ATHENS — The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has announced it will name a newly endowed research chair to honor one of its most esteemed faculty members. The John J. Kopchick, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundations Endowed Eminent Research Chair was announced at a Jan. 17 luncheon held to recognize the world-renowned endocrinologist and his contributions to the college, the university and the medical profession.
Named after Kopchick, himself the Milton and Lawrence H. Goll Eminent Scholar and Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology, the chair will be held by a researcher to be recruited into the OU-HCOM Department of Biomedical Sciences in 2016. The $5 million endowment is supported by both the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and Ohio University.
“John is extraordinary, in every sense of the word,” said Richard A. Vincent, president and CEO of the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations. “He is known nationally and internationally for his remarkable work in endocrinology and as a highly respected scientist at Ohio University. On campus and around Athens, he is known as an effective mentor, professor and friend. This recognition is but one demonstration of our intense pride in having him associated with the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.”
Thanking the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations, Ohio University, the Heritage College, and his closest colleagues, friends and family in attendance, Kopchick said he was extremely humbled and speechless when told the chair would be named for him.
“This position is such an honor,” he said. “The John J. Kopchick, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundations Endowed Eminent Research Chair — those words are very special. Thank you.”
Kopchick is known internationally for his 1989 discovery of a compound that became the basis for a drug that treats acromegaly, a disorder that can cause excessive growth of organs and bones, and can lead to premature death. The treatment has improved thousands of lives and has earned substantial royalties that support Ohio University research programs.
But as OU-HCOM Dean Jack Brose, D.O., explained at the luncheon, Kopchick’s achievements extend well beyond Somavert®, the drug developed based on his research. He is an extraordinary mentor and leader who has received numerous national and international awards; has published more than 290 scientific articles; and has been involved in three start-up companies.
“John has a remarkable ability to inspire others and to build research teams. Through his mentorship he has helped shape the careers of many other scientists,” said Brose, who also serves as Ohio University’s executive dean for health affairs. “I think we know only part of the legacy that John Kopchick will leave one day when he retires, but to date his contributions to the college, to the university, to the field of endocrinology and to the medical profession are tremendous. It is such a privilege to be able to recognize an esteemed faculty member and his life’s work by naming this research chair in his honor.”
Endowed chairs and named professorships are among the highest honors an academic institution can bestow upon its faculty members.
Speaking on the importance of endowed research chairs, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said that such positions help recruit faculty colleagues who will be tomorrow’s leading researchers.
“We have many distinguished scholars at Ohio University, many professors here who are shining lights, but among the brightest of those is John,” McDavis said. “Thank you for the countless lives you have improved and saved, and for lifting Ohio University up all over the world with your research.”
The endowed research chair was funded in part from the historic $105 million gift to OU-HCOM from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations. The Foundations’ support for this chair ultimately funds an initiative to build upon current college research strengths by establishing a critical mass of world-class scientists who will conduct basic and translational research in diabetes and its complications by adding new distinguished research chairs and their associated research teams.
The scientist chosen to be the Kopchick Chair and the chair’s associated research team will be located in the new Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and Charles R. and Marilyn Y. Stuckey Academic & Research Center (ARC). With its state-of-the-art labs, the ARC co-locates clinicians, engineers and other scientists, allowing these faculty members to collaborate in close proximity as they work toward common goals in diabetes, obesity and cancer initiatives.