Richard B. Silverman, PhD is the inaugural Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor, Northwestern University. In addition, he is Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Molecular Biosciences, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Professor of Pharmacology, Feinberg School of Medicine. He received his B.S. in Chemistry at Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. at Harvard University in organic chemistry, followed by his postdoctoral training in enzymology at Brandeis University. After his first semester at Harvard he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served for two years before returning to graduate school. He joined Northwestern in 1976. Professor Silverman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors and was elected to the American Chemical Society Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame. He has received numerous other awards and is the author or co-author of 398 research publications, holds 130 patents (U.S. and foreign) to date, and has written five books, including The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action (currently, 3rd edition). He is the inventor of LyricaTM, a blockbuster drug marketed by Pfizer for fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and epilepsy.

Research Interests

Professor Silverman has developed numerous projects related to the synthesis and evaluation of a variety of enzyme inhibitors, particularly related to neurodegenerative and neurological diseases, and cancer. He has invented a GABA aminotransferase inactivator for epilepsy that completed a Phase I clinical trial showing no adverse effects, which is currently being used to treat a child with infantile spasms under an emergency use IND, and another one, 10 times more potent, in clinical trials for tuberous sclerosis and infantile spasms; an inhibitor of protein aggregation and toxicity that is active in both a mouse model for ALS and a mouse model for Alzheimer’s disease for which an IND application for clinical trials has been approved by the FDA; selective inhibitors of neuronal nitric oxide synthase that are undergoing preclinical studies for Alzheimer’s disease and melanoma; and inactivators of ornithine aminotransferase for hepatocellular carcinoma. In 2019, Professor Silverman founded Akava Therapeutics, Inc. to develop first-in-class inhibition therapeutics.

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Section 14: Chemistry