P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D.

Director, Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Jeffrey Conn received the B.S. degree in Psychology and Biology from Lee Universiy in 1981 and the Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University in 1986. He pursued postdoctoral studies in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale University. In 1988, Dr. Conn joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology at Emory University, where he rose to the rank of Full Professor and established himself as a leader in studies of neurotransmitter receptors and their roles in regulating brain function in circuits involved in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Dr. Conn moved to Merck and Company in 2000 to assume the position of Senior Director and Head of the Department of Neuroscience at Merck's site in West Point, PA.

In 2003, Dr. Conn moved to Vanderbilt University start a new Program in Drug Discovery, now the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD), with a primary mission of facilitating translation of recent advances in basic science to novel therapeutics. In addition to being the Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology and Director of VCNDD, Dr. Conn is Editor in Chief of Molecular Pharmacology, Regional Editor (North America) of Current Neuropharmacology and serves on the editorial boards of 6 other international journals. Dr. Conn serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Addex Pharmaceuticals, Precient Neuropharma, Invitrogen Life Technologies, Seaside Therapeutics, Cephalon Inc., AstraZeneca US , Hoffman La Roche, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation and Eyeforpharma Advisory Board on CNS Drugs. He is Chairman of the Neuropharmacology Division of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). He has received numerous awards and honors, including the NARSAD Essel Investigator Distinguished Investigator Award, the ASPET-Astellas Awards in Translational Pharmacology, the Pharmacia - ASPET Award for Experimental Therapeutics, the Charles R. Park Award For Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology and Pathophysiology, the 2008 PhRMA Foundation Award for Excellence in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and was named as an ISI Most-Cited Scientists in Pharmacology & Toxicology. He serves on several national and international committees, including International Union of Pharmacology (IUPHAR) subcommittee on receptor nomenclature, the American Society for Pharmacology and Therepeutics (ASPET) Publications Board of Trust, ASPET Awards Committee, and is an Expert Consultant, Compound Selection Committee, Treatment Units for Research on Neurocognition and Schizophrenia (TURNS). Dr. Conn's current research is focused on development of novel treatment strategies for schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders. Visit the Jeffrey Conn Research Group.

Visit the Jeffrey Conn Research Group.


Craig W. Lindsley, Ph.D.

Director, Medicinal Chemistry

Craig Lindsley received his B.S. degree from California State University, Chico in Chemistry in 1992 and his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1996 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1997-1999, Dr. Lindsley worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Matthew Shair at Harvard University on a Fellowship from the Harvard Institute of Chemical Biology. He produced a large number of publications during his formal training which centered on organometallic chemistry, novel synthetic methods and biomimetic synthesis on the solid phase. After brief 1 year stints at Parke-Davis and Eli Lilly as a medicinal chemist, Craig was recruited to Merck & Co. where he established and led the Technology Enabled Synthesis Group within the Medicinal Chemistry department.

In late 2006, Dr. Lindsley moved to Vanderbilt as an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Chemistry. In addition to serving as the Director of Medicinal Chemistry for the VCNDD, Dr. Lindsley also serves as Director of the Vanderbilt MLSCN Chemistry Center and co-Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology (VICB) Synthesis Core. He is also on the scientific advisory board to the National Chemical Genomics Research Center and a world-wide Medicinal Chemistry consultant for both Amgen and the Michael J Fox Foundation. Dr. Lindsley has served as a reviewer for a large number of journals and currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Combinatorial Chemistry and as Editor-in Chief of ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

Visit the Craig Lindsley Research Group.


Colleen M. Niswender, Ph.D.

Director, Molecular Pharmacology

Colleen Niswender received her B.S. degree in Pharmacy from the University of Toledo. During her graduate career in the laboratory of Dr. Ronald Emeson at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Niswender studied the regulation of RNA editing in the mammalian central nervous system and characterized molecular determinants regulating RNA editing events within the AMPA subtype glutamate receptor, GluR2, and the G protein-coupled 5HT2C serotonin receptor. After receiving her Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 1996, Dr. Niswender pursued postdoctoral studies with Dr. Stan McKnight at the University of Washington, focusing on the study of Protein Kinase A signal transduction using recombinant mouse lines and genetically engineering mutations within the PKA enzyme.

Dr. Niswender was recruited to the Conn Lab in 2004, and now serves as the Director of Molecular Pharmacology for the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery and as an Research Associate Professor of Pharmacology. Dr. Niswender is actively involved in both the main VCNDD collaborations, including those partnered with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Seaside Therapeutics, Johnson and Johnson, and the NIH, as well as studies interfacing with the Molecular Libraries Probe Centers Network (MLPCN). She is also the Biology Team Leader for the development of potential clinical candidates for mGluR4 modulation as a treatment of Parkinson's disease. Addtionally, in conjunction with Vanderbilt's High Throughput Screening Facility, Dr. Niswender and others within the Molecular Pharmacology group identify and characterize compounds that act as allosteric modulations of the various muscarinic receptors and mGluRs. It is hoped that these compounds will eventually provide starting points for clinically relevant drugs providing therapeutic benefit for neurological disorders and psychiatric disorders.


J. Scott Daniels, Ph.D.

Director, Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics

Scott Daniels received his B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Southwest Baptist University in 1992, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Missouri in 1998. From 1998-2000, Dr. Daniels worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the A.B. Hancock, Jr. Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Daniels investigated DNA-adduct formation by reactive electrophiles such as malodialdehyde (MDA) under Professor Lawrence J. Marnett. After working for DuPont Pharmaceuticals Company and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Dr. Daniels was hired by Pfizer to work in their Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics and Metabolism department. At Pfizer, his primary objective was to design and orchestrate the execution of in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at understanding the drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics of molecules proceeding through lead optimization, drug candidate selection and IND-enabling preclinical studies. As the Biotransformation Lead at Pfizer's St. Louis Laboratories, he managed a separate team of scientists committed to elucidating the pathways of metabolism contributing to a compound's in vivo disposition.

Dr. Daniels joined the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery in 2010, where he currently serves as Director of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics and is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. His laboratory is dedicated to understanding how drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) mechanisms impact the pharmacodynamics of small molecule allosteric modulators of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) and muscarinic receptors (mAChRs).


Carrie Jones, Ph.D.

Director, Behavioral Pharmacology



Mary Kosinski, Ph.D.

Technology Commercialization Associate

Mary Kosinski received her Doctoral degree in cell biology from Vanderbilt University. She also holds a Master's degree in molecular biology from the University of Nebraska and a Bachelor's degree in biology from Westfield State University. She pursued postdoctoral studies in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt, after which she worked as a technician at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland.

Dr. Kosinski joined the Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development in 2006, where she is responsible for identifying, protecting, marketing and licensing Vanderbilt developed technologies in the life science area. Her particular focus is in the area of drug discovery where she manages all of the intellectual property generated by the Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. Dr. Kosinski works closely with the VCNDD leadership to manage all aspects of the group's intellectual property and business development activities. She is also an active member of Association of University Technology Managers.