Dean George L. Kenyon


Dean, 1993–1998

George L. Kenyon aimed to be a chemist early on, according to a note in his high school yearbook. He succeeded, earning a BS from Bucknell University and a PhD in organic chemistry from Harvard University.

Just a few weeks into his postdoctoral research fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he received an invitation to interview for an assistant professorship at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, his seminal work was on the enzyme creatine kinase. From 1982 to 1993 he chaired the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the UCSF School of Pharmacy and served as dean of the School from 1993 to1998.

In 1998 Kenyon left UCSF to become dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan. Past director of MediQuest Therapeutics, Inc., he is currently chair of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board. He chairs the U.S. National Committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, National Research Council. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Accounts of Chemical Research. Kenyon served as chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bioorganic and Natural Products Study Section from 1993 to 1995 and as chair of the Biological Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society from 1992 to 1994. He was elected a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1989 and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1990. He serves as a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Protein Chemistry, and Medicinal Chemistry Research, and is also editor-in-chief of Bioorganic Chemistry. He was a National Institutes of Health MERIT Awardee, 1986-1996.

Kenyon's publications and patents 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 development of enzymatic inhibitors, especially of AIDS viral proteins and proteases of such parasitic organisms as the malaria parasite.

Fervent about education, he claims, “A chemist without a PhD is like a man without his pants. You may not notice it, but everyone else will.”

Sources: “Recollections: How I Became a Biochemist,” George L. Kenyon, IUMAB Life (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). Bloomberg Businessweek