Dennis Liotta, PhD



Dr. Liotta is one of the leaders of the Emory research team that discovered the antiviral drug, Emtriva (emtricitabine), which was approved for treating HIV in July 2003.

Titles and Roles

Executive Director, Emory Institute for Drug Development
Emory University
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor, Department of Chemistry
Emory University
Research Program
Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics


Dennis Liotta, PhD, serves as Executive Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Emory University. Dr. Liotta is recognized as one of the premier discoverers of novel therapeutics in the United States, having been the inventor of record for several clinically important antivirals and associated with the invention of ten FDA approved therapeutics.

Dr. Liotta joined Emory in 1976. Since that time, he has authored over 230 research publications and more than 70 issued US patents. Dr. Liotta has also supervised numerous postdoctoral and graduate students and has received several teaching awards, including Emory University’s Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest faculty honor given at Emory. He is a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. Dr. Liotta was elected to the National Academy of Inventors in 2014 and the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in 2010. Dr. Liotta also is the co-director of the Republic of South Africa Drug Discovery Training Program and a member of the Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Research Program at Winship.


Dr. Liotta earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the City University of New York in 1974. Following this, he completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Ohio State University.


Dr. Liotta's research has focused on the discovery and development of antiviral, anticancer and anti-inflammatory therapeutic agents. He is one of the leaders of the Emory research team that discovered the antiviral drug, Emtriva (emtricitabine), which was approved for treating HIV in July 2003 and is now used by more than 90 percent of HIV/AIDS patients in the United States, and by thousands more around the globe. Emtriva is a component of the triple combination therapy, Atripla, which is now universally accepted as the drug combination of choice for treating HIV infected patients. In addition, he is the inventor of record for several antivirals, including Epivir, Reverset, Racivir and Elvucitabine. Other medicinal inventions generated by Liotta's lab over the years include therapies for everything from cancer and rheumatoid arthritis to hepatitis B.


Dr. Liotta has authored over 230 peer-reviewed publications. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, which was launched in 2010 to provide a rapid communication venue for high-quality letters and technology notes in medicinal chemistry and related fields.

  • PublicationsPublication Date


Dr. Liotta has received the following awards and honors:

  • ACS Smissman Award (2015)
  • Licensing Deal of the Year, Emory Office of Tech Transfer (2014)
  • Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2014)
  • SEBio Shark Tank Winner (2014)
  • Emory University Senate Lecture Series Panel (2013)
  • Fellow, National Academy of Inventors (2013)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, The Ohio State University (2013)
  • Uncommon Courage Award, Queens College (2012)
  • Honorary Doctorate, Queens College (2012)
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Queensland, Australia (2012)
  • Intellectual Property Legends Award, GA State University College of Law/J. Mack Robinson College of Business (2012)
  • Emory 175 History Makers (2012)
  • "Significant Event of 2011" Award, Emory University Office of Technology Transfer (2012)
  • Thomas Jefferson Award, Emory University (2011)
  • Fellow, American Chemical Society (2010-present)
  • ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame (2010)
  • Herty Award (2005)
  • Biomedical Industry Growth Award from the Georgia Biomedical Partnership (2003)
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002-present)

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