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2021 Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence

Chris Ireland is a stellar scientist and innovator, a highly regarded teacher and mentor and an admired academic leader.

Chris M. Ireland, chief global officer and Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, is the 2021 recipient of the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence.

The Rosenblatt Prize is the University of Utah’s highest faculty accolade and is presented annually to a faculty member who transcends ordinary teaching, research and administrative efforts. A group of distinguished faculty members on the Rosenblatt Prize Committee recommends esteemed colleagues for consideration and the university’s president makes the final selection.

“Dr. Chris Ireland has a remarkable record of accomplishment across every element of his career. He is a stellar scientist and innovator, a highly regarded teacher and mentor, and an admired academic leader,” said Ruth V. Watkins, who selected Ireland as the 2021 Rosenblatt recipient during her tenure as the 16th president of the University of Utah. “His service to the University of Utah is particularly impressive, with excellence in his leadership role as dean of pharmacy and path-breaking efforts to guide the Utah Asia Campus to success in its early phase of development.”

About Chris Ireland 

From Utah to South Korea, Ireland has made a mark as an outstanding researcher, mentor, administrator and diplomat. Ireland is currently the university’s chief global officer, though his contributions to the university’s global mission extend back nearly two decades.

In 2015, Ireland was named the university’s chief administrative officer and official representative to the Korean government at the U’s Asia Campus in Incheon, South Korea. One nominator noted Ireland assumed leadership of the U’s Asia Campus at a critical time in its development and proved a true diplomat and guiding force in establishing a strong, successful campus. The result has been increases in enrollment at the Asia Campus, a broader recognition of the U’s role in the global community and an international reputation as a leading research university.

“Dr. Ireland did a masterful job of navigating the myriad cultural, bureaucratic and political obstacles that threatened the success of the enterprise,” a nominator noted. “He has placed the Utah Asia Campus on a solid footing characterized by strong relationships of trust and enthusiastic Korean support for our presence there.”

Ireland is a world leader in the field of marine natural products, devoting his career in medicinal chemistry to investigating animals, plants and fungi that could be used as pharmacological tools, specifically to treat cancer. Known for highly creative and original research, Ireland has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, eight book chapters, holds eight patents and received over $25 million in research funding. Ireland is a respected mentor who has guided four master’s students, 19 doctoral students and more than 30 postdoctoral students and research faculty—many who have proceeded to have outstanding careers in industry and academe. Ireland was an inaugural recipient of the University’s Distinguished Mentor Award in 2006.

Ireland has received numerous awards for his research work, including being named an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, an NIH Career Development Award, the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology, and, in 2014, the Paul J. Scheuer Award—the most prestigious award in the field of marine natural products. He has the respect and acclaim of colleagues nationally and internationally.

In his nearly 40 years at the U, Ireland has served in many capacities within his college: professor, the L.S. Skaggs Presidential Endowed Chair, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. Ireland is a “strong and innovative leader who has had a direct and positive impact on administrative colleagues, faculty, staff and students alike,” one nominator said. During his academic career, Ireland spent time as a visiting scholar at Griffiths University in Australia; as an Honorary Research Fellow at the Queensland Museum Biodiversity Program, also in Australia; and as a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

“For essentially his entire career, he has been deeply engaged in promoting excellence through his research, teaching and administrative efforts,” another supporter said, and his commitment to the university has been unwavering.

About the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence

The Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence is an endowed award, given annually to a member of the faculty at the University of Utah “to honor excellence in teaching, research and administrative efforts, collectively or individually, on behalf of the university.”

The endowment was created to honor Nathan and Tillie Rosenblatt on the centenary of their immigration to Utah and in recognition of their legacy of civic leadership and generosity. Originally established in 1983, the award was later increased by Joseph and Evelyn Rosenblatt and their family. The endowment and its gifts ensure the annual award of $50,000.

Click here to learn more about the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence.