Group Members


Joel S. Freundlich, Ph.D., is a Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience and of Medicine at Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. Prior to his return to academic research, he spent eight years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist. His undergraduate and master’s degree training were in chemical engineering at Cornell University as a McMullen Dean’s Scholar. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the tutelage of 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awardee Richard Schrock.

Link to CV

Link to CDD interview (Collaborative Drug Discovery)

Link to interview at Grosset Symposium

Current members of the Freundlich Group


Pankaj Sharma completed his MS (Pharm.) and a PhD in medicinal chemistry in 2017 from the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Hyderabad, India. He developed a silver-catalyzed domino protocol for the synthesis of a new class of spirooxindoles during his doctoral research work. He also worked on the synthesis of oxindole- and benzimidazole-based new chemical entities acting as potential cytotoxic and apoptosis inducing agents. He worked as a postdoctoral research at the Ohio State University, under the guidance of Prof. Karl Werbovetz. The prime focus of his research was to develop the structure-activity relationship for new antileukemic and antileishmanial compounds. He joined as a postdoctoral fellow in the Freundlich lab in January 2022 and is currently exploring the rational development of compounds targeting the menaquinone biosynthetic pathway in M. tuberculosis. He is also learning novel techniques in structure-based drug design and molecular modeling.

Srinivas Thadkapally
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Srinivas Thadkapally has been a postdoctoral fellow in the Freundlich research group since February 2022. He is primarily engaged in the design, synthesis, and mechanistic studies of small molecule antibacterials. Prior to joining the lab, he was involved in various lead discovery projects where he sought to leverage Au, Pt and Rh catalyzed cyclizations to prepare medicinally important small molecules. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia under the supervision of Profs. Christopher Hyland and Stephen G. Pyne. Before joining the UOW, he spent three years in Prof. Rajeev S. Menon’s research group at CSIR-IICT Hyderabad as a project associate, where he focused on Au-catalyzed cyclization reactions. Srinivas got his Master’s degree in Drugs and Pharmaceuticals from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Kukatpallly, Hyderabad, Telangana, India. 

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Shivangi completed her PhD in May 2022 from CSIR- Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, India. Her PhD work focused on the characterization of mycobacterial GTPase and ATPase proteins through biochemical and biophysical analysis, disruption studies by point mutagenesis and identification of potent inhibitors through in silico and in vitro methods. She joined the Freundlich Group in June 2022 and here her primary goal is to study drug accumulation kinetic phenomena in different bacteria. In addition, she is very interested to learn more about bacterial cell death post primary target engagement.
Google scholar:
Twitter handle: @Shivangi_122

Melanie Johnston, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Johnston completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine under the direction of Dr. Caren Freel Meyers in the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences. There, her doctoral work in mechanistic enzymology focused on identifying alternative activities of the bacterial enzyme 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXPS), a promising antibacterial drug target.

Dr. Johnston joined the Freundlich lab in September 2022. Here, she is excited to explore mycobacterial drug accumulation and metabolism. She also enjoys teaching and mentoring students in the lab and looks forward to working with Freundlich group members at all stages of their education. Due to her commitment to teaching and interest in pursuing an academic career, she has been awarded an Associate Postdoctoral Fellowship from INSPIRE, an NIH-IRACDA program.

Melanie Johnston, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Kishor Mane graduated from CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory Pune in June 2022. His PhD work focused on the transition metal-free and transition metal catalyzed reactions mainly C-H activation of heteroarenes, photoredox catalysis, designing & synthesis of small bioactive scaffolds using reactive intermediates such as aza-oxyallyl cations, donor-acceptor cyclopropanes, EDA complexes, quinone monoimines (QMI), quinone imine ketals (QIKs), para-quinine methides (p-QMs), aryne, and α-oxyalkyl radicals produced from ethers. In October 2022, he joined the Freundlich Group and is primarily involved in the design and synthesis of small molecule antibacterials.

Amir George MD-Ph.D.

Amir George is an MD-Ph.D. student who joined the Freundlich group in June 2022. Prior to joining the lab, Amir received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology from Rutgers University Newark. He is interested in studying the computational, synthetic and biological aspects of drug discovery to gain a deep understanding of the process of drug development. As a medical student, he is pursuing an MD with Distinction in Medical Education because of his interest in academia and passion for teaching students. Amir hopes to pursue a career as a physician scientist in the future that allows him to work in drug discovery, participate in medical education curriculum and development, and apply modern scientific findings to patient care.

Ashni Kapadia is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick who joined the Freundlich Lab in November of 2020. She is a student in the School of Arts and Sciences currently pursuing a double major in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry and Philosophy.  After completing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to pursue an MD/PhD.

Temitope Ayetan is an undergraduate at Rutgers University Newark who joined the Freundlich group in September 2023. He is a student in the School of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Mathematics. He is committed to advancing his knowledge and abilities in the field of molecular biology because he has a strong passion for research. He is eager to contribute to the current initiatives in the Freundlich group and anticipates leaving a lasting impression on the scientific community.

Sharon Duran is an undergraduate at Rutgers University - Newark. She joined the Freundlich lab in September 2023. Her major is Neuroscience and Behavior, and she is minoring in Social Justice as a second concentration through the Honors Living Learning Community (HLLC) program. Sharon became interested in biological and drug development research while completing her chemistry and biology prerequisites. She aims to apply to medical school and pursue an MD degree while continuing to explore her research interests.

Vignesh Krishnan is currently a graduate student specializing in Machine Learning within the MS in Computer Science program at Rutgers University. His research centers on employing Machine Learning techniques in areas like Computational Biology and Chemistry and Natural Language Processing. His projects have included predicting drug dosages with machine learning, applying neural networks to assign disease codes to medical diagnoses, and addressing various text classification challenges. Additionally, Vignesh brings three years of professional experience from his role as a senior software engineer at Cisco Systems.

Dr. Jyoti Sharma earned her Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in 2023. Her Ph.D. work focused on the computational and experimental investigation of elemental sulfur and polysulfide. In February 2024, she joined the Freundlich Group, shifting her focus to machine learning and its applications in computational biology and chemistry.

Khadija Mughal is an undergraduate student majoring in Management Information Systems at Rutgers University-Newark. While taking her undergraduate courses, she developed an interest in data science and wanted to learn more about the world of data science. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she hopes to complete a Masters in Information Technology and Analytics with a concentration in Data Science.

Vedang Waradpande is a graduate student pursuing MS in Computer Science with a concentration in Machine Learning at Rutgers University. His research interest is Machine Learning and its applications to Computational Biology and Chemistry, Natural Language Processing, and Computer Vision. He has worked on problems such as unsupervised text retrieval using large language models, Visual Question Answering, drug-target interaction prediction using graph neural networks, and identifying novel translation start sites in the E. coli genome using neural networks. He has 2.5 years of industry experience working as a Data Scientist in two well-known Fintech and eCommerce startups funded by Y Combinator.

Rahul De Rahul Dev is a graduate student from Rutgers New Brunswick with an MS degree in Computer Science with a specialization in Machine Learning. He has over 2 years of experience working as a Data Scientist utilizing NLP for automating data entry tasks. His current research interest lies at the intersection of classical ML approaches and Deep Learning and applying it to the domain of drug discovery

Kush Jayank Pandya is a graduate student pursuing MS in CS with a concentration in Machine Learning at Rutgers University. He wants to pursue a career in Data Science. He has published a paper on Fake News and political bias detection. His research interest includes Computer Vision, Natural Language processing, and Applying ML/DL in new places. He has 1.5-year experience at Novartis Healthcare India, where he worked as a Cloud Automation engineer. He watches cartoons, movies, and historical documentaries, makes memes, and plays badminton during his free time.

Cristopher Lozada is an undergraduate at Rutgers University-Newark who joined the Freundlich group in June 2023. He is a student in the School of Arts and Sciences pursuing a major in Neuroscience and Behavior and a double minor in chemistry and social justice. Throughout his studies, he developed an interest in the chemistry of biological systems and wishes to continue his studies in medicine.


Alumni (former members of the Freundlich Group)

Alex Bozan: NIH/NIAD

Faheem Kamaludeen Mohideen: Data Analyst Munich RE

Ruben Alvarez: Rutgers University Undergraduate Program

Margeaux Meyers: Rutgers University Master’s Program

Lauren Bowden: Rutgers-NJMS Master’s Program

Jahnvi Joshi: Preparing for medical school

Chidubem Atuegbu: Preparing for dental school

Dr. Anil Shelke: Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Dr. Naina Sharma: Jose Marti STEM Academy

Ms. Mmekom Udosen: Rutgers University.

Mr. Aneesh Godbole: Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Ms. Cate Biava: Rotational Mechanical Engineer, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab

Yong-Mo Ahn: Scientist NCATS

Quan Jiang: Associate Professor, Sichuan University of Arts and Science

Ms. Pamela Barnett: Rutgers University

Mr. Haseeb Mughal: MIT Department of chemistry graduate student

Mr. Matthew Sherwood: Graduate Student, Temple University

Mr. Ethan Morrison: Medical Student

Dr. Andrew Bolinger: University of Texas Medical Branch

Dr. Xin Wang: Post-doctoral scientist, Fortune and Rubin Labs, Harvard School of Public Health

Dr. Alexander L. Perryman: Senior Investigator, Computational Chemistry, Repare Therapeutics

Dr. Ashley Weng: Fellow in Clinical Neurophysiology, Weill-Cornell

Mr. Brendan Law: Data Analyst, Axis Group

Dr. Daigo Inoyama: Senior Scientist, Schrodinger

Dr. Divya Awasthi: Scientist, Seattle Genetics

Dr. Hiyun Kim

Ms. Isabel Navarro: Graduate Student, UPENN

Dr. Janaina Cruz Pereira: Data Scientist, VantAI

Dr. Jimmy Patel: Medical Student, Rutgers – NJMS

Mr. Joseph Bilotta: Field Service Specialist, Metrohm USA

Dr. Justin Roberts: Supervisory Chemist, U.S. EPA

Dr. K. Niccole Fuhr: Scientist, Coty Incorporated

Dr. Kurt Saionz: Senior Scientist, Jacobus Pharmaceuticals

Mr. Mark Jaskowski

Mr. Mike Szymonifka: Retired chemist extraordinaire

Dr. Misun Koo: Patent agent, Mintz Levin

Dr. Monica Anisetti: Physician

Dr. Nisha Mittal: Research Scientist, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Mr. Omar Morale: Instrumentation Chemist, SGS

Dr. Ravindra Jadhav: Senior Scientist at Elanco Animal Health

Dr. Ricardo Gallardo-Macias: Principal Scientist, University of Minnesota

Dr. Richard S. Pottorf: Assistant Professor, Anderson University

Dr. Rinki Chauhan

Dr. Shao-Gang Li: Scientist II, Process chemistry at Nurix Therapeutics

Dr. Srinivasan Kandasamy

Dr. Steven Paget: Team Leader, Venenum Biodesign

Ms. Tenesha Boyd

Mr. Tom Stratton: Senior Scientist, Gilead

Mr. Wissam “Sam" Nasser: Medical Student, Rutgers – NJMS