Thomas Prisinzano

  • Professor
  • School of Pharmacy - Medicinal Chemistry
Shankel Structural Biology Center, Room 2070
University of Kansas
1251 Wescoe Hall Dr.
Lawrence, KS 66045-7582


  • Ph.D., Medicinal Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA  (2000)
  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Delaware, Newark, DE (1995)


Thomas E. Prisinzano teaches graduate courses medicinal chemistry I and undergraduate research. He has received the Matt Suffness (Young Investigator) Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy (2008), Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (2011), and the David W. Robertson Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (2012). His research combines natural product isolation and medicinal chemistry and is focused on identification of novel agonists and antagonists at CNS receptors from natural sources. In particular, he has focused on understanding the chemistry and pharmacology associated with Salvia divinorum, a hallucinogenic mint plant native to Oaxaca, Mexico.


Selected Publications

Sherwood, A. M., Williamson, S. E., Crowley, R. S., Abbott, L. M., Day, V. W., & Prisinzano, T. E. (2017). Modular Approach to pseudo-Neoclerodanes as Designer κ-Opioid Ligands. Organic letters, 19(19), 5414-5417. DOI:10.1021/acs.orglett.7b02684

Sherwood, A. M., Crowley, R. S., Paton, K. F., Biggerstaff, A. Neuenswander, B. Day, V. W., Kivell, B. M., & Prisinzano, T. E. (2017). Addressing Structural Flexibility at the A-Ring on Salvinorin A: Discovery of a Potent Kappa-Opioid Agonist with Enhanced Metabolic Stability. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 60(9), 3866-3878. DOI:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00148

Crowley, R. S., Riley, A. P., Sherwood, A. M., Groer, C. E., Shivaperumal, N. Biscaia, M. Paton, K. Schneider, S. Provasi, D. Kivell, B. M., Filizola, M. & Prisinzano, T. E. (2016). Synthetic Studies of Neoclerodane Diterpenes from Salvia divinorum: Identification of a Potent and Centrally Acting μ Opioid Analgesic with Reduced Abuse Liability. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 59(24), 11027-11038. DOI:10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b01235

Jamshidi, R. J., Jacobs, B. A., Sullivan, L. C., Chavera, T. A., Saylor, R. M., Prisinzano, T. E., Clarke, W. P., & Berg, K. A. (2015). Functional Selectivity of Kappa Opioid Receptor Agonists in Peripheral Sensory Neurons. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, 355(2), 174-82. DOI:10.1124/jpet.115.225896

Riley, A. P., Groer, C. E., Young, D. Ewald, A. W., Kivell, B. M., & Prisinzano, T. E. (2014). Synthesis and κ-Opioid Receptor Activity of Furan-Substituted Salvinorin A Analogues. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 57(24), 10464-75. DOI:10.1021/jm501521d

Kivell, B. M., Ewald, A. W., & Prisinzano, T. E. (2014). Salvinorin A analogs and other kappa-opioid receptor compounds as treatments for cocaine abuse. In L. P Dwoskin (Ed.), Emerging Targets and Therapeutics for the Treatment of Psychostimulant Drug Abuse (Vol. 69, pp. 481-511). DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-420118-7.00012-3

Prisinzano, T. E. (2013). 2012 David W. Robertson Award Address: Neoclerodanes as Atypical Opioid Receptor Ligands. J. Med. Chem., 56, 3435-3543.

Riley, A. P., Day, V. W., Navarro, H. A., & Prisinzano, T. E. (2013). Palladium-Catalyzed Transformations of Salvinorin A, a Neoclerodane Diterpene from Salvia divinorum. Org. Lett., 15, 5936-5939. DOI:10.1021/ol4027528

Vasiljevik, T. Franks, L. N., Ford, B. M., Douglas, J. T., Prather, P. L., Fantegrossi, W. E., & Prisinzano, T. E. (2013). Design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of aminoalkylindole derivatives as cannabinoid receptor ligands with potential for treatment of alcohol abuse. J. Med. Chem., 56(11), 4537–4550. DOI:10.1021/jm400268b

MacLean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., Reissig, C. J., Prisinzano, T. E., & Griffiths, R. R. (2013). Dose-related effects of salvinorin A in humans: dissociative, hallucinogenic, and memory effects. Psychopharmacology (Berl.), 226(2), 381–392. DOI:10.1007/s00213-012-2912-9

2nd among all schools of pharmacy in National Institutes of Health funding
Brings more than $20 million in external funding into the state each year
7 of 19 cancer drugs formulated through the National Cancer Institute were developed at the KU School of Pharmacy
3,000 free flu shots given to Kansans in need during the past 5 years
4,000 living alumni, 63 percent of them living and working in Kansas
KU pharmacists practice in 95 of Kansas’ 105 counties
20th among public schools of pharmacy.
—U.S. News & World Report
$20.2 million NIH research grant earned by Distinguished Professor Jeff Aubé was 2nd largest in Kansas history
100 percent placement after graduation for KU Pharm.D. students
Established in 1885 as the 1st professional program at KU