UC Davis School of Medicine honored Willard Dere with the 2008 Transformational Leadership Award in recognition of his many accomplishments. Dere has played a lead role internationally in drug development and medical education, particularly in the area of osteoporosis, a common disease of the bones.
He earned key leadership positions in research and development at Eli Lilly from 1989 to 2003 and then at Amgen, Inc., the world's largest biotechnology company. He's now senior vice president, global development, and international chief medical officer for Amgen.
Dere received his medical degree from UC Davis in 1980, as well as his B.A. in zoology and history in 1975, but the lessons he learned at UC Davis have not been forgotten. He counts Lindy Kumagai and Paul Hom – teachers and founders of UC Davis' Asian Clinic – as important mentors.
"My experience at UC Davis helped me remember always that the patient and his or her welfare come first," notes Dere, a trained internist and endocrinologist. "The UCD emphasis on the importance of clinical medicine, ranging from pathophysiology to the physical examination, was critical to my development as a physician."
Dere rose to the top with a string of successes in bringing new medical therapies to market. At Eli Lilly, he shepherded the development of two important therapies: Evista (raloxifene), a drug for preventing and treating osteoporosis in post-menopausal women; and Forteo (rhPTH 1-34), a recombinant version of human parathyroid hormone that reduces the risk of bone fracture in men and women. He was also involved in the development of Humalog (lys-pro insulin), a rapid-acting type of insulin for patients with diabetes mellitus; and Cymbalta (duloxetine), a drug for treating depression and anxiety disorders.
Most recently, Dere helped Amgen develop Sensipar (cinacalcet), a drug for patients on dialysis that treats an imbalance in calcium and phosphorus. He is involved in a number of molecules undergoing clinical evaluation or regulatory review at this time.
Dere has been active in teaching the next generation of physicians.
Since 1994, he has taught an annual training course for the International Osteoporosis Foundation. He co-authored a primary-care textbook that was recognized by the American College of Physicians in 1994.
In the 1980s, Dere taught at the University of Utah, where medical students gave him the outstanding teaching awards in 1982 when he was a resident, and chose him as clinical professor of the year in 1989. In 1986, 1987, and 1988, he received teaching awards from the house staff. In the 1990s, Dere began teaching physical diagnosis, and served annually as a hospital ward-attending physician at Indiana University, where he remains clinical associate professor of medicine.
Dere has been a leader in translational medicine, as well, and is on the editorial board of a new translational research journal. Since 1994, he has worked on a European working group called G.R.E.E.S. (Group for Respect, Excellence, and Ethics in Science) that has published several manuscripts focused on regulatory guidance recommendations to the European Medicines Agency for a variety of bone and joint disorders.