In This Section

Harshini Neelakantan

Current position

Executive Director, Research and Development, Ridgeline Therapeutics


  • BPharm, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS, Pilani), 2007
  • MSc. (Hons.), Biological Sciences, BITS (Pilani, India), 2007
  • Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Sciences, Temple University, 2014

ASPET member since: 2010

Administrative Accomplishments

I have held administrative leadership roles throughout my pre-, post-doctoral, and industry career years. I list a few notable undertakings starting with the earliest below:

  • As the Vice-Chair of the American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientists student chapter in graduate school, I organized seminar series and invited industry speakers to educate students on pharmaceutical careers.
  • As the co-founder and President of the inaugural Postdoctoral Association (PDA) at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), I directed several PDA-organized workshops, panel discussions, and outreach events. I developed the by-laws and content for the UTMB PDA’s website.
  • I developed, organized, and co-chaired scientific symposia at two consecutive ASPET meetings (2016 and 2017).
  • I initiated, organized, and led non-traditional, trainee-focused symposia during the 2018 (“University Startups: From Invention to Commercialization”) and 2019/2020 (Guppy Tank: Transitional Science Pitch Showcase) ASPET annual meetings.
  • Currently, I am the Executive Director for R&D at Ridgeline Therapeutics. I serve as the principal investigator on federally-funded grants (totaling ~$8.5M) to Ridgeline and lead the scientific and financial conduct of these research projects. In this capacity, I engage in the company’s management and operations and organize and lead meetings with important stakeholders, including key opinion leaders, consultants, potential investors.

Research Areas

My research areas and experience include in vivo pharmacology, translational preclinical disease models, and preclinical drug development research across a range of therapeutic areas including neurological, neuropsychiatric, metabolic, and musculoskeletal diseases. Early in my graduate training, I established translational in vivo models that combined behavioral aspects of acute/chronic pain and addiction to evaluate the efficacy of monotherapies and drug combinations (e.g., opioids combined with cannabinoids) as potential non-addictive analgesics. In my postdoctoral training years, my research focused on neurobiological investigations and novel pharmacotherapies’ preclinical testing for substance use disorders. During the last 6+ years, I’ve furthered by research training in the areas of computational drug discovery, protein biochemistry, molecular and cellular techniques, and laid a foundation in healthcare entrepreneurship. I directly applied these skills to my role as a lead scientist and a co-inventor of a novel small molecule therapeutics technology. My current research within the biotech arena focuses on preclinical and early-phase development of our drug candidates as therapeutics to prevent and/or treat chronic metabolic diseases, age-related muscle decline, traumatic musculoskeletal injuries, and muscular dystrophies.

ASPET Activities

  • Science Policy Committee
    • Executive Committee member (July 2022-present)
  • Drug Discovery and Development (DDD) Division
    • Executive Committee member (2020-present) o Program Committee representative (2021-present)
  • Young Scientist Committee
    • Executive Committee member (2015-2018)
  • Behavioral Pharmacology Division
    • Executive Committee Student/Postdoctoral scientist representative (2013-2015) 

Other Society Memberships/Activities

  • American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)
    • Society Member (2009-2013)
    • Vice-Chair, Temple University School of Pharmacy Student Chapter (2011-2012)



Last Updated: November 29, 2022

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