2012 UW Honorary Citation Report – Rosazza

Citation recipient Dr. Jack Rosazza with Dean Jeanette Roberts.

Citation recipient Dr. Jack Rosazza (right) with Dean Jeanette Roberts.

Dr. John “Jack” Rosazza received his BS in Pharmacy, his MS in fermentation and pharmacognosy, and his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry – all from the University of Connecticut. At UConn, he was an NIH Trainee in the first National Products Training program in the United States. At an annual seminar that brought the best scientists in the world to UConn to speak, Jack met Professor Charlie Sih from our faculty and was impressed with and excited about Charlie’s work. This admiration led Jack and his family to Madison in 1968 for a position as a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Sih’s lab. He was involved in the microbial synthesis of L-dopa, then a newly found and scarce drug for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

After his UW experience, Jack accepted an assistant faculty position in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. He was promoted to associate professor and then to full professor in 1977, serving as the head of the department for 18 years. He served as a mentor and advisor to 30 PhD students and 32 postdoctoral and visiting scholars. He and his research group published more than 220 papers and patents during his career. His research encompassed biocatalysis in organic chemistry, developing the concept of microbial models for xenobiotic metabolism, natural products chemistry and biochemistry, and nitric oxide synthase in bacteria.

Jack was the founder of the multi-departmental Biocatalysis Research Group at Iowa in 1983, an organization that grew to include some 60 faculty members from 8 departments. The group evolved into the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing – the first such center in the world, with Jack as the first director. He has also served widely as a consultant to the National Cancer Institute, numerous pharmaceutical and chemical industries and was a member of nine editorial boards.