News and Events


Dr. David Ferguson will be a featured speaker at the upcoming Cambridge HealthTech Institute Conference on Drug Discovery Chemistry. The conference, which is designed to teach attendees about emerging concepts and innovative targets in drug discovery, chooses speakers through a selective application process based on the quality and impact of researchers' work. Dr.

Drs. Gunda Georg and Shameem Syeda have been featured in multiple media outlets for their work into the development of a male birth control pill. The articles highlight the recent exploration into the efficacy of ouabain, a plant extract that has long been used by African hunters to create poison-tipped arrows. A form of ouabain is also produced in small amounts in the human body and studies have shown that men with higher levels of ouabain have lower fertility, making it a promising candidate as a male contraceptive agent.

Katlyn Fleming, a graduate student in the Haskell-Luevano laboratory, was invited to give an oral presentation at the recent Gordon Research Conference on Chemistry and Biology of Peptides in Ventura California. Her presentation was titled "Structure-Activity Relationship Studies of a Macrocyclic AGRP-Mimetic Scaffold c[Pro-Arg-Phe-Phe-Asn-Ala-Phe-DPro] Yield Potent and Selective Melanocortin-4 Receptor Antagonists that Increase Food Intake" and took place in the "Innovations in the Synthesis and Design of Peptides with Biomedical and Biomaterial App

Four former undergraduate students who participated in research supported by Summer Chemistry Fellowships and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) have now been published in the latest issue of the journal ChemMedChem. Jordan Baur (BS ’17), Tenley Brown (BS ’15), Jacob Edwards (BS ’14), and Hannah Skopec (BS ’14) were all advised by Dr. Daniel Harki in the program, which allowed students the opportunity to conduct research under the direction of a faculty members as well as participate in a symposium about their work.

After decades of research, development of a male birth control may now be one step closer. My colleagues and I are working on a promising lead for a male birth control pill based on ouabain – a plant extract that African warriors and hunters traditionally used as a heart-stopping poison on their arrows. 

A paper authored by Drs. Gunda Georg, Jon Hawkinson, Kwon Ho Hong, and Shameem Sultana Syeda, all from the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, was publicized in the most recent press release of the American Chemical Society. The paper explores the potential of the plant extract ouabain as a male contraceptive agent. Ouabain has long been used by African hunters as the lethal agent for poison-tipped arrows, but in small doses it has also shown efficacy in lowering fertility rates in males.

ouabain chemical structure

Scientists report a rat study in ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry that shows they finally have a good lead for a male birth control pill.

Congratulations to Dmitri Konorev and Katlyn Fleming, who are both recipients of this year’s Rowell Graduate Fellowship! This fellowship was established by the family of pharmaceutical industrialist Theodore H. Rowell to support graduate students in the pharmaceutical sciences with an emphasis on drug delivery systems.  

Congratulations to Katlyn Fleming and Cliff Csizmar, who are both recipients of this year’s Bighley Graduate Fellowship! The fellowship was established in 2008 by Dr. Lyle D. Bighley and Sharon Bighley as a way to support graduate students working in the biomedical health sciences. It recognizes excellence in students conducting research in laboratories with an emphasis on collaborative and interdisciplinary work. You can read more about the award here