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Careers in translational drug discovery offer exciting opportunities to apply your biomedical research training to the development of much-needed treatments for disease.
While pursuing a career in drug discovery in the past has meant exiting the academic setting to join the pharmaceutical industry, this is no longer the case. Translational drug discovery efforts are occurring in a variety of settings including those in academia and the government.
This Neuroscience 2017 event provides an overview of career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, academic drug discovery centers, and NIH Intramural Research Programs and showcases examples of how basic and innovative biology can be turned into a drug discovery program in a variety of research settings that will lead to new medicines for patients who need them.
Janet Clark, PhD
Janet Clark is the director of the office of fellowship training for the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). In her current role, she is responsible for developing and overseeing a multidisciplinary training program in NIMH’s Intramural Research Program (IRP). In addition, she founded and served as director of the NIMH IRP Translational Neuropsychopharmacology Initiative to re-invigorate psychiatric drug discovery. Prior to joining NIMH, she was an associate professor in the pharmacology and physiology department at Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM), director of the pharmacology and physiology graduate program, and co-director and co-founder of the drug discovery and development graduate program. Clark started in the pharmaceutical industry where she spent 10 years at Merck Research Laboratories supporting drug discovery efforts in neuropharmacology through preclinical research.
Bill Martin, PhD
Bill Martin is the chief scientific officer and head of research and development at BlackThorn Therapeutics, a company focused on creating novel targeted medicines for neurodevelopmental disorders. Prior to joining BlackThorn, Martin worked at Theravance Biopharma, where his responsibilities ranged from drug discovery and development, to research portfolio planning and business development. He is the chair of SfN’s Government and Public Affairs Committee. Martin graduated from Swarthmore College and earned his PhD from Brown University. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco.
Amy Newman, PhD
Amy Hauck Newman is a senior investigator and chief of the Molecular Targets and Medications Discovery Branch and the Medicinal Chemistry Section at the National Institute on Drug Abuse – Intramural Research Program (NIDA-IRP), NIH. She also serves the NIDA-IRP as deputy scientific director and the director of its Medication Development Program. Her research focuses on the design and synthesis of molecular tools to elucidate drug-receptor interactions in the brain and induce changes at the protein level to affect behavior. Newman has received several career awards including the 2014 Marian W. Fischman Lectureship Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the 2016 Philip Portoghese Lectureship Award, from the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, American Chemical Society. Newman earned her PhD in medicinal chemistry from the Medical College of Virginia.
Fiona Randall, PhD
Fiona Randall is head of external innovation at Eisai AiM Institute, where she manages preclinical drug discovery partnerships with external groups and Eisai researchers. A British neuroscientist and electrophysiologist, she has worldwide drug discovery experience — including in the United Kingdom, Japan, China, and the United States. She trained in molecular biology in Edinburgh, going on to earn her PhD in neuroscience in Newcastle, United Kingdom, before doing a postdoctoral position in Okinawa, Japan. She moved to Shanghai to work in preclinical drug discovery for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), joining Eisai Electrophysiology Group in the United Kingdom in 2012 before moving her lab to the United States in 2014. Since then, she has worked on an array of global drug discovery projects and built an alliance management function at Eisai to facilitate collaboration. She is the United States leader on the Eisai Neurology Global Open Innovation Team and sits on the Eisai AiM Institute’s scientific and operational leadership team, which focuses on using human genetics to guide drug discovery for dementias.
James Schaeffer, PhD
James Schaeffer is the president of JMSchaeffer Consulting, Inc., and previously served as the vice president of the California Institute for Biomedical Research. He also served as the executive director of Merck Research Laboratories. Schaeffer earned his BS in molecular biology from Northwestern University, PhD in cellular and molecular biology from Baylor College of Medicine, and completed his postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Anton Simeonov, PhD
Anton Simeonov is the scientific director of the Intramural Division of Preclinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Simeonov was previously a senior scientist at Caliper Life Sciences, a leading developer of microfluidic technologies, where he was responsible for basic research on novel assay methodologies and development of microfluidic products for research and clinical diagnostics. He earned his BA in chemistry from Concordia College, PhD in bioorganic chemistry from the University of Southern California, and completed his postdoctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute under Richard Lerner and Kim Janda.
Barbara Slusher, MAS, PhD
Barbara Slusher is a professor of neurology, medicine, psychiatry, and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the director of Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery. Slusher previously served as a senior vice president of research and translation development at Eisai and MGI Pharma. She earned her BS in chemistry from Dickinson College, MAS in management from Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business, and her PhD in pharmacology and molecular sciences from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.