Vincent C. O. Njar

University of Maryland, USA
Lecture Title: 
"Development of next generation galeterone analogs for prostate and pancreatic cancer therapy”

Vincent C. O. Njar, Ph.D., (UCL/London)
Academic Title: Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology

Professor Vincent Njar completed his B. Sc. in Chemistry at University of Ibadan ( the top University in Nigeria) in 1976 and went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1980 from University College London (UK) under the supervision of Derek V. Banthorpe. Following two years of postdoctoral research with the late Eliahu Caspi at Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Shrewsbury, Mass. (USA), he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) as Lecturer II. He was promoted through the ranks and became Professor of Organic Chemistry in 1996.

During his tenure at University of Ibadan, he was visiting Professor at several institutions, including: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA (1988, 1989, 1992 & 1993); Universite de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada (1990); University of Southampton, Southampton, UK (1991, 1992 & 1995); and University of Saarland, Saarbruecken, Germany (1994-1995). Following several research visits from 1996 to 1998 collaborating with the late Dr. Angela Brodie at University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore (UMB), internationally renowned breast and prostate cancer researcher, he immigrated to the US in 1999. He is currently Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacology and Head, Medicinal Chemistry Section of the newly established Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics (CBT), University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

His main research interest is in the design, synthesis, discovery and development of novel small molecules as therapeutics for the treatment of human cancers (particularly, prostate, breast and pancreas) and other diseases. Over several years, he has developed a comprehensive drug discovery and development program at University of Maryland School of Medicine. His research group consists of two laboratories. His Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory has expertise and capability in target identification, rational design of compounds, molecular modeling, lead identification and lead optimization using modern synthetic/medicinal chemistry methods. His Cancer/Molecular Biology & Pharmacology Laboratory has expertise and capability in assay development, molecular mechanistic studies, in vitro and in vivo pharmacokinetic, toxicity and anti-tumor/anti-metastasis efficacy studies. He invented a novel CYP17 inhibitor/androgen receptor degrading agent (ARDA), VN/124-1 (now named Galeterone). VN/124-1 that advanced to pivotal phase III clinical trials in AR-V7 positive metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer patients. Current projects, include, 1) development of next generation galeterone analogs (NGGAs) [novel and efficacious androgen receptor degrading agents (ARDAs) and Mnk degrading agents (MNKDAs)] to target prostate and pancreatic cancers growth inhibition and metastasis; and 2) development novel retinamaides (NRs) as new therapeutic agents against breast and prostate cancers.

Professor Njar has published >120 articles, reviews and book chapters and is the lead inventor on over 50 issued patents and pending patent applications. On 85% of these, he is first or senior/corresponding author. Professor Njar actively participates in several drug discovery and development grant review committees nationally and internationally. His research is currently supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).