Michael E. Jung, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA, has been awarded the 2022 IUPAC-Richter Prize in recognition of his research, which has afforded new drugs for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.
The acceptance lecture will be held in New York, NY, USA (June 26-29, 2022) at the 37th ACS National Medicinal Chemistry Symposium and he will present a second lecture at the XXVII EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Nice, France (Sept. 4-8, 2022).
In 1978, Michael Jung began a career as a synthetic organic chemistry consultant for many industrial firms, mostly pharmaceutical or agricultural firms, in both big pharma and biotechs. At one point he consulted at the same time for more than 25 industrial companies. From the start at UCLA, he was involved in the total synthesis of natural products and the development of new synthetic methods. He published extensively in those two areas and was honored with several awards, e.g., the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 1995. In 2003, and after a career as a synthetic organic chemist, he made a career shift and decided to become a medicinal chemist in order to try to get a drug for some human disease out of the lab. He had never studied or practiced medicinal chemistry but he figured he had learned something consulting all those years in pharma. He quickly hired a postdoc and let everyone in biology and the med school at UCLA know that they were ready to help, if chemistry could somehow move their project forward.
In close collaboration with Dr. Charles Sawyers, Jung designed and synthesized two different compounds for the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). The first compound, enzalutamide (Xtandi), was approved in August 2012 for the treatment of both metastatic post-chemotherapy and pre-chemotherapy CRPC. His second drug, apalutamide (Erleada), was approved in February 2018 for pre-metastatic CRPC. Just recently, it was reported to also work for metastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer.
In honor of his drug discovery work which has led to two FDA approvals, he was named the University of California Presidential Chair in Medicinal Chemistry in 2018. In his career, he has supervised 94 PhD students, 9 MS students, 47 undergraduates, 134 postdoctoral associates, and 21 research associates. Over the years, he has co-founded 14 biotechs, 10 of which are still operating.
This year marks the ninth occasion of the IUPAC-Richter Prize, which was established in 2005 by the IUPAC and Richter PLC. Awarded biannually, the awardee is announced by the IUPAC following nominations and the decision of an independent international selection committee. The awardee is expected to give two lectures, one in Europe and one in the United States, at international symposia on medicinal chemistry. The lecture in which the prize is awarded occurs alternatively in Europe and in the United States. The awardee receives an award of $10,000, which is sponsored by Richter PLC, and a plaque, which is presented by IUPAC.
The previous awardees are: 2006: Malcolm FG Stevens (UK), 2008: Jan Heeres (Belgium), 2010: Arun Ghosh (USA), 2012: Stephen Hanessian (Canada), 2014: Helmut Buschmann (Germany), 2016: Michael Sofia (USA), 2018: Peter Grootenhuis (USA) and 2020: John Macor (USA).
IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia. For more than 100 years, the Union has succeeded in fostering worldwide communications in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic, industrial and public sector chemistry in a common language. IUPAC is recognized as the world authority on chemical nomenclature, terminology, standardized methods for measurement, atomic weights and many other critically evaluated data. In more recent years, IUPAC has been proactive in establishing a wide range of conferences and projects designed to promote and stimulate modern developments in chemistry, and also to assist in aspects of chemical education and the public understanding of chemistry. More information about IUPAC and its activities is available at www.iupac.org.
Gedeon Richter Plc. (www.richter.hu), headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, is a major pharmaceutical company in Central Eastern Europe, with an expanding direct presence in Western Europe, China and Latin America. Having reached a market capitalisation of EUR 3.2 billion (USD 3.6 billion) by the end of 2018, Richter’s consolidated sales were approximately EUR 1.4 billion (USD 1.6 billion) during that year. The product portfolio of Richter covers many important therapeutic areas, including Women’s Healthcare, Neuroscience and Cardiovascular medicine. Having the largest R&D unit in Central Eastern Europe and building upon its original focus in CNS disorders and its widely acknowledged steroid chemistry expertise, Richter has also become a significant player in the Women’s Healthcare field worldwide. Richter is also active in biosimilar product development.
Announcement published in Chem Int April 2022, p. 19