Becky Wexler

Georgetown Kicks off Drug Discovery Partnership with Virginia Tech

Washington, D.C.—Georgetown University Medical Center and Virginia Tech kick off a new partnership today which will leverage each institution’s strengths in order to develop new disease-fighting drugs. The joint drug discovery and development program brings together experts from both universities in disciplines ranging from medicine to chemistry to technology.


"These projects are the first step in establishing a prominent research program dedicated to pioneering new approaches to drug discovery and development," said Howard Federoff, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and Executive Dean at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Biomedical research relies on integrating biomedical science with basic science, computer science and engineering. While Georgetown’s medical expertise is undisputed, effective solutions require the knowledge we can gain from Virginia Tech's widely recognized proficiency in technology."


The institutions are kicking off the partnership today at Georgetown (May 24) to discuss the first three drug discovery projects:


  • Examining the effectiveness of naturally occurring products—such as those derived from plants—against malaria;
  • Investigating the use of fatty acids to fight various microorganisms that cause disease;
  • Attempting to create drugs that inhibit production of an enzyme that is integral for the development of the plaques that form in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

"The partnership is timely because in the current environment, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly looking to universities for research and development,” said Jim Bohland, executive director of Virginia Tech, National Capital Region.


Milton Brown, MD, PhD, professor of oncology and neuroscience at Georgetown and an expert in the design, synthesis and evaluation of new therapeutic agents, will lead the partnership. Among other accomplishments, Brown has evaluated more than 450 compounds to treat epilepsy, and identified 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.


"This initiative represents a unique research partnership between two excellent academic institutions both looking for therapeutic solutions to important healthcare problems," said Brown.


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, the world-renowned Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO).