2011 Honorary Degree

JoAnn A. Suzich

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JoAnn A. Suzich

Doctor of Agriculture

JoAnn Suzich is a leading scientist and researcher in biochemistry and has, among other achievements, played a critical role in the advancement and treatment of health issues affecting women and children.

Suzich is vice president for research and development at MedImmune, where she is responsible for overseeing the company's research in the development of antibodies and antibody-like molecules for the prevention and treatment of infectious disease. In addition, she recently assumed responsibility for MedImmune's research on novel vaccines. 

Since joining MedImmune in 1988 as a scientist, she has held several positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as senior director, infectious disease research. She has been involved in many key development programs, including Synagis® (palivizumab) which is the only monoclonal antibody approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help prevent an infectious disease, and the virus-like particle technology that is the basis of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines used to prevent cervical cancer. HPV is thought to be responsible for 70 percent of the instances of cervical cancer.

Suzich's leadership has helped build MedImmune - where she is known as “employee number 13” - from a fledgling company with four employees, founded by fellow Purdue alumnus Wayne Hockmeyer, to an international biotechnology company with more than 3,000 employees worldwide. She has worked closely with all aspects of the company, including discovery research, biopharmaceutical development, clinical research, translational sciences, regulatory affairs, business development, and medical affairs. Numerous internal committees have benefited from her oversight and service.

Before joining MedImmune, Suzich was a scientist at Molecular Genetics Inc. from 1986-1988. In this position, she used cell-free transcription and translation, and recombinant vaccinia viruses, to study the expression strategy and coding capacity of the M segment RNA of Rift Valley fever virus.

Her career has been marked by a consistent focus on devising antibodies and vaccines against many of the deadly and debilitating viruses that infect humans.

Suzich is the inventor of four patents and has authored 29 publications. She is the recipient of the Wallace H. Steinberg Award for Innovation.

She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Susquehanna University, where she graduated magna cum laude. She received her doctorate in biochemistry from Purdue in 1983. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Purdue in 1986.

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