MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

In memoriam: John S. McMurray, Ph.D.

March 30, 2017
Tracey Barnett

Photo of Dr. McMurray for Essential

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences faculty member John S. McMurray, Ph.D., passed away on Tuesday, March 28. He was 62.

McMurray was an associate professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and an active member on several MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School committees. His research focused on protein-protein interactions, drug designs, peptides and organic chemistry.

“John was a wonderful human being, a talented chemist, and a contributory faculty with sense of humor,” said Varsha Gandhi, Ph.D., GSBS faculty member and director of the Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program at the school. “He was not only running a productive laboratory to create small molecules to combat cancer and asthma but was deeply involved with our mission for education.” 

McMurray joined MD Anderson in 1988 as a research associate in the Department of Neuro-Oncology and became a Graduate School faculty member in 1997. He moved from neuro-oncology into the Department of Experimental Therapeutics more than a decade ago.   

McMurray received many awards during his career, including the American Asthma Foundation Senior Investigator Award from the American Asthma Foundation in 2011; the Greater Houston Section Award from the American Chemical Society and the Lynn Murray Award from the University of Houston, his alma mater, both in 2007.

He was also a member of several professional organizations including American Association for Cancer Research, American Chemical Society, Gulf Coast Consortia and the MD Anderson Faculty Senate.

McMurray graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and the University on Houston in 1986 with a doctorate in chemistry. After graduating from UH, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

In 2016, McMurray was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a type of cancer that forms from supportive tissue of the brain and spinal cord.

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