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Engaging the Undergraduate Student in Life-Saving Discoveries

The Gavegnano Drug Discovery Program, in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Human Health, offers students and trainees a front-row seat in drug discovery, from idea to FDA-approved agent impacting lives worldwide. The program is led by Dr. Christina Gavegnano, who has a strong track record of invention and bench-to-bedside success across multiple diseases. Our lab focuses on developing agents that are already FDA-approved for one disease for use in another disease. This markedly speeds up the time to reach human trials, garner FDA approval, and impact lives globally. Students and trainees will have the unique opportunity for hands-on experiences in laboratory discovery, human trial design, clinical shadowing of our team's ongoing trials, and collaborations with the FDA and pharma to advance common goals of saving lives in real-time.

baricitinib web


Dr. Christina Gavegnano

Dr. Gavegnano's inventions have led to FDA approval for baricitinib for the indication of COVID-19 and multiple ongoing direct to Phase 2 and Phase 3 human trials for CNS diseases, including CNS inflammation and depression in people living with HIV, and CNS inflammation, brain fog, depression and anxiety for long-COVID.

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Program Stages

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Laboratory Discovery Teams

Students will learn how candidate therapeutic agents are discovered and validated in laboratory settings and how the data generated in these steps are analyzed and prepared for publication. Students will assist in ongoing work in a lab as a part of partnerships with the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical enterprises to further develop candidate agents for eventual human use.

Collaborative Groups Supporting Student Work

Gavegnano Group | Dennis Liotta Laboratory | Ribeiro Lab | Gordon Lab | Michaelidis Lab | Maier Lab | Robinson Lab

Clinical Protocol Teams

Students will learn how to assemble pre-clinical packages from data generated on lead drug candidates and will actively engage in writing documents required for human clinical trial protocols, which are submitted to the FDA for review and approval before the launch of human clinical trials.

Collaborative Groups Supporting Student Work

Morningside Center for Innovative and Affordable Medicine | Vincent Marconi, MD | Andy Miller, MD | Jennifer Felger, MD | William Tyor, MD | Candace Fleischer, MD | Gopinath Kaundinya, MD | Atlanta Trauma Alliance | Grady Trauma Project | Emory CFAR

Clinical Trial Data Analysis Teams

Students will learn how to perform “big data analysis” on data generated from human trials, which ultimately helps to shape the understanding of how novel agents impact humans during the trials. Students will assist in preparing datasets for publication and continue collaborative discovery and human trial efforts with pharma, NIH, and other partners. Data will also be used to help inform larger clinical trials built upon data collected from the Clinical Trial Data Analysis Teams.

Clinical Trial Shadowing Teams

Students will have the unique opportunity to shadow our clinical teams as the clinical trials from agents discovered in our groups are launched at Emory sites. Shadowing will encompass clinical visits, specimen collection, and data collection for endpoints for the human studies launched in our groups.

Collaborative groups supporting student work:

Gavegnano Group clinical study with Cecile Lahiri and Susan Ribeiro: Elucidating the role of the gut reservoir and inflammation in driving cardiovascular disease among persons living with HIV

Licensing and Marketing Team

Students will learn how to engage in licensing new drugs, a key step in bringing new drugs to market. In tandem, students will learn about marketing strategies to facilitate knowledge about these new drugs to the lay and clinical populations, which pairs with successfully launching new drugs and saving lives across different diseases.

Collaborative groups supporting student work:

Radyus Research

Bioethics Team

Students will learn about the role of ethics in human clinical trials and the critical balance of doing the best for patients while ensuring safe, fair, and transparent trial design, enrollment, and patient care. Students will also learn about the role of bioethics in post-approval drug accessibility for all groups and the logistical hurdles that exist towards access and equity for life-saving therapeutics.



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Focus on Neurotherapeutics

Discover how the Gavegnano Drug Discovery Program is impacting concussions with baricitinib.

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Focus on Neurotheraputics

Apply for the Program

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Are you interested in joining the Gavegnano Drug Discovery Program?

This program involves cutting-edge research and development in pharmaceuticals, focusing on discovering new drugs to address unmet medical needs. If you are passionate about scientific innovation and making a meaningful impact on healthcare, we'd love to hear from you.

Your Donation Supports:

Funding to Support Students

Students are supported after their first semester for active leadership of an independent project, making research more accessible to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Funding for Student-led Projects
Funding for Students to Attend and Present at Conferences


News & Accomplishments

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Gavegnano Drug Discovery Program in the News
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Gavegnano Lab Accomplishments
View our Accomplishments

Active Funding Sources

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National Institutes of Health logo
National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Heart, Lung, and Blood
National Institute of Mental Health
Eli Lilly Industry Support Award logo
Eli Lilly Industry Support Award
Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Veteran's Affairs Medical Center