KU News Release

March 30, 2011
Contact: Mike Krings, University Relations, 785-864-8860

Professor to receive national award for research on drug dependence

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas faculty member Thomas Prisinzano will be honored by a national organization for outstanding early career achievement in the science of drug addiction.

Prisinzano, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, will receive the 2011 College on Problems of Drug Dependence Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award at the organization’s 73rd annual meeting June 19 in Hollywood, Fla. He is only the second chemist to receive the award.

An internationally recognized leader in the chemistry of drug abuse, Prisinzano has contributed widely to the understanding of the substance Salvia divinorum. His research also focuses on formulation of new drugs that draw on the benefits of opium alkaloids such as morphine and codeine without side effects such as tolerance, dependence and respiratory depression. The research aims to lead to potential new medications for the treatment of drug dependence.

“It is an amazing honor to receive the Cochin Award,” Prisinzano said. “I have been very fortunate to work with an outstanding group of scientists. Without the assistance of my past and present group members and many great collaborators, this award would not have been possible. Drug dependence is a terrible disease and I hope that our continued research efforts will help make a difference.”

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence annually presents the Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award to recognize outstanding research contributions by a young scientist. The organization is the largest and oldest for the study of drug dependence and addictions.

Prisinzano has a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Delaware and a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University. He received postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

“Dr. Prisinzano provides a very unique and fascinating area of research that complements other areas of interest in our department,” said Barbara Timmermann, University Distinguished Professor and chair of medicinal chemistry. “He has the knowledge, enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity to succeed in his endeavors. I wish him the best as he ascends through the academic ranks while being a role model to his students and colleagues.”

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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