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Atkinson selected to be KU’s next vice chancellor for research

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Simon Atkinson has been selected to be vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas. He will begin his duties in July 2019LAWRENCE — Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Carl Lejuez has announced that Simon Atkinson, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis’ vice chancellor for research, will lead the University of Kansas Office of Research as the new vice chancellor for research.

“I’m excited about the background Atkinson will bring to KU,” Lejuez said. “He has a rich scholarly record and skill leading innovation and commercialization activities. His experiences will bring insight that can help build an even stronger collaborative relationship with researchers on the KU Medical Center campus. I’m confident he’ll be able to find opportunities that bolster our capabilities and elevate the stature of our research endeavors.”

The appointment is contingent upon Atkinson being awarded tenure at KU. It is anticipated he will begin his responsibilities in July 2019.

In addition to leading the Office of Research, Atkinson will advocate for research on and off campus, implement research integrity requirements, and, through the KU Center for Research (KUCR), oversee the administration of research grants and contracts primarily for the Lawrence campus. The vice chancellor also has oversight of activities related to technology commercialization and business and industry outreach. The vice chancellor reports to the provost and executive vice chancellor and works closely with the chancellor and the senior leadership team at KU.

“I’m delighted to join the University of Kansas in this critical role,” Atkinson said. “Major national public research institutions like KU play an essential role in their states and communities, and their mission depends on strong basic and applied research. This is the foundation for the success in technology commercialization and collaboration with business and industry that are so important to the health of our economy, and create a vibrant educational environment for our students. We have an amazing opportunity for new approaches and new achievements as we develop ideas that serve society and the people of Kansas.”

As vice chancellor for research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a position that he has held in both an interim and permanent capacity since 2015, Atkinson also serves as associate vice president for research for Indiana University with a systemwide responsibility for innovation and commercialization. Atkinson is currently a chancellor's professor at IUPUI as well as professor of biology in the School of Science and an adjunct professor of medicine and of biochemistry and molecular biology. He has been on the faculty at Indiana University since 1994, when he became an assistant professor at the School of Medicine, and from 2010 to 2015 served as chair of the Department of Biology in the School of Science at IUPUI. From 2004 to 2010, he was director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in medical biophysics in the IU School of Medicine. He has been a visiting professor at Indiana State University, Eastern Michigan University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame.

An internationally respected researcher, he studies acute kidney injury with the goal of developing strategies to prevent or treat kidney injuries that can be caused by heart failure, cardiac surgery, toxins and contrast agents administered for diagnostic tests. Atkinson was a co-founder of INphoton, a life sciences startup company established in 2005, and he is involved with the startup Rene Medical Inc., established in 2014. These experiences will be particularly relevant in his role supporting the continued growth and development of the KU Center for Technology Commercialization (KUCTC).

Atkinson has a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from King’s College London. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“The vice chancellor for research search committee, led by Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Kristin Bowman-James, did an outstanding job,” Lejuez said. “We had a strong applicant pool, and the committee did a wonderful job of introducing those top candidates to campus. I’m truly appreciative of the students, faculty and staff — both on the committee and in the KU community — who were engaged in this endeavor and provided insightful feedback. I also want to take a moment to thank professors John Colombo and Rodolfo Torres for their leadership in the Office of Research over an extended period of service as we worked to find a permanent vice chancellor for research. The role is crucial to KU’s advances as a top research institution.”