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Harper named 2024 Distinguished Alumnus

Harper named 2024 Distinguished Alumnus

The Graduate School has named John Harper, PhD81, the school’s 2024 Distinguished Alumnus. He received his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology and his advisor Antonio Orengo, MD.

Harper is chief scientific officer and senior vice president, research and product development and medical affairs with the MIMEDX Group – a company he joined in 2021.

After graduating from the GSBS, he completed postdoctoral fellowships in cancer biochemistry and cell biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

His 35-year career has been devoted to wound healing and regenerative medicine. He served as a senior medical scientist in the medical solutions division of 3M Health Care and chief technology officer for 3M affiliate Kinetic Concepts, where he was responsible for all early-stage research, innovation, and technology development, as well as the study of mechanisms of action of the company’s negative pressure wound care technology.

He also served as vice president of clinical development and clinical sciences at the biotechnology company LifeCell Corporation.

During his career, he has been instrumental in developing innovative approaches to breast reconstruction and abdominal wall repair working closely with both plastic and general surgeons. He has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and his principal areas of research interest are extracellular matrix biochemistry, tissue regeneration, and wound healing.

His external activities include currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors of The American College of Wound Healing and Tissue Repair, Kent Imaging, and Nanomedic Technologies. He credits his success largely to the Graduate School and the field of plastic surgery.

As a way of giving back, he has established two endowed fellowships, the Dr. John R. and Rebekah Harper Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences at the school, and the John R. Harper, PhD, Fellowship in Plastic Surgery at MD Anderson.

Harper will be recognized for this honor at the school’s 2024 Commencement on Saturday, May 11, and at the alumni reunion on Friday, May 17.

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