McDonnell Receives Career Achievement Award

January 13, 2017
By: Karen E. Butler, Director of Communications, Duke Cancer Institute

Donald McDonnell, PhD, has been named by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) to receive the 2017 Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Award in Pharmacology. McDonnell is being recognized for his genetic and pharmacological dissection of steroid receptor signal transduction pathways and the development of novel estrogen and androgen receptor modulators with therapeutic applications.

The Ruffolo Award was established in 2011 in recognition of the contributions made to drug discovery and development by Dr. Ruffolo. McDonnell was nominated for the award by Dr. David Mangelsdorf, an Alfred G. Gilman Distinguished Chair in Pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

McDonnell earned his PhD in Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. During his PhD studies, he cloned the cDNA for the vitamin D receptor and demonstrated its relation to the classical steroid receptors. Dr. McDonnell subsequently spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Smith, Kline & Beckman, Inc., where he developed a further interest in studying the molecular pharmacology of nuclear receptors.

In 1990, McDonnell became assistant professor of Cell Biology at Baylor College of Medicine. The following year, he returned to drug discovery as Director and Head of Molecular Biology at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In 1994, McDonnell moved to Duke University, where his work has since focused on the genetic and pharmacological dissection of steroid receptor signal transduction pathways and the development of novel estrogen and androgen receptor modulators, some of which are clinical candidates being evaluated as treatments for a variety of endocrinopathies.

McDonnell is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland. He has published more than 250 articles on the molecular pharmacology of nuclear hormone receptors. McDonnell was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

The Ruffolo Award will be presented during the Business Meeting and Awards Presentation at the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2017 in Chicago, IL on Saturday, April 22.