Speakers and Chairs
Phase 1 Studies and Preparation of Clinical Phase 2 IND of MW150: Novel Stress Kinase Inhibitor Candidate
Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD
Dr. Ottavio Arancio received his PhD and MD from the University of Pisa, Italy. From 1981 to 1986 he took residency training in Neurology at the University of Verona (Italy). Dr. Arancio has held Faculty appointments at Columbia University, NYU School of Medicine and at SUNY HSCB. In 2004 he became Faculty member of the Dept of Pathology & Cell Biology and The Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University. His honors include the “G. Moruzzi Fellowship” (Georgetown University), the “Anna Villa Rusconi Foundation Prize” (Italy), the “INSERM Poste Vert Fellowship” (France), the AHAF centennial Award (2007), the Zenith Award (2007), the Margaret Cahn Research Award (2008), and the Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation Award (2010). Dr. Arancio is currently running the laboratory in Neurophysiology and Behavior of the Taub Institute. Over the last 10 years he raised more than $25 million in grant funding and published more than 100 peer reviewed manuscripts.
Dr Arancio is a cellular neurobiologist who has contributed to the characterization of the mechanisms of learning in both normal conditions and during neurodegenerative diseases. During the last ten years he has pioneered the field of mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. More recently he has established a shockwave exposure mouse model for the study of traumatic brain injury. Dr. Arancio’s laboratory has focused primarily on events triggered by oligomeric proteins including amyloid-beta and tau. These studies have suggested new links between synaptic dysfunction and dementia, both for understanding the etiopathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury, and for developing therapies aiming to improve the cognitive symptoms.
Dr. Arancio has been featured on “bigthink.com”.
Alzheimer’s Disease Digital Biomarker Discovery: From Concept to Research Implementation
Rhoda Au, PhD
Dr. Rhoda Au is Professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Neurology and Epidemiology at Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public and Director of Neuropsychology at the Framingham Heart Study. She is also Director of the Global Cohort Development program for the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative.
Dr. Au has been developing multi-sensory brain health monitoring platform that is customizable, technology agnostic, and scalable. Her objectives include transitioning the platform from reliance on high friction technologies to low friction ones and developing broad based data sharing resources to accelerate data science/AI driven discovery of digital biomarkers. Her research seeks to move the primary focus of health technologies from precision AD medicine to a broader emphasis on precision brain health.
OGA Inhibitors as Multimodal Drugs for Intracellular Proteinopathies
Dirk Beher, PhD, MS
Dirk Beher, PhD, MS, is the Chief Executive Officer, a Founder and member of the Board of Directors of Asceneuron SA. He has raised CHF 36 million from leading venture capital firms for Asceneuron besides obtaining grant funding. Since its inception he has strategically positioned the company as an emerging leader in the field of orally bioavailable drugs for treating tauopathies. Dr. Beher led the initial spin-off proposal for Merck Serono’s tauopathy and Alzheimer’s disease pipeline and successfully raised the seed funding which materialized in the creation of Asceneuron SA in October 2012.
Dr. Beher brings more than 23 years of experience in the field of Alzheimer’s disease & Neurodegeneration and spent over 17 years in pharmaceutical drug discovery. Prior responsibilities include the management of the Alzheimer’s disease team at Merck Serono in Geneva, Switzerland. He also managed the in vitro pharmacology team and oversaw a diverse CNS portfolio as management team member in the Neuroscience Department at Amgen Inc. in Thousands Oaks, California.
Dr. Beher started his career in pharmaceutical drug discovery at Merck Sharp & Dohme (Merck & Co.) in Harlow, United Kingdom in 1998. During that time he made key contributions to the clinical γ-secretase inhibitor MK-0752 and was finally responsible for all γ-secretase programs. Dirk holds a PhD and a Diploma (MS) in Biology from the Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg, Germany. He is an inventor of seven patents and currently authors 49 peer-reviewed publications and reviews.
Brain-specific Tau in Blood as an Alzheimer’s Diagnostic
Kaj Blennow, MD, PhD
University of Gothenburg
Dr. Kaj Blennow obtained his medical degree (MD) in 1984, his PhD in Medical Science in 1990 and holds a Specialist Competence in both General Psychiatry and in Clinical Chemistry.
Dr. Blennow holds the Torsten Söderberg Professorship in Medicine and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 2015 and was appointed University Hospital Senior Physician in 2011. He is a professor and academic chair of the Clinical Neurochemistry department at the University of Gothenburg as well as Senior Consultant and Head of the Clinical Neurochemistry Lab at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
The major research areas are cerebrospinal fluid biochemical markers, clinical proteomics, and the neurochemical pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
Blennow has published more than 1200 original research papers and 150 review articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has an H-index of 133.
He has received a number of scientific awards, such as the 2019 Bengt Winblad Award, the 2013 International Foundation for Research in Alzheimer’s Disease (IFRAD) European Grand Prix in Research, Paris, the Henry Wisniewski Lifetime Achievement Award in Alzheimer’s Disease Research (2011), the ECNP Clinical Research Award (2010), the Alois Alzheimer Research Award (2001), and many more.
Development of a PIKFYVE Antisense Oligonucleotide (ASO) Treatment for FTD
Wen-Hsuan Chang, PhD
As the head of AcuraStem’s Research Team, Dr. Wen-Hsuan Chang has worked with its founders to build the company from the ground up. Chang helped establish the core technology platform at AcuraStem, and now leads internal research projects and collaborations with external partners. Dr. Chang is responsible for therapeutic target identification, assay development for drug discovery, and platform expansion.
She received a BS in Chemical Engineering from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. Following one year of investigation into neurotransmitter release biology at Fu-Jen Catholic University, she entered graduate school and received her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southern California. During her graduate work at USC, Dr Chang identified a novel mechanism through which Wnt signaling controls the development of the mammalian cortex. After her PhD, she performed postdoctoral work in Dr. Justin Ichida’s laboratory at USC where she identified key mechanisms by which the C9orf72 repeat expansion causes neurodegeneration in ALS and frontotemporal dementia.
Dr. Chang also serves on the board of the Southern California Taiwanese Biotechnology Association and has published multiple peer-reviewed scientific research papers in journals for the fields of neuroscience, stem cell biology, and molecular biology.
Recommendations for Exploratory Trials in Dementia
Jeffrey Cummings, MD, DSc
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jeffrey L. Cummings, MD, ScD, joined the UNLV School of Allied Health Sciences in 2019 as a research professor within the department of Brain Health. Prior to UNLV, Dr. Cummings served as founding director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, and as director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, and director of the Deane F. Johnson Center for Neurotherapeutics, both at UCLA.
Dr. Jeffrey Cummings is ranked in the top 0.01% of scientists and #5 in Alzheimer’s disease research in a recent publication in PLoS Biology.
A world-renowned Alzheimer’s researcher and leader of clinical trials, Dr. Cummings has been recognized for his scientific and leadership contributions with the American Geriatrics Society’s Henderson Award (2006), the national Alzheimer’s Association’s Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Award (2008), and the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry’s Distinguished Scientist Award (2010). Dr. Cummings’ interests embrace clinical trials, developing new therapies for brain diseases, and the interface of neuroscience and society. In his new role, Dr. Cummings will help establish and expand the department’s research capacity, and continue his groundbreaking work in combating neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Cummings received the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2017), the International Society of CNS Drug Development’s Leadership and Achievement Award, and the national Alzheimer’s Association’s Bengt Winblad Lifetime Achievement Award (2018). Additionally, he was featured in Gentleman’s Quarterly (June 2009) as a “Rock Star of Science.”
In addition to his work at UNLV, Dr. Cummings is a professor of medicine (Neurology) at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, and he is the principal investigator/director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences-funded Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience.
Session 3: DRUG DEVELOPMENT APPROACHES FOR FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA
Penny Dacks, PhD
Penny Dacks, PhD, became Senior Director of Scientific Initiatives for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) in September 2020. Previously, she worked at the American Epilepsy Society, overseeing mission-related programs in research, medical education, and clinical activities, and at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, where she led development of CognitiveVitality.org and the Aging & Alzheimer’s Prevention Program to source and evaluate potential therapies.
She holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Arizona. As AFTD’s Senior Director of Scientific Initiatives, Dr. Dacks leads strategy for AFTD’s research programs and serves as President of the FTD Disorders Registry LLC.
Welcome and Introductory Notes
Howard Fillit, MD
Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Dr. Howard Fillit is ADDF’s Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer. He is a geriatrician, neuroscientist, and innovative philanthropy executive, who has led the ADDF since its founding. Dr. Fillit has held faculty positions at The Rockefeller University, the SUNY-Stony Brook School of Medicine and the Cornell University School of Medicine. In 1987, he joined the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he is a clinical professor of geriatric medicine and palliative care, medicine and neuroscience. Dr. Fillit also maintains a limited private practice in consultative geriatric medicine with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
He has authored or co-authored more than 300 publications and is the senior editor of Brocklehurst’s Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. Dr. Fillit is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Rita Hayworth Award from the Alzheimer’s Association. He is a fellow of the American Geriatrics Society, the American College of Physicians, the Gerontological Society of America and the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Fillit earned his bachelor of arts in neurobiology cum laude from Cornell University and his medical degree from the SUNY-Upstate Medical University.
Effect of Candesartan on Prodromal Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Biomarkers
Ihab Hajjar, MD
Dr. Ihab Hajjar is a geriatrician and clinical investigator with a focus on the link between hypertension and vascular disease with Alzheimer’s disease.
He is studying the effects of antihypertensive medications that modulate the renin angiotensin system on both prevention of cognitive decline and as potential therapeutic modalities for early dementia.
Dr. Hajjar has published more than 50 scientific articles and book chapters and has been funded by grants from National Institute of Health and other governmental and private organizations since 2001. Dr. Hajjar sees patients with cognitive disorders and/or vascular risk factors at the Memory Disorder Clinic at Emory University.
Repurposing Metformin for Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease
Miia Kivipelto, MD, PhD
Dr. Miia Kivipelto studied medicine at the University of Kuopio, became a registered medical doctor in 1999, and subsequently a specialist in geriatrics. She started to conduct research and gained her PhD in 2002 in Kuopio with a thesis on vascular risk factors with Alzheimer’s disease. Between 2002 and 2005 Miia Kivipelto did her postdoc at Karolinska Institute, KI, after which she worked at KIs Alzheimer’s Centre, and at the Aging Research Center, ARC.In 2006, Dr. Kivipelto became an associate professor of neuroepidemiology and a research director at the University of Kuopio with support from the Academy of Finland and other sources. In 2010 she became a senior lecturer at KI. She has previously worked on assignments for the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment (SBU) and the National Board of Health and Welfare.
Miia Kivipelto has been the recipient of numerous prizes. In 2009 she was awarded the Academy of Finland Award for Social Impact, and in 2011 the Junior Chamber International Award as Outstanding Young Person, in Finland and Internationally.
Miia Kivipelto was appointed professor of clinical geriatric epidemiology at Karolinska Institute in 2011.
She is also Director for Research and Development of Theme Aging at Karolinska University Hospital.
Giacomo Koch, MD, PhD
Santa Lucia Foundation
Dr. Giacomo Koch, MD, PhD, is a neurologist and neuroscientist leading the non-invasive brain stimulation lab at Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome.
Dr. Koch has a long-lasting experience in clinical neurophysiology of the motor system and of cognitive functions, with a translational approach for rehabilitation of stroke and neurodegenerative disorders. His main expertise is in the application of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), mainly used in combination with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and in combination with electroencephalography (EEG). The main goals of his research are to understand the mechanisms underlying cortical plasticity and cortical connectivity in the healthy human brain, in order to develop novel therapeutic approaches for recovery of neurological functions. Prof. Koch is actively investigating the mechanisms of cortical plasticity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
He was among the firsts to demonstrate the impairment of long term potentiation (LTP) in this neurological condition and how dopaminergic therapy could potentially restore such abnormalities. Dr. Koch has published >200 papers in peer reviewed journals (H index: 54).
Speech and Language as a Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease
Lampros Kourtis, PhD
Misfolded Alpha-synuclein Aggregates in CSF as Diagnostic and Prognostic Markers for Dementia
Russell Lebovitz, MD, PhD
Dr. Russell Lebovitz worked for 15 years as a successful senior scientist and research physician in a variety of academic settings before transitioning to a second career focused on financial, operational and executive management of emerging technology companies. Between 1997 and 2003, he managed global projects in operations, marketing and finance for a number of Fortune 100 technology including Royal Dutch Shell, Enron, ABB, SprintNextel, AT&T Wireless, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Compaq/HP, King Pharmaceuticals, and JPMorganChase. Since 2003, Russ has been a serial entrepreneur and active investor in life sciences projects involving protein diagnostics, imaging technology & image analysis, machine learning, drug development and medical devices.
Since 2005 Dr. Lebovitz has served as a life sciences venture partner and entrepreneur in residence with several different early stage funds in Silicon Valley and Southern California. Through these relationships, he has served as CEO of diagnostics, therapeutics and consumer healthcare companies including CSixty, Marval Biosciences, Skincential Sciences and Amprion. Dr. Lebovitz currently serves as CEO and Co-Founder of Amprion, where he oversees an extremely talented team focused on accurate and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and related neurodegenerative diseases. He has also served on the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and The Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Skincential Sciences, Amprion, Ambra Biosciences and FP Complete and as a Venture Advisor for Bootstrap Labs.
Development of BDNF Receptor Modulators Targeting Amyloid- and Tau-related Degenerative Mechanisms
Frank Longo, MD, PhD
Dr. Frank Longo received his MD from the University of California, San Diego in 1981 and his PhD in 1983. Following an internship in medicine at New York University, he trained as a resident in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco where he also completed a fellowship in neurobiology. He joined the UCSF faculty and eventually served as professor and vice chair of UCSF’s Department of Neurology. Before joining Stanford in 2006, Dr. Longo was the H. Houston Merritt Professor and Chair of Neurology at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
At Stanford, Dr. Longo serves as the George E. and Lucy Becker Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences and along with his colleagues focuses on building programs in neurology and the neurosciences. His interests include translational research in neurodegenerative disease therapeutics, providing patient care in the Stanford Memory Disorders Clinic, and mentoring medical students and other trainees.
Dr. Longo is the 2015 recipient of the inaugural Melvin R. Goodes Prize for Excellence in Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, and his team’s work on Alzheimer’s therapeutics was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 2016.
Building Equity in Alzheimer’s Research
Gladys Maestre, MD, PhD
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
Dr. Gladys Maestre is Professor of Neuroscience and Human Genetics and the Director of the Rio Grande Valley Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (AD-RCMAR) at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine and Professor Emerita at the University of Zulia at Venezuela.
She received her M.D. from the University of Zulia in Venezuela and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University, and post-doctoral training in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She leads the Maracaibo Aging Study as principal investigator since 1998. This is a longitudinal population-based study of dementia and other age-related health problems that has followed more than 2,500 subjects since its inception and has provided important insights about the aging of Latinos. Recipient of numerous awards, and recognized author, the focus of her research is to advance age-related conditions that disproportionately affect Latinos, at the intersection of biomedical, social and behavioral, and implementation sciences.
Building Equity in Alzheimer’s Research
Kristina Malzbender, MPH
Kristina Malzbender is currently an Associate Director of Health and Life Sciences at Gates Ventures, the private office of Mr. Bill Gates. At Gates Ventures, Ms. Malzbender manages a portfolio of philanthropic work, investments and research funding for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, with a focus on biomarkers, biosample access and biobanking, and clinical trials. Prior to joining Gates Ventures, she worked as a consultant at IQVIA, where she advised clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries on strategy development, portfolio planning and management, valuations, forecasting, pricing strategy, market access and business development.
Ms. Malzbender holds a BA in chemistry from Princeton University, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health (MPH) at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.
Plasma Pathologic TDP-43 as a Biomarker for FTLD-TDP
Qinwen Mao, MD, PhD
University of Utah
Dr. Qinwen Mao is a professor of pathology and the director of neuropathology at the University of Utah. She is an academic neuropathologist specializing in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Mao obtained her MD and PhD at the Fourth Military Medical University in China, followed by postdoctoral training in medical biotechnology development for neurodegenerative diseases at the University of Iowa for seven years. In the subsequent four years, she trained in anatomic pathology and neuropathology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. From 2010 to 2020, she practiced neuropathology at Northwestern University, where she had extensive exposure to the field of frontotemporal lobal degeneration (FTLD) pathology, which has inspired her current research interest in developing biomarkers for FTLD-TDP.
In 2021, Dr. Mao joined the University of Utah. Her long-term goals are to improve the diagnosis and medical care of people with dementia.
The Evolving Role of Biomarkers in Clinical Trials
Mark Mintun, MD
Eli Lilly & Co., Inc.
Mark Mintun, MD, has been the Vice-President of Pain and Neurodegeneration Research and Clinical Development at Eli Lilly & Co. since January of 2018. In 2010, Dr. Mintun joined Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Company, as Chief Medical Officer and became its President in 2014.
Prior to Avid, Dr. Mintun was Professor and Vice-Chair of Radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at the Washington University School of Medicine, with joint appointments in Psychiatry, Neurology, Bioengineering, and the Anatomy and Neurobiology Departments. He earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977, received his medical degree in 1981 at Washington University School of Medicine and completed a research fellowship in neurology and residency training in nuclear medicine.
Dr. Mintun has co-authored over 200 research publications that include reports of brain imaging to characterize flow/metabolism relationships, neurotransmitter systems, circuitry for processing affective stimuli and the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases. More recently he has led development programs for both amyloid and tau imaging of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
Building Equity in Alzheimer’s Research
Stephanie Monroe is Executive Director of African Americans Against Alzheimer’s, the first national network created specifically to respond to the disparate impact of Alzheimer’s on African Americans. By working nationally, locally, and through strategic partnerships, African Americans Against Alzheimer’s is raising awareness of the critical need to engage, connect, and mobilize to advance our national commitment to ending Alzheimer’s by 2025. One of the primary focuses of the network is a community-based initiative that works at the grass roots level to bring Alzheimer’s out of the shadows, dispel myths about the disease symptoms, and encourage greater participation in clinical research designed to more effectively prevent, treat, and eventually cure this dreaded disease. Much of this work is centered around a fully staged play called Forget Me Not which is entering its 5th year touring with the Network. Stephanie is a veteran political strategist, amateur photographer, Broadway enthusiast, and “Trekkie” who just wants folks to “Live Long and Prosper” before they are “Beamed Up”.
Blood-based Immune Biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease Diagnosis and Its Early Detection
Thomas Montine, MD, PhD
Dr. Thomas Montine received his education at Columbia University (BA in Chemistry), the University of Rochester (PhD in Pharmacology), and McGill University (MD and CM). His postgraduate medical training was at Duke University, and he was junior faculty at Vanderbilt University where he was awarded the Thorne Professorship in Pathology. In 2002, Dr. Montine was appointed as the Alvord Endowed Professor in Neuropathology and Director of the Division of Neuropathology at the University of Washington. He was Director of the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, one of the original 10 Centers in the US, and passed that responsibility to able colleagues. In 2010, Dr. Montine was appointed Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington. In 2016, Dr. Montine was appointed Chair of the Department of Pathology at Stanford University where he is the Stanford Medicine Endowed Professor in Pathology.
Dr. Montine is the founding Director of the Pacific Udall Center, one of 9 NINDS-funded Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease Research. Our center performs basic, translational, and clinical research focused on cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. The Pacific Udall Center emphasizes a vision for precision health that comprises functional genomics, development of surveillance tools for pre-clinical detection, and discovery of molecularly tailored therapies.
Dr. Montine is among the top recipients of NIH funding for all Department of Pathology faculty in the United States. He was the 2015 President of the American Association of Neuropathologists, and led or co-led recent NIH initiatives to revise diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease (NIA), develop research priorities for the National Alzheimer’s Plan (NINDS and NIA), and develop research priorities for Parkinson’s Disease (NINDS).
The focus of the Montine Laboratory is on the structural and molecular bases of cognitive impairment with the goal of defining key pathogenic steps and thereby new therapeutic targets. The Montine Laboratory addresses these prevalent, unmet medical needs through a combination of neuropathology, biomarker development and application early in the course of disease, and experimental studies that test hypotheses concerning specific mechanisms of neuron injury and approaches to neuroprotection. PubMed lists 579 publications for Dr. Montine. Google Scholar estimates Dr. Montine’s citations as > 38,000, his i-10 index as 355, and his H-Index as 98. NIH iCite calculates (1995 to 2017) Dr. Montine’s weighted relative citation ratio as 2041.
Phase 2 Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Safety and Feasibility of Senolytic Therapy in Alzheimer’s Disease
Miranda Orr, PhD
Wake Forest University
Dr. Miranda Orr is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Section on Geriatrics and Gerontology Division at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC and Research Health Scientist at the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center, Salisbury, NC.
She is a translational neuroscientist with expertise that spans the biology of aging and tau-associated neurodegeneration. A primary goal of her research is to understand cellular and molecular processes driving neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment during the prodromal period associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Her career has focused on tau neurobiology and its role as a cellular stress response at the intersection between healthy brain aging and neurodegeneration. Using this strategy, her laboratory has identified a link between tau pathology and cellular senescence, the quintessence of latent tissue degeneration. This seminal finding has laid the groundwork for further investigation into post-mitotic cellular senescence, a newly recognized neuronal cell fate; the interaction between fundamental cellular aging processes and neuronal pathology; and clinical trials using therapeutics to clear senescent cells.
SESSION 2: ADVANCES IN FLUID BIOMARKERS
Shobha Purushothama, PhD
Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Dr. Shobha Purushothama is currently a Senior Director at the Diagnostic Accelerator, a venture philanthropy initiative funded by Gates Ventures and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, tasked with bringing a blood-based diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease to the market.
In her prior roles within translational sciences groups at Biogen, UCB and Pfizer, Dr. Purushothama had acquired extensive experience in the bioanalysis of large molecule assets at different development stages. As part of this role, she led a group of scientists responsible for critical reagent generation and characterization, PK, immunoenicity and biomarker method development, tech transfer and validation.
Dr. Purushothama has published several manuscripts and been an invited speaker at conferences focusing on bioanalysis of large molecules. In addition, she was the co-lead of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS) Immunogenicity discussion group – a cross company forum that is influential in harmonizing/influencing immunogenicity strategy for biologics.
Building Equity in Alzheimer’s Research
Moderator and Presenter
Jason Resendez is the Executive Director of the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity and head of the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer’s Coalition. From clinical trial inclusion to paid family leave for dementia caregivers, he champions brain health equity at every level of the healthcare system.
Jason has helped establish UsAgainstAlzheimer’s as a hub for driving brain health equity through patient-centered public health promotion strategies, equity-centered research and policy analysis. He spearheads peer-learning and direct engagement with community-based organizations, public health stakeholders, and research centers across the country to advance health equity initiatives that shape and influence national thinking and action.
He has contributed to research on the socioeconomic impacts of brain health inequities and on the science of community engagement in brain research. He is currently a co-investigator of the NIH-funded FOREVER Project (Foundations of Representative Engagement, Valid & Effective Recruitment in Alzheimer’s Research) with Dr. Jonathan Jackson of Massachusetts General Hospital.
Prior to UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, Jason held senior positions at two of the nation’s leading Latino-serving organizations, UnidosUS and LULAC National Educational Service Centers, Inc.
Jason is a Google Next Generation Policy Leader, an Aspen Ideas Health Fellow, and he serves on the board of the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s. He has been quoted by The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Univision and others on health equity issues.
Jason is from South Texas and graduated from Georgetown University.
Session 5: NEUROIMAGING AND DIGITAL BIOMARKERS FOR DEMENTIA
Jonathan Sabbagh, PhD
Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Dr. Jonathan Sabbagh is a neuroscientist with over 20 years’ experience in the field. Prior to joining ADDF, Dr. Sabbagh was a Scientific Portfolio Director at the Muscular Dystrophy Association where he managed a portfolio of over 160 research grants and was responsible for advancing the scientific mission of the organization. Dr. Sabbagh also spent 4 years at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) where he was a Health Program Specialist in the Neurodegeneration group, responsible for analyzing research programs and leading special projects such as the AD/ADRD Supplement initiative.
Dr. Sabbagh received his PhD at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he studied the effects of neuropeptides and calcium dysregulation on AD pathogenesis. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of South Florida, examining the role of molecular chaperones on tauopathies and stress. Dr. Sabbagh has authored more than 25 peer-reviewed publications.
Tracy Saxton, PhD
Dolby Family Ventures
Dr. Tracy Saxton joined Dolby Family Ventures in 2020 from Frazier Healthcare Partners, where she served as an adviser to the fund as well as founding CEO of an emerging precision oncology company. Tracy previously held investment positions with Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Roche Venture Fund (RVF) and SV Life Sciences Advisers (SVLSA), where she focused on the biopharmaceutical sector. Tracy currently serves on the Board of Therini Bio and Lengo Therapeutics, previously she served on the Board of companies including Vaxcyte (PCVX), Millendo Therapeutics (MLND), Mission Therapeutics and Purigen BioSystems, and she led the first institutional round of financing for Black Diamond Therapeutics (BDTX). Tracy previously held operating positions at Tularik (acquired by Amgen), Threshold Pharmaceuticals and Convelo Therapeutics. At Convelo, she was responsible for driving finance and business development which resulted in a collaboration and option to acquire transaction with Genentech/Roche. She began her career as a drug discovery scientist and moved to leadership roles in Regulatory Affairs, Project Management and Business Development.
Tracy earned her PhD in Medical Genetics from the University of Toronto, her MBA from Columbia University, and she was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund fellow at University of California, San Francisco. She is also a Kauffman Fellow.
Fixational Eye Motion as a Biomarker for Mild Cognitive Impairment
Christy Sheehy, PhD
C. Light Technologies, Inc
Dr. Christy K. Sheehy is the co-founder and CEO of C. Light Technologies – a neurotech and AI company that has created a 10-second retinal eye-tracking test to assess brain health and therapeutic efficacy. Dr. Sheehy brings 14 years of technical and leadership experience in the optical engineering realm, numerous publications/presentations, and direct clinical experience working with neurodegenerative patient populations to her team. She worked as an optical system test engineer at Corning Tropel Corporation while completing her master’s degree in Optics from the University of Rochester before going back to get her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in Vision Science.
Dr. Sheehy invented the core retinal eye-tracking technology that C. Light is commercializing during her dissertation work at Cal and is passionate about applying its high-resolution tracking capabilities to the unmet needs of the neurology space. As a postdoctoral scholar at UCSF neurology for 4 years, she studied the neurodegenerative changes to eye motion and more specifically, multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Sheehy has been awarded two NIH small business grants for C. Light’s clinical validation, an investment from the Alzheimer’ drug discovery foundation to expand the eye-tracking product into the Alzheimer’s space, and has now raised over $3M in venture capital investment to commercialize her product.
Strategies for Delivering Therapeutics across the Blood Brain Barrier
Georg Terstappen, PhD
Dr. Georg Terstappen is currently the Executive Vice President of Drug Discovery at Cambrian Biopharma. He has nearly 30 years of experience in big pharma and biotech, holding R&D leadership positions at Bayer, GW/GSK, and Abbott/AbbVie – most recently as Head of Preclinical CNS Drug Development with GSK. Georg was also co-founder and CSO of the CNS drug discovery company Siena Biotech and, more recently, CSO of OxStem (a University of Oxford spin-out focused on regenerative medicine). In addition, Georg has led EU R&D framework organizations as Vice-Chair of the Innovative Medicines Strategy group in the context of EFPIA and IMI. He was also adjunct Professor at several European universities for more than ten years and leader of European-wide research programs funded by the EC. Georg has published 90 scientific articles and is an inventor/coinventor of 15 patents.
He has a first-class honors degree in Biology and conducted research at the Max-Planck-Institute in Cologne and the Federal Research Centre Juelich for which he has received a PhD in natural sciences.
Session I: CLINICAL TRIALS AND NOVEL APPROACHES FOR DEMENTIA
Session IV: NEUROPROTECTION, SYNAPTIC HEALTH AND NEUROTRANSMITTERS
Alessio Travaglia, PhD
Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Dr. Alessio Travaglia is currently Interim Director, Scientific Affairs at the ADDF, where he executes strategic plans and scientific due diligence to develop and manage the ADDF’s therapeutic portfolio.
He completed his training in chemistry and biochemistry, during his PhD worked on growth factors in the Nobel-prize winning Rita-Levi Montalcini’s lab, and during his postdoctoral work at NYU focused on molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.
Dr. Travaglia has 13 years of experience in basic and translational neuroscience, and over 30 publications and 100+ presentations at meetings and conferences.
Preclinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of CT-526 in the Tauopathy Mouse Model
Kent Werner, MD, PhD
Dr. Kent Werner is a board-certified neurologist and neuroscientist and the Founder and CEO of Cogentis Therapeutics. He holds Assistant Professor appointments in the Departments of Neurology at the Uniformed Services University and adjunct at Johns Hopkins University. He has 14 years of experience in biomedical research and seven years in clinical training.
Kent received his MD and PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the department of Neuroscience in 2012 at the Johns Hopkins University under Dr. Solomon Snyder. His areas of research include neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and traumatic brain injury and their relationship to sleep.
Clinical Validation for Plasma AB42/AB40 as a Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology
Kevin Yarasheski, PhD
Dr. Kevin Yarasheski obtained the PhD in physiology from Kent State University and completed a three-year post-doctoral research fellowship in geriatrics, metabolism and endocrinology at Washington University School of Medicine. For 29+ years, Dr. Yarasheski remained in the Department of Internal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine where he rose to the rank of tenured Full Professor, co-Directed the Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Research Facility, fully supported his independent mass spectrometry-based clinical research program, and collaborated with Drs. Bateman, West and Holtzman on their Alzheimer’s disease projects that required mass spectrometry analysis.
Dr. Yarasheski also conducted translational clinical research focused on using gas or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to detect, characterize and quantify biomolecules present in human biofluids and tissues, and that revealed underlying alterations in protein and amino acid metabolism that contributed to the pathogenesis of several conditions: unsuccessful aging, cachexia, malnutrition, and cardiometabolic complications.
In 2016, Dr. Yarasheski joined C2N Diagnostics as Senior Vice President where he directs and supervises laboratory personnel and mass spectrometry research, development and discovery efforts focused on biomarkers for neurodegeneration and AD pathology.