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OU-COM professor earns honorary degree

Indiana University of Pennsylvania awards an honorary Ph.D. to John Kopchick, renowned researcher at the College of Osteopathic Medicine


Athens, OHóJohn Kopchick, Ph.D., Goll-Ohio professor of molecular and cellular biology, received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he completed both his bachelorís and masterís degrees. The honorary degree was awarded at the universityís May 10 graduation ceremony, where he also served as the keynote speaker at their commencement ceremony.

Since 1987, Kopchick has held the Milton and Lawrence H. Goll Eminent Scholar Professorship in Molecular and Cellular Biology. He directs the Growth/Obesity/Diabetes Section of the Edison Biotechnology Institute at Ohio University and is a professor in the Biomedical Sciences department in the universityís College of Osteopathic Medicine.

In 1989, Kopchick and his group were the first to discover and characterize the molecular aspects of growth hormone antagonists, an accomplishment for which he and Ohio University were awarded several U.S. and European patents.  He was instrumental in founding a company, Sensus, which applied his laboratory discovery to development of a drug that has been evaluated in clinical trials for acromegaly, a chronic disease caused by excessive secretion of growth hormone by a pituitary adenoma. The drug, Somavert, has been approved for use in the U.S. and in Europe and is being marketed by Pfizer.  Somavert also is expected to be useful in treating diabetic retinopathy and nephropathy as well as breast and other types of cancer.

Kopchick has been involved in the start-up of two additional biotechnology companies.  The latest, DiAthegen, focuses on the discovery of diagnostics, therapeutics, and therapeutic targets in the obesity and diabetes field.

A Punxsutawney native, Kopchick earned both his bachelorís degree in Biology and masterís degree in Biology and Chemistry from IUP. In 1975, he enrolled in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas System Cancer Center, where he earned his Ph.D.

After completing his Ph.D., Kopchick continued research training as a postdoctoral fellow at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology and then spent almost five years at Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, for which he developed a system built around cloning and expression of growth hormone genes.

Kopchick has published hundreds of scientific articles and abstracts in the area of growth, obesity, and diabetes. Twelve patents have been granted based on his work with several more pending. He has served on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Endocrinology, and Molecular Endocrinology, and currently serves on the editorial board of GH and IGF-1 Research and Endocrinology.  He is also a member of the Growth Hormone Research Society Council.

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The mission of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine is innovative learning, focused research and compassionate care for Ohio and beyond. Each year more than 100 osteopathic physicians graduate from OU-COM, Ohioís only college of osteopathic medicine. Fifty-four percent of OU-COM alumni practice in primary care fields, and more than 60 percent of its graduates remain in Ohio, where they are more likely to practice in rural and other physician-shortage areas.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016