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Leadership Team

Dr. Dennis Liotta Dennis Liotta, Ph.D.

Executive Director
The Emory Institute for Drug Development
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Education: Professor Liotta earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1974 from the City University of New York and completed his post-doctoral training at the Ohio State University.

Brief Background: 

Over the past two and a half decades Dr. Dennis Liotta’s research has focused on the discovery and development of novel antiviral, anticancer and anti-inflammatory therapeutic agents. He is recognized as one of the premier discoverers of novel therapeutics, having been one of the inventors associated with ten FDA approved therapeutics including Epivir, Combivir, Trizivir, Epzicom, Epivir-HBV, Emtriva, Truvada, Atripla, Complera and Stribid.  In addition, he is the inventor of record for several clinically important antivirals, including Epivir, Reverset, Racivir and Elvucitabine.  He is also the lead inventor of Q-122 (formerly known as MSX-122), a safe, orally available clinical agent for controlling hot flashes in post-menopausal women.  In the preclinical arena his research group has recently discovered the first potent, dual tropic (CCR5/CXCR4) HIV entry inhibitor.  In addition, in his current role as Executive Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development, Dennis oversaw the discovery and development of a novel nucleoside analogue, EIDD-2023, for treating hepatitis C infections.

Dennis has authored approximately 250 peer reviewed publications and is an inventor on 75 issued US patents.  A company he founded, Pharmasset (acquired by Gilead Sciences) developed Sofosbuvir, which has become the first line therapy for treating (and perhaps curing) hepatitis C.  In addition, he has founded numerous other companies including, inter alia: (a) Altiris (drugs for stem cell mobilization and as potential treatments for a variety of cancers); (b) Triangle Pharmaceuticals (developed emtricitabine and was subsequently acquired by Gilead Science); (c) NeurOp (therapies for treating ischemic conditions, such as stroke); (d) QUE Oncology, a joint venture owned by the University of Queensland and Emory, that is carrying out the Q-122 clinical trials (vide supra); and (h) DRIVE (Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory, a non-profit drug development company focused on the development of therapies for treating single stranded RNA virus infections, such as Dengue Fever, hepatitis C, influenza A and B, respiratory syncytial virus and various equine encephalitis viruses).  DRIVE utilizes an innovative model that seeks to extract maximum value from therapeutic innovations discovered at Emory or elsewhere by efficiently advancing them into clinical trials.



Dr. George Painter George Painter, Ph.D.

President and CEO
The Emory Institute for Drug Development
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Education: George Painter has twenty-four years of experience in the discovery and development of pharmaceutical agents, and most recently held the position of Executive Vice President, Research and Development, at Triangle Pharmaceuticals where he was a member of the founding management team. In addition to his management experience at Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Painter held positions at Burroughs Wellcome Co. beginning in 1983 including Director of Chemistry and Director of Virology. Subsequently, he served as Director of Research Process and International Deputy Therapeutic Head for Antiviral Research at Glaxo Wellcome Inc. 

Brief Background: Dr. Painter is a co-inventor of over forty-five patents, six of which have led to approved commercially available drugs or combinations of drugs for the treatment of HIV and hepatitis B. He has led international teams, which generated data for nine investigational new drug applications and three new drug applications. Dr. Painter earned a B.S. in chemistry, an M.S. in physical organic chemistry and a Ph.D. in synthetic chemistry from Emory University.

Dr. Abel De La Rosa Abel De La Rosa, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer
The Emory Institute for Drug Development
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Education: Dr. De La Rosa earned a Bachelors degree in Microbiology from the University of California San Diego and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Miami University. He completed postdoctoral studies at the NIH in the Laboratory of Biochemistry and the Laboratory of Pathology of the National Cancer Institute.

Brief Background: Dr. De La Rosa joined Emory University in January of 2013 bringing with him over 18 years of industry experience. From 2002 until it was acquired by Gilead in 2012, he was Senior Vice President of Business Development and Scientific Affairs at Pharmasset, Inc. He provided business and scientific leadership to clinical and pre-clinical development programs for the development of antiviral therapeutics against HIV (Racivir & Reverset), Hepatitis B (Clevudine) and Hepatitis C (Mericitabine and Sofosbuvir). Prior to Pharmasset, he was Vice President of Product Development at Visible Genetics leading the design, development and improvement of commercial molecular diagnostic tests for HIV, HCV, and HBV, such as the TruGene HIV-1 genotyping test and OpenGene DNA Sequencing System, the first genotyping sequencing-based test to receive FDA approval. He also held scientific positions at Innogenetics, Boston Biomedica, and Digene, developing commercial molecular diagnostic tests for infectious diseases. During his industrial career, he licensed products and collaborated with pharmaceutical companies and universities, and brought innovations and products from early stage discovery through development and commercialization. He is an inventor and author on several U.S. patents and publications relating to molecular diagnostic methods, techniques and therapeutics for infectious diseases and cancer.

Dr. Michael Natchus Michael G. Natchus, Ph.D. MBA

Principal Scientist 
Director of Operations 
The Emory Institute for Drug Development
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Education: Dr. Natchus earned his Ph.D. degree in 1991 from Va. Polytechnic Institute and completed postdoctoral study at Stanford University under the supervision of Paul Wender. He later completed his MBA in 2010 at The Goizuetta Business School, Emory University.

Brief Background: Dr. Natchus has 18 years of experience in medicinal chemistry within the pharmaceutical industry and has held positions of increasing responsibility in both drug discovery and development. He is currently the Director of Operations at the newly established Emory Institute for Drug Discovery where he leads the drug discovery efforts as well as operatonal development. Previously, he was the VP of R&D at Metastatix, Inc. where he led drug discovery efforts as well as the preclinical development and clinical entry of their lead oncology product.

He began his industrial career in 1994 at Procter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals where he was the inventor of a novel matrix metallo-protease inhibitor that was ultimately advanced into Phase II clinical evaluation. While there, he also led research teams on projects in the area of kinase inhibition for application in both cancer and inflammation based disorders. Since leaving Procter and Gamble in 2001, Dr. Natchus lead the chemistry and scientific efforts in the area of metabolic disorders at Somatocor Pharmaceuticals and has been a part of a lecture team for a drug discovery course that has been taught at Emory University and elsewhere including an international presentation in South Africa.

While at Stanford University, he worked on a practical synthetic approach to the anti-cancer drug Taxol that resulted in the most efficient total synthesis of the drug to date. Dr. Natchus has published over thirty scientific papers including three book chapters. He is also a key author on over thirty patent applications, many of which have issued in the US other countries throughout the world. He has lectured extensively including several invited lectures in the US and abroad.

Dr. Alexander (Sasha) Kolykhalov Alexander (Sasha) Kolykhalov, Ph.D.

Director of Biology and DMPK
The Emory Institute for Drug Development
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Education: Dr. Kolykhalov earned a Masters degree in Biochemistry from Novosibirsk State University and his Ph.D. in Molecular Virology from the Institute of Molecular Biology in Russia.

Brief Background: Dr. Kolykhalov has more than 20 years of research and drug development experience including that related to alpha- and flaviviruses, and both within in pharmaceutical industry and in academia. He is currently the Director of Biology and DMPK at the EIDD and is responsible for biology, bioanalytical characterization and for in vivo efficacy, PK and tolerability experiments. In his previous academic experience, he has identified full genomes of HCV and VEEV and established first reverse genomic systems for these viruses. In his industrial experience, he held positions of increasing responsibility in pharmaceutical and biotech companies. He led the HCV drug discovery efforts and the preclinical development and clinical entry of the lead products at Benitec and Inhibitex companies; the last company’s drug was sold for $2.5 Billion in 2012. He has experience with establishment of efficient in vitro systems and using them for drug screening and lead characterization. He has extensive experience with identification and preclinical development of nucleoside based antiviral inhibitors. In his managerial role, he has participated in numerous project teams devoted to the development of antiviral agents. He is an inventor on more than 20 issued patents, US and international, and he is an author of over 40 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Manohar SainDane Manohar Saindane, Ph.D.

Director of Process Chemistry
The Emory Institute for Drug Development
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Education: Dr. Saindane earned his Ph.D. degree in 1977 from Pune University in India and completed postdoctoral study at Emory University under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Liotta and subsequently under the supervision of Prof. Ziegler at Yale University.

Brief Background:   Dr. Saindane has 25 years of experience in Process Research and Development within the pharmaceutical industry and has held positions of increasing responsibility in Process R & D. He joined Emory Institute for Drug Discovery in October 2009. Previously, he was the Director of Process R&D at Celgene Corporation, where he directed and provided strategic leadership for Process Research and Development Department.

He began his industrial career in 1984 at Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceutical research division as a Research Leader in the chemical development where he designed and developed processes for variety of development candidates. He was responsible for preparing API on multi-kilo quantities in compliance with GLP and cGMP.

In 1998 Dr Saindane moved on to Bristol-Myers Squibb as a group Leader/project Leader in Process R&D group. He directed and supervised the work of chemists and engineers to design and develop synthetic processes for new drugs in development.

Dr. Saindane has co-authored over forty scientific papers and twenty five patents.