Dobrila Rudnicki is a program director in NCATS’ Office of Special Initiatives, where she is developing and implementing new scientific initiatives to support innovative approaches that aim to advance drug discovery and development. Rudnicki focuses on developing programs that facilitate unique partnerships between extramural and intramural scientists; using innovative funding mechanisms, such as offering prizes; and establishing partnerships with other government agencies, such as the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and National Science Foundation, and other national and international stakeholders, including scientific publishers, societies and funding agencies.
Prior to joining NCATS in October 2016, she was a faculty member and principal investigator in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. While there, Rudnicki and her colleagues performed seminal work on the role of bi-directionally encoded proteins and RNA transcripts in the pathogenesis of a number of rare neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington disease-like 2, Huntington disease and spinocerebellar ataxia type 2.
Rudnicki has received multiple NIH awards, as well as support from national and international foundations, including the Hereditary Disease Foundation, CHDI Foundation and Advocacy for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients. She is a dedicated mentor whose mentees have successfully enrolled in top medical and graduate schools; received grants, awards and fellowships from NIH and other prestigious organizations; and developed successful careers at renowned research institutions.
Rudnicki earned her doctorate in neurobiology from the RWTH Aachen University (Germany), and her Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and microbiology from King’s College, University of London (United Kingdom).
Rudnicki’s primary scientific and programmatic interests are in advancing development of tools and technologies that will enable discovery of novel, biologically relevant chemical space; development of more physiologically relevant 3-D models for drug screening; and application of synthetic biology-based approaches to developing new therapies across multiple diseases.
Rudnicki has assisted with the development of and currently is—together with Danilo A. Tagle, Ph.D., M.S., Associate Director for Special Initiatives—leading and providing scientific and programmatic oversight for two extramural NCATS programs: A Specialized Platform for Innovative Research Exploration (ASPIRE) and 3-D Tissue Bioprinting Program. She also currently serves as a contracting officer’s representative for NCATS tissue chips and synthetic biology-related Small Business Innovation Research contracts.