shortcut to content
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

COVID-19 campus response and Return to Learn news and updates.



News Highlights

Page address:

Aug. 28: 29th Annual Leonard A. Ford Lectures

Senior director of design chemistry for oncology at Pfizer to deliver technical, general talks.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 8-21-2018

Mankato, Minn. – Rob Kania, Ph.D., senior director of design chemistry for oncology at Pfizer Inc., will deliver two lectures Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Minnesota State University, Mankato in the University’s 29th annual Leonard A. Ford Lectureship.

Both lectures, free and open to the public, will be presented on campus in the Centennial Student Union’s Ostrander Auditorium.

Kania’s first lecture, a technical talk at 1 p.m., is titled “The Design of Kinase Inhibitor Medicines Utilizing Protein-Ligand Structures and Property-Based Efficiency.” Kania’s second lecture, a general talk at 7 p.m., is titled “Life Lessons, from Puppies & Tinker Toys to Blackjack, Applied to Drug Design.”

Kania’s 1 p.m. technical talk, according to an abstract excerpt, will cover “some themes of drug discovery across several programs that have advanced through clinical development and to approval. The focus will be on the design and characterization of axitinib and key published clinical results to date.”

Kania’s 7 p.m. general talk, according to an abstract excerpt, will summarize “a high-level, basic view of cancer and the typical steps involved in modern drug discovery programs. The story will weave together relatable life learnings with lessons from a career in science and the simplified principles of drug design that guide my every day work.”

According to his provided biography, Robert S. Kania is an inventor of axitinib, sold as Inlyta™, a new pharmaceutical treatment for renal cell carcinoma. He is the senior director of design chemistry in oncology at Pfizer Inc. Kania has worked for 20 years in oncology on approaches for the treatment of various tumor types. He was appointed senior director in 2007.

In addition to oncology, Kania has worked in virology, leading Pfizer’s SARS project, and was the chemistry group lead for ophthalmology for two years.

Kania fell in love with science, math, and especially chemistry in high school. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from U.C. Berkeley in 1990. After two years at Chiron Corporation, he entered Harvard University and studied in the laboratories of Prof. E. J. Corey. He received his doctorate degree in 1997 and joined Agouron Pharmaceuticals, a legacy company of Pfizer. Kania has published extensively in the area of organic and medicinal chemistry with a focus on structure-based drug design and synthesis of drug candidates for oncology. He has over 40 patents and publications in these areas.

Kania is the American Chemical Society’s 2018 ACS Award for Creative Invention recipient, as well as the 2018 ACS Heroes in Chemistry Awardee.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Geology in Minnesota State Mankato’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology.

For more information, contact Christine Cords, office manager in the Department of Chemistry and Geology, at 507-389-1963, or

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with approximately 15,000 students, is part of the Minnesota State system, which includes 30 colleges and seven universities.

Email this article | Permanent link | Topstories news | Topstories news archives