Tau prions feature in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies. For the development of therapeutics that target the replication of tau prions, a high-content, fluorescence-based cell assay was developed. Using this high-content phenotypic screen for nascent tau prion formation, a 4-piperazine isoquinoline compound (1) was identified as a hit with an EC50 value of 390 nM and 0.04 K p,uu. Analogs were synthesized using a hypothesis-based approach to improve potency and in vivo brain penetration resulting in compound 25 (EC50 = 15 nM; K p,uu = 0.63). We investigated the mechanism of action of this series and found that a small set of active compounds were also CDK8 inhibitors.