John Kehne

John Kehne, Ph.D.

Program Director
John Kehne, Ph.D.
Areas of Interest:
Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP), Preclinical Pharmacology, Animal Models. Preclinical Neurotherapeutic Development

Dr. Kehne is a Program Director in the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) where he oversees the Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP), a preclinical platform for identifying potential new drug treatments for epilepsy.  Since joining NINDS in 2012, Dr. Kehne has focused his efforts on re-engineering the program to identify novel pharmacological agents to address major unmet medical needs in epilepsy, specifically drugs which will reduce refractory seizures and drugs which will prevent, ameliorate or even cure epilepsy.   Recently, Dr. Kehne has contributed to the conception and development of a new NINDS preclinical program for identifying non-addicting analgesic alternatives to opiates, as part of the NIH “Helping to End Addiction Long-term” (HEAL) initiative to help address the nation’s opioid crisis.  Prior to NINDS, Dr. Kehne had 25 years of pharmaceutical industry experience in the discovery and development of drugs for treating a range of central nervous system disorders, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, pain, sleep disorders, and obesity. On the drug discovery side, he directed the in vivo pharmacological evaluation of compounds, many of which advanced to clinical candidate status, and has contributed to product development teams spanning from pre-Investigational New Drug (IND) application activities to New Drug Application (NDA) submission. After receiving an undergraduate degree with honors in Neuroscience from Amherst College, he pursued doctoral training in Psychology with an emphasis in Psychopharmacology at the University of Massachusetts. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biological Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, followed by an Associate Research Scientist position at the Yale University School of Medicine, and thereafter joined Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (Cincinnati OH) as a discovery scientist in the Pharmacology Department. In 1996, he joined the CNS biotech company Neurogen (Branford CT) and advanced to the level of Executive Director of Pharmacology. Dr. Kehne also worked as an independent consultant partnering with scientific teams to advance compounds through discovery and development. Dr. Kehne has over 80 scientific publications, numerous patents and over 140 presentations at national and international scientific meetings.