A Lifetime Devoted to Cancer Research

Jon White continues studies of cancer prevention and treatment

Jonathan M. White, Ph.D., has been involved in cancer research for nearly 20 years. And he is still excited and hopeful about the potential for prevention and improved treatment of this disease.

White, a graduate of the UMKC School of Biological Sciences, said that he has always been interested in science and found great appeal in using biology and chemistry to help others.

“Specifically, through the investigation of disease pathways and by looking at methods for therapeutic intervention, I saw the exciting possibility of contributing to the betterment of mankind through scientific innovation and advancement,” White said. “To be even a small part of this process was a very intriguing idea for me at the onset of my career.”

White is a a principal investigator on three National Cancer Institute (NCI) programs at MRIGlobal, one of the nation’s leading research institutes, exploring new drugs for the treatment and prevention of cancer. Two of the contracts are in the area of cancer therapy and treatment and one contract is in the area of cancer prevention.

“We continue to evaluate the drugs for purity while they are being used in clinical trials” said White. “All of the information collected is then used to help establish a final drug, which potentially can be made available to the larger public, once it is found to be safe and effective through the clinical trial process.”

As the principal, White oversees the MRIGlobal staff performing the scientific investigation of these developmental drugs. White has been responsible for several multimillion dollar grants in the area of drug repositories and chemistry support for research being conducted through the NCI and was the lead author and key to MRIGlobal’s successful bid to capture the “Centralized Chemopreventive Agent Repository and Drug Chemistry Support” contract supporting the NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention.

White is an expert in pharmaceutical chemistry, organic analytical and synthetic chemistry and drug discovery/development. In his search for new disease therapies, he has been recognized for his leadership, business success, technical expertise, collaborative approach, integrity and community service.

White will be honored at UMKC’s Alumni Awards Luncheon with his fellow 2015 Alumni Awardees on April 23 at Swinney Recreation Center. The luncheon is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted nearly 600 attendees and garnered more than $117,000 in student scholarships.

Initially, his goal was to become a practicing pharmacist. After working in the research laboratories of two UMKC professors – Marilyn Yoder, Ph.D., School of Biological Sciences, and Tom Boge, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy – White said he realized that research could lead to a better understanding of and treatment for diseases like cancer.

“From that point forward, I moved toward research. To accomplish this goal, I changed from the pharmacy school to biology, graduated with a bachelor of science in biology and then moved directly toward a research career by pursuing a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry, followed by post-doctoral studies in chemical biology,” said White.

“All of these steps were taken in a planned approach, ultimately aiming for a career in research.  Thus, my plan was mapped out, and this process was formalized during my tenure at UMKC,” White said.

“My biggest dream is to see the disease curtailed to a point where effective prevention strategies and/or treatments are commonplace and the incidence of morbidity and mortality are dramatically decreased from where we stand today,” said White.



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