William Plunkett, Ph.D.
Project Involvement: Project 5 - Novel Pharmacologic Agents in CLL
Dr. William Plunkett is Professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. His administrative appointment is Deputy Chair in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics. He has been a member of the faculty since 1975, and has also had an appointment in the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston since 1976.
A portion of his career has focused on elucidating the metabolism and mechanisms of action of therapeutic nucleoside analogs. In particular, his investigations of Fludarabine and of Gemcitabine demonstrated multiple mechanisms of action for these clinically active drugs.
He has enjoyed committed and effective collaborations with his colleagues involved with clinical research. These interactions have permitted Dr. Plunkett to formulate hypotheses from laboratory studies, which he and his colleagues later translated to the design of clinical trials that could evaluate these postulates. These productive collaborations have resulted in advances in clinical treatment that induce remissions more effectively and maintain them longer than previously possible in chronic and acute leukemias.
His contributions to translational research have been recognized by the Service to Mankind Award from the Leukemia Society of America in 1989, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Faculty Achievement Award in Clinical Research in 1996 and the 1st Potu N. Rao Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Science (2006). For ten years he was the incumbent of the Olive and Hubert Stringer Professorship in Medical Oncology and since 1999 has held the Barnts Family Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research.
While Dr. Plunkett has had a productive research career, he is particularly interested in education of the next generation of scientists. This activity has been recognized by his election to President of the Faculty of The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the award of the 1st Sowell-Huggins Professorship in Cancer Research in that school.
His major pursuits at the present time are related to the development of novel therapeutics based on knowledge of their mechanisms of action, and in the context of the pathophysiology of CLL and how they might optimally interact with other agents.