July 21, 2020

Cancer researcher named UCR medical school’s newest endowed chair

Adam Godzik has been named the Bruce D. and Nancy B. Varner Presidential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
July 21, 2020

Cancer researcher Adam Godzik, an expert on big data analysis and computational biology, has been named the Bruce D. and Nancy B. Varner Presidential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at the University of California, Riverside.

Adam Godzik
Adam Godzik.

A professor of biomedical sciences in the UCR School of Medicine, Godzik came to UCR in October 2018 from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, which conducts biological research benefitting human health. After receiving his doctoral degree in physics from the University of Warsaw in Poland, Godzik did postdoctoral training at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. He has authored or coauthored more than 350 peer-reviewed research papers and written several popular bioinformatics algorithms. He is a member of a team that recently identified a new potential drug target in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

"Dr. Godzik has made significant contributions in the cancer field and he is so deserving of the Bruce D. and Nancy B. Varner Presidential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research," said Deborah Deas, the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean and chief executive officer for clinical affairs at the UCR School of Medicine. "From his technical expertise in the development of databases on immunity networks in cancer, to his leadership on multiple international review panels and program committees, he continues to serve as a leading voice. I’m so incredibly proud of Dr. Godzik’s noteworthy achievements in cancer research."

UCR’s newest endowed chair is made possible by a $1 million gift to the university by Bruce D. Varner, lifelong advocate for higher education, and his late wife, Nancy B. Varner. The gift was matched by UC with $500,000.

Bruce Varner
Bruce Varner.

A philanthropist and prominent Riverside attorney, Bruce Varner voiced support early for the creation of the UCR School of Medicine. He was appointed to the UC Board of Regents in 2006 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to a 12-year term, beginning in 2006. He served on nearly every committee on the Board of Regents as well as on several executive search committees, including the one recommending Kim Wilcox as UCR chancellor. He chaired the UC Board of Regents from 2013-2015. 

Varner remains active in many civic and volunteer associations, including the California State University, San Bernardino; the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Council; and the board of directors of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. He has served continuously as a member of the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees since 1994. 

Raised in San Luis Obispo, Varner earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara. After earning his law degree from UC Hastings, he became a founding partner of Varner & Brandt, LLP. 

Nancy Varner
Nancy Varner.

Born in Chicago, Nancy Varner earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Loma Linda University and spent her early career as a registered nurse. She married Bruce Varner in 1975. She served on, and co-founded, various organizations, including Santa Claus, Inc., Assistance League, the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation Board, and the Big Hearts for Little Hearts Guild. She also launched the Believe Walk that raises money to help persons living with cancer.

In 2006, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent treatment and began to help other patients in her community who were living with the disease. In 2008, she helped form the Inland Women Fighting Cancer Committee and began to support and encourage people living with cancer. She died in June 2019 after a long battle with the disease. Soon after her death, Redlands Community Hospital named its imaging center for women’s health the Nancy Varner Center for Women’s Health.


Header image credit: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.

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