Tree named in honor of Virginia Tech chemist David G.I. Kingston
November 30, 2007
A new yew species that grows in India, China, and Taiwan has been named for David G.I. Kingston, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in Virginia Tech's College of Science.
Taxus kingstonii, also called the Kingston yew, was described by Richard Spjut in a major review of yew species published in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
The author says, “Taxus kingstonii is named in honor of David G.I. Kingston, a chemist who has done extensive work on elucidating and summarizing the taxane chemistry of the genus.”
Taxanes are produced by the yew species, and include the important cancer chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel (Taxol).
Kingston’s years of research have resulted in knowledge that helped to develop improved analogs of paclitaxel, which is used to treat breast and ovarian cancer. In addition, Kingston’s work has also helped save vital tropical rain forests.
“I have a great desire to find or develop drugs to treat cancer, particularly through natural products,” Kingston said. “Almost all my work is directed towards this end.”
Kingston also studies other natural products for medical uses, with malaria, mycobacterial disease, and fungal infections being particular targets. He is principal investigator and group leader for a biodiversity utilization and conservation project that began in Suriname in 1993 and was extended to Madagascar in 1998.
This is not the first time Kingston has been honored with a plant naming. In 2001, a newly discovered South American tree of the genus Cordia, was named Cordia kingstoniana . It was named by James Miller of the Missouri Botanical Garden, who collaborated with Kingston in his International Cooperative Biodiversity Group in Suriname.
Kingston’s other honors include the Research Achievement Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy and the Gene Wise Award from the Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society. He was named one of four Virginia Outstanding Scientists in 2002 and has received the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Award for Excellence in international outreach and Research, and he has been named by the American Chemical Society as the 2008 recipient of the Ernest Guenther award in the chemistry of natural products.
Kingston earned his undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees from Cambridge University in his native England. He came to Virginia Tech in 1971 as an associate professor of chemistry. He was named professor in 1977 and University Distinguished Professor in 1999.
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