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Pharmacy professor to lead KU’s Higuchi Biosciences Center

Friday, June 14, 2019

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Office of Research has announced that John Stobaugh will serve as interim director of the Higuchi Biosciences Center starting July 1. Stobaugh is a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and associate dean of research & graduate affairs in the School of Pharmacy. He also serves as associate director of academic research at the HBC.

He will succeed Bill Picking, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and director of the Kansas Vaccine Institute, who is stepping away from the leadership role he has held since 2014 to focus on his research and teaching commitments.

“Under Bill’s guidance, the Higuchi Biosciences Center has nurtured numerous successful research collaborations,” said John Colombo, interim vice chancellor for research. “John has the experience and commitment to maintain that trajectory, and I very much appreciate his willingness to step into this important leadership role.”

Established in 1989, the Higuchi Biosciences Center is a KU designated research center that fosters and supports interdisciplinary biomedical research. Investigators’ interests span the behavioral, biological, chemical, engineering, physical and pharmaceutical sciences at their intersection with the field of biomedicine. The HBC administers external funds from a variety of sources, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, industrial partners and private foundations. Among its major programs are three NIH-supported Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) that study protein structure and function, molecular analysis of disease pathways and the chemical biology of infectious disease. The HBC generated $22.6 million in externally funded research expenditures in fiscal year 2018.

The HBC also offers internal funding and provides proposal and budget preparation services. It co-sponsors and hosts the annual Biomedical Sciences Symposium, which provides a forum for student trainees to both present their work for feedback and to hear from leading biomedical researchers and officials.

Stobaugh advises undergraduate and graduate student researchers and teaches a range of courses, including Experimental Methods in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacokinetics and Mechanisms of Drug Deterioration & Stabilization. He joined the pharmacy faculty in 1985. His research focuses on the use of liquid phase separation technologies to analyze anticancer agents, drugs and peptides.

“I am honored to serve as interim director of a center that has supported my own research and the inquiry of more than 100 of my KU colleagues across disciplines ranging from math and engineering to molecular biosciences and medicinal chemistry,” Stobaugh said. “I look forward to working with HBC staff, affiliated faculty and graduate students to fulfill the center’s mission of fostering an environment conducive to interdisciplinary biomedical research.”

Leading the center for the past five years has been rewarding, Picking said. Still, he is eager to focus more intently on his own research, which explores the molecular basis for infectious diseases and the development of vaccines to prevent them.

“The HBC is a special place. I’m proud that we continue to be KU’s leader in the area of biomedical research,” Picking said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the center as an investigator, and I know that John will serve us well.”