Bill Denny becomes Knight Companion

Distinguished Professor Bill Denny has been named a Knight Companion in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Bill Denny

Professor Denny has been at the forefront of anticancer drug research for more than 40 years and is a leading cancer researcher and Director of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre at the University of Auckland since 1999 where he leads the Medicinal Chemistry Group.

He is a Professor in the Faculty of Medical Health Sciences, an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Science and a principal investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.

Over the course of his career he has led teams which have taken 15 cancer drugs from the discovery phase through to clinical trials and, in some cases, application in the clinic. Research at the Centre led to an anti-tuberculosis drug in 2015 and an anti-Leishmaniasis drug in 2017.

As part of the development of these drugs he has been a co-founding scientist with Proacta Therapeutics in San Diego and Pathway Therapeutics in San Francisco and he has worked with the Global Alliance for TB and Geneva-based Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. He also co-founded Kea Therapeutics in 2018, which is developing a range of anaesthetics and analgesics to reduce reliance on opioids.

Professor Denny has authored more than 700 publications and is a co-inventor on close to 70 US patents.

He trained at Auckland and Oxford Universities as a medicinal chemist-drug designer. He is a past-President of the NZ Society for Oncology and the NZ Institute of Chemistry, a Rutherford Medallist of the Royal Society Te Apārangi and Adrian Albert Medallist of the UK Royal Society of Chemistry. He was named an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to cancer research in 2011.

He says he was surprised to be named on the Honours list.

“I am very proud to receive this honour on behalf of all the staff in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre whose interdisciplinary collaboration over many years has made our joint achievements possible, and the Cancer Society Auckland-Northland for their invaluable financial support.”

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