Kim Creek’s groundbreaking research has been turning heads.

The vice chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) has just been named one of the winners of the 2014 Breakthrough Leadership in Research Award.

The honor comes on the heels of being named the 2014 recipient of the USC Educational Foundation Award for Research in Health Sciences, one of Carolina’s most prestigious annual prizes for research and scholarship.  Creek also brought international research acclaim to the College and University two years ago when he first reported that  increased risk for cervical cancer in  black women may be the result of slow clearance of the virus, human papillomavirus (HPV), that causes this cancer.

The Breakthrough Leadership in Research award recognizes outstanding contributions and sustained leadership in research. Creek was one of eight Carolina faculty members to be honored for exemplary work.

“These exceptional senior faculty members display a serious commitment to research innovation, and go out of their way to enhance research at USC and its impact on their colleagues and communities at large,” said USC Vice President for Research Prakash Nagarkatti. “Such dedication is a major contributor to the University of South Carolina being recognized as a premiere research institution.”

Creek’s research program focuses on exploring the cellular and molecular changes initiated by HPV type 16 (HPV16), a DNA virus associated with nearly all cervical cancers. In July, Creek and his team of USC researchers published a landmark study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that found HPV infection lasts longer in college-aged black women than whites, possibly setting them up for a higher risk of cervical cancer. The disparity is significant and could have ramifications on public health policy.

Preliminary findings of this study reverberated through the healthcare and related industries when presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in 2012. The team’s discovery was reported in hundreds of media outlets, including USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, Associated Press, National Public Radio, NBC News, and many others.

Creek is a recognized expert on health disparities and is co-principal investigator (PI) on a $6.7 million grant awarded in 2010 by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Creek and co-PI Saundra Glover, associate dean for health disparities and social justice at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health, used the grant to fund a Coordinating Center of Excellence in the Social Promotion of Health Equity Research, Education and Community Engagement (CCE-SPHERE).

Creek joined the USC campus of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy in 2010, when he was named vice chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences. Previously, he served as professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the USC School of Medicine. Creek’s Ph.D. is from Purdue University and he conducted post-doctoral research  at  Washington University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute.

“Dr. Creek has been an outstanding addition to the College, both for his groundbreaking research in the basic sciences and for his leadership in the department as a mentor,” said Randy Rowen, interim executive dean of the SCCP. “His contributions to our students and faculty are as important to us as his research and he performs both roles with equal diligence and success.”

2014 Breakthrough Leadership in Research Award Recipients

Kim Creek, Ph.D., Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences, SC College of Pharmacy
Don Edwards, Ph.D., Department of Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences
James Knapp, Ph.D., Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
Ana Lòpez-De Fede, Ph.D., Institute for Families and Society, College of Social Work
Manoj Malhotra, Ph.D., Department Management Science, Darla Moore School of Business
Branko Popov, Ph.D., Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering and Computing
Mark Smith, Ph.D., Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences
Frank Spinale, MD, Ph.D., Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, School of Medicine