Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI to host conference, birthday bash in honor of ‘drugs from the sea’ pioneer

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Kingston resident Yuzuru Shimizu to be feted

KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 6, 2005 -- How do you celebrate the 70th birthday of a University of Rhode Island professor who is renowned for his research on obtaining drugs from the sea?

You simply invite his colleagues, friends and former students from around the world to a symposium and reception in his honor.

What better way to celebrate the work of Pharmacy Professor Yuzuru Shimizu than to have lively, scientific discussions on such topics as marine toxins and red tides, natural products chemistry, and chemical oceanography.

The Symposium on Natural Chemistry in honor of Dr. Shimizu will be held Thursday, July 21, at 10 a.m. at the Coastal Institute Building on URI’s Narragansett Bay Campus. A reception and dinner, which will be catered by Almalfi’s, will be held following the symposium at 6 p.m. at the Village Inn’s Grand Ballroom, Beach Street, Narragansett.

The symposium, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch, is free and open to the public. To make reservations or to order tickets for the reception and dinner call Assistant Professor of Pharmacy David Rowley at 401-874-9228 or 401-874-2362.

The speakers will be: William Fenical, professor of oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego; Daniel Baden, director of the Center for Marine Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington; Koji Nakanishi, an organic chemist at Columbia University; John Rosazza, professor and head of Medicinal and Natural Product Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, and director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing at the University of Iowa; Carole Bewley, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and Rachel Mata of the Independent National University of Mexico.

“Dr. Shimizu has been one of the University’s preeminent researchers over the last several decades,” said Pharmacy Dean Donald E. Letendre. “It seems only fitting that the College of Pharmacy would take time to honor one of its outstanding professors through this prestigious symposium. It is with great pride that we highlight his many contributions to our College and his leading research in marine natural product chemistry.”

URI Assistant Professor of Pharmacy David Rowley, a colleague of Shimizu’s, is organizing the event.
“He has been a mentor to me as a young, assistant professor,” Rowley said. “He is one of the few people in the world who has succeeded in determining the structures of molecules produced by marine micro-algae. These molecules have important human health implications, both as potential drugs and environmental toxins. Beyond that, he is a renaissance man who can talk on any subject.”

At 70, Shimizu remains active. He walks a mile from his Kingston home to work and back each day and continues a rigorous academic schedule. He is the Omar-Youngken Distinguished Chair in Natural Product Chemistry at URI. Shimizu is past president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and has served as chairman of the Gordon Research Conference on Marine Natural Products Chemistry. In his 40-plus years of teaching and research, Shimizu has been a mentor, colleague and friend to countless students, post-doctoral researchers and visiting scientists.

Shimizu was born in Gifu, Japan, and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences at Hokkaido University, Sopporo, Japan. His post-doctoral work was conducted at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in 1963 and 1964, and at the University of Georgia in 1965. He became an assistant professor in 1965 on the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hokkaido University. In 1969, he moved to the College of Pharmacy at URI and today continues his teaching and research.

URI News Bureau photo by Nora Lewis