Staff Profile: Katharine K. Duncan

Katharine K. Duncan, Ph.D.
Katharine K. Duncan, Ph.D.

Scientific Program Manager (Contractor)

Office of the Director

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

National Institutes of Health

Email Katharine K. Duncan


Katharine (Katie) Duncan is a program manager for A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration (ASPIRE) at NCATS. This initiative aims to promote collaborations between government, academic labs and pharmaceutical researchers to transform chemistry and improve the drug discovery process. Before joining NCATS, Duncan was a senior scientist at Abide Therapeutics, where she focused on the development of small molecule therapeutics relevant to the central nervous system. 

Duncan received her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. Her doctoral work involved the design and synthesis of novel fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitors as potential therapeutics for the treatment of pain and sleep disorders. Before attending graduate school, she worked at McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School as a research assistant in the Molecular Pharmacology Laboratory, where she devised and synthesized derivatives of the kappa opioid receptor agonist Salvinorin A for potential use in treating mood disorders. Duncan received a B.A. magna cum laude in chemistry from Amherst College.

Professional Interests

Duncan helps to develop and implement new scientific initiatives at NCATS. Her interests include improving the drug discovery process and accelerating the discovery of novel chemistries.

Selected Publications

  1. α-Ketoheterocycle inhibitors of fatty acid amide hydrolase: exploration of conformational constraints in the acyl side chain.
  2. Potent Vinblastine C20' Ureas Displaying Additionally Improved Activity Against a Vinblastine-Resistant Cancer Cell Line.
  3. Transannular Diels-Alder/1,3-dipolar cycloaddition cascade of 1,3,4-oxadiazoles: total synthesis of a unique set of vinblastine analogues.
  4. A novel, unusually efficacious duocarmycin carbamate prodrug that releases no residual byproduct.
  5. Modification of the furan ring of salvinorin A: identification of a selective partial agonist at the kappa opioid receptor.