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TRACK C: Biopharmaceuticals & Drugs

The State of Neurodegenerative Disease: Drug Targets & Alternative, Patient-Centric Clinical Endpoints

Despite massive investments in research for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, treatment options for patients are largely non-existent. 'Soft' clinical endpoints like Cognitive Impression scores are difficult to demonstrate statistical significance even when underlying biology is being modified. Industry and practicing clinicians share how they are introducing modern imaging and biomarker measurements as 'harder' endpoints to the FDA, along with including diverse patients in earlier trials to better predict large pivotal trials.

Gayathri Srinivasan​, PhD,
Executive Director, Office of Corporate Relations, Emory University
Moderator

Gayathri Srinivasan is the Executive Director of the Office of Corporate Relations at Emory University. Her background is in business development, strategic alliances and technology/research commercialization. In her current role she provides a “front door” for industry, institutions, entrepreneurs and disease foundations to connect with the researchers and clinicians within Emory to further their objectives and support Emory’s research mission. She achieves this in part by collaborating with teams within and outside of Emory to determine synergies where research can be expanded in order to solve real world problems and advance innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Prior to joining Emory Dr. Srinivasan was at T1D Exchange a nonprofit startup in Boston where she developed and maintained partnerships with industry, academic, and nonprofit partners to facilitate better therapies and devices for patients with Type 1 Diabetes. She has worked in the tech-transfer offices at MIT and UMass Medical School. Prior to going on to the business side of academia, she completed a PhD in Microbiology from the Ohio State University and was part of the team which discovered the 22nd amino acid. She pursued her PhD with a post-doctoral fellowship at MIT. 

Allan Levey, MD, PhD
Goizueta Foundation Endowed Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Betty Gage Holland Chair, and Chair of the Department of Neurology, Emory University; Executive Associate Dean for Research (School of Medicine) and Director, Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

Dr. Allan Levey is the Goizueta Foundation Endowed Chair for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Betty Gage Holland Chair, and Chair of the Department of Neurology at Emory University.  He is also Executive Associate Dean for Research at the School of Medicine and Director of the Goizueta Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. 

Dr. Levey received a BS from University of Michigan and an MD and PhD (Immunology) from the University of Chicago. He then trained in Neurology at Johns Hopkins, and joined their faculty prior to moving to Emory in 1991.  

Dr. Levey is a neurologist and neuroscientist internationally recognized for his work in neurodegenerative disease, with more than 400 research publications.  His work in Alzheimer’s Disease and related neurodegenerative disorders has contributed to understanding mechanisms involved in these conditions and translation to new therapeutic strategies and biomarkers. He has received numerous awards and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. 

Annabelle Singer​, PhD
Assistant Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Annabelle Singer is an Assistant Professor in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. The central goal of Dr. Singer’s research program is to understand how neural activity produces memories and spurs the brain’s immune system. Dr. Singer’s research has shown how coordinated electrical activity across many neurons in the hippocampus represents memories of experiences and fails in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Singer has found that driving particular frequencies of neural activity reduce Alzheimer’s pathology and alter brain immune
function.Using non-invasive approaches, she is translating her discoveries from rodents to develop radically new ways to treat diseases that affect memory in humans. Dr. Singer completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Ed Boyden’s Synthetic Neurobiology Group at MIT and she received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCSF, performing research in the laboratory of Loren Frank.

Milton Werner, PhD
President & CEO, Inhibikase

Dr. Werner is the Founder and Chief Executive of Inhibikase Therapeutics, a company developing novel protein kinase inhibitor therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative disease and viral infection inside and outside of the brain. Prior to founding Inhibikase, Dr. Werner served as Vice President of Research at Celtaxsys, a cell-free immunotherapeutics company. From September 1996 until June 2007, Dr. Werner was a Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics at The Rockefeller University in New York City. Throughout his scientific career, Dr. Werner has been an innovator, integrating chemistry, physics, and biology into a comprehensive approach to solving problems in medicine, including explanation of the origin of ‘maleness’ in humans, the mechanistic basis of several forms of leukemia and lymphoma and, more recently, the development of therapeutics that can halt and potentially reverse functional loss in neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Werner is the author or co-author of more than 70 research articles, reviews, and book chapters and has given lectures on his research work throughout the world. He is the recipient of numerous private and public research grants totaling more than $30 million. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Naito Memorial Foundation Prize, the Young Investigator Award from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Foundation, the Research Chair from the Brain Tumor Society, and a $1 million Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research award from the W. M. Keck Foundation. Dr. Werner received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Southern California, and he was an NIH intramural postdoctoral fellow prior to his tenure at the Rockefeller University.