Challenges & Opportunities in Neurodegenerative Diseases: perspectives from academia, entrepreneurs & non-profits

Thursday, January 30th 2020

Icahn School of Medicine at mount Sinai. Hatch Auditorium. 1468 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10029

17:30 – 21:00 (GMT-5h)

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This event aims to open a discussion between experts from different fields associated with Neurodegenerative diseases research from different approaches, therapeutics and diagnostic and in different environments, academia vs biotech.

It will present successful approaches, areas in need of improvement, current opportunities, and future challenges entrepreneurs face when entering this market.

Topics of discussion: - Neurodegenerative Diseases current market status and patient needs. - Academia vs Industry research approaches and challenges. - Non-profit approaches in patient advocacy. - First-hand experience from successful entrepreneurs. - Translate your research from the bench to the clinical trial.  


5:30 – 5:45


5:45 – 6:00

Welcoming remarks from IFNY/GRO

6:00 – 6:45

Introductory talks from panelists (5-10 mins each)

6:45 – 7:30

Panel discussion

7:30 – 8:30

Networking reception with invited speakers and other guests from biotech and industry.


Nicole Bjorklund, PhD, manages the Diagnostics Accelerator Initiative at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. In this capacity, she proactively engages promising biomarker programs and supports the development of these biomarkers for use in clinical practice for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
Dr. Bjorklund came to the ADDF from Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she was an Assistant Research Professor and Operations Director of the Biomarker and Biorepository core facilities. Her laboratories, as part of the CTSA-supported Institute of Clinical and Translational Research, supported clinical research studies at Einstein and Montefiore Medical Center. She remains an adjunct faculty member at Einstein. Dr. Bjorklund completed postdoctoral training at University of Texas Medical Branch, where she investigated molecular resistance mechanisms to Alzheimer's disease. She earned a doctorate in biochemistry at Washington State University and a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Boise State University. Dr. Bjorklund has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and New York Academy of Sciences.

Anindya Sen (preferred pronoun he/him) is an Associate Director (R&D) at Prevail Therapeutics, New York, who identifies as a queer scientist of color. Trained as a Neuroscientist, with 12+ years of scientific and managerial experience in basic research and comprehensive drug discovery. Anindya completed his graduate studies at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India, followed by Postdoctoral work at Columbia University Medical School, and Harvard University Medical School. Prior to joining Prevail Therapeutics, Anindya worked at Biogen, Cambridge MA, for 6+ years, working as a research scientist in neurodegenerative disease (ALS, PD and SMN) drug discovery. He has experience working across a number of different types of programs, spanning from discovery, pre-clinical, clinical to business development.

Anindya is also an avid traveler/birder/amateur wild-life photographer and will look for any excuse to get out to Panama, Ecuador or Costa Rica in search of a Resplendent quetzal or a Keel-billed toucan.

Liliana joined The Michael J Fox Foundation in 2016. As a Senior Associate Director, she leads the Foundation's priority interest in understanding GBA1, a major risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. She is also an active member of the Foundation Therapeutic Functional Team, leading initiatives seeking to identify promising therapies that would slow progression of Parkinson's disease and/or alleviate the symptoms. She earned her Pharmacy Degree and Ph.D. from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. After finishing the research work for her doctorate degree at UCLA, she spent over thirteen years in the biotech/CRO industry leading behavioral phenotyping, target validation and drug screening programs on animal models of neurodegenerative disorders.

Leslie M Shaw, PhD, Professor, directs the Biomarker Research Laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He is co-PI and co-director of the ADNI Biomarker Core laboratory and co-leads the Biomarker Core of the UPenn ADCC. He has published more than 280 scientific papers and reviews in the peer-reviewed literature. Amongst the major interests of Dr Shaw are assessment and validation of pre-analytical steps involved in analyses of biofluids and the development and validation of methods for quantification of CSF AD biomarkers including Aβ42 and related Aβ peptides, t-tau and p-tau181 and new promising biomarkers in CSF and plasma for early disease detection. Dr Shaw is especially interested in studies on the predictive performance of AD biomarkers for AD disease progression and relationships to imaging biomarkers in AD and AD-related disorders.

Iswariya Venkataraman (Ishu Venkat) is the “Market Development Manager” in the Scientific Affairs department of EUROIMMUN US. She plays a key role in expanding the market for EUROIMMUN’s neurodegeneration assays in the United States. As part of this responsibility, she interacts with key opinion leaders in the field and builds a network to represent the scientific arm of the company.
She obtained her doctorate degree from the University of Luebeck, Germany in 2018. The field of study was Neuroscience.


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