Paul Hergenrother is this year's recipient of the Innovation Transfer Award - University of Illinois. The award recognizes an individual or group from the University of Illinois whose research has resulted in either a discovery or a work with the potential for significant societal impact. The award ceremony took place Friday, January 22 at the 11th annual Innovation Celebration at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
The focus of Professor Hergenrother's research is to identify novel cellular targets that can be exploited in the treatment of diseases. His group has developed the anti-cancer compound PAC-1 that restores the activity of the enzyme procapse-3 in cancer cells which then kills them. He and his long-time collaborator Professor Timothy Fan have tested PAC-1 in dogs with spontaneously occurring cancers proving its effectiveness. The compound is now in human clinical trials. Hergenrother is a co-founder of the Vanquish Oncology startup company in Champaign.
Hergenrother received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1994 and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in Austin in 1999. After an American Cancer Society post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University, he joined the faculty at Illinois in 2001. He has received many honors subsequently, among them the David Robertson Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry.