Brian Shoichet ‘81, Alumni of Distinction Award Recipient 2021
“For me, TFS has always been a school that indulged a ‘giddy goofiness,’ a delight in taking educated risks and well-meaning creative transgressions towards achieving something of lasting value for others.”
More than 4,000 kilometres separate TFS and Brian Shoichet, but there are no geographical limits to his impact on his alma mater, North America, and now the entire world.
Since graduating from TFS in 1981, Brian has established himself as a leading scientist, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California (San Francisco), and a serial entrepreneur with over 200 research publications, 60 lab trainees, and multiple ground-breaking discoveries leading to the launch of three companies.
While still a PhD candidate, Brian pioneered a revolutionary technology that allows researchers around the world to explore the interactions between two molecules that are essential to drug discovery.
He later invented a new drug candidate to treat pain without the addictive side effects of opioids. Today, he continues to partner with global pharmaceutical companies to speed the discovery of innovative drugs through his laboratory at UCSF, and through the companies he has founded.
“For me, TFS has always been a school that indulged a ‘giddy goofiness,’ a delight in taking educated risks and well-meaning creative transgressions towards achieving something of lasting value for others,” he remarks.
The opioid crisis isn’t the only health emergency impacted by Brian’s expertise. During the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, he harnessed his global network and vast experience in drug discovery to eliminate the use of certain ineffective drugs as treatments for COVID-19. He also published one of the first papers on antivirals to treat COVID-19 in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in 2020.
He also recognizes the power of computational tools and the benefits of making them widely available so that others can build on the knowledge he has created.
In recognition of his many life-changing impacts, Brian has won many research and teaching awards. In 2020, he was named one of the most highly cited researchers in the world.