Photo of Professor Cynthia Dowd

Cynthia S. Dowd

SEH 4810
Address: Science and Engineering Hall
800 22nd St. NW
Washington, District Of Columbia
Phone: 202-994-8405
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Organic Synthesis, Medicinal Chemistry, Antibiotic and Antiviral Drug Discovery, and Structure-Guided Ligand Design 
The development of resistance to current antibiotic therapies and the use of microorganisms in biological warfare have shown the weaknesses in our antibiotic and antiviral drugs. Now, more than ever, a need for novel therapies exists. A major limitation in the development of novel anti-infectives is the identification of an appropriate biochemical target. Our research 
program focuses on the development of inhibitors for specific targets implicated in the survival of certain bacteria. We are focused on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, causing TB, and identifying vulnerabilities in mycobacterial metabolism that might be targeted by small molecule therapeutic agents. Our work uses structure-guided ligand design, organic synthesis, and evaluation to examine these molecules and validate the biochemical target.

Current Research

Cynthia Dowd is currently engaged in several interdisciplinary projects related to antibiotic drug discovery and structure-based design. She enjoys collaboration with scientists in a variety of fields from several institutions and backgrounds. Students in her lab gain hands-on experience in molecular modeling, design, synthesis, and biochemical evaluation. Knowledge of diverse tools and thinking prepares them well for a future in science. 


BA, University of Virginia, 1993 
PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1999 



Helena Boshoff and Clifton E. Barry, III, NIAID/NIH. 
Scott Garman, University of Massachusetts—Amherst. 
Kylene Kehn-Hall and Robin Couch, GMU, National Center for Biodefense. 
Richard Lee, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 
  • Jackson, E.J.; Dowd, C.S.* Inhibitors of 1-Deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase (Dxr): A Review of the Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Recent Inhibitors, Curr. Topics Med. Chem., 2012, 12, 706-728.
  • McKenney, E.S.; Sargent, M.; Khan, H.; Couch, R.D.; Uh, E.; Jackson, E.R.; San Jose, G.; Dowd, C.S.; van Hoek, M.L. Lipophilic prodrugs of FR900098 are antimicrobial against Francisella novicida in vivo and in vitro and show GlpT independent efficacy, PLoS One, 2012, 7, e38167.
  • Uh, E.; Jackson, E.R.; San Jose, G.; Maddox, M.; Lee, R.E.; Lee, R.E.; Boshoff, H.I.; Dowd, C.S.* Antibacterial and antitubercular activity of fosmidomycin, FR900098, and their lipophilic analogs, Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 2011, 21, 6973-6976.
  • Kim, P.; Zhang, L.; Manjunatha, U.H.; Singh, R.; Patel, S.; Jiricek, J.; Keller, T.H.; Boshoff, H.I.; Barry, III, C.E.; Dowd, C.S.* Structure-activity relationships of antitubercular nitroimidazoles. I. Structural features associated with aerobic and anaerobic activities of 4- and 5-nitroimidazoles, J. Med. Chem. 2009, 52, 1317-1328.


Classes Taught

Chem 2151-2152: Advanced Organic Chemistry (graduate) 
Chem 6235: Organic Chemistry II (undergraduate)