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March 2 , 2006
Contact: Dennis McCulloch, KU Medical Center, (913) 588-1441.

KU Cancer Center names first director of drug discovery and development initiative

LAWRENCE — In a move designed to speed the development and use of new drugs to fight cancer and other diseases, Scott Weir has joined the University of Kansas Cancer Center as the first director of its Office of Therapeutics, Discovery and Development.

The office reports to Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center. Weir will report administratively to Jim Roberts, vice provost for research at the Lawrence campus, and Paul Terranova, senior associate dean for research and graduate education at the KU Medical Center. The appointment is the first of four planned this year as the university prepares to seek National Cancer Institute designation for the KU Cancer Center.

“Scott brings a strong business background to his work at KU,” said Jensen, “having dedicated his career to helping develop new drugs. KU has had great success in this field, thanks to an outstanding School of Pharmacy. Scott will use his expertise in business and science to advance to clinical trials the discoveries made at KU and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.”

“We expect Scott’s work to have an economic development impact,” said Roberts, “as well as an impact on students and basic research. Transferring KU’s research into medicines that help people is our goal. Scott has a unique background to support that goal and a strong mandate to make it happen.”

Weir has spent nearly 20 years in the area of pharmaceutical research and development. From 1999 to 2005 he was with Quintiles Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., first as executive director of biopharmaceutical sciences and later as vice president for early development and laboratory services. Prior to that, he held senior positions with Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc., Marion Merrell Dow Inc. and Marion Laboratories, all in Kansas City. Most recently, Weir was senior director of preclinical technologies for Aptuit LLC, also in Kansas City.

Weir’s academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He later received two doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

At KU’s Lawrence campus, Weir holds an appointment in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He is a professor with tenure at the KU Medical Center Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics. He is also the Frank B. Tyler Professor in Cancer Research.

“KU is in a unique position,” said Weir. “It has defined cancer as its top priority and has one of the top pharmacy schools in the country to support that commitment. It also has a partnership with the Stowers Institute, the largest privately funded cancer research organization in the country. Finally, KU is part of Greater Kansas City, an area that has everything necessary to advance drugs to market. Putting these pieces together is a challenge, but success will establish KU as the top cancer center for bringing new drugs to patients who need them.”

The Office of Therapeutics, Discovery and Development relates to the medical center and Lawrence campuses of KU, and Weir will spend time in both places. He will also collaborate with Michael Song of the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the development of business plans for early drug development enterprises.

Later this year, the KU Cancer Center anticipates hiring a deputy director, as well as an assistant director for basic science at the Lawrence campus. The KU Cancer Center also intends to add an associate director for basic science during 2006.

For more information about the KU Cancer Center, go to kmcri.kumc.edu/.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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