Department of BioMolecular Sciences
The University of Mississippi

Events & Awards

The Department of BioMolecular Sciences and its divisions are honored to present a variety of distinguished lectures and awards each year. These events are funded by endowments and donations from our faculty, alumni and the public.


The Virginia Dolores Cantú Fellowship Endowment

The late Virginia Cantú, a research compliance specialist with the University of Mississippi Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, will be remembered as an agent for positive change through her professional and personal contributions. That legacy will continue as graduate students in the sciences receive assistance through a fund endowed in her name.

Read More: UM Research Compliance Specialist Remembered with Fellowship Endowment


The Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award

In the 1950s, Dr. Joseph Sam had a vision of offering a graduate program in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. His vision was to develop a program that would train and educate future scientist in the field of drug development and discovery. Dr. Sam served as one of the first chairs of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, the university’s Dean of the Graduate School, and eventually the Vice Chancellor of Research. At his funeral it was stated by an upper administrator of the university that Dr. Sam did more for graduate education and research development at the University of Mississippi than any other person in its history. In fact, the first graduate degrees of Ole Miss were offered under his tutelage.

While in industry, Dr. Sam had synthesized one of the earliest drugs to be used clinically for the relaxation of skeletal muscle spasms. That drug, chlorzoxazone (Paraflex), is still used today as a clinical muscle relaxant.

The success of our graduate program can obviously be attributed to the quality of its faculty and students. Yet no one has contributed more to the spirit and inspiration of these efforts that Dr. Joseph Sam. His service to our department and the university has reflected very well on us.

As a result of the impact Dr. Sam has had on each of us, in 2009 we created The Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of Joe.

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Previous Joseph Sam Award Recipients

            • 2011-2012 (Inaugural) Dr. Michael Rogers
              Director, Division of Pharmacology, Physiology and Biological Chemistry, National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences
            • 2012-2013 Dr. Gary O. Rankin
              Professor and Chair Department: Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University
            • 2013-2014 Dr. Seth Y. Ablordeppy
              Professor of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Florida A&M Universit
            • 2014-2015 Dr. Robert Magarian
              Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Oklahoma
            • 2016-2017 Dr. Jimmie Valentine
              Medical Pharmacology & Toxicology Consulting, Retired Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, and Myeloma Research, University of Arkansas College of Medicine
            • 2018 Dr. C. Randall Clark
              Sandra Kent Gilliland and David Louie Gilliland Professor of Medicinal Chemistry
              Department of Drug Discovery and Development, Harrison School of Pharmacy
              Auburn University
            • 2019 Dr. Maria Alvim Gaston
              Principal Research Scientist Eli Lilly & Company
            • 2020 Professor Hassan Y. Aboul-Enein
              Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, National Research Centre, Dokki, Cairo, Egypt
            • 2021 Dr. G. Michael Wall
              SVP & CSO at Nacuity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and VP, Sound Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


        Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lectureship

        In 2005 the Department of Medicinal Chemistry held its inaugural Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lectureship. This lectureship was created to recognize the work Dr. Borne has provided to the department, school, and university. He came to Ole Miss in 1968 from the University of Kansas after receiving his PhD in medicinal chemistry. Ron served the university and school as department chair from 1979-1988 and interim vice chancellor of research from 1997-2001. Under his direction as the vice chancellor of research the university increased its extramural funding from $18.5 million to $73.5 million.

        His dedication to teaching was acknowledged by students who selected him as the School of Pharmacy Outstanding Teacher six times (1982, 1983, 1989, 1993, 1997, and 1998). In 1972, he was the first School of Pharmacy faculty member to receive the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award, which is the university’s highest teaching award. In 1996 he was selected as the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Distinguished Pharmacy Educator, which is presently recognized as the Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award.

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            • 2005 Dr. Philip S. Portoghese, Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota, Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
            • 2006 Dr. Allen B. Reitz, Senior Research Fellow, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Editor of Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry
            • 2007 Dr. Neal Castagnoli, Jr., Peters Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
            • 2008 Dr. Kenner C. Rice, Chief of the Chemical Biology Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse
            • 2009 Dr. Duane D. Miller, Van Vleet Professor of Medicinal Chemistry Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, College of Pharmacy University of Tennessee Health Science Center
            • 2010 Dr. Peter Crooks, George A. Digenis Professor in Drug Design and Discovery, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
            • 2011 Dr. Bruce E. Maryanoff, Department of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute
            • 2012 Dr. S. Michael Owens, Professor and Director, Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and a Wilbur Mills Endowed Chair in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
            • 2013 Dr. Kenneth A. Jacobson, Chief, Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry & Molecular Recognition Section, National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health
            • 2014 Dr. Chris M. Ireland, L.S. Skaggs Presidential Endowed Chair, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry, University of Utah
            • 2014 Dr. Lawrence J. Marnett, Professor of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Mary Gheddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine


        Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture

        The Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture series was established in 2004 to recognize the former Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences director’s contributions to the field of pharmaceutics and to the pharmacy school. Each year, a department within the school hosts the lecture, and lecturers are selected for their contributions to the host department’s discipline. A native of Dover, N.C., Coy W. Waller earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of North Carolina, master’s in microanalytical chemistry from the University of Buffalo and doctor of philosophy in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Minnesota. In 1944, he joined Lederle Laboratories as a research chemist and was promoted to director of chemical research in 1954. At Lederle, Waller synthesized the vitamin Folic Acid. His team also developed Methotrexate®, Aureomycin®, Netropsin®, Nucleocidin®, and Puromycin®.He became the director of chemical research at the Mead Johnson Research Center in 1957. While there, he and a colleague patented Mucomyst® which is marketed for treatment of cystic fibrosis. Waller later became the vice president of pharmaceutical research and development. Waller joined The University of Mississippi in 1970 as director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. In addition to reorganizing RIPS, he hired a number of scientists to devote all of their creative energies to pharmaceutical research and development. Under his leadership, RIPS began its internationally renowned marijuana research program.

        When Waller stepped down as director in 1979, he had imbued the institute with a spirit of discovery that still thrives today. That spirit is part of his legacy of achievement, which continues to provide vision for the institute’s research scientists who follow in his footsteps.

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        Previous Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecturers

                  • 2004 Dr. Oakley S. Ray
                    Executive Secretary of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
                  • 2005 Dr. Billy R. Martin
                    Chair and Professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
                    at Virginia Commonwealth University
                  • 2006 Dr. Jon Clardy
                    Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
                    at Harvard Medical School
                  • 2007 Dr. Carlton E. Turner
                    Former President and CEO of Carrington Laboratories
                  • 2008 Dr. Ashim K. Mitra
                    Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Missouri
                    Curators’ Professor of Pharmacy, and Chairman of the Division of
                    Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City
                  • 2009 Dr. Marie Chisholm-Burns
                    Department Head and Professor Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Arizona
                  • 2010 Dr. Marv Shepherd
                    Professor and Director, Pharmacy Administration Division,
                    University of Texas
                  • 2011 Dr. Susan B. Shurin
                    Acting Director, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
                  • 2012 Dr. Marilyn A. Huestis
                    Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section, Intramural Research Program
                    of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
                  • 2013 Dr. William H. Gerwick
                    Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Sciences
                    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
                    Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
                    University of California, San Diego
                  • 2014 Dr. A. Douglas Kinghorn
                    Professor and Jack L. Beal Chair in Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
                    The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
                  • 2015 Dr. Mansoor A. Khan
                    Professor and Vice Dean of College Station Campus, Interim Department Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Texas A&M University
                  • 2016 John E. Murphy, Pharm.D.
                    Interim Dean and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Assessment
                    Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Science
                    The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
                  • 2018 Dr. C. Daniel Mullins
                    Professor and Chair of the Pharmaceutical Health Services Research Department
                    University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
                  • 2018 Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly
                    Co-director of the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Project
                  • 2019 Dr. Laura Bohn
                    Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine & Department of Neuroscience
                    The Scripps Research Institute