New SmartState endowed chair to develop cancer drugs

Charleston Regional Business Journal
June 1, 2011

A leading cancer drug researcher has moved his work to South Carolina to become a part of the state’s SmartState Program (previously known as the Centers of Economic Excellence Program).

Dr. Patrick Woster will be based at the S.C. College of Pharmacy, where he will help lead the Center of Economic Excellence in cancer drug discovery and become the SmartState Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry.

Woster is one of four endowed chairs supported by the Cancer Drug Discovery Center, a Medical University of South Carolina center in which the University of South Carolina is a partner.

In South Carolina, Woster will work to develop drugs that turn specific genes on or off in tumor cells, a process known as epigenetic modulation, that can make anti-tumor medications more effective. In addition, he and his team will work to discover new treatments for diseases such as malaria and other parasitic illnesses.

“We have a goal of developing a world-class drug discovery program at MUSC by providing a core facility for drug synthesis and compound development, and by teaming up with existing centers within the university, such as Hollings Cancer Center,” Woster said.

To date, Woster holds eight patents based on compounds he has synthesized.

“The discovery of successful, improved agents for the treatment of cancer would have a significant impact on the lives of patients in South Carolina and beyond,” he said. “We hope to increase the scope of our research efforts to include many aspects of the drug development process that will ultimately lead to early and late human clinical trials.”

Woster’s work could have a notable impact on quality of life in South Carolina by leading to improvements in both the physical well-being of cancer patients and the economic health of the state through the creation of new companies and new job opportunities.

Woster said he was drawn to South Carolina because of the reputation of MUSC as an emerging power in biomedical research, the outstanding reputation of SCCP, and the state’s SmartState Program, which provides an opportunity for Woster to advance his research to the next level of excellence and promote economic development in South Carolina.

“We are thrilled to recruit a recognized leader in cancer research as an endowed chair,” SmartState Review Board Chairwoman Pamela P. Lackey said. “Dr. Woster’s work has great potential to touch many lives in this state and to advance the biosciences industry in South Carolina.”

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