Camilo Rojas, PhD

Camilo Rojas, PhD

Assistant Professor

Rangos, room 230




Central Connecticut State University
Saint Joseph College
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
University of Umeå, Sweden
Medical College of Pennsylvania


Dr. Camilo Rojas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology and Director of Assay Development at the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program. Before joining Hopkins in 2009, he worked for 17 years in the pharmaceutical industry in both large pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies. He carried out work in drug discovery research on enzymes involved in cardiovascular and neurological disorders. His early training in biochemistry focused on enzymology. Later in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Rojas was project leader for preclinical drug discovery projects through target proposal, assay development, high throughput screening, lead nomination and lead optimization.



Dr. Rojas' research role at Hopkins has been in the design and implementation of enzymatic assays, receptor binding assays, transporter assays and phenotypic assays for their implementation in a variety of drug discovery projects. One major focus of his work has been on the identification and optimization inhibitors of the enzyme neutral sphingomyelinase 2 (nSMase2) for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacological and genetic evidence in three distinct Alzheimer’s disease (AD) mouse models suggests that nSMAse2 plays a significant role in both amyloid-β and tau propagation, major hallmarks of the disease. We have identified, for the first time, a nanomolar potency inhibitor that exhibits excellent metabolic stability, brain penetration and the ability to inhibit exosome release both in vitro and in vivo. Current effort is devoted to the discovery work required for the optimization of this lead compound to bring it to the level of IND enabling studies.


Selected Publications

  1. Rojas C, Stathis M, Coughlin JM, Pomper M, Slusher BS. The Low-Affinity Binding of Second Generation Radiotracers Targeting TSPO is Associated with a Unique Allosteric Binding Site. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s11481-017-9765-2
  2. Rojas C, Alt J, Ator NA, Wilmoth H, Rais R, Hin N, DeVivo M, Popiolek M, Tsukamoto T, Slusher BS. TOral administration of D-alanine in monkeys robustly increases plasma and cerebrospinal fluid levels but experimental D-amino acid oxidase inhibitors had minimal effect. J Psychopharmacol. 2016 Sep;30(9):887-95.
  3. Rojas C, Alt J, Ator NA, Thomas AG, Wu Y, Hin N, Wozniak K, Ferraris D, Rais R, Tsukamoto T, Slusher BS. D-Amino-Acid Oxidase Inhibition Increases D-Serine Plasma Levels in Mouse But not in Monkey or Dog. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016 May;41(6):1610-9.
  4. Figuera-Losada M, Stathis M, Dorskind JM, Thomas AG, Bandaru VV, Yoo SW, Westwood NJ, Rogers GW, McArthur JC, Haughey NJ, Slusher BS, Rojas C. Cambinol, a novel inhibitor of neutral sphingomyelinase 2 shows neuroprotective properties. PLoS One. 2015 May 26;10(5):e0124481.
  5. Rojas C, Raje M, Tsukamoto T, Slusher BS. Molecular mechanisms of 5-HT(3) and NK(1) receptor antagonists in prevention of emesis. Eur J Pharmacol. 2014 Jan 5;722:26-37.
  6. Rojas C, Slusher BS. Pharmacological mechanisms of 5-HT₃ and tachykinin NK₁ receptor antagonism to prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Jun 5;684(1-3):1-7.
  7. Rojas C, Stathis M, Polydefkis M, Rudek MA, Zhao M, Ebenezer GJ, Slusher BS. Glutamate carboxypeptidase activity in human skin biopsies as a pharmacodynamic marker for clinical studies. J Transl Med. 2011 Mar 9;9:27.
  8. Rojas C, Li Y, Zhang J, Stathis M, Alt J, Thomas AG, Cantoreggi S, Sebastiani S, Pietra C, Slusher BS. The antiemetic 5-HT3 receptor antagonist Palonosetron inhibits substance P-mediated responses in vitro and in vivo. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010 Nov;335(2):362-8.
  9. Rojas C, Stathis M, Thomas AG, Massuda EB, Alt J, Zhang J, Rubenstein E, Sebastiani S, Cantoreggi S, Snyder SH, Slusher B. Palonosetron exhibits unique molecular interactions with the 5-HT3 receptor. Anesth Analg. 2008 Aug;107(2):469-78.
  10. Rojas C, Frazier ST, Flanary J, Slusher BS. Kinetics and inhibition of glutamate carboxypeptidase II using a microplate assay. Anal Biochem. 2002 Nov 1;310(1):50-4.


View complete list of publications on PubMed.