Mayo Clinic researcher, KU alumnus to receive honorary degree

Posted on May 4, 2018 in Alumni News and News

Dr. Richard Weinshilboum, a KU alumnus, will receive an honorary degree during KU’s 146th Commencement ceremony on May 13.
A Mayo Clinic scientist who is a pioneer in the field of pharmacogenomics — the study of how drugs respond to a person’s genetics — will receive an honorary degree from the University of Kansas.

Dr. Richard Weinshilboum, a KU alumnus, will receive an honorary degree during KU’s 146th Commencement ceremony on May 13. He is the director of pharmacogenomics and chair of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, and he is also the Mayo Clinic’s Mary Lou and John H. Dasburg Professor of Cancer Genomics.

“Dr. Weinshilboum’s important and foundational work has opened the door to new advances that will help patients far into the future,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “His groundbreaking research in the field of genomics is helping to bring about a new era in medicine that enables doctors to customize treatments to fit their patients’ specific genetic makeups. We are honored to award him with an honorary degree during our Commencement ceremony this year.”

Girod recommended Weinshilboum for an honorary degree to the Kansas Board of Regents, which approved the chancellor’s recommendation.

Weinshilboum will receive the degree of Doctor of Science for his notable contributions in the field of pharmacogenomics. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and chemistry and a medical degree from KU, concluding in 1967.

During a nearly 50-year career, Weinshilboum has helped to move his chosen field of study from theoretical to practical. Today, treatments can adjust to a patient’s genetics to increase efficacy or avoid life-threatening side effects, a practice known as “precision” or “individualized” medicine.

He has spent most of his career at the Mayo Clinic, where he has worked since 1972. He has earned continual support from the National Institutes of Health and has earned a number of honors from scientific societies, international organizations and universities.

KU awards honorary degrees based on nominees’ outstanding scholarship, research, creative activity, service to humanity or other achievements consistent with the academic endeavors of the university. Recipients do not need to be KU alumni, and philanthropic contributions to the university are not considered during the process.

Past honorary degree recipients include notable leaders such as Nobel Peace Prize winner and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Google Earth creator Brian McClendon, novelist Sara Paretsky, and Ford chief executive officer Alan Mulally.

Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia and 2016 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is also a 2018 honorary degree recipient. Santos visited campus in October to accept the honorary degree. Learn more about KU’s honorary degrees here. Information about 2018 Commencement events and activities can be found at the university’s Commencement website,

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