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

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

Photo of Dr. Barbara Slusher, M.A.S., Ph.D.
  • Director, JHU NIMH Therapeutic Core
  • Professor of Neurology


Barbara Slusher, Ph.D., MAS, is Professor of Neurology (primary), Medicine, Psychiatry, and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Director of Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery 

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 Johns Hopkins School of Medicine while simultaneously earning her Master's degree in Administrative Science from the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business (formerly the Hopkins' School of Continuing Studies).

Before joining Johns Hopkins in 2010, 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 branded medicines including Quetiapine (Seroquel TM) for schizophrenia, Palonosetron (Aloxi TM) for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, Azacytodine (Dacogen TM) for myelodysplastic syndrome, and Fospropofol (Lucedra TM) for monitored anesthesia care (MAC) sedation.

At Johns Hopkins, she leads the largest integrated drug discovery program on campus, responsible for translating basic science discoveries at Hopkins into novel small molecule therapeutics. Her veteran drug discovery team consists of medicinal chemists, assay developers, pharmacologists, toxicologists, and pharmacokinetic/drug metabolism experts, with an average of 15 years Pharma R&D drug discovery experience. 

She has also published over 175 scientific articles and is the inventor on 75 issued patents and applications. She co-founded a new biotechnology company in Baltimore called Cerecor and is leading the first-ever International Consortium of over 130 Academic Drug Discovery Centers with over 1500 members in an effort to coordinate and enhance university-led drug discovery efforts.

Barbara Slusher can be reached via email at more


  • Director, JHU NIMH Therapeutic Core
  • Director, Brain Science Institute Neuro-translational Drug Discovery Program
  • 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



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

Additional Training

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1992, Pharmacology

Research & Publications

Research Summary

At Johns Hopkins Dr. Slusher currently leads a 20-member veteran drug discovery team of medicinal chemists, assay developers, pharmacologists, toxicologists, and pharmacokinetic/drug metabolism experts, who are engaged in identifying novel drug targets arising from JHU faculty’s research and translating them into new drug therapies for neurological disorders.

Dr. Slusher is a member of the JHU NIMH Center for Novel Therapeutics of HIV-associated Cognitive Disorders, and serves as the Director for the Therapeutics Development Core. It is through this center that novel therapies that evolve from JHU studies will be evaluated for neuroprotective activity in cell culture and animal models of neurodegeneration for HIV-associated cognitive disorders and dementia. Promising compounds with in vivo efficacy and favorable pharmacokinetics and safety properties may ultimately be evaluated in clinical studies as adjunctive therapy for HIV patients with cognitive disorders.

Dr. Slusher has published over 120 scientific articles and is the inventor on 52 patents and patent applications. She has been an invited speaker at over 40 national and international scientific meetings and has served on the board or as a scientific consultant of multiple biotechnology companies. She is leading the first National Consortium for Academic Drug Discovery scientists in an effort to coordinate and enhance university-led drug discovery efforts. Most recently she has co-founded an new biotechnology company called Cerecor, to commercialize JHU drug discovery inventions.

Lab Website: Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Slusher BS, Vornov JJ, Thomas AG, Hurn PD, Traystman RJ, Robinson MB, Britton P, Lu M, Tortella FC, Wozniak K, Yudkoff M, Jackson PF. "An inhibitor of NAAG hydrolysis prevents ischemic glutamate release and provides neuroprotection." Nature Medicine, 1999, 5:1396-1402

Rojas C, Stathis M, Thomas AG, Massuda E, Alt J, Zhang J, Luby T, Rubenstein E, Sebastiani S, Cantoreggi S, Snyder SH, Slusher BS. "Palonosetron exhibits unique molecular interactions with the 5-HT3 receptor." Anesthesia and Analgesia, 2008 Aug; 107(2):353-5

Slusher BS, Robinson MB, Tsai G, Simmons ML, Richards SS, Coyle JT. "Rat brain N-acetylated alpha-linked acidic dipeptidase activity: purification and immunologic characterization." J.Biol Chem, 1990, 265(34):21297-21301

Lapidus RG, Tiffany CW, Isaacs JT, Slusher BS. "Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) enzyme activity is elevated in prostate cancer cells." The Prostate 2000, 45: 350-354

Le A, Lane AN, Hamaker M, Bose S, Gouw A, Barbi J, Tsukamoto T, Rojas CJ, Slusher BS, Zhang H, Zimmerman LJ, Liebler DC, Slebos RJ, Lorkiewicz PK, Higashi RM, Fan TW, Dang CV. "Glucose-independent glutamine metabolism via TCA cycling for proliferation and survival in B cells." Cell Metabolism, 2012, 15(1):110-21

Activities & 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


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

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

A Changing Ecosystem for Drug Discovery, Doorways to Discovery (November 2014)

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