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Q&A with Dr. Nokomis Ramos-Gonzalez: Designing New Opioids With Fewer Harmful Side Effects

June 27, 2024

Dr. Nokomis Ramos-Gonzalez received a PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for her research aiming to create new painkillers with fewer negative side effects.

The United States is combating an opioid epidemic that’s killing tens of thousands of people every year, yet these painkillers are still the most effective treatment available for chronic pain. There is a need for safer drugs to treat pain without dangerous side effects.

Nokomis Ramos-Gonzalez, PhD, a postdoctoral trainee at Washington University in St. Louis, received a 2024 PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Drug Discovery for her research to design new drugs that work through a different cellular mechanism than current opioids, with a goal of creating pain relief with fewer negative side effects.

Most opioid drugs such as morphine or fentanyl act at the mu opioid receptor, a protein that sits on the cell surface and translates messages into the cell. Meanwhile, Ramos-Gonzalez is looking to create drugs that target the kappa opioid receptor.

Watch this video to learn about Ramos-Gonzalez and her research.

Learn more about the PhRMA Foundation’s fellowship and grant opportunities. Check out more researcher stories on our blog.