Meet the Founding Dean: Dr. John M. Pezzuto

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John M. Pezzuto

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents appointed Dr. John M. Pezzuto, Ph.D. as founding dean of the University of Hawaii at Hilo's College of Pharmacy. Dr. Pezzuto assumed his new duties on June 1, 2006. His background is perfectly matched with the objectives of the new College of Pharmacy. He has served as an administrator and researcher for many years in the areas of pharmacy, drug discovery, and natural products. Dean Pezzuto has served as Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Health Sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana since September 2002.

Dr. Pezzuto received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Rutgers University (1973), and Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (1977). He then performed two years of postdoctoral work in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Institute. Following a one-year stay at the University of Virginia, as Instructor of Chemistry, he accepted a faculty position (Assistant Professor) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1980).

He was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1984, and to full professor in both the College of Pharmacy (1991-2002) and the College of Medicine (1994-2002) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was named Distinguished University Professor in 2002. He served as Interim Head (1993-1995) of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at the UIC College of Pharmacy, Associate Director of the UIC Cancer Center (1991-1995), and Director of the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (1995-1998), the leading research unit affiliated with the UIC College of Pharmacy. He later served as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, UIC College of Pharmacy (1998-2002), Deputy Director of the UIC Cancer Center (2000-2002), and Head of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy (2001-2002). In 2002, Dr. Pezzuto accepted the position of Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, and Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (2002-2006). He also served as Chief Scientific Officer for pharmaceutical development at McClure Park, Inc., an affiliate of the Purdue Research Foundation (2004-2006). He is currently Professor and Founding Dean of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (2006-present).

He is an author of over 500 publications, co-inventor of several patents, the editor of four books, member of over ten editorial boards of international journals, the former editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Pharmacognosy (1990-1995), the former editor-in-chief of Combinatorial Chemistry and High Throughput Screening (1996-1997), and the current editor-in-chief of Pharmaceutical Biology. He has served on many advisory and grant review boards, including serving as a full member of Subcommittee E (cancer epidemiology, prevention and control) of the National Cancer Institute (2003-2006). He was the recipient of a Research Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute (1984-1989) and a Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (1990-1991).During the period of the Humboldt fellowship, he held a research position in the Department of Pharmaceutical Biology at the University of Munich.

Dr. Pezzuto has directed the research of numerous doctoral students, postdoctoral associates, and visiting scholars. He was elected Senior University Scholar at UIC in 1999, UIC Inventor of the Year in 2000, and designated Distinguished University Professor in 2002. He was elected a Fellow of the AAAS in 2013. His current research interests are predominately in the areas of biology-driven natural product drug discovery and characterization, with primary emphasis in the fields of cancer chemotherapy, cancer chemoprevention, malaria, and AIDS. He has served as the Director of a Program Project grant in cancer chemoprevention, Program Leader for an International Collaborative Biodiversity Group, and a Program Leader for a National Collaborative Drug Discovery Group. He has been supported by the National Institutes of Health continuously since 1977.