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2017 Chancellors Club professors specialize in cancer prevention, business law

September 13, 2017
A University of Kansas Medical Center cancer researcher and a longtime business law professor will be honored respectively for their research and teaching by KU Endowment’s Chancellors Club.
Webb Hecker and Shrikant Anant

Shrikant Anant, Ph.D., has been selected as the 2017 Chancellors Club Research Award recipient. Edwin W. Hecker, Jr., J.D., LL.M., has been selected as the 2017 Chancellors Club Teaching Award recipient. Each will receive a $10,000 award and will be recognized at the Oct. 6 Chancellors Club celebration in Lawrence.

Shrikant Anant
Shrikant Anant, a leading researcher in the biology of cancer, cancer prevention and new therapies, has been a faculty member at KU Medical Center since 2010. He is the Tom and Teresa Walsh Professor of Cancer Prevention, the Kansas Mason Professor of Cancer Research and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of General Surgery at the KU Medical Center. He also is the associate director of Prevention and Cancer Control at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute designated center.

Anant came from, as he put it, a “family of overachievers” — mathematicians, physicists, engineers — and he was the only biologist.

Roy Jensen, M.D., director of the KU Cancer Center, is glad Anant took that path and enthusiastically nominated him for the Research Award. Jensen said Anant played a critical role in bringing the National Cancer Institute designation to the cancer center.

“He is not only an outstanding scientist but also a person with servant leadership qualities. When Shri gets involved, good things happen, not only for him, but also for all those around him and the entire institution,” Jensen said.

Much of his research focuses on cancer biology, RNA-editing proteins and the discovery and evaluation of products for cancer prevention and therapy, especially in the field of colon cancer. He also teaches, advises and mentors medical students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

“This recognition is not just for me, but also for my mentees and the people in my lab,” Anant said. “I believe that successful mentoring pairings are reciprocal relationships, for I learn as much if not more from mentees as they learn from me.”

Career highlights:

  • Anant worked with the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation and the KU School of Medicine’s Urology Department to develop CicloMed, a new drug to treat bladder cancer. It is positioned to go to clinical trials.
  • Anant has 132 publications of his research, most of it in peer-reviewed journals.
  • He has developed several cutting-edge research projects, including a “tumor in a dish” method to study tumor metastasis, and the discovery of a cancer stem cell in the intestine along with a protein that marks those cells and suppresses them.

Edwin Webster Hecker, Jr.
Edwin Hecker, who goes by Webb, joined the faculty of KU Law in August 1972. His focus is primarily on business law, including mergers and acquisitions.

He went into teaching because “law practice didn’t have enough law.” A reluctant public speaker, he couldn’t sleep the night before he taught his first class; now thousands of students have taken his courses. He encapsulates his experience in two words: Students first.

Hecker considers the Teaching Award recognition a great honor.

“Teaching, broadly defined, has been my life for 45 years,” Hecker said. “To be singled out in this respect is very emotional. People talk about being honored and humbled, and those words just can’t describe how important this is.”

KU Law School Dean Stephen Mazza appreciates Hecker’s influence on students during and after law school.

“Webb personifies ‘teaching’ broadly construed as encompassing not only classroom teaching and student mentoring, but much more as well. To him, ‘teaching’ means putting students, and the interests of students, first in everything he does professionally,” KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza said in his nomination letter.

Career highlights:

  • Hecker serves as inaugural co-director of the Polsinelli Transactional Law Center, which is a hub for transactional law courses, symposia and programming related to business transactions.
  • KU Law alumnus J.R. Walters established the Edwin W. Hecker Jr. Teaching Fellowship in 2015 through KU Endowment to show his appreciation for Hecker’s influence during Walters’ time at KU as well as Hecker’s help in encouraging Walters’ daughter to attend KU Law.
  • Among many honors, he received the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 1996 and the W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2000. He was chosen for the Frederick J. Moreau Advising Award in 2008 in recognition of his commitment to counseling students, and he was named Centennial Teaching Professor of Law in 2015.

The Chancellors Club, formed in 1977 by KU Endowment, recognizes both donors of major gifts designated for specific purposes on any of KU’s campuses and annual donors to the Greater KU Fund.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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September 13, 2017
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