Christopher R McCurdy

Christopher R McCurdy Ph.D., F.A.A.P.S. 

Director And Professor

Department: Medicinal Chemistry
Business Email: cmccurdy@cop.ufl.edu

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 is currently President-Elect 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).

Honors & Awards

Appointed Consultant
2017-Current · US FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management (DSaRM) Advisory Committee
Elected President
2016-Current · American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)
Member
2015-Current · American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education, Board of Grants
Member
2015-Current · United States Pharmacopeial Convention, AAPS Voting Delegate
Speaker
2015 · TEDxUM
Inaugural recipient of Drug Discovery and Development Interface (DDDI) Section Service Award
2015 · The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)
Fellow
2014 · American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)
Elected Member-At-Large
2013-2016 · American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Faculty Achievement Award
2010 · University of Mississippi
Teacher of the Year, PY2 Class
2010 · University of Mississippi
Faculty Service Award
2009 · University of Mississippi
Dean’s Advisory Committee Distinguished Teaching Scholar
2008-2011 · University of Mississippi
Faculty Research Award
2007 · University of Mississippi
Member
2007 · Phi Kappa Phi
Teacher of the Year by the third-year pharmacy class
2006 · University of Mississippi
Elected Vice-Chair of Drug Design and Discovery (DDD) section
2005-2011 · American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)
Inaugural Dean’s Advisory Committee Distinguished Teaching Scholar
2005-2008 · University of Mississippi
Academic Leadership Fellow
2005-2008 · American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Phi Delta Chi, Alpha Upsilon Chapter
2005 · Ohio Northern University
Teacher of the Year by third-year pharmacy class
2003 · University of Mississippi
New Investigator Award
2002 · AACP
Recipient
2002 · Glaxo/Albert B. Prescott Leadership Award
Training Fellow Award
1998-2001 · University of Minnesota
Member
1998 · Sigma Xi Research Society
Member
1997 · Rho Chi Society
Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
1994-1998 · University of Georgia
Recipient
1994 · Allen and Hanburys/Glaxo Pride in Pharmacy Award
Member
1992 · Phi Lambda Sigma
Member
1992 · Mortar Board
Member
1992 · Omicron Delta Kappa
Outstanding Member of the Year Award
1992 · Phi Delta Chi
Dean’s Award
1989-1993 · Ohio Northern University

Research Profile

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.

Areas of Interest
  • Anxiety
  • Drug abuse
  • Drug addiction
  • Drug development
  • Lead optimization
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Natural products
  • Pain

Grants

April 2019ACTIVE
Kratom alkaloids: in vitro and in vivo pharmacological mechanisms
NATL INST OF HLTH NIDA ·
December 2018ACTIVE
Opioid use disorders: UF Pharmacy medications discovery and development
NATL INST OF HLTH NIDA ·
September 2017ACTIVE
Sigma Receptor Ligands as Non-Opioid Based Pain Management
US ARMY MED RES ACQUISITION · Principal Investigator
May 2017 – June 2018
Isolation and Biological Evaluation of Opioid Receptor Modulators from Asteracea Growing in Egypt
US CIVILIAN RES AND DEV FOU · Principal Investigator
April 2017 – August 2019
Optimization of non-peptide probes for the NPFF receptor system
NATL INST OF HLTH NIDA · Principal Investigator

Education

2001
Fellowship – Medicinal Chemistry
University of Minnesota
1998
Ph.D. – Medicinal Chemistry
University of Georgia
1994
B.S. – Pharmacy
Ohio Northern University