Interview with Robert Vince

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Interview with Robert Vince

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University of Minnesota


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Dr. Robert Vince begins his interview by describing his interest in science and medicine generally, his graduate research, and how he came to be professor at the University of Minnesota in the College of Pharmacy. In relation to his research while in the College, Dr. Vince discusses the following: his research on antibiotics and drugs with anticancer activity; the transition between exploring natural compounds and the creation of synthetic compounds within medicinal chemistry; issues he encountered in research attribution; his work on anti-herpes drugs; patenting issues in academia and the passage of the Bayh- Dole Act; and compound testing for activity against the AIDS virus. He then reflects on the development of the Center for Drug Design and developments within the Center. Discussing the history of the School of Pharmacy and the AHC more broadly, Dr. Vince covers the following topics: Lawrence Weaver’s tenure as dean; the clinical emphasis in the College of Pharmacy and the creation of the PharmD program; teaching and continuing education; the role of the PharmD in medicine; Gilbert Banker’s tenure as dean; the growth of the College of Pharmacy; the position of the Center for Drug Design within the AHC; and the merging of the positions of vice president of the AHC with dean of the Medical School. Dr. Vince concludes his interview with his recollections of former President George W. Bush’s visit to the University in July of 2002.


Robert Vince was born in Auburn, NY. He earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Buffalo in 1962. He then completed a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry at State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in 1966. After completing his doctorate, Dr. Vince became an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, but then pursued a position at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, where he became an assistant professor in medicinal chemistry in 1967. Dr. Vince has contributed to and developed many drug interventions over the course of his career at the University. Most notably, Dr. Vince developed the HIV drug abacavir in 1987, which was commercialized by GlaxoSmithKline in 1999 as Ziagen and resulted in over $600 million dollars in revenue for the University. Through his portion of the proceeds from the sale of Ziagen, Dr. Vince established the Center for Drug Design in 2002 as an independent entity within the Academic Health Center to support academic research and drug development. Dr. Vince continues to direct the Center and conduct research.

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Klaffke, Lauren E.; Vince, Robert. (2013). Interview with Robert Vince. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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