Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences
North Carolina Central University
Area of interest
I have over 30 years’ combined experience in academia and the pharmaceutical industry. I have extensive expertise in the hedgehog pathway, breast cancer, high throughput screening and drug development, including prior experience developing and moving anti-cancer drugs into the clinic. My lab has built a research program at NCCU investigating novel approaches to understanding and targeting the hedgehog pathway and I have published 15 peer-reviewed papers on hedgehog mechanism, signaling and its targeting. I have over 15 years’ experience as a lab head in the areas of breast cancer, developmental signaling pathways, their modulation and functional models. I have a strong background in translational research including prior experience developing and moving anti-breast cancer therapeutics into the clinic. Prior to joining North Carolina Central University in 2007, I spent 12 years in research groups in the pharmaceutical industry including six years at Biogen Idec and four years at Amphora Corp in Director-level positions responsible for administering and managing drug development and clinical alliances with industry partners. I am on the External Biotech Advisory Board for Durham Technical Community College. I am a former Chair and current committee member of the biomanufacturing and process development (bpd) group that operates out of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBC). Since joining NCCU in 2007, I have obtained research support as PI including on NIH R15, R41, U54, SC2, DOD CDMRP IDEA grants, and most recently on Komen Graduate Training in Disparities Research and P20 awards. I received the AACR Minority Scholar Institute Faculty Scholar award in 2009, 2010 and 2012. I have authored over 45 peer-reviewed publications, 6 book chapters and 8 published patents. I have also published in the areas of development and validation of assays for screening including book chapters on Optimizing the Chemical Genomics Process in Chemical Genomics (2004) and on High-Content Toxicity Profiling in High-Throughput Screening Methods in Toxicity Testing (2013). At NCCU, I have helped establish a breast cancer focus group at NCCU with interest in aggressive breast cancer and health disparities.
Since 2011, I have served as the NCCU site PI for the Duke University School of Medicine/North Carolina Central University Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) K12 Institutional Training Grant (from NICHD) and as a member of its BIRCWH Internal Advisory Board. I am also a member of the Duke Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Steering Committee. I am also an Associate member of the Duke Cancer Institute and a member of the Duke Inflammatory Breast Cancer Colloquium. I have significant administrative and leadership experience and have served as acting Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences for three semesters (in 2010, 2015 and 2016) where I participated in senior-level administration meetings. I am a full-time voting member on several University-level committees including the Integrated Biosciences (INBS) PhD Program committee. I am also a member of the Internal Advisory Committee for the current NIMHD P20 Center for Translational Health Equality Research and a member of the NCGlaxoSmithKline STEM program Internal Advisory Board.
Since joining NCCU, 5 postdoctoral fellows have trained in my lab with one moving into a tenure-track faculty position and the others all moving to senior scientist/group leader positions in industry. I have successfully mentored both graduate and undergraduate students: twelve graduate students have completed their Master’s thesis research in my lab, and twenty undergraduates have trained in my lab, of which eight and twelve respectively were from underrepresented minorities. I recently published a book chapter detailing the success of the student research training program at BRITE; “Undergraduate Research for Students Majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences leads to Student Success” in the book “Infusing Undergraduate Research into HBCU Curricula”. Students training in my lab have been authors on seven peer-reviewed publications and I am actively engaged in educational and training programs at NCCU including previously serving on the U54 Partners undergraduate research committee.
Awards and Honors
- 2010 AACR MSI Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Award: Cancer Health Disparities
- 2010 Mentor on AACR Minority Scholar Award awarded to NCCU student Zainab Thomas
- 2009 & 2012 American Association Cancer Research MSI Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Award
- 2009 – Honorary Editorial Board, International Journal of High Throughput Screening