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AHC Gamechangers: Robert Vince

Robert Vince, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Drug Design in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry. Robert Vince started off at the University of Minnesota as a professor in the 1960s. He has since established the University of Minnesota’s Center for Drug Design (CDD). Albeit impressive and commendable, his title of director is just the beginning of the gamechanging work he has been a part

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of while at the University of Minnesota. Vince is a little more modest about the term. “I don’t know if I’d call it gamechanging,” says Robert Vince. “It’s just what I do.” As the developer of Ziagen, an anti-HIV drug that is used for the prevention and treatment of AIDS in adults and children around the world, Vince’s work is not just gamechanging – it is world changing. In 2002, Vince used revenues from Ziagen for the creation of the U of M’s CDD, with a goal to work freely creating drug designs with his team, now boasting more than 60 researchers. The Center for Sinequan Drug Design’s work varies from the development of an antidote for cyanide to research and development of treatments for conditions like skin cancer, viruses, and Alzheimer’s. Revenues from Vince’s royalties have brought the U around $600 million so far, providing positions for faculty, fellowships for graduate students and grants for postdoctoral fellows. The research is also completely funded by the revenue brought in by Vince. According to Vince, continuing to develop medications and science that people all over the world find useful is the reason he refuses to retire. “What researchers create here doesn’t sit on a shelf in a lab without ever making it to the public. It has the potential to –

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and has in the past – directly impacted the lives of people,” says Vince. “The impact we have is one of the many reasons why I love what I do.” For more Academic Health Center Gamechangers, visit

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