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Laura Cavender

Drug Discovery Expert Joins GUMC

Dr. Milton Brown's goal is to translate lab advances into new therapies

Washington, D.C. —  Milton Brown, MD, PhD, an expert in the design, synthesis and evaluation of new therapeutic agents, will join Georgetown University on June 1, the University announced today.


Dr. Brown, who is a faculty member in Chemistry at the University of Virginia, will have a double appointment at Georgetown as an associate professor in the departments of Oncology and Neuroscience. At the same time that he will be building upon and contributing to Georgetown’s research programs in the areas of neuroscience and cancer—two of the Medical Center’s strategic priorities— as well as pain research, Dr. Brown will lead the effort to halt or reverse progression of these diseases through new therapies.


“Dr. Brown’s passion, drive and natural talent for drug discovery have made him a rising star in the field of medicinal chemistry,” said Stuart Bondurant, MD, interim Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at Georgetown University and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine. “His scientific contributions will be of immense value as Georgetown University Medical Center scientists seek to help patients by using the many promising findings from our laboratories.”


“I’m a scientist looking to discover new medicines that stop cancer and stop diseases of the brain. And I believe that in order to attack these problems, we have to develop teams of researchers to translate some of our basic science discoveries into new therapies,” said Dr. Brown. “And I am dedicated to doing this kind of work.”


Dr. Brown’s recruitment is one of the first steps toward what may serve as the groundwork for a multi-disciplinary drug discovery center that would provide a comprehensive framework for translating the newest advances in understanding human disease into concrete benefits to patients. The recruitment of Dr. Brown was led by the directors of Georgetown’s major research sectors—Anatoly Dritschilo, MD, of Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Vassilios Papadopoulos, PharmD, PhD, of the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization.


Dr. Brown’s talent for drug discovery was evident at Virginia, where, over the past five years, his laboratory tested nearly a thousand compounds for possible use as therapeutics to treat prostate cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, pain, and epilepsy. Human clinical trials are expected to be conducted on a number of these compounds.


One example of Dr. Brown’s innovative approach is his discovery of preliminary data that supports that prostate cancer patients who took a specific class of epilepsy drug had a 40 percent reduction in risk for prostate cancer. His lab received funding from the National Institutes of Health to study this drug class in the context of prostate cancer, and Dr. Brown has already shown it to be an effective treatment for human tumors transplanted in immunocompromised mice. He is in the process of optimizing and developing novel compounds based on this research.


Dr. Brown also evaluated more than 450 compounds to treat epilepsy, and found dozens that might help stop seizures in humans with further study. He has also researched treatments for the chronic pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, cancers, and trigeminal neuralgia – all forms of pain where neurons have been damaged. Dr. Brown’s accomplishments can also be seen in the commercial successes generated by his work. Two companies have been formed based on this research: one on prostate therapies and pain blockers, and the other on therapies for macular degeneration—  a leading cause of blindness. Dr. Brown has also been working with a large pharmaceutical company to evaluate more than 200 compounds that his lab discovered, and has pinpointed six compounds that show a great deal of promise. Sixteen patent disclosures have been filed on his work.


Dr. Brown will bring ten members of his research team from the University of Virginia with him to Georgetown.


“At Georgetown, I will be joining a really great faculty with superb basic science research skills and a strong collegiality,” he said. “My hope is to help develop drug discovery teams that are interdepartmental and interdisciplinary in cancer and neurosciences -- two areas that have unmet clinical needs.”


Dr. Brown was born in Baltimore in 1965, and received a B.S. degree at Oakwood College, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an M.D. at the University of Virginia. His wife, a practicing optometrist, and his four children will accompany Dr. Brown in his move to the Washington area.


About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through our partnership with MedStar Health). Our mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis—or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, and the world renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, go to




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