Center for Drug Discovery

The Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) at Northeastern University is dedicated to the discovery of novel medications and to the development of approaches and technologies aimed at improving the discovery of new therapeutic drugs. The CDD also incorporates a unique educational component to train new scientists in the multidisciplinary field of drug discovery.

Mission Statement

The Center for Drug Discovery conducts multidisciplinary research, supporting its mission to:

  • Develop novel methodologies to improve drug discovery efficiency and success.
  • Discover new medications to satisfy important medical needs.
  • Train students and post-doctoral fellows in the art and science of drug discovery.
  • Collaborate extensively with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries and leading clinical centers for translational biomedicine.


The CDD houses over 60 scientists, including faculty researchers, pre- and postdoctoral fellows, and students, in well-equipped, state-of-the-art laboratories to conduct research in the fields of medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, molecular biology, cell biology, tissue culture biochemistry, behavioral studies, proteomics, metabolomics, in vitro characterization, in vivo profiling, chemical synthesis, biophysics, radiochemistry, and imaging.


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Contact info

Center for Drug Discovery
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave, 116 Mugar
Boston MA 02115
(617) 373-2273

In addition to establishing new projects and enhancing ongoing collaborations, the Center for Drug Discovery will focus on two additional activities:

The CDD consists of several major lab groups at Northeastern University, covering a range of research fields.

The Endocannabinoid System in Drug Discovery (Makriyannis labs)

  • Professor Makriyannis, Director of the CDD, has more than thirty years’ experience in the study of the endocannabinoid system.
  • The chemistry side of the Makriyannis labs are responsible for the design and synthesis of thousands of novel ligands for the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
  • The Makriyannis lab is at the forefront of research into the newly discovered endocannabinoid transport system, including designing the first inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).
  • The Makriyannis lab has recently developed a unique controlled deactivation ‘switch’ for cannabinoid compounds, research which was featured by the American Chemical Society and the National Institute for Drug Abuse.

Ligand Assisted Protein Structure (LAPS) (Makriyannis labs)

  • A novel approach for studying the structural features involved in the interaction of a ligand with its target protein.
  • Chemists in the Makriyannis labs are able to design and synthesize highly selective ligands, capable of interacting covalently with a function protein (GPCR, enzyme, transport).
  • The ligand-protein binding motif is obtained through the use of protein mutants in combination with proteomic methods for characterizing the amino acid residues involved in ligand attachment at the protein binding site.
  • The information obtained is used to model the drug-protein complex by computer modeling, and the results are used as a basis for the design and development of new medications.

Serotonin Drug Development Research (Booth Lab)

  • Raymond Booth and his team specialize in the medicinal chemical syntheses of drug candidates targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPRCs) for the aminergic neurotransmitters acetylcholine, dopamine, histamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin
  • Serotonin-targeted drug design includes using information from computational chemistry and molecular modeling studies
  • The Booth lab’s research focuses on drug candidate translation to treat neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, including psychoses, drug addiction, ADHD, autism, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

In addition to their use by CDD scientists and affiliated faculty, the CDD has several state-of-the-art instruments available for academic and industrial use.

Mass Spectrometry Services

  • nano-LC-4000 QTrap (Applied Biosystems) with an ESI source: this state-of-the-art instrument is the only hybrid quadrupole linear ion trap available on the market and it is extremely sensitive for both protein identification and characterization and small molecule quantification (NEU members $35/hour; Non-NEU academic $60/hour, Industry price $120/hour).
  • TSQ Quantum Ultra Triple Quadrupole (Thermo Scientific) mass spectrometer with both ESI and APCI ion sources: complete with an Agilent 1100 front end, this instrument has the widest linear dynamic range and highest sensitivity of any triple quad currently on the market, demonstrating detection of our compounds down to the femtogram level (NEU member $30/hour; Non-NEU academic $50/hour; Industry price $100/hour).
  • MALDI Tof/Tof (Applied Biosystems) with an Optibeam off-axis laser: an ultra-high-performance mass spectrometer, capable of detecting whole proteins up to 120 kDa, or complex protein digests with high resolution and mass accuracy.  The Optibeam on axis laser provides ten times greater sensitivity compared to the previous model, which aides in the detection of low abundance peptides (NEU member $35/hour; Non-NEU academic $60/hour; Industry price $120/hour).

NMR services

  • 700 MHz 4-channel NMR spectrometer: Capable of carrying out all modern one- and multi-dimensional NMR experiments including a suite of the TROSY version triple resonance experiments for 15N-, 13C- and 2H- triple labeled protein samples, with variable temperature multinuclear probes and gradient capabilities and operating both in solution and solid-state modes (NEU member $50/hour ($100/day, $250/weekend); Non-NEU academic $75/hour ($300/day, $750/weekend); Industry price $150/hour ($600/day, $1500/weekend)).
  • 400 MHz 4-channel wide-bore Bruker NMR spectrometer: dedicated for solid-state NMR experiments and solution experiments, with a versatile multinuclear BBFO solution probe, this instrument is equipped with a wide-line probe and two specialized triple resonance HXY and HFX CP-MAS probes. It also runs the most advanced Rotational Echo Double Resonance (REDOR) and double REDOR experiments (NEU member $25/hour ($100/day, $200/weekend); Non-NEU academic $50/hour ($200/day, $500/weekend); Industry price $100/hour ($400/day, $1200/weekend)).

As part of its didactic component at Northeastern University, the CDD trains a number of graduate students in drug discovery and design.

Drug Discovery