Staff Profile: R. Dwayne Lunsford

R. Dwayne Lunsford
R. Dwayne Lunsford, Ph.D.

Deputy Director

Division of Preclinical Innovation
Therapeutic Development Branch

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

National Institutes of Health

Email R. Dwayne Lunsford


R. Dwayne Lunsford is the deputy director of the Therapeutic Development Branch (TDB), within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation. TDB develops new systems, novel approaches and innovative methodologies to achieve conceptual breakthroughs in preclinical therapeutics. The branch also provides collaborative access to technology and expertise in the scientific disciplines of early-discovery biology and medicinal chemistry; drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics; toxicology; and chemistry, manufacturing and controls synthesis and formulation.

Prior to joining NCATS, Lunsford directed the Microbiology Program and coordinated the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer portfolio at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). In addition to primary duties as an extramural program director, he served on several trans-NIH work groups and was a founding member of the management team for the NIH Human Microbiome Project. Prior to this, Lunsford had more than 20 years of bench-level research experience in the public and private research sectors. This work included studies on the genetics and physiology of pathogenic bacteria. Subsequently, he held positions in the pharmaceutical industry in support of new antibiotic discovery programs, specifically bacterial target identification, target-to-lead development, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic dosing assessments, and preclinical project management (specifically, preclinical studies to support investigational new drug applications). Lunsford’s additional experience with contract research organizations involved the oversight of research on a variety of antimicrobials and biothreat countermeasures. He is intimately familiar with corporate business and product development cycles, both in small pharmaceutical companies (e.g., Advancis pharma, ImQuest BioSciences and Southern Research Institute), as well as in established multinational enterprises, such as GlaxoSmithKline.

Lunsford received his bachelor’s degree in biology (1982) and his doctorate in microbiology and immunology (1986) from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Research Topics

Lunsford’s research focuses on bacterial genetics, physiology and virulence; antibiotic development; the medically relevant microbiome; and preclinical drug development — particularly antimicrobials.

Selected Publications

  1. Human Oral Microbiology Is at a Crossroads
  2. A Framework for Human Microbiome Research
  3. Structure, Function and Diversity of the Healthy Human Microbiome
  4. A Review of 10 Years of Human Microbiome Research Activities at the US National Institutes of Health, Fiscal Years 2007-2016