University of Nebraska Medical Center

Current Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Patrick Woster

Patrick M. Woster, Ph.D 

Bachelor of Pharmacy - 1978, Doctor of Philosophy - 1987

Patrick M. Woster currently serves as Professor, Chair and SmartState® Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Woster is a native of Omaha, Nebraska; he received a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry in 1987, both from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He was a postdoctoral associate in Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Michigan, mentored by James K. Coward. Dr. Woster joined the Faculty of Pharmacy at Wayne State University in 1988 and rose to the rank of Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1995, and Full Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2001. In 2011, he moved to the Medical University of South Carolina, where he was appointed Professor and SmartState® Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery. In 2015 he was appointed Chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences. A strong proponent of the three traditional areas of academia, Woster has been described as "a quintessential medicinal chemist", striving for excellence in the areas of teaching, research and service,  

Dr. Woster has conducted research in multiple areas, including the discovery of inhibitors of the polyamine pathway, novel antimalarial, antitrypanosomal and antibacterial agents, a variety of antitumor compounds, chemopreventive agents and epigenetic modulators. He is perhaps best known for the 1996 discovery (in collaboration with David Edwards) of 6,7-dihydroxybergamottin, the constituent in grapefruit juice that inhibits cytochrome P450 in the gut, altering the bioavailability of numerous therapeutic agents. In collaboration with Robert A. Casero, he was also the first to produce small-molecule inhibitors of lysine-specific demethylase 1, the first-discovered histone demethylase, and to show that inhibition of this enzyme promoted the re-expression of tumor suppressor factors. Most recently, he has expanded his work with epigenetic modulators to non-cancer diseases such as sickle cell disease, cardiovascular reperfusion injury and periodontal disease. His research has consistently been supported by NIH, WHO, the Doris Duke Foundation and several other external sources. He has authored more than 135 manuscripts, holds 11 patents and has given numerous invited presentations. Dr. Woster was Chair of the 2009 Polyamine Gordon Research Conference, and Chair of the 2014 National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium. He has served on numerous grant review panels, including more than 40 NIH study sections, is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry Reviews, and reviews for more than 50 scientific journals.  

With the exception of a 1-year postdoc in a Department of Chemistry, Dr. Woster has spent his entire career employed at a College of Pharmacy. As an educator, Dr. Woster has mentored 20 Ph.D. and 5 M.S. students, 13 postdoctoral associates, and served on more than 60 dissertation committees. He has also taught biochemistry and medicinal chemistry to countless pharmacy students at UNMC, Wayne State and MUSC. His teaching is held in high regard, as evidenced by 13 teaching excellence awards between 1988 and 2020.  

Dr. Woster is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Academy of Inventors and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2014), the Royal Society of Chemistry (2015), the Asian Federation of Medicinal Chemistry (2017), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2019). He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventor in 2016. In 2019, he was inducted into the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame. Most notably, he served as an officer for the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry for 25 years as Division Secretary and Webmaster, Division Chair and Membership and International Relations Chair. He was a driving force in initiating the on-line presence of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry, and created the Division web page in 1994. He has also been active in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and served as Secretary and Chair of the Chemistry Section, Chair of the Academic Sections Coordinating Committee and as a member of the Executive Board of Directors (2004-2005).