Marine Medicine Leader Lauded for Research Excellence


A renowned leader in the search for new sources to treat a variety of diseases and illnesses will be recognized for the high quality of his research and teaching.

William Gerwick, a professor of medicinal and natural products chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will be honored with the Award for Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering by the UCSD Chancellor's Associates. Gerwick holds a joint professorship in Scripps' Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine and the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

He will receive the award on March 31 at an event organized by the UCSD Chancellor's Associates, a group of university donors committed to supporting the university's academic and research excellence.

Gerwick conducts field research and laboratory investigations focused on the discovery of unique natural products produced by marine algae and cyanobacteria, tiny photosynthetic sea organisms, and their application in several areas of biomedicine. Gerwick's research bridges marine and pharmaceutical science while he mentors students and post-doctoral researchers in the lab and at sea.

During expeditions to Panama, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and other locations, Gerwick collects marine organisms for testing and analysis to determine their potential as medicinal sources. Target areas of his research include cancer, antibiotics, tropical diseases, malaria, and agricultural applications.

In addition to research, his work in Panama includes efforts to conserve biodiverse environments as well as training for young scientists in economically disadvantaged areas.

Gerwick, who received his Ph.D. in marine natural products chemistry/oceanography from Scripps in 1981, returned to Scripps as a faculty member in 2005.

According to the award citation, Gerwick is being honored "In recognition of the importance of his contributions to the field of marine natural products chemistry, and the resulting impact on biomedicine; for singularly pursuing research into marine compounds and their potential applications, opening a fertile field of study... and for expanding the scope and directions of his research, addressing varied, cross-disciplinary factors in the development of potential treatments for people with cancer, inflammation, parasites and neurodegeneration."

Among his many honors, Gerwick has received the New Investigator Research Award from the National Cancer Institute; the Sigma Xi Researcher of the Year Award, Oregon State University Chapter; and the Oregon State University International Research Award. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Pharmacognosy, Sigma Xi, and Phi Kappa Phi. He has served as president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and the Oregon Section of the American Chemical Society, and was the elected chair of the U.S.-Japan Symposium on Marine Natural Products Chemistry. He is associate editor of the Journal of Natural Products Chemistry and has published more than 160 scientific articles.

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