Abul-Hajj and Hanna Award for Exceptional Graduate Student in Medicinal Chemistry

This award is named in recognition of Yusuf Abul-Hajj and Patrick Hanna for their long and sustained commitment to the department and for their overall activities in support of the programs in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry.

This $1,000 award recognizes a Medicinal Chemistry graduate student for outstanding contributions in academic research activities and citizenship.  Presentation of the award by a student committee member and the award seminar is made at the end of the Spring semester during the Departmental Seminar Series.

Yusuf Abul-Hajj

Yusuf Abul-HajjYusuf Abul-Hajj was born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1940. He received his B.Sc. in Chemistry in 1962 and M.Sc. degree in Organic Chemistry in 1964, both from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and his PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 1968 from the University of Wisconsin. Following graduation he joined the College of Pharmacy as an assistant professor and rose through the ranks to full professor in 1980. Professor Abul-Hajj chaired the Department of Medicinal Chemistry from 1984 to 1994 and from 1996 to 2005.

For more than 40 years, Professor Abul-Hajj carried out research on the development of steroidal agents for the treatment of breast cancer as well as studying the underlying mechanism(s) involved in the genotoxicity and/or carcinogenicity of estrogens. He served as Senior Editor of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry from 1995 to 2012. In 2005 he was awarded the Lawrence & Delores Weaver Medal in recognition of his support to the College of Pharmacy and its students through service, education and research and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Most recently Prosessor Abul-Hajj completed “From Digitalis to Ziagen,” [LINK] a comprehensive history of Medicinal Chemistry, beginning with the founding of the University’s College of Pharmacy in 1892 through 2012. The book includes profiles of notable faculty members and the leadership role the department and its faculty played in drug development.

Patrick Hanna

Patrick HannaPatrick Hanna was born in Little River, Kansas in 1940. He received his B.S. in pharmacy in 1963 from Creighton University and his PhD in medicinal chemistry in 1969 from the University of Kansas. Upon graduation he joined the College of Pharmacy and the Medical School at the University of Minnesota as an instructor, and thus began an association with the Department of Medicinal Chemistry that lasted his entire career. Professor Hanna’s numerous activities in graduate education included the development of courses and curricula in the Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology graduate programs, the mentoring of graduate students in both programs, and serving as Director of Graduate Studies in Medicinal Chemistry from 1988 to 1997. He retired in 2012 and is currently Professor Emeritus.

For more than 35 years, Professor Hanna conducted research on arylamine N-acetyltransferases and the metabolic activation of aromatic amine carcinogens. He was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry from 1972 to 1989, and he was elected Chair of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the American Chemical Society in 1986. In 1979 he received the Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. He was inducted into the University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Sara K. Coulup

Sara CoulupMay 7, 2019
“Synthesis and Evaluation of Metabolically Stabilized Analogs and Conjugates of Pironetin” 

Advisor: Gunda Georg
Birthplace: Colorado
Education: Bachelors of Arts in Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder


  • 2018-2019 Bighley Graduate Fellowship (UMN, College of Pharmacy)
  • 2018-2019 Graduate School Excellence Award (UMN, Graduate College)
  • 2015-2017 American Foundation of Pharmaceutical Education Predoctoral Fellowship
  • 2014-2016 NIH Chemical Biology Training Grant (T32), Co-PI Natalia Tretyakova (UMN, College of Pharmacy)
  • 2012-2013 American Associate for Cancer Research Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Award for Undergraduate Students
  • 2011-2012 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant for Undergraduate Students (University of Colorado at Boulder)
  • 2009-2013 Norlin Scholars Scholarship (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Joseph Buonomo

Joseph Buonomo

May 1, 2018
“Design of Antitubercular Chemotherapeutic Agents that Evade Resistance” 

Advisor: Courtney Aldrich
Birthplace: New Jersey
Education: Bachelors of Science, University of Rochester


  • 2018 Robert Vince Fellowship (UMN, College of Pharmacy)
  • 2018 Dissertation Research Travel Scholarship (UMN, Graduate College)
  • 2017-2018 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (UMN, Graduate College)
  • 2015-2016 Bighley Graduate Fellowship (UMN, College of Pharmacy)
  • 2014-2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP-00039202)
  • 2014  Samuel Melendy Fellowship (UMN, College of Pharmacy)
  • 2013-2014 Ole Gisvold Fellowship (UMN, College of Pharmacy)
  • 2012 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (CHE-1156340) 
  • 2011 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (CHE-1156340)

Cody Lensing

Cody Lensing PhotoMay 2, 2017
"Bivalent Ligands as Pharmacological Probes for the Melanocortin Receptors: The Bivalent Advantage"

Advisor: Carrie Haskell-Luevano
Birthplace: Minnesota
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Philosophy, Augustana University 


  • 2016-2017 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Minnesota Graduate School  
  • 2016 Olsteins Graduate Fellowship, College of Pharmacy
  • 2015 American Peptide Symposium Travel Award
  • 2012 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship 
  • 2012 NCAA Wrestling Elite 89 Award

Kimberly Maize

 Kim MaizeApril 26, 2016
"Beyond Sofosbuvir: Structural Trajectory of Nucleoside Phosphoramidate Activation"

Advisor: Barry Finzel
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Amherst College


  • University of Minnesota Frieda Martha Kunze Fellowship, for doctoral students in biochemistry, chemistry, or biomedical sciences, received 2015
  • American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, to support students who have the potential to become leaders in the pharmaceutical profession, received 2014, 2015
  • American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee-Eli Lilly Travel Grant, 2015
  • American Crystallographic Association Travel Grant, 2014
  • NIH-University of Minnesota Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Grant Trainee, received 2012, 2013
  • Amherst College Forris Jewett Moore Fellowship, for graduates distinguished in the study of chemistry while undergraduates, who desire to engage in further study, received 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Robert Vince Fellowship for first-year graduate study, received 2011
  • Amherst College Dr. Everett H. Pryde ‘39 Award in Chemistry, for an outstanding research assistant in chemistry and who shows great promise for carrying out research, received 2011
  • Amherst College White Prize in Chemistry, a summer research fellowship in the chemistry department, received 2010
  • Bighley Graduate Fellowship, received 2015

Adam Zarth

Adam Zarth, Abul-Hajj Hanna Awardee 2015April 28, 2015
"Analyses of the Metabolism and Detoxification or DNA Damage of the Human Carcinogens Benzene and N’-Nitrosonornicotine"

Advisor: Stephen Hecht
Birthplace: Minnesota
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, University of Minnesota


  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Minnesota Graduate School

Margaret Olson

margaret olsonMay 6, 2014
"Small Molecule Inhibitors of APOBEC3- Catalyzed Endogenous Mutation"

Advisor: Dan Harki
Birthplace: Illinois
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Illinois Wesleyan University


  • Predoctoral Fellowship (F31), Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (1F31CA183246-01), National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
  • Predoctoral Fellowship, American Chemical Society, Division of Medicinal Chemistry
  • Trainee, National Institutes of Health Chemistry Biology Interface Training Grant, University of Minnesota (T32-GM08700)