You are here:

DR. CHRIS M. IRELANDChris M Ireland, Ph.D.

Interim Chief Global Officer

Dr. Chris M. 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 and as Dean of the College of Pharmacy and L. S. Skaggs Presidential Endowed Chair for Pharmacy from 2009 to 2014.  In 2015, Dr. Ireland was appointed the Chief Administrative Officer of the University of Utah Asia Campus and Associate Vice President for Research at the Asia Campus.  While living in Korea for three years he oversaw tremendous growth in the campus and was also active in revitalizing the University of Utah Korean Alumni Association that has more than 2000 members.   He served in these roles at the Asia Campus until his current appointment as the Interim Chief Global Officer of the University of Utah in July 2018.  Dr. Ireland will retain his appointments as a Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Adjunct Professor of Chemistry.

During his 35 years on the faculty he has established himself as a world leader in the field of natural product drug discovery.  Dr. 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 co-workers have published approximately 200 peer reviewed research articles, eight book chapters and eight patents and received more than $25M in extramural research funding.  He has trained more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his lab, many of which have gone on to very successful research careers of their own.  It is notable that approximately half of his co-workers have pursued academic careers and include among their ranks a sitting Dean of a US College of Pharmacy, a Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry at a major US University and a variety of other leadership roles at Universities around the world.  His 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.  Dr.  Ireland has received additional recognition by serving on a number of review panels at NIH 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.   He is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, an American Society of Pharmacognosy Fellow, a 2008 short term Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Queensland Museum Biodiversity Program.  His awards include an NIH Career Development Award, the 2006 University of Utah Inaugural Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, the 2006 University of Utah, College of Pharmacy Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2007 University of Utah Distinguished Scholarly & Creative Research Award, the 10th Webster Sibilsky Award for Contributions to the Field of Medicinal Chemistry, the 2007 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, the 2010 Taito O. Soine Award, the 2012 ASP Farnsworth Award,  the 2014 Robert F. Borne Distinguished Lecture Award, the 2014 Richard Hutchinson Award Lecture, and  the 2014 Paul J. Scheuer award, the most prestigious award in the field of marine natural products.  Dr. 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 products sources, and 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.  During his career, Dr. Ireland has been actively engaged in international research and education programs that have supported student exchanges and development of infrastructure for education and teaching at the University of the Philippines, The University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and the University of Papua New Guinea.

Dr. Ireland and his wife Mary Kay Harper, who is a research scientist at the U, have four children and eight grandchildren. Three of their children attended the U. Dr. Ireland and Mary Kay have traveled extensively throughout the tropical Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia. Their passion is scuba diving and underwater photography.

Last Updated: 1/14/19