East Hawaii News

UH-Hilo Pharmacy School Dean Honored for Research

March 4, 2014, 11:34 AM HST
* Updated March 4, 11:36 AM
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The founding dean of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy has been honored with the top research award of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

John M. Pezzuto has been awarded the 2014 Volwiler Research Achievement Award for his contributions to the field of natural product drug discovery.

According to a press release from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the award will be formally announced in July at the association’s 2014 meeting in Grapevine, Texas and published in “Academic Pharmacy Now.”

After 35 years in academia, Pezzuto has amassed more than 500 publications, is the co-inventor of several patents, the editor of four books, a member of more than 10 editorial boards of international journals, and the editor-in-chief of the journal “Pharmaceutical Biology.”

He is widely known for identifying the cancer-prevention aspects of resveratrol, a chemical found in grapes and grape products, UH-Hilo officials said. His work as an administrator and researcher in the field of pharmacy and drug discovery has been focused primarily in the area of natural products.

“It is a tremendous honor, and I am very grateful for being recognized by the AACP in this manner,” Pezzuto said in a statement. “Over the years I have had the privilege of working with many fine colleagues, students, postdocs and visiting scholars. We continue to hope our hard work will make a difference for future generations.”

Lucinda Maine, executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, said she has observed Pezzuto’s work for years and has been impressed with his dedication.

“His research is world-renowned and has the potential to affect the health of millions not only now but in the future,” Maine said.

The Volwiler Research Achievement Award was established in 1977 as the research prize in academic pharmacy to honor the late Ernest H. Volwiler, former president and research director of Abbott Laboratories. Along with a gold medal, the recipient wins a $12,500 cash prize.

The AACP said the annual award recognizes an individual within the ranks of pharmacy education recognized by his or her peers as one of the leading research workers in a given area of the pharmaceutical and clinical sciences.

Pezzuto received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University). He was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Institute and performed two years of postdoctoral work in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Since helping to found the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pharmacy school, Pezzuto now oversees approximately 100 faculty and staff to educate and train students for careers in pharmacy.

The school, the only one located in the Pacific basin, currently has an enrollment of about 400.

UH-Hilo administrators are awaiting word as to whether the state Legislature will fund a new building for the pharmacy school, which is currently operating out of temporary facilities.

A $38 million appropriation was included in the state Senate’s budget last year but was not included in the House version.

The project has since been scaled back to $33 million.

The University of Hawaii has said the project is one of the system’s top priorities.

UH-Hilo officials say a permanent home is critical for the school to maintain its accreditation.

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