CDD 2012 HighlightsCenter for Drug Discovery-- 2012 Highlights
The Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) continues to conduct multidisciplinary research (medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics) aimed at discovering new therapeutics. The CDD’s mission is to: (a) develop novel methodologies to improve drug discovery; (b) discover new medications to satisfy important medical needs; (c) train students and postdoctoral fellows in the art and science of drug discovery; (d) collaborate intensively with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and leading clinical centers; (e) and educating the public on disease processes and therapeutic frontiers. CDD research focuses mainly on novel approaches for modulating the endocannabinoid system for therapeutic gain against prevalent medical problems, including: pain and inflammation; neurodegenerative disorders; drug abuse and addiction; metabolic disorders related to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes; and infectious diseases. Novel compounds are currently in preclinical studies for these indications. Major international research collaborations are ongoing with several clinical institutions including Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital, and Beth Israel Hospital. In 2012, the results of this novel research appeared in 26 publications in the biomedical literature and 12 invited extramural presentations at international scientific meetings and have contributed to the CDD’s established intellectual property portfolio. CDD infrastructure includes state-of-the-art laboratories for chemical synthesis, cell biology and tissue culture, biochemistry, molecular modeling, biophysical analyses (NMR), mass spectrometry (proteomics), radiochemistry, imaging, and behavioral studies.
Administratively, the CDD is led by its Director, Alexandros Makriyannis, Ph.D., whose research interests have focused on chemical, biochemical, and biophysical approaches in drug discovery, especially as applied to the endocannabinoid signaling system and exploring its therapeutic potential. The Deputy Director, David Janero, Ph.D., brings to the CDD over 25 years of experience in drug discovery and innovation and business development within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries along with research experience that has addressed fundamental questions in pharmacology and translational medicine. Shawntelle Dillon, Assistant Director, Finance and Operations, along with Staff Assistants Brett Greene and Jessica Ehinger, complete the current administrative staff. Scientific Advisory and Strategic Advisory Boards provide external guidance through members from academia and industry. CDD research activities are currently supported by 9 predoctoral students, , 8 postdoctoral fellows, 5 research associates/scientists, 14 research faculty, and 15 adjunct faculty.
The CDD attracts substantial research support from the National Institutes of Health, encompassing a multimillion-dollar pre- and postdoctoral training grant in medications development, diversity supplements, and eight major federal research grants currently active. The CDD also contributed to two Northeastern University Seed Grant proposals that were awarded in 2012.
The CDD maintains strong ties within Bouvé College and the College of Science, particularly with the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemistry and Chemical Biology, from which our Ph.D. students are awarded their doctoral degrees, and sponsors three courses that help train new scientists in the multidisciplinary field of drug discovery, with particular degree research focus on either medicinal chemistry or pharmacology. Currently, 9 Ph.D. students are conducting their research in the CDD, and in the past 15months, the CDD graduated 11 Ph.D. students, 8 of whom focused on medicinal chemistry. Over the past five years, the CDD has mentored 18 Ph.D. students and 10 undergraduates and has trained 22 postdoctoral fellows, 16 of whom have progressed to faculty positions.
In addition to the laboratory research training provided to undergraduate and Ph.D. students by the CDD (above), the Center’s educational accomplishments in 2012 included lecture participation in the following courses/programs: Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry and Introduction to Biotechnology. The CDD offered and sponsored the following three courses for advanced undergraduates/graduate students: Chemistry and Biology of Drugs of Abuse, Behavioral Pharmacology., and Biophysical Methods in Drug Discovery. The CDD organized and sponsored the 10th annual “Current Trends in Drug Abuse Research Symposium” in April, 2012. In 2012, Dr. Makriyannis received the ACS Award in Medicinal Chemistry and was inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame. Dr. Janero was appointed an editor of the journal, Expert Opinion in Drug Discovery.