University of Nebraska Medical Center

Benson J. Edagwa, PhD

Associate Professor


Benson Edagwa, PhD


The goal of Dr. Benson Edagwa’s research is to transform antiretroviral therapies into novel long-acting safe medicines to facilitate prevention and treatment of hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV infections. His volunteer experiences in helping patients living with HIV/AIDS in Africa shaped his career goals. Benson has an extensive background in drug delivery, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacology that includes development of new strategies for the synthesis of biologically active natural products and their unnatural analogs. He has equal expertise in the design, development, and evaluation of formulations for other chronic conditions such tuberculosis, malaria and substance use disorders (to manage the opioid crisis).

Benson co-invented long-acting slow effective release antiretroviral therapy (LASER ART) regimen that could potentially enable dosing of antiretroviral therapies once or twice a year. Combinations of LASER ART with gene editing (CRISPR Cas9) technologies demonstrated the first HIV cure in humanized mice.

Benson is listed as an author or major contributor to over 55 published or submitted biomedical papers in peer-reviewed journals, 51 issued or pending US patent applications. He co-founded Exavir Therapeutics Inc., a startup biotechnology company that is focused on clinical development of ultra-long-acting therapies for treatment and prevention of viral infections, CNS disorders and opioid addiction. Benson has mentored and continues to train high school students, undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Benson Edagwa works in his lab

Novel Research

Dr. Edagwa's lab developed a novel means to prevent HIV infection that could allow people with or at risk of acquiring the virus to take medicines once a year. The advance has the potential to eliminate complications that arise from missing doses of life-saving medicines, according to the study published April 27 in Nature Materials, a leading peer-reviewed biomedical research journal.


  • PhD in Organic/Medicinal Chemistry, Louisiana State University, 2012

Academic and Other Appointments

  • 2020–Present: Associate Professor, UNMC
  • 2021–Present: Co-Founder, Exavir Therapeutics Inc.
  • 2017–2020: Assistant Professor, UNMC
  • 2016–2017: ViiV Healthcare Distinguished Scientist
  • 2016–2017: Instructor: PEN Department, UNMC
  • 2015–2016: ViiV Healthcare Research Scholar in Antiretroviral Therapeutics       
  • 2014–2015: GlaxoSmithKline Fellow
  • 2012–2014: Postdoctoral Research Associate, UNMC


  • 2023: Distinguished Scientist Award, UNMC
  • 2023: UNMC Nebraska Neuroscience Basic Science Research Award
  • 2022: Start-up of the Year Award, UNeMed Corporation, UNMC
  • 2022: Significant contribution in the battle for an HIV/AIDs cure, Nebraska Coalition for Life Saving Cures
  • 2022: Inventors with issued patent(s) (five US patents issued), UNeMed Corporation, UNMC
  • 2022: New Invention Notifications, Patent Applications, UNeMed Corporation, UNMC
  • 2021: Successful commercialization of Long-Acting Therapeutics & Gene Editing Technology for HIV, UNeMed Corporation, UNMC
  • 2020: Innovator of the Year Award, UNeMed Corporation, UNMC
  • 2020: Nickolus Badami Fellowship in HIV/AIDS Research
  • 2019: New Investigator Award, UNMC
  • 2019: Emerging Innovator of the Year, UNeMed Corporation
  • 2019: Board Member, University of Eldoret Endowment Trust, University of Eldoret, Kenya
  • 2019: African Leadership Summit Award
  • 2018: UNeMed Research Innovation: New Invention Notifications, Patent Applications
  • 2016: ViiV Healthcare Distinguished Scientist
  • 2015: UNeMed Research Innovation: New Invention Notifications, Patent Applications
  • 2015: ViiV Healthcare Research Scholar in Antiretroviral Therapeutics
  • 2014: GlaxoSmithKline Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2014: Young Investigator Scholarship, CROI Foundation
  • 2013: Silver U Award, UNMC
  • 2012: Teaching Assistant Scholar Award, Louisiana State University
  • 2011: Kiran Allam International Award, Louisiana State University
  • 2010: Dr. Charles Coates Travel Award, Louisiana State University