For Immediate Release

Bayer Congratulates Helen Free, Recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Free Honored for Development of First Dip-and-Read Glucose Test That Allowed People with Diabetes to Self-Monitor

President Obama Recognized Free at White House Medal Ceremony

Helen Free accepts the National Science & Technology Medal from President Obama at a ceremony on Wednesday, November 17. (Photo credit: Ryan K Morris Photography and the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.)

Pittsburgh, November 18, 2010 – Helen Free D.Sc., yesterday received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, one of the two highest honors bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers, and inventors.  President Barack Obama conferred the honor at a White House ceremony.

Helen Free was a chemist at Miles Laboratories, Inc. (now Bayer Corporation) when she and her husband, Dr. Alfred Free, also a Miles chemist, developed the first dip-and-read glucose test, which the company named Clinistix®.  The innovation ushered in an era of glucose monitoring that enabled people with diabetes to successfully self-manage their condition.  Helen Free has since retired from Bayer and Alfred Free is deceased.

“Bayer congratulates Helen on her extraordinary achievement, and salutes the White House and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for recognizing the significance of Helen’s work in maintaining the health and well-being of millions of people with diabetes who rely upon glucose monitoring,” said Greg Babe, President and CEO of Bayer Corporation. 

The Clinistix dip-and-read glucose test also earned Free a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.   In addition, the invention was recently named a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in May 2010.  

The Clinistix test strip development team devised the test, the first strip to change color when glucose was present in the urine, in 1956.  Previously, clinical measurements required expensive reagents and training in laboratory methods.  This breakthrough led to additional dip-and-read tests for proteins and other substances.  These innovations, along with instrument-based measurement of glucose in fingertip blood, provided patients with inexpensive means to aid in the management of diabetes.  Clinistix is still in use in today. 

In addition to Free, two other individuals and a three-person team were also awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.  At the same ceremony, an additional 10 scientists received the National Medal of Science that recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

Free lives in Elkhart, Indiana.

About Bayer Corporation
Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, an international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company’s products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time Bayer creates value through innovation, growth and high earning power. The Corporation is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its role as a socially and ethically responsible corporate citizen. Economy, ecology and social responsibility are corporate policy objectives of equal rank.  In North America, Bayer had 2009 net sales of approximately 7.7 billion euros (about $10.7 billion) and employed 16,300 at year end. For more information, go to

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