About Christopher R McCurdy
Christopher R. McCurdy, Ph.D., FAAPS, is a broadly trained medicinal chemist, behavioral pharmacologist and pharmacist whose research focuses on the design, synthesis and development of drugs to treat pain and drug abuse. For over 20 years, much of his research has focused on opioid, Neuropeptide FF and sigma receptor ligand/probe design, synthesis, pharmacological evaluation and development. He has been successful in discovering unique and selective tools for sigma receptors, NPFF receptors and opioid receptors. He is an internationally recognized expert on Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), that is under investigation for opioid withdrawal syndrome. A significant portion of his career has been dedicated to the development of novel sigma receptor ligands, in collaboration with a variety of interdisciplinary groups, to generate and optimize selective ligands which could serve as critical experimental tools, and more recently, as potential medication development leads to attenuate the effects of cocaine, methamphetamine and pain. Most notably, he has developed a PET/MR imaging diagnostic agent for visualizing the origins of chronic, neuropathic pain by interacting with sigma receptors at the site of nerve damage. First-in-human studies are currently underway in a Phase 0 trial. In addition to his discovery chemistry roles, McCurdy serves as the director of the UF Translational Drug Development Core. Dr. McCurdy previously served as President of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) and also serves as the Co-Chair of the Special Interest Group on Drug Design and Discovery (DDD) of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).
In 2005, McCurdy began collaborative work with Rae R. Matsumoto, Ph.D. (Dean of Touro College of Pharmacy, California) at the University of Mississippi, which led to the development of patented highly selective sigma receptor ligands. From this series of compounds emerged CM304/FTC146 that has advanced into human clinical trials in collaboration with Fredrick T. Chin, Ph.D. and Sandip Biswal, M.D. at Stanford University Medical Center. This compound is currently being investigated in human chronic pain populations to pinpoint sites of nerve damage, utilizing state-of-the-art Positron Emission Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PET/MRI) multimodal technology. Currently, there is no diagnostic tool for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and CM304/FTC146 shows early promise as a potential first-in-class diagnostic. Moreover, collaboration with Jay P. McLaughlin, Ph.D. (preeminence faculty) has resulted in a department of defense funded project to study this same class of compounds as potential therapeutic agents for chronic neuropathic pain.
McCurdy has also been a leader in the generation of non-peptide small molecules as pharmacological tools for the study of Neuropeptide FF receptors. This work has been funded, in collaboration with Jay P. McLaughlin, Ph.D. and Bonnie A. Avery, Ph.D. by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In addition, this work has led to the development of potential novel pain killers with reduced tolerance and side-effect profiles.
Notably, McCurdy is recognized as one of the foremost International experts on Mitragyna speciosa (KRATOM), a tree from South East Asia that has traditionally been utilized as a means to ween opium addicts. For more than a decade, McCurdy has collaborated with Edward W. Boyer, M.D., Ph.D. (Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital), Bonnie A. Avery, Ph.D., Stephen J. Cutler, Ph.D. (Dean, University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy), and Scott E. Hemby, Ph.D. (High Point University School of Pharmacy) on investigations into the therapeutic potential for kratom in opioid dependence and withdrawal.
Overall, McCurdy is the leader of a multidisciplinary drug discovery and development team, aimed at finding alternative treatments for pain and addiction. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, multiple book chapters, presented many invited talks at international meetings and educated hundreds of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists.
- Drug abuse
- Drug addiction
- Drug development
- Lead optimization
- Medicinal chemistry
- Natural products