Chung K. “David” Chu

Inventor’s Award 2002

Chung K. “David” Chu, Distinguished Research Professor in the College of Pharmacy, devotes his research effort to the development of pharmaceuticals to treat diseases such as HIV, leukemia, West Nile virus, smallpox, and hepatitis B. His work involves synthesizing new compounds, three of which are currently in the process of being tested on people. Now in Phase II clinical trials to test for efficacy and harmful side effects all three drugs show promise: L-FMAU for the treatment of hepatitis B, DAPD for the treatment of HIV, and L-OddC for the treatment of leukemia. Achieving a successful treatment for any one of these diseases would be an incredible accomplishment. For example, the more than 300 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B would benefit from new medications.

Experimental drugs such as L-FMAU and DAPD were developed to interfere with viral reproduction. When infectious viruses invade a cell, they take over its molecular machinery, causing the cell to produce more viruses that are then released to infect nearby cells. The viral invasion also eventually kills the host cell. Dr. Chu’s compounds stop a specific stage of the viral replication cycle, effectively killing the virus and preventing further infection. Not only has Dr. Chu developed original compounds, but he also has invented new classes of pharmaceuticals and devised efficient techniques for producing them. The UGA Technology Commercialization Office has received more than 30 invention disclosures from Dr. Chu’s laboratory.

Well known for his productivity, Dr. Chu has 36 U.S. patents and a number of patents pending. In his 20 years as a member of the UGA faculty, his research has produced more than 1,000 original compounds, despite the time-consuming nature of the process. In 2001, he received the prestigious MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health for his extensive research on drug design for HIV and AIDS-related diseases. Fewer than 5 percent of NIH investigators receive this award, which includes automatic renewal of grant funding for five-years. Dr. Chu is one of two UGA professors to ever win this award.

The National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical firms have supported his research with millions of dollars in grants. His research also has been the basis for establishing three companies that sponsor clinical trials of his pharmaceuticals: Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Pharmasset, and Achillion Pharmaceuticals.

Previous Award

Distinguished Research Professor 1998