Patrick M. Woster, Ph.D., SmartState® Chair in Drug Discovery and chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Pharmacy, was inducted into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame on August 27, 2019 at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Diego, California. Woster was one of only four researchers worldwide to be inducted this year. He joins the fewer than 100 elite scientists, three of them Nobel laureates, who were previously honored with Hall of Fame membership for their significant contributions to the field of Medicinal Chemistry and to the training of future medicinal chemists. The field of Medicinal Chemistry uses a combination of chemistry and biology techniques to discover new pharmaceuticals for the betterment of human health.
"It is a great honor to be inducted into this group of eminent scientists, many of whom have been mentors and researchers that I have admired throughout the years," said Woster.
Induction into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame requires nomination by two ACS division members and selection by the Executive Committee. Receipt of this award validates a successful career for Woster, who came to MUSC in 2011, after stops at Wayne State University, University of Michigan, and University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he attained his doctoral degree. Throughout his academic career, Woster has been committed to the field of Chemistry, evidenced by his 25 years of service on the executive committee of the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry.
Woster's research has been instrumental in the development of novel therapeutics, including antimalarial and antibacterial agents, a variety of antitumor compounds, as well as chemopreventive agents and epigenetic modulators. He is perhaps best known for the 1996 discovery, in collaboration with David Edwards, Pharm.D. of the University of Waterloo, of 6,7-dihydroxybergamottin, a chemical in grapefruit juice that alters the bioavailability of numerous drugs. Most recently, Woster has expanded his work with epigenetic modulators to diseases such as sickle cell disease, cardiovascular reperfusion injury and periodontal disease.
Woster has authored more than 135 manuscripts and holds 11 patents. He is also a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Asian Federation of Medicinal Chemistry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The work of medicinal chemists is crucial to the development of new drugs, according to Woster.
"Medicinal chemists are the first step in the drug discovery pipeline," explained Woster. "They optimize chemical structure to maximize potency and efficacy, but also to make compounds orally active and to ensure they can reach their target in a human patient."
Woster is the first to acknowledge that great science can't be done in isolation. His own work has benefitted from a 30-year collaboration with Robert Casero, Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. They were the first to produce small-molecule inhibitors of lysine-specific demethylase 1 and to show that they help to re-express tumor suppression factors.
"I've enjoyed the collaborative nature of this type of work and science cannot be done alone," said Woster. "You must have great collaborators like Bob to be successful."
Woster has also been an inspirational mentor for the next generation of medicinal chemists.
"I've really enjoyed working with graduate students, seeing them mature as scientists, watching them go out and succeed," said Woster.
"They are kind of like your kids in a way, and it's extremely gratifying to see them do well."
Woster's commitment to science and training are also held in high esteem at MUSC.
"Pat is an outstanding role model in the College of Pharmacy," said Phillip D. Hall, Pharm.D., dean of the MUSC College of Pharmacy. "His tremendous success as a research scientist illustrates the pairing of hard work with a profound and curious mind, which is an inspiration for the students he teaches and the faculty he mentors. His wit and warmth brighten the lab and the classroom, and we are blessed to have him as a leader. We're very gratified he is getting this richly deserved recognition."
Induction into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame acknowledges on a national stage Woster's outstanding career not only as a scientist but as a colleague, collaborator and mentor.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is the oldest medical school in the South, as well as the state's only integrated, academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and 700 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state's leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, in fiscal year 2018, MUSC set a new high, bringing in more than $276.5 million. For information on academic programs, visit http://musc.
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