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Foundation for Health Advancement Awards Innovation Grant to Rowan Researchers to Develop Analgesics without Addiction


Foundation for Health Advancement (FHA) is excited to award an Innovation Grant to Thomas Keck, Ph.D., and Gustavo Moura-Letts, PhD, both Associate Professors in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Rowan University. Together, Drs. Keck and Moura-Letts are addressing one of the biggest public health concerns: drug addiction. Their “Analgesia without Addiction” project will use the Innovation Grant funding to further develop new potent and efficacious analgesics that do not trigger addiction.


This work has the potential to provide a solution to those suffering from drug addiction, a chronic relapsing disorder in which drug taking and seeking behaviors persist despite negative health and psychosocial consequences. In the United States alone, 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids - 745,000 abusing heroin and 9.7 million abusing prescription pain relievers [1] – a major contributor to the opioid epidemic. Their project has the potential to create a novel family of analgesics to help combat the epidemic.


Drs. Keck and Moura-Letts are innovative researchers at Rowan and have extensive backgrounds in testing and synthesizing new drug-like molecules, respectively. Dr. Moura-Letts’ research group focuses on developing novel methods for the synthesis of biologically relevant molecular scaffolds while Dr. Keck’s lab tests new drug-like molecules using molecular and behavioral pharmacology methods to evaluate their preclinical potential. Together, they will provide an iterative and structured approach to developing the novel analgesics. “This new family of molecules has the potential to tackle the fundamental problems with opioid-based analgesics” noted Dr. Moura-Letts. “Not only is this work focused on addressing a critical public health need, but this funding will also allow many Rowan students a unique opportunity to work on multiple steps in the preclinical drug development pipeline, with the long-term goal of developing new therapeutics for clinical use” Dr. Keck added.


[1] 2019 SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health




About Foundation for Health Advancement

The Foundation for Health Advancement (FHA) is a Princeton, New Jersey based not-for-profit corporation that supports health-related research and education programs in New Jersey. FHA’s Innovation Grant Program was created to support early-stage technologies with strong market potential, for which additional proof-of-concept work, data collection, and/or prototyping could yield important information to make the technology more commercially attractive. These grants are available to researchers at FHA’s partner institutions which include Hackensack Meridian Health, Kessler Foundation, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, and Stevens Institute of Technology. FHA’s affiliate companies, New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) and Foundation Venture Capital Group (FVCG), also provide additional funding mechanisms to support New Jersey innovation.

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