Alex Tropsha is a recepient of the endowed professorship

Alex Tropsha, PhD, the chair of the UNC School of Pharmacy Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products, is the recipient of the $500,000 endowed professorship established in honor of K. H. Lee, PhD, the long-time Kenan Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the UNC School of Pharmacy.

“Dr. Lee and Dr. Tropsha have both had a major impact on our research and graduate education programs,” says Bob Blouin, dean of the School. “This is a fitting way to recognize Dr. Lee for his impressive accomplishments and to reward Dr. Tropsha for the important contributions that he has made.”

Lee is one of the world’s leading medicinal chemists. He joined the School in 1970 and has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1971. His longest continually running grant, “Plant Antitumor Agents,” began in 1975 and is still ongoing.

“We created this endowed professorship because we wanted to find a way to honor Dr. Lee for all he’s done in natural medicine,” says Kevin Almond, associate dean for advancement at the School and president of the Pharmacy Foundation’s board of directors. “He’s had a long and distinguished career. His work is very well-known, especially among schools of pharmacy, and he has probably the premier natural medicine lab in the world.”

“Dr. Lee is an outstanding natural product chemist who has established a worldwide network of collaborators with different complementary skills,” Tropsha says. “This requires a high level of understanding of complementary disciplines such as molecular modeling. That is another demonstration of Dr. Lee’s unique stature as a world-class scientist.”

Tropsha, who came to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1989 as a postdoctoral fellow, has been chair of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products since 2005. His research focuses on the development of new methodologies and software tools for computer-assisted drug design. Tropsha holds two NIH Roadmap grants—one for the creation of the Carolina Exploratory Center for Cheminformatics Research and the other for a project focusing on the work in his own lab.

“Dr. Lee has been a long-time colleague, collaborator, and mentor to me,” Tropsha says. “I am extremely honored to be named the K. H. Lee Distinguished Professor. I also view this honor as a responsibility to continue to excel in my field so that I could at least match the high standards that Dr. Lee has always demanded of himself.”

 May 14, 2008