Medications Discovery & Toxicology Branch (MDTB)

What We Do:

The MDTB plans and implements a preclinical Addiction Treatment Discovery Program (ATDP), with the goal of identifying potential medications to treat drug dependence disorders. The Program is implemented by coordinating the extramural activities of the MDTB and the Chemistry & Pharmaceutics Branch (CPB) and through close interactions with chemists and pharmaceutical company contacts. Within the ATDP, contract-supported activities range from in vitro receptor activity profiling to compound evaluations in advanced animal models. The MDTB also supports grants aimed at evaluating potential new pharmacotherapies to treat drug dependence.

Beyond medications discovery, the MDTB plans and implements a comprehensive preclinical Toxicology Program. Through contracts, the Toxicology Program supports all of the standard Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) preclinical safety studies required for IND and NDA filings with the FDA. In addition, contracts have been established to support specialized preclinical drug interaction studies in which the safety of potential medications is established in the presence of drugs of abuse.

Staff Biographies and Research Interests:

  • David A. White, Ph.D., - Acting Branch Chief
    Dr. David White currently supervises the staff responsible for coordinating DTMC’s preclinical medications discovery and safety assessment efforts. He also oversees the activities of DTMC’s Addiction Treatment Discovery Program (ATDP) and Toxicology Program and provides oversight on related contracts/grants. He previously served as the Director of the ATDP from 2009 to 2023. Dr. White joined DTMC in 2006 after more than six years of preclinical SUD research experience in the Department of Pharmacology at Emory University's School of Medicine.
  • Carol Hubner, Ph.D., - Acting Director, Addiction Treatment Discovery Program and Health Scientist Administrator
    Serves as Director of the Addiction Treatment Discovery Program as well as Project Officer on the rodent behavioral pharmacology contract supporting early preclinical testing for this program. Serves as a NIDA representative to the Interagency Committee on Drug Control. Seven years of preclinical behavioral research experience studying drugs of abuse at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, University of Maryland, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Joined DTMC in 1992.
  • Jenny Browning, Ph.D., - Health Scientist Administrator
    Serves as a program officer for the Addiction Treatment and Discovery Program (ATDP) supporting drug discovery efforts. Nine years of prior experience in preclinical behavioral pharmacology SUDs research at Arizona State University, Washington State University and the University of Maryland. 
  • Matthew A. Seager, Ph.D., - Health Scientist Administrator
    Serves as Project Officer on in vitro receptor profiling and safety pharmacology/toxicology contracts in support of the Addiction Treatment Discovery Program (ATDP) and the Toxicology Program. Twelve years of previous experience in neuroscience drug discovery at Eli Lilly, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb. Joined DTMC in 2020.
  • Drew Townsend, Ph.D., - Health Scientist Administrator
    Supports behavioral pharmacology efforts of the ATDP. Ten years of prior academic experience in developing preclinical drug self-administration procedures to evaluate candidate SUD medications at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Virginia Commonwealth University. Joined DTMC in 2022.