(ATHENS, Ohio — Sept. 30, 2015) One of the world’s most prestigious
universities has bestowed an honorary doctoral degree in medicine on
John Kopchick, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology
and Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar in the Department of Biomedical
Sciences at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and at the
Edison Biotechnology Institute at Ohio University.
of the world’s top experts on growth hormone and associated growth
factors, is one of four researchers who received honorary Ph.D.s
from Aarhus University in Denmark on Sept. 9. Though Kopchick has
received honorary degrees from other universities, he said he was
still deeply honored to be recognized by Aarhus, which is counted
among the top 100 universities in the world in a number of
“Getting this award was a big, big honor,” Kopchick said, and one
that was enhanced by his long, friendly and productive collaboration
with Aarhus scientists and students.
Kopchick’s connection to Aarhus dates from the mid-1990s and
includes important collaborations with researchers Jens Otto
Jorgensen and Jens Sandahl Christiansen, both clinical professors at
the Aarhus Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes.
In 1989, Kopchick developed the first-ever specific growth
hormone antagonist, which became the basis of a drug now prescribed
under the name Somavert to treat acromegaly or gigantism. Kopchick
noted that Christiansen and Jorgensen were among the first
scientists who conducted the human clinical trials of the drug.
Kopchick said he has been involved in multiple research
collaborations with Jorgensen and Christiansen as well as other
scientists and students from Aarhus, focused on “trying to
understand the mechanisms by which growth hormone works”. To date,
the collaboration has resulted in nine jointly published papers,
three patents and a grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
As part of this ongoing partnership, Aarhus and Ohio University have
shared student and faculty researchers back and forth.
Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O., called
Kopchick a marvelous asset to the institution. “John’s work has
brought so much prestige to the college and for the best reasons –
it not only expands our knowledge, but its clinical applications
have had a huge positive impact on patients,” Johnson said. “He’s
truly a world-class researcher, and it’s great to see that being
recognized by an institution as esteemed as Aarhus University.”
Darlene Berryman, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., who serves as executive
director of The Diabetes Institute at Ohio University and holds a
joint appointment at the Heritage College and the College of Health
Sciences and Professions, has worked with Kopchick for 14 years. She
calls him a valued mentor, whose support has been invaluable in
helping her to develop her own research interests at the college.
Berryman has described Kopchick as “the ultimate ambassador for
Ohio University and its various initiatives,” who “instills his
contagious enthusiasm in all scientists, whether at the beginning of
their career or beyond, to make a difference for the greater good.”
Kopchick has published 292 peer-reviewed articles in
internationally recognized journals and holds 35 patents. In 2012,
he was named distinguished professor at Ohio University. He also has
served as president of the Growth Hormone Research Society, an
international body with over 400 members from more than 30
Kopchick earned a B.Sc. in biology in 1972 from Indiana
University of Pennsylvania, followed by an M.Sc. in 1975 from the
same institution, and a Ph.D. in 1980 in virology and biomedical
sciences from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University
of Texas System Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor
In addition to serving as Goll-Ohio Professor of Molecular and
Cellular Biology, Kopchick directs the Growth, Diabetes and Obesity
Section of the Edison Biotechnology Institute, Konneker Research
Laboratories, at Ohio University.
In 2014, he and his wife Char Kopchick, assistant dean of
students for campus involvement at Ohio University, committed $2
million in support of academic programs as part of the university’s
The Promise Lives Campaign – a contribution that put the
Campaign over its $450 million fundraising goal.
A short video on Kopchick’s recognition by Aarhus University can
be viewed at
The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a
leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are
prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state
and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni
practice in primary care and nearly 60 percent practice in Ohio.
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