Message from the Director
Milton Brown, MD, Ph.D, is a medicinal chemist who specializes in the design, synthesis, and evaluation of new drugs and the principal investigator (PI) of Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center's drug discovery laboratory. Dr. Brown is one of the foremost translational drug discovery scientists in the United States today, and his laboratory has evaluated over 1000 compounds for possible use as therapeutics to treat prostate cancer, leukemia, and epilepsy. His work has resulted in new pre clinical models creation of two start-up companies and he holds the rights to 16 patents and patent applications.
A PhD in synthetic chemistry from University of Alabama at Birmingham under Dr. Wayne Broyillette gave Dr. Brown the tools to use chemistry to tackle biological problems. By his fourth year of graduate school, he realized that he knew how to make drugs, but did not know what to make them for. So he decided to go to medical school. He completed his medical degree at the University of Virginia in 1999, received a postdoctoral fellow position in the Department of Chemistry at Virginia, and in 2000 became an assistant professor of chemistry in the same department. Dr. Brown has trained more than 10 Ph. D Chemist and Post Docs.
Dr. Brown has published over 25 papers since September 2000 in peer-reviewed journals including cover stories for Biochemistry and Chemistry and Biology and has been the PI or co-PI on six funded intramural grants and 13 funded extramural grants since September 2000 (including one NIH R01 as PI). Funding over the lifetime of his awards is nearly $3 million.
"I'm a scientist looking to discover new medicines that stop cancer and stop diseases of the brain. And I believe that in order to attack these problems, we have to develop teams of researchers to translate some of our basic science discoveries into new therapies," said Dr. Brown. "And I am dedicated to doing this kind of work."
Dr. Brown's talent for drug discovery was evident at the University of Virginia, where, over the past five years, his laboratory tested compounds for possible use as therapeutics to treat prostate cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, pain, and epilepsy. Human clinical trials are expected to be conducted on several of these compounds.
One example of Dr. Brown's innovative approach is his discovery of preliminary data that supports that prostate cancer patients who took a specific class of epilepsy drug had a 40 percent reduction in risk for prostate cancer. His lab received funding from the National Institutes of Health to study this drug class in the context of prostate cancer, and Dr. Brown has already shown it to be an effective treatment for human tumors transplanted in immuno-compromised mice. He is in the process of optimizing and developing novel compounds based on this research.
Dr. Brown also evaluated more than 450 compounds to treat epilepsy, and found 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. Dr. Brown's accomplishments can also be seen in the commercial successes generated by his work. Two companies have been formed based on this research: one on prostate therapies and pain blockers, and the other on therapies for macular degeneration - a leading cause of blindness. Dr. Brown has also been working with a large pharmaceutical company to evaluate more than 200 compounds that his lab discovered, and has pinpointed six compounds that show a great deal of promise.
"My hope is to help develop drug discovery teams that are interdepartmental and interdisciplinary in cancer and neurosciences - two areas that have unmet clinical needs,” he said.
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