Dr. Dana Ferraris

Dr. Dana Ferraris illustration

Research Interests

I spent over 15 years as a medicinal chemist working on drug discovery projects in the pharmaceutical industry. I am still passionate about teaching undergraduates medicinal chemistry and oncology based drug discovery. My areas of research include two projects related to cancer therapy: design and synthesis of selective inhibitors of mono(ADP-ribosyl transferases) for use as biological probes and design and synthesis of binapthoquinones for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Both of these projects train students in modern methods of data mining and structure based drug design and synthesis. My research projects focus on working in a team setting with collaborators and presenting their work at American Chemical Society Meetings.


  • CHE2217 – Organic Chemistry I
  • CHE2218 – Organic Chemistry II
  • CHE3205 – Chemical Literature
  • CHE3301 – Medicinal Chemistry
  • CHE4493 – Chemistry Seminar

Recent Student Conference Presentations

  1. Upton, K.; Thorsell, A.-G.; Karlberg, T.; Meyers, M.; Holechek, J.; Lease, R.; Schuler, H.; Ferraris, D. “Design, synthesis and evaluation of PARP14 inhibitors as biological probes for target validation” March 18, 2018, MEDI 128, 255th American Chemical Society National Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
  2. McCadden, C.; Grant, R.; Thorsell, A.-G., Holechek, J., Lease, R.; Karlberg, T.; Schuler, H.; Ferraris, D. “Design, synthesis, and evaluation of potent and selective inhibitors of mono-(ADP-ribosyl)transferase, PARP10” March 18, 2018, MEDI 127, 255th American Chemical Society National Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
  3. Williams, E.; Palmer, R.; Carter-Cooper, B.; Dash, S.; Truong, P.; Emadi, A.; Lapidus, R.; Ferraris, D. “Rational design and synthesis of potent and aqueous soluble Bis-amino alcohol dimeric naphthoquinones with activity against acute myeloid leukemia cells” March 18, 2018, MEDI 129, 255th American Chemical Society National Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
  4. Truong, P.*; Kipe, O.*; Lam, V.*; Carter-Cooper, B. A.; Dash, S.; Lapidus, R. G.; Emadi, A.; Ferraris, D. “Design, synthesis, and anti-neoplastic evaluation of dimeric amino-naphthoquinones against acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells”, August 21, 2017, MEDI 74, 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Washington, DC.
  5. Holechek, J.*; Lease, R.*; Thorsell, A.-G.; Grant, R.*; Keen, A.*; Karlberg, T.; Schüler, H.; Ferraris, D. “Design, synthesis, and evaluation of potent and selective inhibitors of mono-(ADP-ribosyl)transferases, PARP10 and PARP14”, August 21, 2017, MEDI 51, 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Washington, DC.
  6. Meyers, M.*; Upton, K.*; Thorsell, A.-G.; Schuler, H.; Ferraris, D. “Design, synthesis and evaluation of potent inhibitors of PARP-14/ARTD8, a mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase”, April 3, 2017, MEDI 473, 253rd American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Francisco, California.
  7. Holechek, J.*; Callahan, E.*; Thorsell, A.-G.; Karlberg, T.; Schuler, H.; Ferraris, D. “Design, synthesis and evaluation of selective inhibitors of the mono(ADP-ribosyl) transferase, PARP-14” October 27, 2016, 19th Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Chemical and Biological Sciences, UMBC, MD, Poster.

Recent Selected Publications

*McDaniel College Students

  1. “Design and Synthesis of Potent Inhibitors of the mono-(ADP-ribosyl)transferase, PARP14” Upton, K.*; Meyers, M.*; Thorsell, A.-G.; Holechek, J.*; Lease, R.*; Schey, G.*; Wolf, E.; Lucente, A.; Schuler, H.; Ferraris, D. Med. Chem. Lett., 2017, In press.
  2. “Synthesis, Characterization and Anti-neoplastic Activity of Bis-aziridine Dimeric Naphthoquinone – a Novel Class of Compounds with Potent Activity Against Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells” Carter-Cooper, B. A.; Fletcher, S.; Ferraris, D.; Choi, E. Y.; Kronfli, D.; Dash, S.; Truong, P.*; Sausville, E. A.; Lapidus, R. G.; Emadi, A. Med. Chem. Lett. 2017, 27, 6-10.
  3. “Discovery of 6-Diazo-5-oxo-norleucine (DON) Prodrugs with Enhanced CSF Delivery in Monkeys, a Potential Treatment for Glioblastoma” Rais, R.; Jančařík, A.; Tenora, L; Nedelcovych, M.; Alt, J.; Englert, J; Rojas, C.; Le, A.; Elgogary, A.; Tan, J.; Monincova, L.; Pate, K.; Adams, R.; Ferraris, D.; Powell, J.; Majer, P.; Slusher, B. Med. Chem. 2016, 59, 8621-8633.
  4. “Discovery of Orally Available Prodrugs of the Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II (GCPII) Inhibitor 2-Phosphonomethylpentane dioic acid (2-PMPA)” Majer, P.; Jancarik, A.; Krecmerova, M.; Tichy, T.; Tenora, L.; Wozniak, K.; Wu, Y.; Pommier, E.; Ferraris, D.; Rais, R.; Slusher, B. Med. Chem. 2016, 59, 2810-2819.
  5. Book Chapter in PARP Inhibitors for Cancer Therapy Curtin, N., Sharma, R. Eds.:Overview of PARP Inhibitor Design and Optimization”, Ferraris, D., 2015, pp. 183-203.
  6. Design, Synthesis, and Pharmacological Evaluation of Fluorinated Tetrahydrouridine Derivatives as Inhibitors of Cytidine Deaminase" Ferraris, D., Duvall, B., Delahanty, G., Mistry, B., Alt, J., Rojas, C., Rowbottom, C., Sanders, K., Schuck, E., Huang, K-C., Redkar, , Slusher, B., Tsukamoto, T. J. Med. Chem. 2014, 57, 2582-2588.
  7. δ-Thiolactones as Prodrugs of Thiol-Based Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II (GCPII) Inhibitors” Ferraris, D., Majer, P., Ni, C., Slusher, C. E., Rais, R., Wu, Y., Wozniak, K., Alt, J., Rojas, C., Slusher, B., Tsukamoto, T. Med. Chem. 2014, 57, 243-247.
  8. Dual Leucine Zipper Kinase (DLK) as a Therapeutic Target for Neurodegenerative Conditions” Ferraris, D., Yang, Z., Welsbie, D. Future Med. Chem. 2013, 5, 1923-1934.
  9. “Design, synthesis and pharmacological evaluation of bis-2-(5-phenylacetamido-1,2,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)ethyl sulfide (BPTES) analogs as glutaminase inhibitors” Shukla, K.; Ferraris, D.; Thomas, A.; Stathis, M.; Duvall, B.; Delahanty, G.; Alt, J.; Rais, R.; Rojas, C.; Gao, P.; Xiang, Y.; Dang, C. V.; Slusher, B.; Tsukamoto, T. J. Med. Chem. 2012, 55, 10551-10563.
  10. “The Metabolic Profile of Tumors Depends on Both the Responsible Genetic Lesion and Tissue Type” Yuneva, M. O.; Fan, T. W. M.; Allen, T. D.; Higashi, R. M.; Ferraris, D.; Tsukamoto, T.; Mates, J. M.; Alonso, F. J.; Wang, C.; Seo, Y.; Chen, X.; Bishop, J. M. Cell Metabolism 2012, 15, 157-170.
  11.  “Structure Activity Relationships of Glutamate Carboxy Peptidase II (GCP II) Inhibitors” Ferraris, D.; Shukla, K.; Tsukamoto, T. Curr. Med. Chem. 2012, 19, 1282-1294.
  12. “Recent Advances in the Discovery of D-Amino Acid Oxidase Inhibitors and Their Therapeutic Utility in Schizophrenia” Ferraris, D.; Tsukamoto, T. Current Pharm. Des. 2011, 17,103-111.
  13. “Inhibition of Glutaminase Preferentially Slows Growth of Glioma Cells with Mutant IDH1” Seltzer, M.; Bennett, B. D.; Joshi, A.D.; Gao, P.; Thomas, A. G.; Ferraris, D.; Tsukamoto, T.; Rojas, C. J.; Slusher, B.; Rabinowitz, J. D.; Dang, C. V.; Riggins, G. J. Cancer Res. 2010, 70, 8981-8987.
  14. “Evolution of Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors. From Concept to Clinic” Ferraris, D. J. Med. Chem. 2010, 53, 4561-4584.


  • Faculty Scholarly Publications Award, McDaniel College, AY 2016-2017
  • Nora Roberts Award for Community Outreach, McDaniel College, AY 2016-2017
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