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News & Events

April 2023

  • JHDD Director Barb Slusher delivers the annual Emmett T. Cunningham, Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, Distinguished Lectureship in Medical Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • Bullfrog AI announces an exclusive licensing agreement with JHDD to commercialize prodrug compositions of mebendazole to treat cancer

March 2023

  • JHDD and UMB hold their annual joint research symposium
  • In collaboration with Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company, JHDD scientists develop a novel prodrug for the treatment of alopecia areata
  • The JHDD team enjoys a tour at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery

February 2023

  • JHDD graduate student Manisha Pradhan is awarded an F31 to study the role of GCPII in visceral pain. Congratulations, Manisha!

December 2022

  • Congratulations to the JHDD Collaborator of the Year, Niyada Hin!
  • Happy Holidays from JHDD! The team celebrated at Cindy Lou’s Fish House with a party and white elephant gift exchange

November 2022


  • JHDD publishes breakthrough study in Science Advances showing anticancer efficacy of novel prodrug DRP-104
  • JHDD welcomes new team members Vijay Mettu and Louis Mueller

October 2022


  • JHDD’s Dr. Katie Lemberg awarded the 2022 Hyundai Hope on Wheels Young Investigator award. Congratulations, Katie!

  • JHDD wins 3 awards at the Johns Hopkins Department of Neurology Retreat (Rana Rais – best talk, Arindom Pal – best poster, Yu Su – best poster)

September 2022


  • JHDD researchers awarded 2 NIH R01s to study GCPII inhibition in cerebral palsy and sarcopenia
  • Rana Rais and Diane Peters awarded Maryland Innovation Initiative grants
  • JHDD welcomes Meixiang Huang, Yu Su, Victor Hwang, and Naziba Nuha

August 2022


  • Welcome Kaitlyn Huizar, James Paule, and Evan Carlyle to the JHDD team!

July 2022

  • JHDD Director Barbara Slusher named a “Top 50 Women Leaders of Maryland for 2022” by Women We Admire. Congratulations, Barb!
  • For our summer outing, the JHDD team hits the rapids and goes whitewater rafting in Harper’s Ferry

June 2022

  • JHDD welcomes 1 new PREP scholar, Evan Carlyle, and 7 new summer students – Nick Haughey, Eshan Beg, Nasreen Naqvi, and Brianna Edmunds to Animal Pharmacology, Noor Sheikh and Michael Maragakis to DMPK, and Philana Hin to Chemistry!

April 2022

  • The JHDD team spreads their wings for indoor skydiving at iFly!

March 2022

  • JHDD welcomes Lukas Tenora to the DMPK team and Kate Novotna to the chemistry team

February 2022

  • Congratulations to JHDD’s Diane Peters on your promotion to Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences!
  • In collaboration with JHU gastroenterology and pain clinicians, JHDD received a grant from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to study therapeutic targets for pain in IBD
  • JHDD researchers and colleagues awarded the NIH P30 renewal to support JH CAHN and its groundbreaking work to better understand and develop novel treatments for HIV
  • JHDD’s Barb Slusher and Rana Rais celebrate the sale of Adarga/PSMA Therapeutics to Bayer at The Bygone Four Seasons

January 2022

  • Congratulations to JHDD’s Diane Peters for securing your K01 award to study GCPII inhibition for the treatment of IBD
  • Jesse Alt is named the JHDD 2021 Collaborator of the Year. Congratulations, Jesse, and thanks for all of your hard work and dedication!

December 2021

  • JHDD celebrates the holidays with a lunch and white elephant gift exchange. Happy holidays from JHDD!

November 2021

  • Takashi Tsukamoto is named the 2021 Maryland Chemist of the Year by the American Chemical Society. Congratulations, Takashi!!! The virtual ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 8 at 7pm, linked here, with Takashi delivering a lecture, “Connecting Fluroinated Dots“. Please join us with video and audio off, ask your questions or send comments through the chat feature, and RSVP to Angela Sherman at [email protected]

October 2021

  • JHDD’s HEAL project to develop a new treatment for neuropathic pain approved for transition from the UG3 to the UH3 phase

September 2021

  • JHDD bids farewell to Sanket and Jake with a happy hour at Barcocina

August 2021

  • JHDD spends a fun day catching rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay

June 2021

  • PSMA Therapeutics, featuring JHDD-licensed technology, is acquired by Bayer

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

  • JHDD team members enjoy a day of skiing and snow tubing at Liberty Mountain Resort!

February 2021

January 2021

December 2020

  • JHDD celebrates the holidays with a Zoom secret Santa in new sweatshirts and masks. Happy Holidays from JHDD!


  • Sanket Awate joins JHDD. Welcome, Sanket!
  • Ben Bell awarded PhRMA postdoctoral fellowship grant to study nSMase2 inhibition in Alzheimer’s disease

November 2020

  • Ajit Thomas named JHDD Collaborator of the Year!

October 2020

  • Rana Rais and collaborators report on physiologically active and shape-changing theragrippers as a novel method of enhancing drug delivery. [Science Advances]
  • Katie Lemberg awarded a Maryland Innovation Initiative grant to study novel treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • NIH awards R01 to Barb Slusher, Takashi Tsukamoto, and collaborator Amy Arnsten to study GCPII inhibition for the treatment of prefrontal cortex deficit.
September 2020

  • First-in-human Phase 1/2a clinical trial initiated for JHDD-invented glutamine antagonist for the treatment of solid tumors
  • JHDD welcomes postdoctoral fellow Ilyas Berhane and graduate student Robyn Wiseman!
August 2020

July 2020

  • Welcome, Sadakatali Gori and Jacob Friedman, to the DMPK group!
June 2020

  • New PREP scholars chose JHDD for post-baccalaureate research – welcome, Kaleem Coleman and Tawnjerae Joe!
  • Ben Bell awarded T32 Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences postdoctoral fellowship
  • JHDD’s Barb Slusher quoted in Chemistry World article about academia’s growing contributions to CNS drug discovery
May 2020

  • JHDD’s Barb Slusher and Rana Rais recognized as key Women in Innovation leaders by JH Tech Ventures
  • NIH awards R01 to JHDD and collaborator Dr. Kannan Rangaramanujam to test a novel dendrimer-conjugated treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
  • JHDD and collaborator Dr. Atsushi Kamiya receive NIH R01 funding to develop a new treatment for post-operative delirium

April 2020

March 2020

  • Anonymous donor provides support to evaluate nSMase2 inhibitors and glutamine antagonists against COVID-19
  • National Institute of Aging funds R01 to JHDD to explore novel treatments for Alzheimer’s disease

February 2020

January 2020

  • JHDD receives a Maryland Innovation Initiative grant to test a new treatment for alopecia areata – Tedco

December 2019

  • Holiday Luncheon at Aldo’s – Click here for photos
  • JHDD led the 2nd Annual Drug Discovery Symposium with UMB – UMD Pharmacy News Center
  • Camilo Rojas and Norman Haughey presented the keynote commercialization project lecture on the discovery of the first potent, orally-available, brain penetrant inhibitor of neutral sphingomyelinase 2 with potent HIV anti-viral activity.  JHDD/UMB Joint Drug Discovery Symposium, UMD
  • Crohn’s and Colitis Foundations’ IBD Ventures partners with JHDD to develop a new therapy for inflammatory bowel disease – IBD Ventures

November 2019

  • Glutamine antagonist can slow tumor growth, alter the tumor microenvironment, and promote the production of durable and highly active antitumor T cells – Science, 2019, Nov. 7 [PubMed]
  • Glutamine blockade induces divergent metabolic programs to overcome tumor immune evasion [Science Magazine]
  • Glutamine-Blocking Drug Slows Tumor Growth And Strengthens Anti-Tumor Response [Hopkins Medicine]
  • Glutamine-blocking drug slows tumor growth and strengthens anti-tumor response [Science Daily]
  • Glutamine-blocking drug slows tumor growth and strengthens anti-tumor response [Eurekalert]
  • Glutamine-blocking drug slows tumor growth and strengthens anti-tumor response [Bioengineer]
  • Xiaolei Zhu gave an oral presentation on antagonists of glutamine at 16th International Symposium on NeuroVirology (ISNV) and 2019 Conference on HIV in the Central Nervous System.
  • Carolyn Tallon gave an oral presentation titled “PDDC: A novel neutral sphingomyelinase 2 inhibitor for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease” at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.
  • Angie Rubin receives 2019 Collaborator of the Year Award

October 2019

  • Happy Hour with colleagues from IOCB Click here to see photos
  • JHDD and IOCB discover the first orally-available, brain-penetrable nSMase2 inhibitor – Br J Pharmacol., 2019, Oct;176(19):3857-3870  [PubMed]
  • Barbara Slusher gave plenary lecture at Camden Partners Nexus Fund, Baltimore  Click here to see photos

September 2019

  • Takashi Tsukamoto received a UG3 grant through the HEAL Initiative to develop MRGPRX1 positive allosteric modulators as non-addictive therapies for neuropathic pain. Click here for more information

August 2019

  • JHDD finds that JHU-083 attenuates deficits in a model of Multiple Sclerosis.  Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm., 2019 Aug 29;6(6) PubMed

June 2019

May 2019

  • Ondrej Stepanek gave an oral presentation on inhibitors of neutral sphingomyelinase 2 at ACS Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting (MARM)
  • JHU and Mount Sinai investigators find that intranasal insulin reverses cognitive impairment in a model of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders – AIDS, 2019, May 1;33(6):973-984 PubMed

April 2019

  • JHDD and IOCB discover a new class of tumor-targeted glutamine antagonists – J Med Chem, 2019, April 11;62(7):3524-3538  PubMed

March 2019

  • JHU reports that glutamine antagonism may represent a new class of anti-depressants – Neuropsychopharmacology, 2019, Mar:44 (4):683-694 PubMed
  • Clinical connection See more from Hopkins Medicine

February 2019

January 2019

November 2018

  • Barbara Slusher to give plenary lecture at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation conference “IBD Innovate” at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City
  • JHDD throws axes Click here to see photos

October 2018

September 2018

  • Camilo Rojas, Takashi Tsukamoto and Barbara Slusher awarded NIH R01 to develop nSMase2 inhibitors for Alzheimer’s disease


August 2018

June 2018

  • Rana Rais presented the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Core at the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute For Cancer Immunotherapy

May 2018

December 2017

August 2017

Cruising on the boat
Hanging out on the boat
Rana and Usman fishing
Everybody together!
Caught a fish!

July 2017

The summer bash!

June 2017

  • Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery presents 6 posters at the First Annual Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Scientific Retreat

  • Ajit Thomas presented new insight on the molecular mechanism of action of Netupitant/Palonosetron (NEPA) for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting at the MASCC 2017 meeting in Washington, D.C. Click here for more information

JHDD scientists presented their latest findings on NEPA mechanism of action during the MASCC meeting in Washington on June 23. NEPA is a drug combination of netupitant and palonosetron used for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Previous work has shown that both palonosetron and netupitant can induce 5-HT3 and NK1 receptor internalization and that this could help explain the long-term action of this agent in CINV prevention. One question that has often been asked is what happens to the receptors after they are internalized. The latest work using HEK 293 cells that express the NK1 receptor shows that when using the NK1 receptor antagonist netupitant by itself or in combination with palonosetron (NEPA), NK1 receptors were internalized and remained internalized 6h after exposure to the antagonist. In contrast, the NK1 receptor could be internalized by its agonist, substance P (SP), and subsequently recycled to the cell surface within 4h of SP exposure. The results indicate that the antagonists trigger internalization without recycling and suggest receptors may undergo degradation. Read more

December 2016

  • Novel Prodrugs of 6-Diazo-5-Oxo-L-Norleucine With More Brain Delivery
  • Rana Rais and Jonathan Powell present “Design of cell-targeted glutamine antagonists for cancer treatment” at the Johns Hopkins ICTR and CFAR Second Annual Symposium

  • Mike Nedelcovych presents Johns Hopkins Clinical Pharmacology Lecture on “Glutamine Antagonism as a Cognition Enhancing Therapeutic in EcoHIV mice”

  • Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery hosts its annual Holiday Luncheon and Santa Swap Party at Woodberry Kitchen Click here to see photos

Holiday Luncheon at Woodberry Kitchen

November 2016

  • Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery goes bowling at Mustang Alley’s: green team wins again 🙂  Click here to see photos

Jesse, Eva, Angie, Bridget and Pavel
Mark, Camilo, Krystyna, Alex and Rana
Arena, Niyada, Barb, Mike and Ondrej
Matt, Takashi, Kristin, Georg and Mohamed
Mark, Rana and Alex

August 2016

July 2016

The group on the dock while fishing

June 2016

  • Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Receives Sanofi iAWARD for new Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) therapeutics

  • Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery hosts high school summer science camp Click here to see photos