Noted biomedical researcher Mick Hitchcock has made a gift to establish the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Endowed chairs provide a distinguished scholar the opportunity to advance their research, teaching and public service. This tenure track faculty position will bolster research development in medical biochemistry and support the mentor of future scientists.
"The creation of an endowed chair for a distinguished biomedical scientist is the 'gold standard' for how to support a medical school research enterprise," said Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine. "Dr. Hitchcock has honored the medical school with his confidence. He has made an extraordinary commitment that will have a permanent and positive impact on our ability to advance science and train the next generation of scientists."
Hitchcock, a senior adviser to bio-pharmaceutical company Gilead, has worked for more than 30 years in the bio-pharmaceutical industry and played a key role in developing ground-breaking HIV drugs.
"The creation of this endowment allows me to participate in the future advances that will be made by the incumbents for this position and the people they train," Hitchcock said. "Inspirational research in biochemistry will lead to new understanding of the molecular basis of how cells work, of how they become dysfunctional in diseases and potentially to new drugs for treatment of these conditions."
The University's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology integrates the molecular life sciences from the most basic biology-chemistry interface to molecular genetics and bioinformatics. The molecular tools, discovered and researched by faculty today, will lead to technologies to manage infectious diseases, cure metabolic and cellular dysfunction, and define the physical quality of life. Faculty within the department are from the University of Nevada School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR). As such, the new chair in medical biochemistry will be named by the dean of the School of Medicine in collaboration with the dean of CABNR.
"Mick Hitchcock's gift to fund an endowed chair in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology is very welcome," said Bill Payne, dean of CABNR. "His generous donation will have a positive impact on the educational experience of undergraduate and graduate biochemistry students at UNR, and contribute to further advancing the excellent standards within that department."
Hitchcock spent 12 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb prior to joining Gilead. Together with former Bristol colleague John Martin, he developed Viread, approved by the FDA in 2001 as a once-daily pill to treat HIV. Before Viread, a reported 90 percent of AIDS patients had to take as many as a dozen pills throughout the day, suffering side effects including gauntness, anemia and liver damage. Subsequently they developed Atripla, approved in 2006 as the first single-tablet regimen for treatment of HIV that includes the active component of Viread and two other drugs. The ease of use made it a popular choice for physicians and patients.
Most recently, the company launched Sovaldi, a hepatitis C treatment that can essentially cure most patients with few side effects.
Last year, he established the Michael (Mick) J.M. Hitchcock, Ph.D. Fund for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and the Michael (Mick) J.M. Hitchcock, Ph.D. Fund for Graduate Assistants to provide bridge funding to the School of Medicine so that student research may continue uninterrupted despite across-the-board federal spending cuts, known as sequestration.
Earlier this year, Hitchcock made a gift to purchase analytic testing equipment which allowed the Nevada Newborn Screening to move back in-state from a commercial laboratory in Oregon.