Chemistry and Pharmacology Branch (CP)

What We Do:

The Chemistry and Pharmacology Branch (CP) supports research on all aspects of chemistry and pharmacology affected by drugs of abuse. The CP Branch maintains, develops, and oversees a portfolio encompassing research, such as:

  1. Elucidating mechanisms  of action, structure-activity relationships, understanding of basic principles involved with biological activity, pharmacology and toxicity,
  2. Developing new receptor  type and subtype specific agents and,
  3. Supporting research on the pre-clinical development of new pharmacotherapies  for the treatment  of drug abuse disorders emphasizing the pre-clinical stages of target identification through hit-to-lead.

Research Interests/Goals:

This branch supports research programs on

  • Elucidate effects of drugs on all the physiological systems including the central nervous system and the other physiological systems such as the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune.
  • Using synthetic, medicinal, Structure-activity studies (SAR) and pharmacological approaches, develops probes for basic research and potential drug leads to treat addictive disorders; Elucidates the chemical mechanism for drug addiction,
  • The discovery of endogenous ligands, and the role of endogenous ligands and systems relevant to drug action, and addiction
  • The studies of absorption, metabolism, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, elimination, transport and delivery
  • Investigations on analytical methods development, proteomics, protein folding and related functional genomics and structural biology
  • Synthesis, structure-function relationships, conformational studies, structural biology, ligand design of all drugs abuse; synthesis of affinity reagents, chemical probes, drug-receptor interaction model to elucidate drug action
  • Pharmacological approaches to understand perinatal drug exposure and the effects of confounding factors, such as, maternal and environmental stress, nutrition etc., on neural systems and other organs utero.
  • See more on our DNB Discovery Program: Identification and Validation of Novel Targets, Assays, Technologies and Compounds

NIDA Drug Supply Program:

For information on the NIDA Drug Supply Program, see:

Contact: Kevin Gormley

Research Interests and Biographies

  • Rao S. Rapaka, Ph.D. - Chief
    (301) 435-1304
    Focuses on chemistry, drug design, peptides & proteomics, enzymology.
    Dr. Rao S. Rapaka:  Dr. Rapaka received his M.S. Pharmaceutical chemistry and Pharmacology and Ph.D. in Medicinal chemistry from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), School of Pharmacy. He also worked as a research associate at UCSF on Vitamin A analogs’ syntheses, and later on at the UCSF dental school on the medicinal chemistry and structural biology of collagen peptides. Following that he worked at Albert Einstein Medical Center (drug development), University of Alabama Medical Center (synthesis and structural biology, elastin analogs), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA; Biopharmaceutics laboratory, later, as Review Chemist). After few years at FDA he joined NIDA.
  • Kristopher Bough, Ph.D. - Program Director/Divisional SBIR/STTR Coordinator
    (301) 443-9800 Dr. Bough is a neuroscientist with interests in brain energy metabolism and how it impacts therapeutic early discovery. He has published in the areas of behavioral neuropharmacology, electrophysiology (in vivo and in vitro), molecular biology, and neuroanatomy and, more recently, biomarker development. Dr. Bough earned his MS and PhD in Biology from Georgetown University in 1999.  He subsequently completed two post-doctoral fellowships in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington (1999-2001) and the Department of Pharmacology at Emory University (2001-2005). Prior to joining NIH, he worked three years at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (FDA/CDER) as a Pharmacologist. Dr. Bough joined NIDA as a Program Officer working in the Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences in Feb 2008 before moving to DNB in Apr 2013.
  • Paul S. Hillery, Ph.D. - Health Scientist Administrator
    (301) 435-1306
    Supports research in organic & medicinal chemistry, structural biology.
    Paul. S. Hillery, Ph.D. Health Science Administrator, has a background in organic and medicinal chemistry, based on NIH intramural research and review of drug design/manufacturing in INDs and NDAs for the FDA.  Since 1996, Paul Hillery has served as an administrator of assigned NIDA grants in the areas of cannabinoid, nicotinic, and opioid research, pertaining to receptors and transporters having relevance to drug abuse.  The grant portfolio has been quite varied, but focused mostly on probes, leads, and methods from a basic research perspective.
  • Kevin Gormley - Drug Supply Program Coordinator
    (301) 435-0264