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Barbara Slusher, M.A.S., Ph.D.

Barbara Lynn Stauch Slusher, M.A.S., Ph.D.

Headshot of Barbara Slusher
  • Director, Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery
  • Professor of Neurology

Research Interests

Small molecule drug discovery

Background

Barbara Slusher is Professor of Neurology (primary), Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Medicine and Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Director of Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery.  Dr. Slusher has published over 250 scientific articles and reviews and is the inventor on over 100 patents and patent applications.

Before joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Slusher spent 18 years in the pharmaceutical industry, including several years at the level of Senior Vice President of Research and Translational Development.  She has extensive experience in drug discovery through early clinical development and was involved in the successful development, launch and/or post marketing support of several FDA approved medicines.  In 2009 she joined Johns Hopkins to lead the largest drug discovery program on campus with a veteran team of 25 medicinal chemists, assay developers, pharmacologists, toxicologists, and pharmacokinetics/drug metabolism experts.  The team is engaged in identifying novel drug targets arising from the faculty’s research and translating them into new drug therapies for clinical development. 

Since joining JHU, she has is co-founded four new companies including Cerecor, Dracen Pharmaceuticals, Adarga, and Lorem Therapeutics amassing over $150M in funding.  Dr. Slusher also co-founded the first-ever International Consortium of Academic Drug Discovery with over 150 university-led translational centers and 1500 members.  Dr. Slusher has served on multiple scientific advisory boards and steering committees including Janssen, Eisai, Inc., Bayer Healthcare, Bluefield Innovations, Neurofibromatosis Therapeutic Acceleration Program, American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Longeviti Neurosolutions, and Ashvattha Therapeutics.

 Dr. Slusher received her undergraduate degree from Dickinson College where she graduated valedictorian, majoring in Chemistry. She received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences from John Hopkins School of Medicine while simultaneously earning her Master's degree in Administrative Science from the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business (formerly School of Continuing Studies). 

Barbara Slusher can be reached via email at bslusher@jhmi.edu.

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Titles

  • Director, Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery
  • Professor of Neurology
  • Joint Appointment in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professor of Medicine
  • Professor of Neuroscience
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes

Education

Degrees

  • B.S.; Dickinson College (Pennsylvania) (1986)
  • M.A.S.; Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) (1991)
  • Ph.D.; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (1991)

Additional Training

  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1992, Pharmacology

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Slusher leads the largest integrated drug discovery program on campus with a veteran team of 25 medicinal chemists, assay developers, pharmacologists, toxicologists, and pharmacokinetics/drug metabolism experts.  The team is engaged in identifying novel drug targets and translating them into new drug therapies for clinical development.

Lab

Lab Website: Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Tenora L, Alt J, Dash RP, Gadiano AJ, Novotna K, Veeravalli V, Lam J, Kirkpatrick QR, Lemberg K, Majer P, Rais R, Slusher BS. “Tumor-targeted delivery of 6-Diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON) using substituted acetylated lysine prodrugs.” Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2019, Apr 11;62(7):3524-3538. PMID: 30892035

Leone RD, Zhao L, Englert JM, Sun IM, Oh MH, Sun IH, Arwood ML, Bettencourt IA, Patel CH, Wen J, Tam A, Blosser RL, Prchalova E, Alt J, Rais R, Slusher BS, Powell JD. “Glutamine blockade induces divergent metabolic programs to overcome tumor immune evasion.”, Science, 2019, Nov. 7. PMCID: PMC7023461

Rojas C, Sala M, Thomas AG, Datta Chaudhuri A, Yoo SW, Li Z, Dash RP, Rais R, Haughey NJ, Nencka R, Slusher B. A novel and potent brain penetrant inhibitor of extracellular vesicle release. Br J Pharmacol. 2019 Oct;176(19):3857-3870. doi: 10.1111/bph.14789. Epub 2019 Sep 4. PMID: 31273753; PMCID: PMC6780992

Rais R, Jancarik A, Tenora L, Nedelcovych M, Alt J, Englert J, Rojas C, Le A, Elgogary A, Tan J, Monincova L, Pate K, Adam RJ, Ferraris DV, Powell JD, Maje P, Slusher BS. “Discovery of 6-Diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON) prodrugs with enhanced CSF delivery in monkeys: a potential treatment for glioblastoma.” Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2016, Sept 22:59(18):8621-33

BS Slusher, JJ Vornov, AG Thomas, PD Hurn, RJ Traystman, MB Robinson, P Britton, M Lu, FC Tortella, K Wozniak, M Yudkoff, PF Jackson (1999). “Selective inhibition of NAALADase, which converts NAAG to glutamate, reduces ischemic brain injury”. Nature Medicine, 5, 1396-1402

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • Reipe Alumni Award
  • Hematology/Oncology Convention Platform Award
  • Edward J. Stegmann Award
  • Dana Scholar
  • Eisai Scientific Merit Award, 2009
  • Guilford CEO Achievement Award, 2005
  • Sandoz Pharmaceutical Award, 1991
  • Johns Hopkins Chemistry Prize, 1986
  • Omicron Delta Kappa Leader-of-the-Year Award, 1985
  • Analytical Chemistry Award, 1985
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1984
  • Delaplaine McDaniels Award, 1983

Memberships

  • American Association of Cancer Research, 2008 - 2010
    Member
  • American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, 2010
    Member
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2008 - 2010
    Member
  • National Academic Drug Discovery Consortium, 2011
    Founding Member
  • Peripheral Nerve Society, 2011
    Member
  • Society for Neuroscience, 1988
    Member

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • Practical Applications of Drug Discovery in Academia
    Translational Research Panel, Life Science Summit, New York (09/01/2010)
  • Pharmacological Differences Among 5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists.
    International Meeting of Supportive Care Therapeutics, Dublin, Ireland (12/01/2001)
  • GCPII inhibition for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy and neuropathic pain.
    American Society of Experimental Therapeutics (ASENT), Washington DC (02/01/2011)
  • DAAO inhibition for the treatment of schizophrenia.
    American Society of Experimental Therapeutics (ASENT), Washington DC (02/01/2011)
  • NeuroTranslational Drug Discovery Model: Drug Discovery in Academia
    Baltimore MD (10/01/2001)
    Johns Hopkins
  • Drug Development Basics: It is a very multidisciplinary effort
    Translational Research Panel, Life Science Summit, New York (11/01/2001)
  • The Changing Paradigm of Academic Drug Discovery
    American Society of Experimental Therapeutics (ASENT), Washington DC (02/01/2012)
  • Inhibition of System xc- for the treatment of brain cancer
    American Society of Experimental Therapeutics (ASENT), Washington DC (02/01/2012)
  • Development of DAAO inhibitors for Schizophrenia
    American Society of Experimental Therapeutics (ASENT), Washington DC (02/01/2012)
  • Neurologists and Neuroscientists: Defining the Next Generation of CNS Therapies
    New Orleans, LA (04/01/2012)
    American Academy of Neurology
  • Changing Landscape of Drug Discovery in the US
    European Symposium on the Design of Academic Drug Discovery, Copenhagen, Denmark (09/01/2012)
  • Translational Activities: the Data Package
    The Plexiform Neurofibroma Scientific Summit, Farmington, PA (09/01/2012)
  • Academics in CNS Therapy Discovery”.
    ASENT-ANA Satellite Workshop on Enhancing CNS Therapy Development, Boston, MA (10/01/2001)
  • Where will the new drugs come from?
    World Health Summit, Berlin, Germany (10/01/2001)
  • Evolution or Revolution? Transforming How Basic Research Discoveries Become Life Saving Therapies
    Translational Research Panel, Life Science Summit, New York, NY (11/01/2001)
  • HTS and Early Drug Discovery in Industry and Academia. Collaboration: Is the Sum Greater Than the Two Parts?
    Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (01/01/2013)
  • Overview of the Drug Discovery Process
    Training in Neurotherapeutics Discovery and Development for Academic Scientists, Bethesda, MD. (02/01/2013)

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

People On the Move, Baltimore Business Journal (February 5, 2021)

Mouse Studies Advance Search for New Class of Antidepressants, Clinical Connection (February 7, 2019)

Johns Hopkins startup gets funding from company turning research into businesses, Technical.ly (May 15, 2018) 

Startup with Johns Hopkins roots raising $40.5 million to develop cancer metabolism drugs, EndPoints News (January 31, 2018)

One-Year Old Dracen Pharma Raises $40.5M, Hunts for Office and Lab Space With Plans to Hire, BioSpace (January 30, 2018)

Scientists Build a Better Cancer Drug to Pass Through Blood-Brain Barrier, Hopkins Medicine (October 20, 2016)

A Changing Ecosystem for Drug DiscoveryDoorways to Discovery (November 2014)

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