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Byers Distinguished Professorship Awarded to Wendell Lim, Chair of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology

By Lindsay Boeger | | January 22, 2018

Byers Distinguished Professorship Awarded to Wendell Lim, Chair of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology

Wendell Lim, PhD, has been awarded the Byers Distinguished Professorship. Photo by Elena Zhukova

UC San Francisco Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, announced Wednesday that Brook and Shawn Byers have established the Byers Distinguished Professorship, which will be awarded to Wendell Lim, PhD. The professorship recognizes Lim’s comprehensive record of academic achievement, leadership and service to the community.

As professor and chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Lim is a world leader in the fields of cell therapy and cell engineering. Cell therapies are poised to become a “third pillar” in medicine – of equal importance as small molecules and biologics – especially for the treatment of complex diseases. Engineered cells have the potential to be the first true precision therapeutics, agents that can act directly on the genomic and proteomic data that we gather from patients. Such capabilities will enable powerful applications in oncology, autoimmunity, degeneration, regenerative medicine, and other therapeutic areas.

Lim and his team are hard at work to better understand how to harness and deploy living cells and systems and are engineering cells with novel behaviors, such as therapeutic immune cells programmed to recognize and treat cancer or other diseases.

From left, Brook Byers; Wendell Lim, PhD; and UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, at the annual Byers Award Lecture on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Photo by Sonya Yruel

This type of revolutionary research – decoding the science of life – is a major focus of UCSF: The Campaign, as is increasing the amount of endowed support for students, faculty members, and researchers.

“This gift is a testament to the Byers family’s commitment to the future of UCSF,” says Chancellor Hawgood. “Brook is a longtime champion of basic science at UCSF, and he has an unusual capacity to identify and support scientists who are doing revolutionary work to move their fields forward. He and Shawn are passionate about the promise of cellular engineering, and we are delighted by this tremendous recognition of Wendell Lim, whose work represents a real shift in how we think about curing diseases.”

‘Embodies Everything We Want to Support’

The Byers first met Lim three years ago at a science symposium at Genentech Hall, where Lim presented his breakthrough research on harnessing the power of cell therapy. Since then, they have become increasingly familiar with his work, visited his lab several times, and learned of his volunteer efforts to inspire high school students about science.