George R. Pettit
George R. "Bob" Pettit

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

George R. Pettit, an organic chemist who pioneered the search for anti-cancer compounds in marine organisms as well as insects and plants, has been awarded Washington State University’s highest alumni honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The 1952 graduate (B.S., chemistry) will be will be honored at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in the Compton Union Building (CUB) Auditorium at WSU Pullman, where he will deliver a free, public address, “From the Indian Ocean to Global Clinics: Discovering new paths to improve cancer treatment.”

“Those who know of Bob Pettit consider him a pioneer, innovator, and simply a giant in the field of cancer drug discovery,” says Cliff Berkman, a WSU organic chemist who also works on anti-cancer agents. “More than anyone, Bob successfully translated his early fascination with nature’s creations to a professional career devoted to discovering and developing new drugs to battle nature’s most grievous diseases.”  Continue story →