Many life-saving drugs, including those used to treat HIV & hepatitis, can have side effects that themselves can be life-threatening. Often these side effects come from breakdown of the drug into toxic compounds. Pharmacologist Namandjé N. Bumpus uses mass spectrometry and molecular pharmacology to figure out what toxic compounds are produced from these drugs, why they’re toxic, and how their toxic effects can be prevented.

In addition to carrying out this critical research as an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at John Hopkins University, she serves as Associate Dean for Basic Research at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. In this position she helps facilitate the combination of “basic research” which seeks to answer fundamental scientific questions and “translational research” that seeks to put those findings to use, for example in a clinical setting.

She also serves as a science commissioner and member of Washington, D.C.’s Science Advisory Board, chairs the NIH’s Xenobiotic and Nutrient Disposition and Action study section, serves on the PhRMA Foundation’s Basic Pharmacology Advisory Committee, and edits the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition. And she’s about to get even busier; she was recently elected Councilor of ASPET (the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics) and will begin her term this July.

Bumpus earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Los Angeles’ Occidental College, followed by a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She then did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Scripps Research Institute. Her many honors include one from a president himself – President Obama awarded her a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She also received 2014 Tanabe Young Investigator Award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacology and ASPET’s 2015 Drug Metabolism Early Career Achievement Award.

Bumpus is one of far too few female African American professors in the biomedical field and she’s working to change this. She served as Hopkins’ first associate dean of institutional and student equity and instituted mentoring programs to expand access to resources and opportunities. We thank Bumpus for her work and congratulate her on her recent election!

Photo credit: John Hopkins University

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