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Pharmacy School to Host Inaugural Borne Lecture

By Natalie Ehrhardt

University of Mississippi

Chris McCurdy works in his lab at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. The former Ole Miss pharmacy professor, who specializes in developing new drugs to treat pain, anxiety and substance abuse, is set to deliver the inaugural Ronald F. Borne Endowed Lecture on Friday at the University of Mississippi. Photo courtesy University of Florida

Pharmaceutical scientist and educator Christopher McCurdy will discuss his work to develop new pain management therapies for the inaugural Ronald F. Borne Endowed Lecture, organized by the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.

The lecture, set for 1 p.m. Friday (Sept. 29) in the Thad Cochran Research Center, Room 1000, is free and open to the public.

A broadly trained pharmaceutical scientist and former UM pharmacy professor, McCurdy focuses his research on the design, synthesis and development of drugs to treat pain, anxiety and substance abuse.

“Being invited to serve as the inaugural Ronald F. Borne Endowed Lecturer is a full circle moment for my career and one of the most humbling honors,” he said. “Dr. Borne was a significant part of my decision to join the faculty at Ole Miss and over the years, provided me with mentorship in all areas of my academic life.

“It was a true honor to develop under his guidance and to have the opportunity to celebrate his legendary status as a pharmacy educator and researcher fills me with pride.”

McCurdy is associate dean for faculty development and a professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Pharmaceutics and is a Frank A. Duckworth Eminent Scholar chair in Drug Research and Development and director of the University of Florida Translational Drug Development Core.

He is an internationally recognized expert on kratom, which is under investigation for its potential to treat pain, opioid withdrawal syndrome and opioid use disorder. Since arriving at the University of Florida, he has received more than $21 million in federal grant funding.

Most notably, McCurdy has developed a PET/MR imaging diagnostic agent for visualizing the origins of chronic neuropathic pain by interacting with receptors at the site of nerve damage. The Phase 1 and Phase 2 human clinical trials are being conducted at Stanford University.

McCurdy has published more than 190 manuscripts, holds eight patents and is funded by multiple National Institutes of Health grants and the Florida Department of Health. He also serves as a consultant to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee and previously served as president of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

He completed his training as a pharmacist at Ohio Northern University and earned his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Georgia. He completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy with distinguished professor Philip Portoghese.

McCurdy began his academic career in 2001 at the Ole Miss pharmacy school, where he rose to the rank of full professor with tenure and served as interim department chair. He moved to the University of Florida in January 2017.

“For the inaugural lecture, it is fitting that Dr. McCurdy, a former colleague of Dr. Ron Borne, deliver the lecture and share his story from the medicinal chemistry lab to clinical trials,” said Donna Strum, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “It will be a special day to see Dr. Borne’s legacy continue while listening to a leader in pharmacy education share about future pain management options.”

John Rimoldi, professor in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, first met McCurdy when he interviewed at the university and was subsequently hired as a faculty member in the department.

“Chris worked with and was mentored by Dr. Borne, and over the past two decades has built an exceptional and internationally recognized research program in CNS therapeutics to treat pain and drug abuse,” Rimoldi said. “He is an incredible educator and a champion of students, faculty and his profession.”

The Ronald F. Borne Endowed Lecture was established by Dr. Michael Borne and his wife, Ashley, with a $250,000 gift in honor of his father. The endowment is intended to stand as a perpetual memorial to the life and legacy of the late professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry and will fund an annual lecture in the school.

“I am so grateful to Michael and Ashley for endowing this lecture and honoring Dr. Borne’s contributions to the School of Pharmacy,” Strum said. “Their gift paves the way for us to invite leading experts to share cutting-edge research and insights with our students and the broader academic community.”


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