Department of BioMolecular Sciences

The University of Mississippi

Department of BioMolecular Sciences News

February 2018

We are a month away from the Mississippi Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting where some of our graduate and undergraduate students will present their research. For more information, check out


January 2018

2012 graduate, Sly Lee, of our Environmental Toxicology program, makes Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ List!

Alumnus Makes Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ List of Leaders


Congratulations to Dr. Cole Stevens and Dr. Hoang Le!

Great news out of BMS and especially for Drs. Cole Stevens and Hoang Le!  Both were notified that they received 2017-2018 AACP New Investigator Awards!  Congratulations!!!

Dr. Steven’s winning proposal is entitled Production of Predation-Associated Antimicrobials From Cryptic Biosynthetic Pathways

 Dr. Le’s winning proposal is entitled Development of Glutaminase and Isocitrate Dehydrogenase Inhibitors for Cancer

 We appreciate your hard work developing these proposals. This is a great honor for you, our department and our school.


December 2017

We ended a great semester with a trip around the world of BMS departmental potluck!

November 2017


Position Advertisement

Assistant/Associate Professor

Medicinal Chemistry

School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi


The Department of BioMolecular Sciences in the School of Pharmacy at The University of Mississippi is seeking qualified applicants for a full time, 12-month, tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor. We seek candidates with expertise in the fields of computational chemistry, informatics or a related field who possess a record of distinguished and innovative research (as evidenced by a significant publication record and the potential to secure extramural funding) and a commitment to excellence in education. Applicants applying for the higher rank should have a nationally recognized research program with recurrent success in securing extramural funding and excellent teaching credentials. Outstanding individuals with expertise that complements existing research programs will have opportunities to participate in active collaborative research efforts, including the cross-disciplinary University of Mississippi Flagship Constellation research initiatives.


The University of Mississippi is the flagship university for the State of Mississippi. A world-class public research university, the institution has a long history of producing leaders in public service, academics and innovative research. The School of Pharmacy is on the main campus in Oxford, a community of approximately 19,000 residents that has been recognized nationally as one of America’s best places to live. The Chronicle of Higher Education has named The University of Mississippi as one of the “Great Colleges to Work For.”  The Department of BioMolecular Sciences has 16 full-time faculty with research emphases in medicinal chemistry, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, and environmental toxicology. The faculty have affiliations with the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and collaborative opportunities in the National Center for Natural Products Research. The department has teaching responsibilities in several degree programs, including the Pharm.D. (Doctor of Pharmacy) as well as M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Pharmaceutical Sciences.   


The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a suitable pool of applicants is established.  Applicants must have a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry (including Organic or Medicinal Chemistry) or a related field as well as post-doctoral experience. Applicants should provide a cover letter outlining qualifications for the position, a detailed description of research plans, a one-page executive summary of the research plan, a statement of teaching philosophy, a curriculum vitae, and the name and contact information of four references through The University of Mississippi’s online employment site at For additional information please contact, Prof. John Rimoldi, Search Committee Chair, 662-915-5119,


The University of Mississippi is an EOE/AA/Minorities/Females/Vet/Disability/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity/Title VI/Title VII/Title IX/504/ADA/ADEA employer.




September 2017

Jimmie Valentine Named 2017 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus

September 21, 2017

By Whitney Tarpy

OXFORD, Miss. – Jimmie Valentine, a 1968 University of Mississippi graduate with a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry, has been named the School of Pharmacy Department of BioMolecular Sciences’ 2017 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award honoree.

Valentine holds degrees in both biology and chemistry from Centenary College of Louisiana and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in medicinal chemistry from the UM School of Pharmacy. Retiring from the University of Arkansas in 2008 after 19 years as a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology and myeloma research, Valentine is now a consultant in medical pharmacology and toxicology.

John Rimoldi presents Jimmie Valentine with award

John Rimoldi (right), professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology, presents Jimmie Valentine with the 2017 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“Over the course of my career, I have been honored with several professional awards, but receiving the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award was, for me, the ultimate honor,” Valentine said. “Having Dr. Sam as my graduate advisor gives this award special meaning due to my relationship with him during my graduate days at Ole Miss and for all the subsequent years that we were in touch. I recall many one-on-one conversations with him and his sage advice to me that helped me when I had my own graduate students, and later when I became a departmental chair.”

Prior to Valentine’s tenure at Arkansas, he was a faculty member at the University of Missouri-Kansas City from 1973-1978 and Oral Roberts University from 1978-1990 where he served as professor and chairman of pharmacology for six years.

At all the academic institutions where Valentine served as a faculty member, he also directed certified toxicology laboratories while overseeing active research programs on drugs of abuse, performing and developing analytical techniques for determining drugs of abuse and correlating levels found in humans with behavioral effects.

John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology at the School of Pharmacy, served on the award’s selection committee and knew Valentine was a perfect fit for the 2017 accolade.

“This award honors extraordinary alumni like Dr. Valentine, who have embodied our Division of Medicinal Chemistry’s tradition of excellence by their scientific accomplishments, professional achievements, inspirational leadership and service to the discipline,” Rimoldi said.

Valentine delivered the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Lecture titled “Bringing Science into the Courtroom” on Thursday, Sep. 21 at the School of Pharmacy. Valentine is board certified in applied clinical pharmacology and as a forensic examiner. He has been certified as an expert witness in numerous civil and criminal trials and administrative hearings concerning drug findings.

“In 1990, I had the privilege of being asked to present a seminar at Ole Miss at which Dr. Sam introduced me,” Valentine said. “I dedicated that lecture to him and Dr. Marvin Davis, who had been my teachers and advisors while I was a graduate student at Ole Miss. As I present the award lecture for this honor being bestowed upon me, I will again be honoring the memory of Dr. Sam and what he meant to me and the other students privileged to study under his tutelage.”

Jimmie Valentine with family, Dean Allen and med chem faculty members

Jimmie Valentine (center) with his family, Dean David Allen and med chem faculty members.

Valentine and his wife, Carrie, provided the UM School of Pharmacy an unrestricted gift of $25,000 back in 2014, which went toward renovations of the school’s skills laboratory. Carrie has also had an accomplished career, receiving degrees from the University of Oregon and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After her time as a faculty member at numerous schools, she accepted a position in 1992 as a research microbiologist for the Food and Drug Administration at the National Center for Toxicological Research until her retirement in 2008.

The couple works together on consultations and scientific writing and both are certified pilots.

“In addition to his Joe Sam Award address, I personally was very excited that both Drs. Valentine visited because they did a ‘tag-team’ presentation for my Introduction to Toxicology class on the current state of forensic sciences in the United States,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. “The 60 students in my course include both pharmacy and forensic chemistry majors who could benefit immensely from hearing first-hand accounts from these two experienced scientists.”


August 2017

The BMS Welcome Back Graduate Students/ New Graduate Student Orientation, held on August 18th, was a success! Looking forward to a great, new academic year.

Joseph  Sam Distinguished Alumnus Speaker Announced

Dr. Jimmie Valentine

The Department of BioMolecular Sciences is excited and pleased to announce that  Dr. Jimmie Valentine, Retired Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, and Myeloma Research, University of Arkansas College of Medicine, will be the recipient and honored speaker. Dr. Valentine graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1968 with a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry. The Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Speech will take place on Thursday, September 21st at 3:00 pm in TCRC room 2066.

April 2017

Join us at MidSouth SETAC in Oxford May 18 – 19, 2017

We are inviting abstracts and participation in all areas but especially in Natural Resources Management, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Solving Environmental Problems, Science and Education, Sustainability, and of course,  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry!

Abstracts for platform and poster presentations must be submitted by MAY 5, 2017.

MidSouthSETAC2017 OXFORD MS Call for Abstracts

January 12, 2017

Dr. Kristie Willett Named Chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences!

Kristie Willett Named Chair of Department of BioMolecular Sciences

August 25, 2016

2016 Fall – Welcome Back Graduate Student Luncheon!

2016 Fall Student Welcome Lunch


August 16, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Chris McCurdy on being elected the 2016 President for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)!

August 15, 2016

Congratulations to graduate student Veda Gogineni for being selected to receive the 2016 AAPS Graduate Student Research Award in Drug Discovery and Development Interface!

July, 2016

Congratulations to Dennis Carty for being selected as one of five American College of Toxicology, 2016 North American Graduate Fellowship award winners! This award will provide Dennis with a two-year fellowship of $5,000 per year to be used toward education and attending the ACT annual meetings. Dennis will be recognized during the 2016 annual meeting awards ceremony and luncheon on Monday, November 10, 2016.

April, 2016

At the Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 7, 2016, the following people received awards:

Awardees at the 2016 Honors Convention

Awardees at the 2016 Honors Convention

  • Manal Nael  Graduate Achievement Award in Biomolecular Sciences and Medicinal Chemistry

Division of Environmental Toxicology

  • Dennis Carty – Dr. William H. Benson Graduate Student Award

Division of Medicinal Chemistry

  • Dr. Pankaj Pandey – Nobles-Sam Graduate Research Award

Division of Pharmacognosy 

  • Chinni Yalamanchili  – 2015/2016 Charles D. Hufford Graduate Student Award

Division of Pharmacology

  • Harshul Batra – Edith Pritchard Graduate Student Award
  • Surendra Jain – Marvin Davis Graduate Student Award

Congratulations on these outstanding achievements!

January 28, 2016

Dr. Jordan Zjawiony received an honorable recognition from the Polish government lawmakers for a recent collaboration in helping with the development of the Center for Natural Products in Poland.

December, 2015

Dr. Chris McCurdy has been appointed to the AFPE Board of Grants.

May 1, 2015

On Friday, May 1st, 2015 the Department of BioMolecular Sciences held its second Annual Awards day, in which graduate students were recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. It was a beautiful day in which to combine business and pleasure!

April 21, 2015

Kristie Willett, Jeffrey Steevens and Dean David D. Allen

Kristie Willett, Jeffrey Steevens and Dean David D. Allen

Congratulations to Dr. Jeffery Steevens, the 2015 School of Pharmacy Alumnus of the Year!

April 16, 2015

Graduate Awards Ceremony invitation

In preparation for the upcoming BMS Spring Graduate Student Award Ceremony on May 1st, the department would like to acknowledge the graduate students who will be recognized:

Division of Environmental Toxicology

  • Dennis Carty – $500 travel award from the South Central Chapter of Society of Toxicology to attend the national SOT meeting.

Division of Medicinal Chemistry

  • Eric Bow – 2013/2014 Nobles-Sam Graduate Research Award
  • Shuneize Slater – First Place at the MCBIOS XII (Midsouth Computational Biology & Bioinformatics Society), Poster Presentation in Biological Bioinformatics and $300 award
  • Veda Gogineni – Most Outstanding Member for the University of Mississippi, Chapter of Gamma Beta Phi
  • Walid Alsharif – Honorable Mention for the MAS Outstanding Student Manuscript
  • Pankaj Pandey – ACS Chemical Computing Group Research Excellence Award in Medicinal Chemistry and $1,150 award. Pankaj also received the 32014-2015 University of Mississippi, Graduate Student Achievement Award

Division of Pharmacognosy 

  • Mohamed Albadry – 2014/2015 Charles D. Hufford Graduate Student Award

Division of Pharmacology

  • Rhianna Morgan – First Place at the Mississippi INBRE, Graduate Student Symposium
  • Trisha Dhawan – Received Honorable Mention from the Reproductive and Development Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology and $75 award.
  • Santu Singha – Received $500 travel award from the South Central Chapter of Society of Toxicology to attend the National SOT meeting. Santu also received Honorable Mention from the Reproductive and Development Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology and received $75 award.
  • Jagrati Jain – Inducted into Phi Kappa Phi Society. Jagrati also received $1000 travel fellowship award for the 3rd Annual UAB Workshop on Metabolomics, Dept. of Pharmacology/Toxicology, University of Alabama. The fellowship is jointly sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) as part of the NIH Common Fund Metabolomics initiative, and the Departments of Chemistry and Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Alabama at BirminghamJagrati also received a poster award today at the 15th International Conference on the Science of Botanicals.

2014-2015 – Graduate Student Council Research Grant Awards

Veda Gogineni – Division of Med Chem

Walid Alsharif – Division of Med Chem

Rhianna Morgan – Division of Pharmacology

 April 14, 2015

We are excited to announce that the A. Nelson Voldeng Memorial Lecturer will be Alan P. Kozikowski, Professor, Drug Discovery Program, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago. The topic will be:

“Chemistry, the Brain, and Cancer – Ups and Downs on the Road to HDAC6i Drugs”

April 13, 2015

Congratulations to Jagrati Jain, who was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, due to her excellent academic work! It is a well-deserved honor for Jagrati! A short video can be seen on our Facebook page.

 April 7, 2015

Please note that the time for the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Speech has been changed from 11:00 am to 10:30 am. The date and location remain the same.

March 24,2015

Joseph  Sam Distinguished Alumnus Speaker Announced

Bob Magarian

Bob Magarian

The Department of BioMolecular Sciences, Division of Medicinal Chemistry is excited and pleased to announce that  Dr. Robert A. “Bob” Magarian, Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Oklahoma (Medicinal Chemistry, 1966)  will be the recipient and honored speaker. The Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Speech will take place on  Thursday, May 21st at 10:30 am in TCRC room 1044.

February 18, 2015

Dr. Christopher McCurdy Named AAPS Voting Representative

We are proud to announce that at today’s AAPS Executive Council meeting that Dr. Christopher McCurdy was appointed as the AAPS’ voting representative to the United States Pharmacopeia. This brings great recognition and honor to Chris, our department, the school, and the university. Please join us in congratulating him on this wonderful accomplishment.

January 29, 2015

Charles D. Hufford Graduate Student Fellowship Endowment

For more than four decades, Dr. Charles D. Hufford made an incredible impact on the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s research culture. It is undeniable that Dr. Hufford helped transform our school into one of the world’s premier locations for the study of natural compounds. Not only that, but his leadership in the Department of Pharmacognosy and in the school’s administration as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs has been unparalleled.

Dr. Hufford’s accomplishments were extensive. His research talents shined in the area of drug metabolism, as well as finding and characterizing new antifungal antibiotics. Additionally, he was largely responsible for growing the school’s nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer capabilities. Over the years, he mentored numerous graduate students and facilitated various renovation projects.

Upon his retirement in 2015, Dr. Hufford’s family created an endowment that will pay tribute to his vast contributions to the university. The Charles D. Hufford Graduate Student Fellowship Endowment will provide additional funding to a deserving biomolecular sciences graduate student who is a U.S. citizen. We are thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of graduate students while celebrating Dr. Hufford’s legacy at the same time.

Checks to the University of Mississippi Foundation with the Hufford Fellowship noted in the memo line can be mailed to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or contributions can be made online by visiting .

December 12, 2014

Pharmacology/Toxicology Alum to be Honored

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Jeffery A. Steevens (Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology, 1999) is the recipient of the School of Pharmacy’s 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dr. Steevens is a Senior Research Scientist with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. His commitment to the School of Pharmacy and his many contributions to the profession have made him an excellent choice for this esteemed award.
This award will be presented at the annual Pharmacy Alumni Weekend banquet on April 18, 2015. We are excited about honoring Dr. Steevens on his exceptional accomplishments.

December 11, 2014

Environmental Toxicology Research Program New Award Featured in Pharmacy Matters

The creation of the William H. Benson Distinguished Graduate Student Award was featured in the School of Pharmacy’s Newsletter, “Pharmacy Matters”. The award is the brain child of Dr. Kristine Willett, a professor of Pharmacology who has been committed to the development of the Environmental Toxicology Research Program. The award is for graduate students enrolled in the Environmental Toxicology Research Program. The full article can be read here.

November 18, 2014

Renowned Researcher A. Douglas Kinghorn Named 2014 Waller Distinguished Lecturer

Kinghorn_photo_1-300x300Dr. A. Douglas Kinghorn, who performed postdoctoral work here in the Department of Pharmacognosy in the 1970s will be returning as this year’s Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecturer. The full story is here.

October 2014

  • Dr. Jordan Zjawiony was honored at a luncheon with only 18 other employees for 25 years of dedicated service to the University of Mississippi.



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October 8, 2014

Ole Miss graduate Sly Lee (Environmental Toxicology Research Program, 2012) making us proud!

Leading Drug Discovery Scientist to Give Borne Lecture April 15

By Erin Garrett

Chris M. Ireland

Chris M. Ireland

Chris M. Ireland, distinguished professor and dean of the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, will deliver the 10th annual Ronald F. Borne Distinguished Lecture at the University of Mississippi.

Hosted by medicinal chemistry faculty, the April 15 lecture is set for 11 a.m. in Room 2066 of the Thad Cochran Research Center. It is free and open to the public. Ireland plans to discuss “Three Decades of Evolution in an Academic Drug Discovery Program: Then and Now.”

“We are delighted to have Dr. Ireland as our 10th annual Ronald F. Borne Lecturer,” said Stephen J. Cutler, department chair. “He is an exceedingly accomplished pharmaceutical scientist who has lead very productive research teams doing drug discovery.”

Ireland has established himself as a world leader in natural product drug discovery during his nearly 30 years at the University of Utah. His research has focused on the discovery of antitumor agents from natural product sources including marine invertebrate animals, tropical plants and fungi.

He has published more than 170 peer-reviewed research articles, eight book chapters and five patents. He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international symposia on natural products research and cancer chemotherapeutics.

Ireland is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, an American Society of Pharmacognosy Fellow, a 2008 short-term Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Queensland Museum Biodiversity Program. He has been given numerous awards, including a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award, the 2007 University of Utah Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award, the 10th Webster Sibilsky Award for Contributions to the Field of Medicinal Chemistry and the 2007 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology.

“Dr. Ireland has extensively studied the chemistry of marine invertebrates, which have proven to be a prolific source of diverse chemical structures with potential anticancer effects,” Cutler said.

The lecture was established in 2004 as a way of recognizing Ronald F. Borne, a longtime medicinal chemistry professor, and his contributions to the department and the university. Borne was a classroom favorite of students for many years and has been recognized on numerous occasions for his teaching and research excellence. He received the university’s 1972 Elsie M. Hood Teacher of the Year Award and 1996 Faculty Achievement Award. He was also named by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education as the Mississippi Professor of the Year in 1992.

Borne served as department chair from 1979 to 1988, acting associate vice chancellor for research and acting dean of the Graduate School in 1985-86, interim associate vice chancellor for research in 1997-98 and interim vice chancellor for research in 1998-2001. He retired from the university in 2004.

For more information on the lecture or for assistance related to a disability, contact Danielle Noonan at or 662-915-7026.