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Drug Discovery & Development (DDD) Students & Alumni

Outstanding Achievement Award Winners


Desmond Lewis

Desmond Lewis, MS
Thesis Research: Development of a Prostate 3D Spheroid Model for Assessing Tumor Uptake of Different Antibody Designs
Mentor: Dr. Alessandro Fatatis
Background: The Citadel, BS, Chemistry


Simran Gill, MS

Simran Gill, MS
Thesis Research: The regulation of glial glutamate transporters after in vivo ischemic stroke
Mentor: Dr. Andreia Mortensen (Fontana)
Background: University Pittsburgh, BS, Biological Sciences
Current Position: PhD Candidate, Pharmacology & Physiology Program, Drexel University


Maria Sofia Castelli, MS

Maria Sofia Castelli, MS
Thesis Research: Regulation of Pluripotency Genes by CX3CR1 in Cancer Cells
Mentor: Dr. Alessandro Fatatis
Background: University de la Republica, Uruguay, BS, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Current Position: PhD Candidate, Pharmacology Program, University of Pennsylvania
"The pharmacology and therapeutic applications of monoclonal antibodies"
Castelli MS, McGonigle P, Hornby PJ
Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2019 Dec;7(6):e00535. Top 10 most downloaded paper from journal
"Subsets of cancer cells expressing CX3CR1 are endowed with metastasis-initiating properties and resistance to chemotherapy"
DiNatale A, Kaur R, Qian C, Zhang J, Marchioli M, Ipe D, Castelli M, McNair CM, Kumar G, Meucci O, Fatatis A
Oncogene. 2022 Feb;41(9):1337-1351


Drug Discovery and Development Student Jennifer Green

Jennifer L. Green, MS
Thesis Research: In Vitro Neuroprotective Properties of Positive Allosteric Modulators and Expression Enhancers of EAAT2
Mentor: Dr. Andreia Mortensen (Fontana)
Background: Villanova University, BS, Biochemistry
Current Position: PhD Candidate, Pharmacology & Molecular Signaling Program, Columbia University
"Role of glutamate excitotoxicity and glutamate transporter EAAT2 in epilepsy: Opportunities for novel therapeutics development"
Green JL, Dos Santos WF, Fontana ACK
Biochem Pharmacol. 2021 Nov;193:114786.
"Novel positive allosteric modulators of glutamate transport have neuroprotective properties in an in vitro excitotoxic model"
Falcucci RM, Wertz R, Green JL, Meucci O, Salvino J, Fontana ACK
ACS Chem Neurosci. 2019 Aug 21;10(8):3437-3453


Apeksha Khatiwada, MS

Apeksha Khatiwada, MS
Thesis Research: Characterization of Allosteric Modulators of Glutamate Transporters: Selectivity and Potency Screening: Implications for Drug Development and Understanding Allosteric Modulation of Glutamate Transport
Mentor: Dr. Andreia Mortensen (Fontana)
Background: Katmandu University, BS, Pharmacy
Current Position: Research Associate, CNS, Spark Therapeutics
Publication: "Elucidation of the structure and synthesis of neuroprotective low molecular mass components of the Parawixia bistriata spider venom"
Forster YM, Green JL, Khatiwada A, Liberato JL, Reddy PAN, Salvino JM, Bienz S, Bigler L, Ferreira dos Santos W* and Fontana A C K *
ACS Chem. Neurosci. 2020, 11, 1573–1596


Devipriya Ashok, MS, PhD

Devipriya Ashok, MS, PhD
Research: Development of Allosteric Modulators for Excitatory Amino Acid Transporters
Mentor: Dr. Joseph Salvino
Background: Mahatma Ghani University, MS, Chemistry
National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, PhD, Organic Chemistry
Current Position: Scientist, Analytical R&D, Catalent Pharma

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Meet Drug Discovery & Development Program Students & Alumni

Desmond Lewis

Meet Janssen-Drexel 4D Fellow Desmond Lewis

"I was always passionate about studying cancer. My grandfather’s passing made me interested to learn more about it. Even in undergrad, I was doing research with professors there that was related to cancer and developing drugs. Once I found Drexel’s program in Drug Discovery and Development, it seemed like the perfect fit." Read more.

Chelsea Weldie, Drexel Drug Discovery and Development Program Student

Meet Chelsea Weldie

"The Drug Discovery and Development program is super malleable. If you're not sure what you want to do, it is a great program for you. But it's also great for people who do know what they want, since it can be shaped to best fit your interests. I am interested in vaccines, which is a very niche area, but we were able to shape the program to make it work for me." Read more about Chelsea.

Caitlyn Rice, Drug Discovery and Development Student

Meet Caitlyn Rice

"The program has been great and extremely helpful. We have been exposed to so many different scientists, from pharmaceutical companies to different universities. From the PhD students to the post-docs and PIs, everyone on the pharmacology floor is willing to help you out to make sure that you are progressing in the way that you want to." Read more about Caitlyn.

Drug Discovery and Development Student Jennifer Green

Meet Jennifer Green

"They bring in a lot of people from the industry to talk to us, which is really helpful, especially in a master's program where we have two years to figure out what comes next. The speakers bring different perspectives and have advice to help you figure out whether a PhD program might be right for you, or, if you're going into a career next, they can advise whether you should do lab research for your thesis or do an internship. It's been very valuable to be able to talk to these people as they come in." Read more about Jennifer.

Tyler Bernadyn, Drexel Drug Discovery and Development Program Student

Meet Tyler Bernadyn

"I think it's great that you can construct the program to fit what you want it to be. With my goal being going to medical school, I needed the courses to boost my GPA. I checked that off, but I also wanted to do the research-heavy aspect too because I knew it would benefit me in medical school." Read more about Tyler.

Apeksha Khatiwada, Drexel Drug Discovery and Development Program Student

Meet Apeksha Khatiwada

"I am so glad that I chose this program. The curriculum is well organized and offers outstanding electives. I especially enjoyed the core course Drug Discovery Development I and II, which is a wonderfully designed course that gives insight to the drug discovery flowchart, what to expect, the trend in industries, FDA guidelines, industrial and academic collaborations, case studies for a number of marketed drugs, and more." Read more about Apeksha.

Renee Jean-Toussaint, Drexel Drug Discovery & Development Program Alum

Meet Renee Jean-Toussaint

"The Drug Discovery and Development core courses bring lectures from both faculty and industry with a broad range of expertise in various aspects of drug discovery and development. This also allowed us to become familiar with the most current and up-to-date information. The curriculum also promotes teamwork. The course projects require participating in teams to develop strategies to solve real problems--similar to what we would experience in the real world." Read more about Renee.

Drexel Drug Discovery & Development Program Alumn Devi Ashok

Meet Devi Ashok

After leaving her career to raise her kids, Devi Ashok returned to school to pursue her dream job. The experience she gained in the Drug Discovery and Development program led to her new position as an Analytical Scientist II with a drug development services organization, which was exactly what she was looking for. Read more about Devi.

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Post-Graduate Placement

Pharmaceutical Industry

  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  • Merck Research
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Amgen
  • Eisai Pharmaceuticals
  • Regeneron
  • ICON
  • Eurofins
  • Teva
  • Spark Therapeutics

Doctoral Programs

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Columbia University
  • University of Michigan
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Colorado
  • Rowan University
  • Drexel University
  • University of North Carolina
  • Jefferson College of Medicine
  • Commonwealth Medical School

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  • Meri Akapova
  • Abeer Alharbi
  • Kory Beth Ancona
  • Miriam Archer
  • Anmol Arora
  • Devipriya Ashok
  • Asma Ashraf
  • Bennette Attipoe
  • Devin Bauerlein
  • Tyler Bernadyn
  • Brittanie Bland
  • Maria Sofia Castelli
  • Casey Cavanaugh
  • Taysir Chamem
  • Nan Chen
  • Michael Duffield
  • Neha Rana
  • Romulo Falcucci
  • Justine Gandia-Jackson
  • Simran Gill
  • Jennifer Green
  • Zongguan Huang
  • Megan Joseph
  • Apeksha Khatiwada
  • Xiaonan Liu
  • Coast Lu
  • Wenhan Lu
  • Xuan Luo
  • Ziyuan Ma
  • Bhumipen Patel
  • Sayani Patra
  • Justin Pezick
  • Nisha Rajamohan
  • Caitlyn Rice
  • Yi Rong
  • Ashraf Osman
  • Yufan Shi
  • Justin Shin
  • Sam Stine
  • Rene Jean-Toussant
  • Christine Tran
  • Chelsea Weldie
  • Ryan Wertz
  • Wenda Wu
  • Qiaowei Xie
  • Hanming Zeng
Hand and isolated test tube in a research laboratory.