Chris M. Ireland
During his 38 years on the faculty at the University of Utah, Chris Ireland has established himself as a world leader in the field of natural product drug discovery. Ireland's research program has focused on the discovery of antitumor agents from natural product sources, including marine invertebrate animals, tropical plants, and fungi. He and his colleagues have published some 200 peer-reviewed research articles, eight book chapters, and eight patents and received more than $25M in extramural research funding.
Now a Distinguished Professor of medicinal chemistry as well as an adjunct professor of chemistry and the chief global officer for the U, Ireland has trained more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his lab. Many have gone on to very successful research careers of their own and now include among their ranks a dean of a U.S. college of pharmacy, a Distinguished Professor of biochemistry at a major U.S. university, and a variety of other leadership roles at universities around the world.
Ireland’s research accomplishments and international reputation have been acknowledged in the form of numerous invitations to speak at national and international symposia on natural products research and cancer chemotherapeutics. He has served on a number of review panels at the National Institutes of Health, including the Bioorganic and Natural Products NIH study section, and most recently as a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors.
Ireland is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, an American Society of Pharmacognosy Fellow, and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Queensland Museum Biodiversity Program. His awards include an NIH Career Development Award, the inaugural University of Utah Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, the University of Utah Distinguished Scholarly & Creative Research Award, the 10th Webster Sibilsky Award for Contributions to the Field of Medicinal Chemistry, the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, and the Paul J. Scheuer award, the most prestigious award in the field of marine natural products.
Ireland has served as the principal investigator of a National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group consortium funded by the NCI to discover new cancer drugs from unique natural sources and is currently serving as the co-PI of an International Cooperative Biodiversity Group consortium funded by the Fogerty International Center to discover new HIV, Malaria, and TB drugs from plants and traditional medicines in Papua New Guinea.
Ireland joined the faculty of the University of Utah as an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in 1983. He served as professor and chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry from 1992-99, as dean of the College of Pharmacy and L. S. Skaggs Presidential Endowed Chair for Pharmacy from 2009 to 2014, and as chief administrative officer for the Asia Campus from 2015-18.
Chris Ireland and his wife, Mary Kay Harper, a research scientist at the U, have four children, all of whom attended the U.