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John Chan, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, is one of three recipients of the 2022 Regent Scholar Award announced today by UW System.

The award recipients will be honored at Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting. The awards recognize UW System faculty for their extraordinary efforts in support of undergraduate research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

John Chan

“These Regent Scholars illustrate the exemplary research, teaching and mentoring taking place on our campuses,” said UW System Interim President Michael J. Falbo. “Today’s undergraduate researchers are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, scientists and scholars.”

The program, which was introduced in 2014, is designed to stimulate faculty-student collaborative research.

“The UW System Regent Scholar winners receive prestigious, one-time grants recognizing the highest honor for faculty achievement in the areas of undergraduate research, entrepreneurship and business engagement,” said Regent Robert Atwell, chair of the Board’s Research, Economic Development and Innovation (REDI) Committee, which administers the Regent Scholar grants. “These innovative projects and research collaborations hold tremendous potential for helping people and communities.”

Chan’s project, A Novel Chemotherapy To Treat Parasitic Flatworms Causing Human and Animal Disease, is in collaboration with James Cook, a professor of organic chemistry at UW-Milwaukee.

Broad spectrum control of parasitic flatworm infections in both human and animal health markets is dependent on one drug, praziquantel. No new drugs have been developed since the 1970s and reliance on one drug presents a serious threat of emerging drug resistance.

The objective of this proposal is to optimize a novel chemical compound Chan and collaborators have discovered, which cures parasitic flatworm infections. Development of new, antiparasitic drugs from this project will support the Wisconsin workforce both in the licensing and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, as well as benefiting the end users in the Wisconsin agricultural community.


Additional UW System Regent Scholar grant recipients are:

Todd Hillhouse, assistant psychology professor at UW-Green Bay, for Targeting Nociceptin and Kappa Opioid Receptors for Treatment of Cocaine Addiction and Depression

More than 8% of the population meets the criteria for substance use disorder (addiction), and those with substance use disorder have a significantly higher prevalence of depression (up to 48%) as compared to the normal population (less than 15%). Agonist replacement therapies are the first line of treatment for addiction; however, they are not overly effective and do not eliminate addiction.

This research focuses on discovering and developing novel drugs for the treatment of addiction and depression as many overlaps exist between the disorders, and they likely share biological underpinnings. The proposed research is innovative in its approach to treat addiction through a neurotransmitter system that is separate from the drug of abuse. This recognition will also assist in the establishment of a new research lab on the UW-Green Bay campus, which will focus on developing talented local students for the biomedical industry.

Mark Levenstein, assistant biology professor at UW-Platteville, for Aryl Fluorinated Ethers To Develop the Next Generation of Agrochemicals.

This project focuses on the development of new agrochemicals for crop protection, an increasingly vital area of research. Pesticide resistance is particularly important in the state of Wisconsin where agriculture contributes significantly to the economy and accounts for nearly 12% of the state’s workforce. The project investigator and collaborators have developed a novel, photocatalytic, chemical technique for synthesizing fluorinated compounds with the potential to improve the functionality of existing agrochemicals and to fuel the development of a new generation of biological agents with improved potency, increased longevity and reduced environmental signatures.

Eligibility for the Regent Scholar award is open to all UW System university faculty in an effort to support the following goals:

  • Providing summer funding for faculty to engage in research and other scholarly activities
  • Promoting stellar research and internship experiences for students, thus preparing a high-quality workforce
  • Stimulating innovation across all UW System campuses, ultimately driving regional economic development
  • Recognizing undergraduate research in the STEM disciplines and creative arts fields

The Regent Scholar program is coordinated by Arjun Sanga, president of WiSys, along with Adhira Sunkhara, assistant director for WiSys. WiSys is an independent, nonprofit-supporting organization for the UW System that advances scientific research throughout the state by patenting technologies developed out of the universities and licensing these inventions to companies capable of developing them to benefit Wisconsin and beyond.