In memoriam: Regents Professor George 'Bob' Pettit

ASU mourns the loss of renowned anti-cancer pioneer and friend

September 24, 2021

It is with sadness that the ASU School of Molecular Sciences announces the death of Regents Professor George “Bob” Pettit, who died on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Pettit was a giant in the field of natural products and anti-cancer research, holding nearly 70 patents on anti-cancer compounds. During his 55-year career at Arizona State University, Pettit founded and directed the Cancer Research Institute and was the Dalton Professor of Cancer Research and Medicinal Chemistry. Throughout his career George “Bob” Pettit was the recipient of numerous awards, and he published over 800 scientific papers, books and book chapters. His work has been cited more than 31,000 times by other researchers, attesting to Pettit’s productivity and stature. Download Full Image

Longtime colleague and friend Emeritus Professor Morton Munk, who knew Pettit for 70 years, recalled, “Bob established himself as a pioneer and a major presence in the field of natural products chemistry. He was deeply involved and successful in the discovery and development of cancer chemotherapy agents.”

Pettit’s work lives on in the over 800 scientific papers, books and book chapters he published. His work has been cited more than 31,000 times by other researchers, attesting to Pettit’s productivity and stature.

Throughout his career, Pettit was the recipient of numerous awards, including the State of Arizona Governor’s Excellence Award, the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists, the Research Achievement Award by the American Society of Pharmacognosy and the Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Natural Products.

Pettit was admired and respected by scientists around the world, honored by the International Cancer Advocacy Network, the American Society of Pharmacognosy and Washington State University, his alma mater. A special edition of the Journal of Natural Products is dedicated to Pettit, and the French journal Médicine Sciences paid tribute to him. Pettit’s achievements earned him the designation of Outstanding Investigator by the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute.

“As the long-term editor of the Journal of Natural Products, I had the privilege of handling dozens of manuscripts submitted by the late Bob Pettit and his associates,” said A. Douglas Kinghorn, professor and Jack L. Beal Chair in the College of Pharmacy at Ohio State University. “Each research article was highly significant in its technical content and written meticulously, representing a model for how to prepare a manuscript to younger scientists. For about a decade, Bob very graciously served on the External Advisory Committee of our multi-institutional program project funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and was always available to provide sage and pertinent advice. He will be very greatly missed by the members of our natural products community.”

Gordon Cragg, former NCI chief of the Natural Products Branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute recalled, “I regard Bob as one of the most outstanding and resourceful scientists I have known, and I am forever grateful to him for the indispensable role he played in guiding my professional career in anticancer drug discovery. He will long be remembered for his devotion and commitment to improving the treatment and quality of life of cancer patients worldwide, and to this end he achieved worldwide recognition in discovering multiple naturally derived antitumor active compounds, several of which lead to the development of clinically approved anticancer agents. He was truly an inspiration to all who met him!"

Colleagues at ASU remember Pettit for his kindness and for never being too busy to chat in the hallway or offer supportive words. He was an inspiration to his students and colleagues alike.

Former School of Molecular Sciences Director Ian Gould noted, “Bob was a most talented and knowledgeable organic chemist; serving on graduate student committees with him was a privilege. Bob had a wonderfully warm personality and always had time to chat about science. He was a true gentleman, and he will be sorely missed.”

Pettit’s service to the school, to the university and to chemistry will rarely be equaled, Gould said. His accomplishments, kindness and generosity of spirit will continue to be an inspiration for future generations.

To honor Pettit’s accomplishments and memory, the School of Molecular Sciences has established the George “Bob” Pettit Fellowship Fund to create an endowed fellowship to support graduate students studying medicinal chemistry. More information is available at

WATCH: Ian Gould and Morton Munk reflect on Pettit's career on the occassion of his retirement one year ago

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences


W. P. Carey School to honor Northern Trust chief economist as most accurate forecaster

Carl Tannenbaum to share 2022 predictions and accept the Lawrence R. Klein Award at Oct. 11 virtual event

September 24, 2021

Despite continued uncertainty driven by the ongoing pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and a series of geopolitical uncertainties, Northern Trust Chief Economist Carl Tannenbaum predicts the U.S. economy will continue its recovery from last year’s shocks.

Tannenbaum, the forecaster with the most accurate projections over the past four years, will deliver his economic outlook at a free, live online event from 6 to 7 p.m. (Eastern time) Oct. 11 with the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. At that time, Tannenbaum will be honored with the Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Forecast Accuracy, regarded as one of the best-known and longest-standing achievements in the field. Carl Tannenbaum Northern Trust Chief Economist Carl Tannenbaum. Download Full Image

“I am delighted to win this award. I’ve been a Blue Chip forecaster across several institutions for more than 30 years, and it’s the first time I’ve been with the winning team. It is a great honor,” Tannenbaum said.

This is the second time Northern Trust has won the Lawrence R. Klein award as an organization. Amy Ostrom, interim dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business, will present Tannenbaum his award, which will be followed by his economic forecast for the coming year. Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, will introduce Tannenbaum.

There are 50 contributing forecasters for the Blue Chip competition from leading organizations across the country, including financial institutions, manufacturing firms, consulting companies and universities.

The award is judged and sponsored by the W. P. Carey School of Business. The Blue Chip Economic Indicators newsletter is the source of the forecasts used to select the winner.

“The award is based on the smallest average error for GDP (gross domestic product), CPI (consumer price index) and unemployment over the past four years,” said economics Professor Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at ASU. “The predictions of Carl Tannenbaum and his Northern Trust team have held up remarkably, even through more recent developments such as inflation concerns, supply chain bottlenecks and the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

In addition to his economic duties, Tannenbaum is also responsible for the analytics and modeling group within Northern Trust’s risk management division, and he monitors the strategic risks facing the organization. He also publishes weekly commentaries and is frequently interviewed by media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Reuters.

Before joining Northern Trust, Tannenbaum spent four years at the Federal Reserve, where he led the risk section. He was deeply involved in the central bank’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, helped to create and conduct its stress testing program, and advised senior Federal Reserve leaders on developments in banking and the financial markets. Tannenbaum began his career in banking at LaSalle Bank/ABN AMRO, a global banking organization with $1 trillion in total assets. 

Tannenbaum is the current chairperson of the International Conference of Commercial Bank Economists and a past chairperson of the National Association for Business Economics, the Conference of Business Economists, the American Bankers Association’s Economic Advisory Committee and the North American Asset/Liability Management Association. He holds an MBA and a BA in finance and economics from the University of Chicago.

During the ceremony, Tannenbaum will deliver his 2022 predictions regarding:

  • Which sectors of the U.S. economy will exhibit turbulence or growth.
  • How a buildup of excess savings will impact consumer spending.
  • How long current supply chain concerns will linger.
  • How inflation will affect consumer behavior and business decisions in the year ahead.
  • What COVID-19 spikes and declines mean for employment trends, policies, and the growth cycle.

For more information or to register for the Lawrence R. Klein Award event Oct. 11, visit Journalists who attend as members of the virtual audience can ask questions during the Q&A section of the event. 

Established in 1976, Wolters Kluwer's Blue Chip Economic Indicators is synonymous with the latest in expert opinion on the future performance of the U.S. economy. Each month Haver Analytics compiles the forecasts of 50 leading business economists for key indicators of economic growth.

Communications assistant, W. P. Carey School of Business