Paul Hergenrother

Paul Hergenrother is the Kenneth L. Rinehart Jr. Endowed Chair in Natural Products Chemistry. Professor Hergenrother is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Vanquish Oncology, and through Vanquish an anticancer compound discovered by the Hergenrother lab (the procaspase-3 activator PAC-1) completed a Phase 1 clinical trial and just began (February 2021) a Phase 1b/2 trial in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma.  He also discovered the NQO1 substrate and anticancer compound IB-DNQ, which was licensed to System Oncology (and then to Toray) and is schedule for a Phase 1 clinical trial in summer 2021.  He also discovered the anticancer compound ErSO, with potent activity against ER+ breast tumors; ErSO was licensed to Systems Oncology who subsequently licensed it to Bayer in a ~$370M deal plus downstream royalties.

Professor Hergenrother has been the recipient of an NSF-CAREER Award, a Research Corporation Research Innovation Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the GlaxoSmithKline Chemistry Scholar Award, the ACS David Robertson Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, was named as an American Cancer Society Research Scholar, was named by Technology Review magazine as one of the top innovators under the age of 35, and was the recipient of the 2016 Innovation Transfer Award from the University of Illinois. More recently he was named as the recipient of the 2016 UCB-Ehrlich Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry, of the 2016 Akron Section Award from the ACS, a 2017 ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the 2018 ACS Sosnovsky Award for Cancer Research. Most recently he was named as a Fellow for the National Academy of Inventors.

His lecture presented on Friday April 23rd 2021 at 3:00pm was titled: “Anticancer Drug Discovery, From Pets to People”

Only 1 in 20 anticancer compounds that begin human clinical trials will become an approved drug.  Many have pointed at the traditional development pathway — whereby anticancer efficacy is assessed in rodent models, and the next efficacy assessment is in people — as a major reason for this poor success rate.  We have been working to evaluate candidate compounds in pets with cancer, as a means to help these veterinary cancer patients that often have no other options and as a method to guide the selection of the human drug candidate.  In addition, we have been investigating compounds that act as activators (versus inhibitors) as a mechanism to selectively kill cancer cells.  The lecture will cover these topics including new story from the lab, that of the discovery and rapid translation of a compound for ERa-positive breast cancers.