An wins ASPET scientific achievement award

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Dr. Zhiqiang An - ASPET Drug Discovery Award
Zhiqiang An, PhD

The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) has named Zhiqiang An, PhD, professor and Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry and vice president of Drug Discovery, as the winner of its 2024 Scientific Achievement Award in Drug Discovery and Development. The Award recognizes outstanding investigators who have made significant contributions to drug discovery, translational and/or drug development science.

“I am honored that our academic drug discovery program at UTHealth Houston was recognized by ASPET,” An said. “Drug discovery is a complex process. I am grateful for the support and contribution from my colleagues, collaborators, the technology transfer office of UTHealth Houston, and the industry partners.”

An received the award for his extensive and pioneering contributions to antibody drug discovery, both in industry and academia. His research has contributed to advancing six innovative drug candidates to clinical trials in the past five years for various diseases, including acute myeloid leukemia, cancer bone metastasis, spinal cord injury, and COVID-19.

Before joining UTHealth Houston in 2009 as the inaugural director of the Texas Therapeutics Institute, Dr. An spent 15 years in drug discovery and development in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry and served as chief scientific officer at Epitomics Inc. and was director of Biologics Research at Merck Research Laboratories.

Additionally, An has authored over 200 peer-reviewed articles and two books and has been issued 25 US patents. He is a fellow of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB), the American Academy of Microbiology (ASM), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Kevin Morano, PhD, senior vice president for Academic and Faculty Affairs, stated, “This award comes as no surprise to those who know Zhiqiang An – his enduring commitment to improving lives through cutting-edge, creative therapies speaks for itself and we are thrilled to see him get this national recognition from his peers.”

An received his PhD from the University of Kentucky and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the faculty at UTHealth Houston in 2009.

“Dr. An stands as a beacon of innovation and leadership,” said Xiaodong Cheng, PhD, professor and Walter and Mary Mischer Distinguished Professor in Molecular Medicine, and an ASPET fellow “He has been a pioneering force in antibody drug discovery. ASPET’s recognition of his contributions with the 2024 Scientific Achievement Award in Drug Discovery and Development is genuinely deserved, highlighting his exceptional dedication and influence in the field.

An will receive his award on May 18 at the ASPET 2024 Annual Meeting in Arlington, Va. At the meeting, he will present a lecture on his work titled “Academic Drug Discovery: Challenges and Opportunities.”