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Kopchick

New Distinguished Professor John Kopchick was recognized at this year's Graduate Commencement.

Photographer: Ben Siegel

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John Kopchick named 2012 Distinguished Professor


Today at the Master's and Doctoral Commencement Ceremonies, John Kopchick, the Milton and Lawrence H. Goll Eminent Scholar and professor in molecular and cellular biology, was named the 2012 Distinguished Professor.

"I am very honored by this recognition," said Kopchick. "It means a lot to me in that my colleagues have recommended me for this award. I am very proud to receive it."

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.

In January, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), announced that it would endow a research chair, funded in part by a historic $105 million gift from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, in honor of Kopchick. It will be called the John J. Kopchick, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Endowed Eminent Research Chair.

As OU-HCOM Dean Jack Brose explained at the luncheon where the endowed research chair was announced, 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.”

Kopchick makes a continued concerted effort to incorporate his research into his instruction of and interaction with students.

"I do formal teaching in HCOM (diabetes and growth issues), in the Graduate School (Molecular and Cellular Biology) and in our laboratory," he said. "Undergraduate and graduate students learn 'how to do research' in the areas of growth, obesity, diabetes and aging. We also have the students give lectures to our entire group, thus, preparing them to become 'good teachers.' So yes, I integrate teaching with research, and I think this is very important."

Never one to rest on his laurels, Kopchick is already beginning to plan for next year.

"I will continue to lead our research group here in HCOM and the Edison Biotechnology Institute," he said. "I may also take a month or two to visit several laboratories doing research in our area in order to 'keep up' with cutting edge technologies."

About the award

The Distinguished Professor Award is the highest distinction for faculty members at Ohio University. Established in 1958 by Edwin and Ruth Kennedy as a designated component of the John C. Baker Fund, the award recognizes exceptional research and scholarly or artistic achievements. Since the award’s inception, it has been understood that recipients also must be conscientious teachers.

Among the privileges granted to Distinguished Professors is the honor of annually naming an undergraduate student to receive a one-year full-tuition scholarship, the lifetime designation of Distinguished Professor, a continuing salary stipend, a one-quarter paid research leave, and travel support. Portraits of the Distinguished Professors are on display in the Distinguished Professor Gallery on the third floor of Alden Library outside of The Friends of the Library Room.