Chief Scientific Officer
Al leads teams in early-stage discovery up through non-clinical development, identifying new drug candidates for advancement into clinical research. Al joined Sage as CSO in 2011, with more than 20 years of drug discovery experience focused primarily in the neuroscience arena. Most recently, he was Vice President of Chemistry and Pharmacokinetic Sciences at Lundbeck USA. He has co-authored more than 125 manuscripts and abstracts, and is a co-inventor on 50 patents and patent applications. Al holds a B.S. in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California, Irvine.
Senior Medical Director Ophthalmology, Pain & New Indications,
Dr. Andreas Meier studied medicine and completed his doctorate degree at the University of Goettingen, Germany. At the same university he proceeded to his postgraduate training. During his residency as a member of the faculty staff he spent time in the areas of psychiatry, neurology and sleep medicine. In 2007 Andreas joined pharmaceutical industry and has since held various positions of increasing responsibility at different organizations including GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie, and Pfizer across early and late stage clinical development. During his career he has been primarily focused on clinical development in neurodegenerative disorders, schizophrenia and orphan diseases. Currently Andreas holds the position of Sr. Medical Director with focus on neurocognitive disorders and pain at Biogen.
Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Alan Schatzberg MD has been the Kenneth T Norris, Jr Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine since 1991. From 1991- 2010, he served as the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also the Director of the Stanford Mood Disorders Center. He has served as the President of the American College of Neuropsychology, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). He has published over 362 publications, 98 of which are featured publications holding significance in the academic field. He is also the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychiatric Research and the Textbook of Psychopharmacology which is in its 5th edition. He is the lead author of the Manual of Clinical Psychopharmacology whose 9th edition was recently released. Alan has received multiple national and international awards and honours, including the Judd Marmor Award for Biopsychosocial Research and the Distinguished Service in Psychiatry Award from the American Psychiatric Association (2018), the Anna Monika Foundation Award (2013 ), the Kraepelin Gold Medal from the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry (2014), the Society of Biological Psychiatry Gold Medal Award (2015) etc. He is a member of THE Bio-X and Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University. Alan earned his medical degree from New York University and did his training in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Prior to moving to Stanford, he was Professor of Psychiatry at HMS. He is board certified in psychiatry.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Bruce Kimmel is an owner and the CEO of Vidrio Technologies. Vidrio was incorporated in 2013 to further the development of hardware and software for neuroscience imaging and produces the leading microscope control software ScanImage. Vidrio’s products enable neuroscientists to image and record neuronal activity from the brains of alive, awake behaving animals. Dr. Kimmel has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley and has led scientific teams for more than 25 years. His experience includes 17 years of leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry at companies like Amgen and Ambrx. He holds several issued patents and has successfully led multiple high impact projects.
Chief Executive Officer
Anavex Life Sciences
Christopher U. Missling, PhD is President and CEO of Anavex Life Sciences Corp, has over 20 years of healthcare industry experience within large pharmaceutical companies and the biotech industry. Prior to joining Anavex, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of Curis and ImmunoGen. In addition, at Aventis (now Sanofi), Christopher’s work is dedicated to finding potential cures for rare diseases especially for neurodevelopmental diseases, like Rett syndrome, Fragile X, Angelman’s syndrome, infantile spasms as well as degenerative diseases. Dr. Missling is working with his team to advance new potential treatments through clinical trials by involving the respective advocacy groups early on. Dr. Missling has an MS and PhD from the University of Munich in Chemistry and an MBA from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management. Christopher U. Missling, PhD is President and CEO of Anavex Life Sciences Corp, has over 20 years of healthcare industry experience within large pharmaceutical companies and the biotech industry. Prior to joining Anavex, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of Curis and ImmunoGen. In addition, at Aventis (now Sanofi), Christopher’s work is dedicated to finding potential cures for neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease as well as Rett syndrome, Fragile X, Angelman’s syndrome and infantile spasms. Dr. Missling is working with his team to advance new potential treatments through clinical trials. Dr. Missling has an MS and PhD from the University of Munich in Chemistry and an MBA from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management.
Dr. Hoeppner leads a team in schizophrenia target identification and validation. He was previously an Investigator at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, and a staff scientist at the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke - NIH. He was named a 2018 PhRMA WWFH Champion
Elise Robinson is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She is also an affiliated faculty member with the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Robinson’s research focuses on the genetic epidemiology of behavior and cognition. She is interested in using genetic data to understand the biology of neurodevelopmental variation, and to study differences within and between neuropsychiatric disorders. Robinson’s work to date has linked the genetic risk factors for severe neuropsychiatric disorders to variation in behavior in the general population. She has also compared the ways in which common and rare genetic differences influence risk for behavioral disorders. Robinson’s research reflects her training in epidemiology and genetics. She received a Sc.D. in psychiatric epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, supervised by Karestan Koenen. She completed postdoctoral training in the lab of Mark Daly at MGH and the Broad Institute, using statistical genetic approaches to study neurodevelopmental disorders.
Senior Director, Neuroscience Innovation
Johnson & Johnson
Eric Schaeffer is Senior Director for Neuroscience External Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, where he is responsible for neuroscience partnerships and collaborations in the Eastern United States. Eric received his PhD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. He went on to do post-doctoral fellowships at MIT, studying the genetics of learning and memory in Drosophila, and Rockefeller University where he worked in the laboratory of Paul Greengard on the presynaptic mechanisms regulating neurotransmitter release. After completing his academic training, Eric accepted a position at Pfizer, where he held several roles within the Neuroscience therapeutic area, ultimately as a Senior Director of Neuroscience Research, leading the in vitro and in vivo pharmacology group. While at Pfizer, Eric contributed to advancing several compounds into early development for the treatment of Depression, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder, and played a key role on the team that discovered Chantix, the first FDA-approved non-nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation. In 2009 Eric joined CHDI as the Director of Neuropharmacology, where he led drug discovery and translational teams in the identification of novel treatments for Huntington’s disease. In 2010 Eric accepted a position in the early development group at Bristol Meyers Squibb, as Director of Neuroscience Clinical Biomarkers, where he was responsible for the translational medicine strategies and tactics for the psychiatry portfolio. In his current role at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Eric is responsible fordeveloping and implementing the Neuroscience external innovation strategy, which focuses on identifying and establishing external partnerhsips in the areas of neurodegenerative diseases and serious mood disorders.
George I Papakostas
Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Trials Network and Institute
Dr. George I. Papakostas is Scientific Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Clinical Trials Network and Institute, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Director of a Harvard-Wide course on the Design and Conduct of Clinical Trials in Medicine. The focus of Dr Papakostas’ research includes the pharmacotherapy of major depressive disorder including treatment-resistant depression, the study of the “placebo” effect and it’s relevance to clinical trial design in mood and anxiety disorders, and the study of successful trial methodology in Neuropsychiatry. Dr. Papakostas prominence a researcher in the field is reflected in his position as overall Principal Investigator of the PCORI-funded ASCERTAIN-TRD trial aimed at comparing augmentation versus switching in TRD, and also served as co-Principal Investigator of the RAPID Network, the NIMH-funded series of studies of novel, rapidly-acting antidepressant therapies for TRD. Dr Papakostas has received numerous national and international research awards from sources including the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologium, the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, the American Psychiatric Association, the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry, the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists, the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He is author or co-author of over 200 clinical and scientific publications and book chapters, and is author of the book entitled: “Pharmacotherapy for Depression” (World Scientific Publishing and Imperial College Press), and has been awarded two patents by the U.S. Patent Office on novel approaches to treat depression. Dr. Papakostas is often invited throughout the United States and abroad to lecture on a wide range topics pertaining to the treatment of depression. To date, he has delivered hundreds of lectures at National or International meetings in more than 40 countries. Dr Papakostas maintains an active clinical practice in Boston, Massachusetts and is listed among the Best Doctors in North America. (Woodward/White, Inc. Aiken, SC).
Director, Head of Psychiatry
Gopi Shanker has spent over eighteen years working in the area of neuroscience drug discovery and has led preclinical and clinical drug discovery programs in the areas of neuropsychiatry, neurodegeneration and pain/migraine. Gopi completed his doctoral work in neuroendocrinology at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (India) and his post-doctoral work in sensory neurobiology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York. He started his research in drug discovery at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and developed a deeper focus on discovering neuroscience therapies at Amgen thereafter. He joined the Neuroscience disease area at Novartis in 2013. At Novartis, Gopi is responsible for setting the strategy and leading the neuropsychiatry unit as well as initiating and establishing drug discovery programs focused on neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders and advancing them into the clinic.
Chief Development Officer
James V. Cassella, Ph.D., is a biopharmaceutical R&D executive with 30 years of experience working in science-driven drug discovery and product development companies. Since February 2015, he has been the Chief Development Officer of Concert Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Cassella leads Concert's drug development efforts, including strategy and operations, and has direct responsibility for the CMC, preclinical, clinical, and regulatory functions. Prior to joining Concert, Dr. Cassella served as the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Alexza Pharmaceuticals. Since joining Alexza in 2004, he was responsible for the development of various drug products, including the marketing approval of ADASUVE® in the US and EU. Dr. Cassella was one of the original scientists at Neurogen Corporation, a CNS drug discovery and development biotechnology company, and held various management positions, including Senior Vice President of Clinical Research & Development. Prior to joining the biopharmaceutical industry, Dr. Cassella was an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Oberlin College. Dr. Cassella received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Dartmouth College and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.
Executive Director Neuroscience
Dr. Jason Uslaner leads the Merck Neuroscience group at West Point focused on discovering novel symptomatic agents to treat pain, neurological, and psychiatric disorders. He also has responsibility for clinical development, co-chairing multiple clinical programs focused on treatments for CNS disorders, while his group provides scientific support for Merck’s Neuroscience marketed products such as Belsomra. Prior to joining the Neuroscience group, Jason was in charge of setting up Merck’s world-class non-human primate lab supporting various Neuroscience projects. He has published over 60 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters and in his 13 years at Merck has been impactful in the advancement of multiple different mechanisms from discovery to the clinic. Prior to joining Merck, Jason received a B.A. from University of California Berkeley, and completed his Ph.D. and postdoctoral studies at The University of Michigan.
Joris Van Dam
Executive Director, Head of Digital Therapeutics
Joris van Dam is a Digital Health intrapreneur with 15 years’ experience in Pharmaceutical Research & Development, focusing on the innovative use of digital technologies to improve and transform therapeutic innovation, patient engagement, and clinical trials operations. Joris is currently leading the Digital Therapeutics initiative at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, including its collaboration with Pear Therapeutics on the development of novel digital therapies for the treatment of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. Prior to that, Joris launched a number of digital health innovation initiatives at Novartis, and at J&J/Janssen. Joris spent 7 years in consulting across industries and across Europe before joining the pharmaceutical industry – and holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Amsterdam.
Global Development Lead Autism
Committed to the development of safe and effective treatments for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Currently serving as the lead of the late stage autism program at Roche in Basel, Switzerland. Before Roche he was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division at Vanderbilt University. He also served as the Director of the Child Psychiatry Consult Service at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, attending inpatient physician at the Vanderbilt Psychiatry Hospital, co-site PI of the Autism Treatment Network, Director of MEND research program and Medial Director of TRIAD at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. He has had extensive experience in clinical research in Autism, including participation either as a principal investigator or sub-investigator in most trials for NMEs targeting ASD, including arbaclofen, mavoglurant, basimglurant, basmisanil (DS) and memantine. He is the site PI of federally sponsored metformin and oxytocin trials for ASD conducted at Vanderbilt. Kevin did his MD training at University of Tennessee College of Medicine, his residency in Psychiatry at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and completed his Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship at Duke University where he served as the chief fellow. He is board certified in General Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Deputy Global Head Business Development & Licensing, CNS
Dr. Laura Corradini received her degree in medicinal chemistry and technology, and qualified as Pharmacist at the University of Milan (Italy). Subsequently, she obtained her PhD in biotechnology at the same University. Dr. Corradini worked for more than ten years in preclinical research at Schering-Plough Research and Development (R&D) and Pfizer R&D in the field of neuroscience and chronic pain, respectively. Since joining Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) in 2009, she has held several positions in R&D as CNS Pharmacologist for pain and ophthalmology. Dr. Corradini currently acts as Deputy Global Head of Business Development & Licensing CNS at BI. She is responsible for search and evaluation of partnering opportunities in the therapeutic area CNS with focus to innovative programs addressing unmet medical needs in neuropsychiatry. Dr Corradini is chair of a BI’s cross-functional CNS Licensing Advisory Team. The strategic partnering focus of Dr. Corradini and her team is novel therapeutic approaches to treating neuropsychiatric disorders.
Executive Director, Neuroscience Discovery
Sean M. Smith, Ph.D. is an Executive Director of Neuroscience Discovery at Merck in West Point, PA. In this role, he directs research for Neurodegenerative disease from target identification through early clinical development. He also leads efforts to identify and translate target engagement and disease progression biomarkers for neurological disorders. Prior to leading the Neurodegeneration department, Sean lead the Psychiatric Disorders department and was the chair of early clinical development teams for MK-8189 (Phase 2, schizophrenia) and MK-8719 (Phase 1, PSP). Sean did his postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the laboratory of Dr Wylie Vale and received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Executive Director, Translational Medicine
Seth Hopkins, Ph.D., is Executive Director Translational Medicine at Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. In his work at Sunovion, he has led and advanced new treatments for CNS disorders from discovery through to regulatory submissions. Seth has served in a variety of roles including computational chemistry, pharmacology, preclinical and clinical development. In his current role, he is advancing programs through clinical development applying clinical pharmacology, experimental medicine, neuroimaging, modeling and simulations. At Sunovion his current research interest is in the application of advanced mathematics and analytics to the clinical development of novel treatments for psychiatric disorders. Seth was a key contributor to the initiation, clinical development and regulatory submissions of dasotraline and SEP-363856. Seth completed his postdoctoral training at University of California San Francisco and his PhD in biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania.
30 year industry experience following education and initial industry experience in CNS drug research at Merck in the UK. Subsequent transfer to Merck’s Imaging Group the US developing novel CNS PET ligands before setting up non-invasive imaging capabilities at Biogen for neurological drug R&D and then running the preclinical Imaging group at Eisai. Currently leading Imaging and Exploratory research at Codiak Biosciences in Cambridge MA.
President and Chief Executive Officer
MindImmune Therapeutics Inc
Stevin Zorn, Ph.D., is President and CEO of MindImmune Therapeutics Inc., a new company focused on Neuroinflammation-related therapeutics, Ryan Research Professor of Neuroscience, at the George and Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, both in Kingston, RI, and President of SH Zorn Consulting LLC. He spent nearly 30 years in the Pharmaceutical industry with most recent positions as Executive VP of Neuroscience and site head for Lundbeck Research USA and as Global Therapeutic Area Head for Neuroscience Research at Pfizer. Dr. Zorn received a BS degree in Chemistry from Lafayette College, Easton, PA, and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Sciences with emphasis in Neurotoxicology and Neuropharmacology, respectively, from the University Of Texas Graduate School Of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX. Subsequent postdoctoral research studies centered on basic research of brain and intracellular neuronal signaling mechanisms at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, in the laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. Dr. Zorn has co-authored over 100 scientific research communications and patents and has contributed to the advancement of a wide variety of drug candidates and several medicines now in clinical use helping to improve the lives of millions of patients suffering from CNS-related illnesses around the world.
Chief Executive Officer
Sylvain Celanire, PhD is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder at PRAGMA Therapeutics He brings over 16 years of drug discovery experience across pre-clinical and early stage clinical development programs, medicinal chemistry, partnering and R&D strategy. Sylvain spent 12 years in various positions of increasing responsibility within the medicinal chemistry department at Addex Therapeutics (Switzerland) and UCB New Medicines (Belgium). During his time there, he led multi-disciplinary teams, advancing multiple molecule candidates into preclinical development and early clinical trials, including Histamine H3R modulators, mGluR2 and mGluR4 allosteric modulators for a wide range of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric indications. Sylvain has co-authored more than more than 27 original research articles, review articles and book chapters as well served as editor for Springer Drug Discovery series (focus on schizophrenia) and Frontiers in Cellular Neurosciences (focus on hearing disorders). He is a co-inventor on over 20 patents and patent applications. He holds a PhD in medicinal chemistry from the University of Rouen, France (1999) and spent two postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Orleans (France) and University of Oxford (UK), where he collaborated with Teva (formerly Cephalon) and Hoffmann-la Roche on natural product syntheses with broad anticancer or antibiotic therapeutic applications, prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry.