My lab has addressed the role of inflammation across the spectrum of neurological disease since 1989. Our initial work mainly dealt with the mechanisms by which leukocytes entered the CNS in multiple sclerosis (MS), often using the animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). As MS became more treatable and the contribution of neuroinflammation to other neurological diseases became more salient, we expanded our view to encompass neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), tauopathy, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and ALS. Stemming from our finding that fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1) governs microglial neurotoxicity (2006), we have been continuously involved in understanding the functions of microglia in health and disease. This disease focus on neurodegeneration expanded and deepened following our move to Biogen in October, 2014.
My responsibility at Biogen as VP, and Research/Early Development Unit Head for Neuroimmunology & MS/Pain/Acute Neurology (2014-2017) entailed leading a group of >45 scientists and clinicians in finding and prosecuting neuroinflammatory targets for treatment of neurological disease and pain, and bringing those relevant for acute neurology indications through phase II proof of concept (PoC). During this time, I led the transformation of the neuroinflammation portfolio, successfully bringing 5 compounds (internally developed and externally identified) into the clinic as well as directing activities in blood-brain barrier (BBB) function, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) risk mitigation and novel screening technologies for glial targets, in addition to basic neuroinflammation biology.
My mission at Third Rock is to apply understanding of neurorinflammatory glial biology and medical knowledge to create new therapeutics for neurological disease.