Gopala Krishna was born in Kaiwara, a village in southern India, where he was one of six children. He completed the tenth grade in Kaiwara, often studying at night using kerosene lamps and street lights because his home had no electricity at the time. He was first in his family to pass tenth grade with honors and he spent the next two years living independently and studying in a larger nearby village. After completing 12th grade with honors, he pursued his dreams in metropolitan Bangalore by attending the College of Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences where he earned a bachelor’s degree, finishing 11th among 400 students, and later a master’s degree where he finished at the top of his class and was recognized with a University Gold Medal.
With strong academic credentials and a zeal for higher learning, Dr. Krishna was one of three students to receive a full scholarship from the Indian government to study abroad. After choosing the U.S. for his post-graduate studies, he chose WVU because of research being done by Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design Professor Joginder Nath, who also went out his way to help Dr. Krishna begin his studies at WVU.
After receiving his doctorate in Genetics and Developmental Biology from WVU in 1984, Dr. Krishna embarked on a distinguished career in the field of toxicology, conducting post-doctoral research at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health research center and later joined the staff of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
In 1986, Dr. Krishna joined Pfizer where he served in numerous roles, including manager and senior scientist for Pathology and Experimental Toxicology. In 1996 he was named chairman of the Genetic Toxicology Program and senior manager of Pathology and Experimental Toxicology before being named Associate Research Fellow and Director of Drug Safety Evaluation. During his nearly 15-year career with Pfizer, Dr. Krishna directed research and new methods of toxicology research, leading to the development of such life-saving drugs as Lipitor, Rezulin, Neurontin, and Nipent, among others.
He served as Section Head of Regulatory Toxicology and Safety Pharmacology and head of Genetic Toxicology at Abbott Labs contributing to developing drugs such as Humira and Kaletra, from 2001-2003 before joining MGI Pharma, Inc. as Director of Toxicology. In this role, he oversaw all preclinical drug safety activities in support of drug discovery and development of new pharmaceuticals for global registration, including developing pre-clinical strategies to support MGI Pharma’s drug development effort, identifying and evaluating contract laboratories, and implementing/managing toxicology studies.
Today, Dr. Krishna serves as Executive Director and Head of Preclinical R&D and Competitive Intelligence for Supernus Pharmaceuticals where he directs drug discovery and development in the area of neuroscience. He and his team have helped to develop key life-saving drugs, including Oxtellar-XR and Trokendi-XR, which are used to treat epilepsy. Collaboratively, Dr. Krishna continues to direct research to treat ADHD, epilepsy, depression and Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Krishna, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from Eastern Michigan University, served as an Adjunct Professor of Toxicology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. He is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology. He has served as guest editor and member of the editorial board for the international journal, Mutation Research, and as an expert grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Krishna has published extensively and has been an invited speaker around the globe in the field of Pharma R&D and drug safety. He has won several awards for his innovative contributions and leadership by walking that extra mile and making a difference in the “waiting” patient.
Dr. Krishna remains a devoted Mountaineer and is actively engaged in WVU’s innovative Genetics and Developmental Biology program. In addition to collaborating with Dr. Nath on writing several chapters for textbooks, he also has served as a guest lecturer on the role and application of cytogenetics in drug development and toxicology. He also has provided generous financial support to students in the Genetics and Developmental Biology program and assisted in special events, including the CentiGrad Celebration.