Pat Woster in memoriam

Roby Hill
July 19, 2023

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the field of medicinal chemistry lost a giant with the passing of Patrick M. Woster, SmartState Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at the MUSC College of Pharmacy.

Dr. Woster passed away July 15, 2023 after a courageous battle with cancer. The family will receive friends on Thursday, July 20, 2023 in the J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. West Ashley Chapel from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. His funeral service will be held Friday, July 21, 2023 in the West Ashley Chapel beginning at 10 a.m.

“Dr. Woster’s contributions to science and drug discovery were immeasurable,” said Philip D. Hall, dean of MUSC College of Pharmacy. “He was widely recognized as an outstanding medicinal chemist, but he was also an outstanding mentor to junior faculty, an inspiration to both Pharm.D. and graduate students, a great leader for the colleges of pharmacy and graduate studies, and a wonderful colleague. Our hearts are with his wife Carin, his children and grandchildren, and friends and family as we all cope with his loss.”

One of the country’s foremost authorities in medicinal chemistry, Dr. Woster was recently named as the recipient of the college’s first endowed professorship, the Vincent T. Peng, M.D. Endowed Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Dr. Woster was inducted into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in 2019 at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. He joined the fewer than 100 elite scientists previously honored with Hall of Fame membership for their significant contributions to the field of medicinal chemistry, which uses a combination of chemistry and biology techniques to discover potential new drugs and is the first step in the drug development pipeline. The Hall of Fame includes three Nobel laureates.

His research touched many areas, including the discovery of inhibitors of the polyamine pathway, novel antimalarial, antitrypanosomal and antibacterial agents, a variety of antitumor compounds, chemopreventive agents and epigenetic modulators. He is perhaps best known for the 1996 discovery (in collaboration with David Edwards) of 6,7-dihydroxybergamottin, the constituent in grapefruit juice that inhibits cytochrome P450 in the gut, altering the bioavailability of numerous therapeutic agents.

More recently, his research team published findings about the development of novel compounds that show early promise at fighting the rare pediatric cancer neuroblastoma when paired with the existing anti-cancer drug bortezomib (Velcade, Takeda Oncology). The novel compounds block or inhibit an enzyme known as lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1).

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Woster received a bachelor of science in pharmacy in 1978 and a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry in 1987, both from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He was a postdoctoral associate in chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and in medicinal chemistry at the University of Michigan.

He joined the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University in 1988, rising to the rank of full professor of pharmaceutical sciences by 2001. He joined MUSC in 2011, where he was appointed professor and SmartState® Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and then department chair in 2015.

Pat Woster memories

Pat Woster obituary

Dr. Woster and his student Catherine Mills spoke on the Science Never Sleeps podcast in August 2021. For insight into his work, personality, and impact on students, listen to Episode #21: Science Never Sleeps podcast