Donald Kirsch

Donald Kirsch

Short Research Description

Donald Kirsch has been an industrial research scientist for almost 40 years.  He first served as a group leader in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology at Squibb Institute for Medical Research where he worked in the area of anti-infective drug discovery.  He was then the director of Molecular Genetic Screen Design at Cyanamid, where his group developed high throughput methods for matching receptors and ligands.  He later served as a director of neuroscience research at Wyeth in the areas of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative drug discovery and then as the Chief Scientific Officer at Cambria Pharmaceuticals where he developed drugs for the treatment of ALS.  He currently works as a pharmaceutical industry consultant. 

Don has published more than 50 papers in the areas of molecular genetics and pharmacology, holds 27 drug-related patents, served as a scientific journal reviewer, served on NIH study sections for 30 years and received more than $6 million in research grants.  One of the drugs from his research at Cambria Pharmaceuticals is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of ALS. 

Prior to working at Columbia Don taught in the Biotechnology Department at Harvard Extension School.    

Donald Kirsch holds an AB in biochemistry from Rutgers College, a PhD in molecular biology from Princeton University, completed his postdoctoral training in pharmacology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, studied genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and completed the Engineering Management Certificate Program at Stanford Business School.

Representative Publications

  • Kirsch, D.R. (2021) Drug Discovery in Big Pharma: Where” Birds” and “Fish” Collaborate to Find New Medicines, Integrated Science, Springer Nature, Volume 3, Chapter 17, ISSN: 2662-9461 (in press) 
  • Kirsch, D.R. (2020) Therapeutic Drug Development and Human Clinical Trials in “Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Leading, Managing, and Commercializing Innovative Technologies” Second Edition, (C. Shimasaki ed.) Elsevier, Amsterdam pp 339-358, ISBN-10: ‎ 012815585X
  • Hunt, A., Kirsch, D.R. (2020) Decision Making in the Pharmaceutical Industry – A Tale of Three Antibiotics, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 581, 119251 
  • Kirsch, D.R. and Ogas, O. (2017) “The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines” (Arcade Publishing, New York)
  • Trippier, P.C., Zhao, K.T., Fox, S.G., Schiefer, I.T., Benmohamed, R., Moran, J., Kirsch, D.R., Morimoto, R.I., and Silverman, R.B., (2014), Proteasome activation is a mechanism for pyrazolone small molecules displaying therapeutic potential in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  ACS Chem. Neurosci. 5, 823 
  • Koehn, F.E., Kirsch, D.R., Feng, X., Janso, J. and Young, M., (2008) A Cell-Wall Active Lipopeptide from the Fungus Pochonia bulbillosa.  J. Natural Products 71, 2045-2048.