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KU professors honored for Chancellors Club teaching and research awards

October 14, 2010

This year’s University of Kansas Chancellors Club professor and researcher award recipients include two internationally known professors — a philosophy professor on the Lawrence campus and a pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics professor at the KU Medical Center.

Richard De George, a University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, and Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, director of the KU Medical Center’s Liver Center, will be honored Oct. 22 at the annual Chancellors Club celebration.

De George has received numerous honors at KU, including the HOPE (Honor for Outstanding Progressive Educator) Award in 1965 and a Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award in 1986. He has authored or co-authored 20 books and more than 200 philosophical articles and has lectured at universities around the world. In 1996, he received an honorary degree, Doctor Honoris Causa, at Nijenrode University in the Netherlands (awarded with Bill Gates and Nelson Mandela). In addition, he has supervised 14 doctoral dissertations and 11 master’s theses and served on 32 doctoral committees.

De George joined the KU faculty in 1959. In addition to his appointment in the Department of Philosophy, he has been a member of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies since its beginning and has been a courtesy professor of business administration since 1988. He was named a University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy in 1972.

Ben Eggleston, chair of the Department of Philosophy, said that throughout De George’s career, he has focused on his students.

“His publishing career has tended to follow his teaching, rather than the reverse,” Eggleston said. “His teaching has been driven by student interests.”

De George’s teaching has not been restricted to students. He has taught faculty and led workshops on teaching. He was one of the founders of the Hall Center for the Humanities.

“Professor De George over his long career at KU has demonstrated his teaching excellence in many ways, not only in the philosophy department, but also through his participation in team teaching, in teaching service courses for other departments in the College and for other schools in the university and in teaching faculty from KU and other universities,” said Eggleston.

Wan was recruited to the KU Medical Center in 2003 and has been the director of the Liver Center and the leader of Cancer Biology Program at the KU Cancer Center since 2007. Under her leadership, the center established a human liver specimen bank to which close to 800 specimens have been deposited. She has formally mentored 10 junior faculty members, 36 postdoctoral fellows, five visiting scholars and more than 30 students. Her numerous professional honors include the KU Medical Center’s Investigator Research Award and the Joy McCann Professorship and the SIG Elsevier Mentoring Award from the Society of Toxicology.

Wan is a scientific researcher and teacher. The major focus of her research is retinoic acid and its receptors in regulating liver functions and disease processes. Retinoic acid is a well-known differentiation agent clinically used to treat and prevent cancer. Wan discovered that the receptor for retinoic acid is crucial for maintaining normal liver characteristics and function. Recently, she further demonstrated the importance of retinoic acid in alcohol detoxification and alcoholic liver disease, fatty liver, liver inflammation and liver regeneration. The data allowed her to identify therapeutic targets for treating liver injury and cancer.

Another area of Wan’s research concerns the genetic aspect of alcohol abuse. Her research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She has received continuous National Cancer Institute funding for the past 21 years, and her grant recently was renewed for another five years.

At the KU Medical Center, Wan is involved in teaching medical students, residents, research and clinical fellows and graduate as well as undergraduate students. In addition, she mentors junior faculty.

Wan has been serving National Institutes of Health study sections continuously for the past 12 years.

“Dr. Wan is an extremely energetic scientist,” said Paul Terranova, vice chancellor for research at the KU Medical Center. “She is actively involved in services at national and international levels, and she is an asset to the KU Medical Center through her dedicated and successful research and teaching.”

Each professor will receive an $8,000 award. The awards are provided through KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

KU Endowment is the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
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October 14, 2010
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