives and raised purity levels.[3]

In the early 1950s, the world’s leading biochemists gathered in Atlantic City for the Federation Meetings. Sigma exhibited its slim offering of nine products. Nobel-Prize scientists such as Arthur Kornberg, Serva Occhoa and Otto Meyerhoff congratulated Broida on the excellent quality of his products. The exposure propelled Sigma into recognition by the international biochemical research community.[3]

Sigma entered the next decades with broad expansion into biochemicals and clinical products. In 1964, Sigma London was formed to establish a more active position in the market in Great Britain. Two more foreign subsidiaries were formed – Sigma Israel (1970) and Sigma Munich in West Germany (1974).[3]

Aldrich’s early history

Alfred R. Bader, an Austrian immigrant and chemistry graduate student at Harvard University, entertained the idea of starting a company to sell research chemicals in 1949 on the suggestion of the storeroom supervisor at Harvard’s chemistry department. Acting on the premise that chemists needed a wider array of research chemicals and better service, Bader and attorney Jack Eisendrath founded Aldrich Chemical Company in Milwaukee, WI, in 1951[4].

Aldrich offered 1-methyl-3-nitro-1-nitrosofuanidine (MNNG) as it first product, widely used as a methylating reagent. Other products offered in the early 50s include 3-hydroxypyridine, which later became one of Aldrich’s best-selling products; ethyl diazoacetate; tetranitomethane; and ethanedithiol. From 1951 to 1954, Bader developed important collaborations through visits to chemical producers in Europe and the UK. The remainder of the 1950s was characterized by rapid growth in sales and in the number of products offered.

Aldrich’s Rare Chemical Library (RCL) grew out of the collecting and salvaging of valuable research samples of retiring or deceased academic researchers and from other sources. Large-scale contributions of samples to the library have come from such noteworthy chemists as Henry Gilman, George Wittig, Robert Woodward, and Louis and Mary Fieser. RCL has led to the discovery and commercialization by others of some valuable chemical commodities, e.g., Roundup® (Monsanto Co.), based on lead compounds obtained from the RCL.

The late 50s and early 60s witnessed the growing importance of custom synthesis and bulk sales at Aldrich. Over the years, these functions evolved into Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals (SAFC), currently one of four strategic business units within Sigma-Aldrich Corporation.

A significant opportunity in the 1970s came when Professor H. C. Brown of Purdue University asked Aldrich to further develop and commercialize the hydroboration technology and organoborane chemistry that he had developed and patented. This led to the establishment of Aldrich-Boranes, Inc., a wholly owned Aldrich subsidiary created to manufacture hydroboration reagents and products. Some of the first compounds manufactured by Aldrich-Boranes were borane-THF, 9-BBN, and borane-methyl sulfide.[3]

After the merger

Aldrich Chemical Co. merged with Sigma International, Ltd. to form Sigma-Aldrich Corporation in August 1975, when changing trends in chemical research confirmed the synergy to be realized from their complementary product offerings[5]. Annual double-digit growth was the norm in the 80s and 90s, with significant expansion in facilities, major acquisitions and ventures into new market sectors. In December 2000 Sigma-Aldrich launched a strategic plan focusing the Company on “Leadership in Life Science and High Technology.” Other key initiatives on service and process improvements and a strong Internet presence have strengthened Sigma-Aldrich’s current position as a leading technology company.[3]

Other key events

  • 2001 – Acquisition of Isotec[6], a leader in stable isotope production, whose products are used in basic research and the diagnosis of disease; opening of $55 million Life Science and High Technology Center in St. Louis.
  • 2002 – BioInformatics, LLC ranks Sigma-Aldrich first in service, catalogs and Web[7].
  • 2003 – Doubling of US sales force; $57 million investment in production, R&D and warehousing.
  • 2004 – Acquisitions of Ultrafine, a supplier of contract manufacturing services for drug development, and Tetrionics, a producer of high potency and cytotoxic active pharmaceutical ingredients[8].
  • 2005 – Acquisitions of JRH Biosciences[9], a major industrial supplier of cell culture products for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, for $370 million, and the Proligo Group, a global supplier of key genomics research tools; announced membership in The RNAi Consortium and joined leading institutions including MIT, Harvard, and Eli Lilly to develop and distribute genome-wide shRNA libraries globally[10].
  • 2006 – Acquisitions of Beijing Superior Chemicals and Instruments Co.[11], Iropharm, Pharmorphix Ltd.[12], and Advanced Separation Technologies[13]; established a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) in China.
  • 2007 – Acquisitions of Epichem Group Ltd.[14] to expand capabilities in materials sciences and semiconductor markets, and Molecular Medicine BioServices to provide large-scale viral manufacturing capabilities; announced alliance with Sangamo BioSciences to develop zinc finger-based laboratory research reagents.
  • 2008 – Introduced Prestige Antibodies® line for proteomics and cell biology research; introduced ChIP kit technology for epigenetic research; Supelco introduced Ascentis® Express HILIC HPLC columns for high-speed, high-efficiency separation; BioInformatics, LLC ranks Sigma-Aldrich first for usefulness and ease-of-use of online and print catalogs.

Key numbers

Key Numbers for Sigma-Aldrich[15].

Revenues: [16]

  • $2.2 billion (2008)


  • 100,000 chemical products (46,000 manufactured)
  • 30,000 laboratory equipment products


  • Approximately one million individual customers worldwide
  • 88,000 accounts

Geographies (% of 2008 sales):

  • United States 35%
  • Europe 43%
  • Canada, Asia Pacific, Latin America 22%

Business Units

Organizational structure aligns to meet the specific needs of four customer segments:[17]


Companies in the same biochemical sales sector include Bayer Aktienges Ads, Brenntag Holding GmbH & Co. KG, and VWR International, LLC[18]. For stable isotopically labeled compounds used in biomedical research, competitors include [19] Cambridge Isotope Laboratories, Inc. (CIL)[20] and many more [21]


Sigma-Aldrich Executives[22]

Name Position
Jai Nagarkatti Chairman, President and CEO
Gilles A. Cottier President, SAFC
David W. Julien President, Supply Chain
David A. Smoller President, Research Biotech
Franklin D. Wicks President, Research Specialties and Research Essentials
Karen J. Miller Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development
Douglas W. Rau Vice President, Human Resources
Rakesh Sachdev Vice President, CFO and Secretary
Gerrit J. C. van den Dool Vice President, Sales
Steven G. Walton Vice President, Safety and Quality
Kirk A. Richter Vice President and Treasurer
Carl S. Turza Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Product lines

Sigma-Aldrich has a variety of product lines, each offered under separate branding.



The Aldrich Logo.

Aldrich is a supplier in the research and fine chemicals market. Aldrich provides organic and inorganic chemicals, building blocks, reagents, advanced materials and stable isotopes for chemical synthesis, medicinal chemistry and materials science. Aldrich's chemicals catalog, the "Aldrich Catalog and Handbook" is often used as a handbook due to the inclusion of structures, physical data, and literature references. Many students use it as a reference book, especially undergraduates, as it is offered free by request.


The Sigma Logo.

Sigma is the Sigma-Aldrich's main biochemical supplier, with offerings including antibiotics, buffers, carbohydrates, enzymes, forensic tools, hematology and histology, nucleotides, proteins, peptides, amino acids and their derivatives.

Sigma RBI

The Sigma RBI Logo.

Sigma RBI produces specialized products for use in the field of cell signaling and neuroscience. Their offerings range from standard biochemical reagents to the latest cutting–edge research tools, including new ligands for receptors and ion channels, novel enzyme inhibitors, phosphospecific antibodies, key signal transduction enzymes, and assay kits for cell signaling.


The ISOTEC Logo.

ISOTEC provides isotopically labeled products for protein structure determination, peptide synthesis, proteomics, metabolic research, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear magnetic resonance, breath test substrates, agriculture, as well as gas and gas mixes.


The Fluka Logo.

Fluka manufactures chemicals and reagents for analytical, organic and biochemical research, and intermediates for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Riedel-de Haën

The Riedel-de Haën Logo.

Riedel-de Haën was incorporated with Sigma-Aldrich in 1999 and manufactures reagents and standards.


The Supelco Logo.

Supelco is the chromotography products branch of Sigma-Aldrich. It provides chromatography columns and related tools for environmental, government, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical and chemical laboratories; sample preparation products and chemical reference standards.

Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals

The SAFC Logo.

Sigma-Aldrich Fine Chemicals (SAFC) is the fine chemical supply branch of Sigma-Aldrich specializing in raw materials for cell culture products; customized services for raw materials, manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Sigma Life Science (formally Sigma-Genosys)

Sigma Life Science provides products such as custom DNA/RNA oligos; custom DNA and LNA probes; siRNA; isotopically-labelled peptides and peptide libraries.


Carbolabs produces research quantities of chemicals produced by phosgenation reactions. The company was acquired in 1998[23].

See also


  1. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corporation - Investor Relations".  
  2. ^ "Yahoo Finance Profile for Sigma-Aldrich Corporation".  
  3. ^ a b c d e f "History of Sigma-Aldrich". Aldrichimica Acta, vol. 34, no. 2, 2001, PDF pages 5-16.  
  4. ^ Bader, Alfred (1995). Adventures of a Chemist Collector. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 1–288.  
  5. ^ "Funding Universe History of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation". Funding-Universe.  
  6. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires Isotec Inc from Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp".  
  7. ^ "BiofInformatics, LLC: Life Science Marketing—Who’s on Top?".  
  8. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires Ultrafine".  
  9. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires JRH Biosciences Inc from CSL Ltd".  
  10. ^ "NCBI on Sigma-Aldrich".  
  11. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires Beijing Superior Chem & Instr".  
  12. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires Pharmorphix Ltd".  
  13. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires Advanced Separation Tech Inc from Calgon Carbon Corp".  
  14. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corp acquires Epichem Group Ltd".  
  15. ^ "SEC Info - Sigma-Aldrich Corporation".  
  16. ^ "Hoover's Company Overview of Sigma-Aldrich Corporation".  
  17. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Corporation Quarterly Report, May 2009".  
  18. ^ "SIAL".  
  19. ^ "Omicron Biochemicals".  
  20. ^ "Cambridge Isotope Laboratories, Inc.".  
  21. ^ "Stable Isotope Biochemicals". ISIS.  
  22. ^ "Sigma-Aldrich Investor Relations".  
  23. ^ "Carbolabs purchased". ICIS.  

External links


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