Venkata Yenugonda PhD

Venkata Yenugonda, PhD

Director, Drug Discovery and Nanomedicine Research Program, Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics; Associate Professor, Saint John’s Cancer Institute

Awards and Accomplishments

Saint John’s Cancer Institute Independent Investigator Award

Dr. Yenugonda is a research scientist at the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics at Saint John’s Cancer Institute with significant drug development and drug delivery experience in the fields oncology and neurosciences. A 2018 recipient of the Saint John’s Cancer Institute Independent Investigator 3-year grant, his research and technical expertise have led to several of his small molecules, currently in various stages of development, showing therapeutic promise. Disease targets include triple negative breast cancer, brain cancer (medulloblastoma) and liver cancer as well as central nervous system diseases such as alcohol and nicotine use disorders.

After completion of his doctoral degree from Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), India, Dr. Yenugonda joined Georgetown University Medical Center as a postdoctoral research scientist in the Department of Oncology’s Cancer Nanotechnology and Drug Discovery Laboratories. His faculty appointment in the GUMC’s Center for Drug Discovery allowed him to explore and implement novel methods in drug discovery and development. Among these were high throughput screening for hit compound identification, hit-to-lead generation, preclinical ADME drug development, in silico structure and fragment-based drug design tools. In the cancer drug discovery biology arena, he has developed and optimized in vitro cell-based anti-cancer drug screening assays for identification of lead compounds. He is the author of several scientific publications.

In addition to his academic research experience, Dr. Yenugonda has worked on several pharmaceutical drug developmental projects and is the inventor on several patents and patent applications.

Dr. Yenugonda’s long-standing interest is in the development of novel safe and effective CNS bioavailable small molecule inhibitors for clinically validated therapeutic targets in brain cancer. In addition, he is interested in developing small molecule inhibitors for DNA damage-repair proteins to overcome tumor resistance to alkylating anticancer drugs. He believes that, by applying several methods such as multi-targeted and biomarker-based drug development, and tumor-targeted nano-drug formulations, the therapeutic index of anticancer drugs against brain cancer will improve. His unique perspective and experience in the fields of CNS drug development and cancer biology will help advance ongoing translational neuro-oncological drug discovery projects at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute. Additionally, he will collaborate with PNI’s clinical medical specialists, to implement novel therapeutic strategies for treating brain cancer and other neuro-oncology related diseases.

  • Medical Degree

    PhD, Medicinal Chemistry, Indian Institute of Chemical technology, Hyderabad, India
  • Fellowship

    Postdoctoral Research Training, Drug Discovery Program, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC
    Postdoctoral Research Training, Cancer Nanotechnology, Department of Oncology, GUMC, Washington DC