James Leahy


Dr. James Leahy is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of South Florida, and is currently the chair of the department. He is also a member of the Florida Center of Excellence for Drug Discovery and Innovation (CDDI), and he holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Molecular Medicine in the Morsani College of Medicine. His research is focused on the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents, with a current focus on infectious diseases and neurological disorders. Prior to his arrival at USF, Dr. Leahy helped launch the drug discovery operations at Exelixis Inc., where he was the Senior Director of Chemistry and helped build a team of over 100 chemists. This team discovered more than two dozen novel drug candidates that have resulted in three different FDA approved drugs to date (Cometriq, Cabometyx and Cotellic) for the treatment of medullary thyroid cancer, advanced kidney and liver cancer, and melanoma, respectively. Additionally, they also discovered Minnebro, which is a first in class non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist that is now approved for use in Japan where it is used for the treatment of high blood pressure. Dr. Leahy started his independent career on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received an NSF CAREER award and was named a Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar. He received his Ph.D. from the University of South Florida and subsequently conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a named inventor on 27 U. S. patents to date (and a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors) and has directed the graduate research of thirteen students who have completed their Ph.D. degrees as well as four who have earned Masters degrees.

Earned Awards