DUniv. 2017

Honorary Doctorate Recipient

Dennis Liotta


Through his discoveries, Professor Liotta has helped to transform HIV/AIDS from a death sentence into a chronic infection, allowing patients to live active, near-normal lives.  It is estimated that over 90% of all HIV-infected individuals in the United States take (or have taken) one of the drugs he invented.  His contributions are not restricted to AIDS; over the past 25 years, his brilliant research has led to the discovery and development of novel antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory therapeutic agents. He is widely recognized as one of the premier discoverers of novel therapeutics, including the first drug approved to treat Hepatitis B, and has been named inventor of record in over 75 patents.

Dr. Liotta earned his doctorate in 1974 at City University of New York (CUNY) before undertaking postdoctoral studies at Ohio State University from 1974 to 1976. He then joined the faculty at Emory University, culminating in his current appointment as the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry. He also serves as executive director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development, as well as co-director of the ANDI-Emory Alliance for the Development of Innovative Healthcare Technologies.

Dr. Liotta has authored over 270 research publications, and has supervised 97 postdoctoral and graduate students at Emory, for which he has earned several teaching awards. In 2010, he became the founding Editor-in-Chief of ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, which has become one of the top journals for disseminating innovative medicinal chemistry reports. Recently, Dr. Liotta founded DRIVE (Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory), a non-profit drug development company that focusses on diseases caused by single stranded RNA viruses. Dr. Liotta is also working on several other innovative therapeutics, specifically studying how receptor antagonists could be used to fight cancer or neurological disorders. He also leads a research group that seeks to develop new drugs to treat unmet medical needs, such as treatments for Dengue fever.

In recognition of his unwavering commitment to innovative research, Dennis Liotta has received several prestigious awards, including induction into the American Chemistry Society (ACS) Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame (2010), the Smissman Award for Medicinal Chemistry (2015), and election as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (2013).

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