Pharmacy Alumnus Fuels Future Success

Gene Ray, Ph.D. '89

School of Pharmacy mentee inspired to establish new research scholarship

Throughout a distinguished career as a pharmaceutical sciences researcher, Gene Ray, Ph.D. ’89, has brought more than 40 new chemical entities and hundreds of reformulated generic medications to market for patient care. Now he is laying the groundwork to help future scientists interested in following his path by establishing the Gene F. Ray Family Scholarship.

Ray established the new award at the UMKC School of Pharmacy to support graduate students in the Division of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences who, like Ray, have a desire to conduct potentially life-changing research.

“I really don’t take credit for any of this,” Ray said. “I’m following my mentors’ lead.”

While a graduate student at the School of Pharmacy, Ray worked closely with the late William Mason, BSP ’41, and the late Robert Lanman, Ph.D., UMKC faculty members who were both heavily involved in pharmaceutical research and development. When Ray completed his doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry, Mason and Lanman served on the advisory board for his graduate research project that focused on defining the chemistry of an anti-AIDS drug and its pharmacokinetics.

“I really don’t take credit for any of this. I’m following my mentors’ lead.” – Gene Ray, Ph.D. 

After graduation, Ray worked for many years with the pair at Kansas City Analytical Service (KCAS), a private, science company Mason started which specialized in pharmacokinetics, bioequivalence and pharmaceutical and bioanalytical analysis.

“We brought a significant number of drugs to market,” Rays says. “It’s a testament to the ingenuity of the pharmacy school to have an incentive program that allowed someone like Bill and Robert to make a real impact, not only on Kansas City but to our field in general outside of educating young men like myself.”

The men and their families continued to make an impact on the school by establishing scholarship programs. Lanman established the Robert C. Lanman Graduate Pharmacology Scholarship in 1992 and Mason established the William D. Mason Memorial Graduate Scholarship in 2014.

Ray recently followed suit with a $15,000 donation to create an endowment for his scholarship fund. He also added a percentage of his trust fund to feed into the endowment going forward.

“After Dr. Lanman passed away and I was looking at future retirement, I thought it was time that I might consider doing the same thing,” Ray said.

Ray has put retirement on hold and works from his home in Gilbert, Arizona as a senior scientific advisor with Agilex Biolabs, an Australian contract research organization that provides a full range of bioanalytical, biomarker and toxicology services.

“I’ve been very blessed, having gone to UMKC and received these credentials to take this kind of role in drug development,” he said.

Ray’s new scholarship, as well as the those of his mentors, Mason and Lanman, will live on to support students long into the future.

Ray said it’s a way of giving back to the school that he was blessed to attend and build the credentials necessary to succeed in his chosen field.

“That’s a really nice draw, to know that my family’s name will be tethered to the school as long as the university exists,” Ray said.