Mesecar named director of the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research

Andrew Mesecar (Purdue University photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Andrew Mesecar, Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and the Walther Professor in Cancer Structural Biology, has been named assistant vice president for research and director of the Purdue Institute for Cancer Research (PICR) after serving since August 2022 as interim director. Chosen for the position after a nationwide search, his new role was effective Sept. 1.

Formerly a center, PICR transitioned to an institute during Mesecar’s interim leadership. Before that, Mesecar had served as deputy director for the cancer center beginning in 2010 and also was head of the Department of Biochemistry for seven years. His research expertise is in the structure and function of enzymes and the use of structure-based approaches to design drugs that target enzymes involved in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and coronavirus infections.

“I am delighted that Andy has agreed continue in this leadership role,” said Karen Plaut, executive vice president for research. “As interim director, his leadership has been critical to the organization’s growth in impact as it advanced as an institute.”

“I’m honored and humbled to continue to work with and lead a group of such talented and dedicated faculty, staff and students whose cutting-edge work is advancing our knowledge of cancer and how to develop new diagnostics and treatments.” Mesecar said. “Our mission for the institute is basic discovery — discovery that fosters innovative cancer solutions. Our cancer institute members are truly fulfilling this mission with four new FDA-approved cancer treatments within the past three years alone.”

The institute’s scientists currently are developing 26 immunotherapies and 37 drugs, including 11 in human clinical trials. Technology stemming from the center’s research has generated 14 startup companies within the past five years. 

Shortly after Mesecar was named director, Andrea Kasinski, the William and Patty Miller Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, was chosen to serve as the institute’s deputy director, effective Oct. 1. Among Kasinski’s cancer research initiatives are projects to explain how MicroRNAs, cell molecules that play a crucial role in enabling cancer and other diseases, can be used to fight cancer and make cancer cells more sensitive to treatment.

Since 1978 the institute has been a National Cancer Institute-designated basic laboratory cancer center. Only seven institutions in the United States have earned this distinction, and Purdue is the only public institution in this prestigious group. The institute’s work focuses on investigating the cause of cancers where they begin — at the cellular level — and using its findings to develop novel treatments and diagnostics. The institute leverages Purdue’s strengths in engineering, veterinary medicine, biochemistry, nutrition science, chemistry, medicinal chemistry, pharmacy, structural biology and biological sciences to support its robust and ambitious research. Doctors and scientists worldwide use PICR discoveries to develop methods, medicines and medical devices to improve and save lives.

Writer: Amy H. Raley,

Source: Andrew Mesecar,