Blair Journigan, Ph. D.

Assistant Professor
Office: CEB 232A
Phone: (304) 696-5003

Dr. Journigan obtained her B.S. in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Mississippi. During her graduate training, she worked on small molecule pharmacological probes for the neuropeptide FF system. After completing her Ph.D., she joined Astraea Therapeutics, discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company, as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, prior to transitioning to a Scientist role within the company. Astraea Therapeutics focuses on the discovery and preclinical development of small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of drug addiction and CNS disorders. During her time there, Dr. Journigan designed and synthesized a broad range of chemotypes targeting the nociceptin opioid receptor. She then joined the School of Pharmacy at Marshall University as an Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. Her expertise spans the early drug discovery process, with emphases on synthetic medicinal chemistry, and ligand- and structure-based drug design.

Teaching responsibilities in the MUSOP include Phar 522 (Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry), as well as integration of medicinal chemistry into the therapeutics classes Phar 741 (Therapeutics V: Endocrine diseases, genitourinary disease, and reproduction) and Phar 751 (Therapeutics IV: Neurologic and psychiatric diseases). She is a member of the American Chemical Society, and serves on a number of university committees, as well as the editorial board for the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Innovations.

Research interests include the design and synthesis of small molecules for targets implicated in nicotine addiction and pain, as well as cancer. For a brief description of available projects and research interests, please see below.

Transient Potential Melastatin 8 Ligands

Addiction to abused substances such as nicotine and pain medications poses serious health risks for society. Traditional targets for these fields have met limited success, prompting the need for pharmacotherapies with innovative mechanisms of action. The transient potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) ion channel represents a unique target for medicinal chemistry efforts, to unravel its role in these disease states with the goal of uncovering novel pharmacology. In addition, TRPM8 is a versatile target, with implications in cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and urology disorders, offering exciting opportunities in various disease states.

Her lab  will combine both ligand- and structure-based drug discovery techniques to construct small molecule chemical probes and therapeutic leads for TRPM8. 3D molecular alignments of reported TRPM8 ligands will be used to guide the design of these novel chemical scaffolds, as well as the docked poses of these compounds in a TRPM8 homology model. The accession of the target compounds will employ multi-step organic synthesis and a variety of organic techniques. In collaboration with Dr. Taufiq Rahman, Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, these small molecules will be tested in in vitro models to reveal their biological activities.

Positions available for Spring and Summer 2017

Positions for course credit or paid positions are available for this project, beginning for the Spring and Summer 2017 semesters. Please send a current curriculum vitae and/or email to:


Zaveri, N.T.; Journigan, V.B.; Polgar, W.E. The discovery of the first small-molecule opioid pan antagonist with nanomolar affinity at mu, delta, kappa and nociceptin opioid receptors. ACS Chem. Neurosci., 2015, 6, 646-657.

Journigan, V.B.; Mèsangeau, C.; Vyas, N.; Eans, S.O.; Cutler, S.J.; McLaughlin, J.P., Mollereau, C.; McCurdy, C.R. Nonpeptide small molecule agonist and antagonist original leads for neuropeptide FF1 and FF2 receptors. J. Med. Chem., 2014, 57, 8903-8927.

Journigan, V. B.; Polgar, W. E.; Khroyan, T. V.; Zaveri, N.T. Designing bifunctional NOP receptor-mu opioid receptor ligands from NOP-receptor selective scaffolds. Part II. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2014, 22, 2508-2516.

Journigan, V. B.; Zaveri, N.T. TRPM8 ion channel ligands for new therapeutic applications and as probes to study menthol pharmacology. Life Sci. 2013, 92, 425-437. Invited Review.

Zaveri, N.T.; Yasuda, D.; Journigan, B.V.; Daga, P.R.; Jiang, F.; Olsen, C. Structure-activity relationships of nociceptin receptor (NOP) ligands and the design of bifunctional NOP/mu opioid receptor-targeted ligands. ACS Symposium Series, 2013, 1131 (Research and Development of Opioid-Related Ligands), 145-160.

Gregory S.M.; Cavenaugh A.; Journigan V.B.; Pokorny A.; Almeida P.F.F. A quantitative model for the all-or-none permeabilization of phospholipid vesicles by the antimicrobial peptide Cecropin A. Biophysical Journal 2008, 94, 1667-1680.