Ganesh Thakur, Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Northeastern University

Ganesh Thakur


Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Professor

Pharmaceutical Sciences


  • Advanced Small Molecule Medicinal Chemistry: Pioneering the development of novel small-molecule therapeutics through cutting-edge medicinal chemistry and innovative drug discovery methodologies.
  • Ligand-based Drug Discovery: Specializing in the identification and optimization of ligands through advanced computational and experimental techniques to accelerate drug development processes.
  • Structure-Guided Drug Design: Utilizing high-resolution structural information to inform the rational design of therapeutics, enhancing the precision and efficacy of targeted drug discovery.
  • Artificial Intelligence-Enhanced Drug Discovery: Leading the integration of AI technologies to revolutionize drug discovery, optimizing the design and development of new drugs through predictive modeling and algorithm-driven insights.
  • Therapeutic Positive Allosteric Modulation of Cannabinoid Receptors: Advancing the field of cannabinoid receptor modulation by developing positive allosteric modulators to effectively treat epilepsy, glaucoma, neurodegeneration and chronic neuropathic pain.
  • Targeted Negative Allosteric Modulation of Cannabinoid Receptors: Focusing on the development of negative biased allosteric modulators of cannabinoid receptors, specifically tailored to address and treat substance use disorders (mainly opioid use disorder).
  • Allosteric Modulation of Nicotine Acetylcholine Receptors: Innovating in the modulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (including alpha4beta2, alpha7, and alpha9 NAChR) to develop new treatments for chronic and neuropathic pain, as well as substance use disorders.


Dr. Thakur commenced his illustrious academic journey with an M.S. in Chemistry from IIT Mumbai, followed by a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, in 2000. After a pivotal post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut, USA, in 2004, he joined Northeastern University’s Center for Drug Discovery as a Senior Scientist. His trajectory at Northeastern University saw a rapid ascent from a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2010 to achieving tenure in 2016 and elevation to Associate Professor. By 2021, he was distinguished with the title of Full Professor. Dr. Thakur’s leadership prowess was evident as he ascended from Vice-Chair in 2017 to Interim Chair and then to Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences by July 2020, manifesting significant administrative acumen alongside his academic commitments.

Dr. Thakur’s research has significantly propelled the field of endocannabinoid system (ECS) research forward over the last two decades. He is at the forefront of developing allosteric modulators for CB1 and CB2 receptors, with his lab extending its expertise to target alpha7, a4b2 nicotinic receptors, and GIRK channels. His pioneering work has led to the development of compounds that play a critical role in understanding and potentially treating a range of conditions, including PTSD, glaucoma, neurodegeneration, neuropathic pain, substance abuse disorders, and epilepsy. Beyond his research contributions, Dr. Thakur is also celebrated for his pedagogical excellence, as evidenced by his receipt of the “Excellence in Teaching Award” in both 2011 and 2019.

Awards and Honors

2023 – Distinguished Mentor Award, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.
2023 – Hind Rattan Award, Given by the NRI Welfare Society of India
2022 – RISE (Research, Innovation, Scholarship, and Expo) Award in Health Sciences, NEU, Boston, MA 02115 (Graduate Student: Lucas Cantwell)
2019 – Excellence in Teaching Award, School of Pharmacy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
2018 – Best Patent Award from the Boston Patent Law Association (BPLA). Patent Title: Allosteric Modulators of CB1 Cannabinoid Receptor. *United States Patent #9,926,275 B2
2015 – Guest Speaker, Rho Chi Society’s Annual Lecture Series, 2015.
2015 – Nominated for “Bouve College Distinguished Educator Award” for the year 2015.
2015 – Nominated for Northeastern University’s University-wide “Excellence in Teaching Award.”
2015 – RISE (Research, Innovation, Scholarship, and Expo) Award in Health Sciences, NEU, Boston, 2015
(Graduate Student: Abhijit Kulkarni)
2014 – The Schumacher Award for Excellence in Research, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
2011 – Excellence in Teaching Award, School of Pharmacy, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
2009 – Early Career Development Award in Chemistry of Drug Abuse and Addiction (ECHEM) from NIDA
1998 – Recipient of “Best Paper Presentation Award” in XIVth Carbohydrate Conference Conducted by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in collaboration with Association of Carbohydrate Chemists & Technologists, India
1998 – Recipient of Fellowship of University Grant Commission (UGC, India) as a Senior Research Fellow
1995 – Recipient of Fellowship of University Grant Commission (UGC, India) as a Junior Research Fellow


R01GM057481-17 NIH/NIGMS
Title: Targeting the Alpha7 nAChR for Therapeutic Effects
Role: Co-I (PI on subcontract)
Date: 03/01/2020- 02/28/2024

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Title: Development of Novel Type 1 Cannabinoid Receptor Positive Allosteric Modulators for Infantile Spasms
Role: Co-I (PI: Dr. Robert Laprairie)
Date: 05/01/2020- 05/30/2025

RO1HL059949-23 NIH/NHLBI
Title: Structural Determinants of PIP2 Regulation
Role: Co-I (PI- Dr. Logothetis)
Date: 07/01/2020- 06/30/2024