New Pharmaceutical Sciences Chair Imig Sees Opportunity at UAMS

By Benjamin Waldrum

Imig arrived at UAMS on Sept. 29 as the new chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. He replaces Peter Crooks, Ph.D., D.Sc., who will remain at UAMS and focus on teaching, research and service.

“I wanted to find an opportunity that combined education, research, community engagement and developing therapeutics,” Imig said. “The UAMS College of Pharmacy is a great place for that to occur. It has a strong pharmaceutical sciences department with great faculty and is very highly rated. There is real opportunity for continued growth in education and research.”

Imig, a vascular biologist, joins UAMS from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he was a professor of pharmacology and toxicology, an Eminent Scholar and inaugural director of its Drug Discovery Center. The center, housed within the college’s Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, facilitates and accelerates drug discovery through its Therapeutic Accelerator Program, developing new therapeutics while reducing risk and increasing the product’s value.

He has active research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute that he will bring to UAMS. Over his career, Imig has received more than $35 million in grant support as a principal investigator or co-investigator.

Imig has co-founded three therapeutics companies and serves on several related scientific advisory boards, including one in India. He sees biotechnology advancing from basic science to impacting health care.

“Seeing that we could start a biotechnology company, get venture capital, and have our compounds taken into clinical trials told me it could be done,” Imig said. “Don’t stop at basic science. Investigators and scientists need help along the way: to know how to do it, to maintain an academic research program, protect intellectual property and found a company. There’s no perfect route to take. The ability to help scientists go through that process has been my passion.”

Imig’s other passion is mentoring. At Medical College Wisconsin, he trained dozens of high school and undergraduate laboratory students and mentored many medical and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows. He has received multiple awards as an educator.

“Mentoring is really training the next generation of scientists, junior faculty, pharmacy company leaders, pharmacists and physicians,” Imig said. “It’s important to share knowledge, to let them learn and grow. It’s really satisfying to watch them be successful years down the road.”

Imig is also heavily involved with academic research. He is chief editor of Frontiers in Physiology, an associate editor for Cardiovascular Therapeutics and Frontiers in Vascular Physiology, and serves on seven additional editorial boards. He has published more than 180 original articles and authored or co-authored nine book chapters.

An Illinois native, Imig earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology in 1985 from Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. He earned his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics in 1991 from the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky.

Imig has a wife, Mindy, and two daughters, Allyson and Emily, both college graduates.