The University Record, March 25, 1998

UCSF's Kenyon to head College of Pharmacy


By Jane R. Elgass

George L. Kenyon will be the dean of the College of Pharmacy, effective Sept. 1. His appointment to the post, as well as appointments as professor of pharmaceutical chemistry with tenure and as the Tom D. Rowe Collegiate Professor of Pharmacy, were approved by the Regents at their March meeting.

He currently is professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, and has been dean of the School of Pharmacy there since 1994, following a one-year term as interim dean.

"I am absolutely delighted that George Kenyon has accepted our offer to join us at Michigan as a member of the faculty and dean of the College of Pharmacy," said Provost Nancy Cantor in recommending him for the post. "His appointment represents a tremendous opportunity for the College and for the campus as a whole, as George is both an accomplished administrator and an eminent scientist with a very active program of research as well as a highly visible national and international profile in the life sciences.

"His experience as dean at UCSF will translate readily to our College of Pharmacy, as he works with a very strong faculty and staff to solidify and extend the many gains of the past decade. Additionally, George will most certainly play a vital role as a catalyst for campuswide initiatives in the life sciences in the coming years. This is a great opportunity for us to welcome to campus a scientist and leader with broad scope and range as we build for the future at the U-M."

A chemist and a biochemist, Kenyon is heavily involved in computer-assisted drug design, primarily targeting drugs to treat AIDS, cancer and some of the major parasitic diseases, particularly those such as malaria that are common in developing nations.

As dean at UCSF, Kenyon oversaw the establishment of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, development of the Molecular Design Institute and the creation of the School of Pharmacy's first endowed chair.

Under his leadership, the School's curriculum was revamped, and this fall UCSF pharmacy students will be offered options in pharmaceutical health policies and pharmaceutical sciences for the first time.

Kenyon was attracted to the U-M post by the "new leadership offered by the president and provost and their strong commitment, along with that of the faculty, to trying to increase the prominence of the U-M in the scientific arena."

He also is looking forward to returning to a general campus. "I have enjoyed my time at UCSF but I've missed having proximity to departments other than health sciences. I've been away from a culturally diverse campus for 25 years," he said. "Michigan is a broad-based campus, with a variety of programs."

(UCSF is a graduate-level school with programs in pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and medicine. The UCSF School of Pharmacy student body is about twice that of the College of Pharmacy, with a proportionally larger faculty.)

Kenyon views himself as a consensus-builder and "very receptive to new ideas from everyone in the organization, especially about how things can be improved or made more efficient. I'm a listener," he said. He is looking forward to "building bridges with other campus units."

When he arrives next fall, the new dean will focus some of his efforts on moving the College of Pharmacy more strongly into the computer age.

"I think that both UCSF and Michigan can do a better job of increasing the amount of exposure pharmacy students have to computers and information science. I've pushed for that at UCSF. We just started requiring students to bring in their own computers. This may make sense at Michigan.

"Let's face it," he said, "the nation and the world are moving into the information age. I will do everything I can to help push and foster a greater effort along those lines. That's where the future lies for people being trained now.

"The profession and the role of the pharmacist are changing. Pharmacists will have more responsibilities related to drug regimens, patient compliance and outcome studies, whether a drug really is working to improve a patient's health and well-being. These all are exercises in information-gathering, and we need to use computers more effectively than we do now," Kenyon said.

He also would like to see an increase in the amount of research funding per faculty member. "UCSF has been ranked number one in the nation for as long as anybody can remember," he said. "I would like to see Michigan move up."

Kenyon holds a B.S. from Bucknell University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Postdoctoral Fellow in Biochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkley, in 1966 and moved to the San Francisco campus in 1972.

Kenyon joined UCSF as an assistant professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry, was appointed associate professor in 1974 and professor in 1977. He was department chair in the School of Pharmacy in 1982-93.

He has an international reputation as a scientist, and has served national organizations in a number of capacities, including chair of the NIH Bioorganic and Natural Products Study Section (1993-95) and chair of the Biological Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society (1992-1994). He has been a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences since 1989 and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1990.

Kenyon is secretary-treasurer of the U.S. National Committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Research Council.

He was on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1983-88 and currently is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Protein Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry Research and Accounts of Chemical Research. He also is co-editor in chief of Perspectives in Drug Discovery and Design and editor in chief of Bioorganic Chemistry.

Kenyon's 190 publications reflect his wide-ranging research interests, including mechanisms of enzymatic action, design of new reagents for the chemical modification of proteins, applications of recombinant DNA technology to the design of new enzymes and the development of enzymatic inhibitors and related drugs, especially of the AIDS viral proteins and proteases of parasitic organisms such as the malaria parasite.