Scientific Advisory Board

VADIM MAKAROV, PH.D., D.SC.

Dr Vadim Makarov is Senior Scientist in the Dept. of Stresses of Microorganisms, A.N. Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Moscow, Russian Federation. He is an expert in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design with special interest in developing antimicrobial and antiviral agents. His recent work in drug development has focused on antituberculosis drugs and as result of his efforts in cooperation with several European scientific groups (NM4TB; LSHP-CT-2005-018923) a new class of synthetic organic compounds having high antituberculosis activity in vivo and in vitro was discovered (1,3-benzothiazinones). Two compounds from this group are under in-depth preclinical investigation, with PBTZ169 being the lead candidate. Dr Makarov’s team makes extensive use of advanced methods of medicinal chemistry, rational drug design and study of metabolic transformations. He has significant experience in the “Hit-To-Lead” process that has been obtained in several successful drug development programs.

JOEL S. FREUNDLICH PH.D.

Dr. Freundlich is an associate professor of Pharmacology & Physiology and Medicine at Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. He is a faculty member of the Center for Emerging and Reemerging Pathogens. Prior to his return to academic research in 2006, he spent eight years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist. His undergraduate and master’s degree training were in chemical engineering at Cornell University as a McMullen Dean’s Scholar. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the tutelage of 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awardee Richard Schrock. An overarching goal of his current research is the discovery of small molecules that modulate novel biological targets in Mycobacetrium tuberculosis – the causative agent of tuberculosis. To accomplish their aims, his lab typically employs computational, chemical, and biological techniques. His laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

JOSHUA G. PIERCE, PH.D.

Joshua earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh before completing postdoctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA as a NIH Postdoctoral Scholar.  He started his independent career at NC State University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and has built a group of 15 graduate students and postdocs tackling cutting-edge problems at the interface of chemistry and biology/drug discovery. During his time at NC State Joshua has been awarded an NSF CAREER grant, 2 NIH R01 grants, has been selected as a University Faculty Scholar and recently was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure.  In addition to his duties in the department of Chemistry he is actively engaged in the Comparative Medicine Institute at NC State where he holds the position of Associate Director of Emerging and Infectious Diseases.  Finally, Joshua is the Founder and CEO of Synoxa Sciences, Inc., an early-stage startup company focused on developing novel small molecule antibiotics inspired by marine natural products.

NANCY S. CONNELL PH.D.

Dr. Connell is Senior Scholar, Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She was previously Professor in the Division of Infectious Disease in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (RNJMS) and the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences. She received a PhD in microbial genetics from Harvard University. Dr. Connell’s major research focus was antibacterial drug discovery in respiratory pathogens such as M. tuberculosis and B. anthracis.  She has served on a number of committees of the National Academy of Sciences, e.g., the Committee on Advances in Technology and the Prevention of their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Agents (2004), Trends in Science and Technology Relevant to the Biological Weapons Convention; an International Workshop (2010), and the Committee to Review the Scientific Approaches used in the FBI's Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis Mailings (2011).

ETHAN O. PERLSTEIN PH.D.

Dr. Perlstein is the Founder and CEO of Perlara, he is an aspiring orphan drug discoverer, evolutionary pharmacologist, and indie scientist. Ethan has a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from Harvard University, and was a Lewis-Sigler Fellow at Princeton University.

AARON MCMURTRAY MD. PH.D.

Dr. McMurtray is a board-certified neurologist with a sub-specialty in Behavioral Neurology. Dr. McMurtray earned his medical degree in 2000 at Vanderbilt University and completed neurology residency training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, followed by fellowship in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry at UCLA/West LA VA Medical Center. After completing fellowship training, Dr. McMurtray joined the faculty at the University of Hawaii where he was awarded an American Academy of Neurology Clinical Research Training Fellowship and completed a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences.  In 2012, Dr. McMurtray rejoined Harbor-UCLA Medical Center as director of the Behavioral Neurology clinic and founded a multispecialty Neuro-HIV clinic, where he instructs Neurology residents and conducts clinical research studies.  Dr. McMurtray’s primary areas of expertise include: traumatic brain injury, neuro-infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. He is a member of the American Neurological Association and the American Academy of Neurology (Behavioral Neurology, Neuro-infectious Diseases, and Government Services Sections), he is also an investigator at the Los Angeles BioMedical Research Institute and an assistant clinical professor in the Neurology department of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  His recent publications include clinical studies on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, neurocysticercosis brain infection, and complications of traumatic brain injury.

ROBERT C. REYNOLDS PH.D.

Research Professor of Chemistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and founder of the RCR Consulting Group, has a BS in chemistry from the University of Virginia and a PhD in organic chemistry from Duke University.  Dr. Reynolds has a strong background in grant writing and reviewing and also provides insight and guidance on agency policies and procedures from pre-award proposal preparation to post-award grant and contract management. He has significant experience in the life sciences, particularly relating to drug design and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as personal care products, and his clients have ranged from small and large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, large cosmetic and formulation companies, and federal agencies that include DOD and the NIH.  Dr. Reynolds has successfully managed relationships with these organizations to secure over $100M in funding for capital improvements, major scientific research programs and establishment of robust contact and chemical screening databases. He is actively involved in several NIH review committees giving him an excellent background and insight into the federal grant system including small and large grant programs.

JAMES H. WIKEL, B.S., M.S.

James H. Wikel is currently the Chief Chemistry Officer of Apex Therapeutics, Inc., Indianapolis, and Founder of Pisces Therapeutics, LLC., Rockville, MD.  He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics.  Prior to this he was Chief Technology Officer of Coalesix Inc., Cambridge, MA.  He retired in 2004 from Eli Lilly & Company as head of the Department of Structural and Computational Sciences of The Lilly Research Laboratories. He has been actively engaged in pharmaceutical research for over 40 years as both a laboratory scientist and as a scientific manager, and has 41 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 50 issued U.S. Patents.  The subject matter included in these patents and publications describe 4 molecules that underwent clinical evaluation as drug candidates and one successfully marketed agricultural product.  Mr. Wikel has a B.S. and M.S. degree in chemistry from Marshall University in WV.

Valery Tkachenko, B.S., M.S.

Valery Tkachenko is currently owner of Science Data Experts, LLC. He brings 30 years of chemistry, cheminformatics, bioinformatics, computer science and data science experience from being a research fellow work at a Moscow State University (MSU), team leader at a cheminformatics startup company (ACDLabs), scientific software developer (National Center for Biotechnology Information, NLM, NIH), Chief Technology Officer and Data Science Manager (Royal Society of Chemistry), ORISE research fellow at CDER and CBER (Food and Drug Administration). Mr. Tkachenko has a B.S. and M.S. degree from Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia.

Alex Clark Ph.D.,

Dr. Clark is the founder of Molecular Materials Informatics, Inc. He is formally trained as a synthetic organometallic chemist, and has been building computational chemistry software for two decades. In recent years he has specialized in cheminformatics products, with an emphasis on usability by chemists, advanced algorithms, visualization techniques, and data quality.

Rare Disease Advisory Board

SHARON KING

Sharon King is President of Taylor’s Tale, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 2007 by the family and friends of Taylor King of Charlotte, North Carolina, who was diagnosed with infantile Batten disease in 2006 at age 7.

Business Advisory Board 

ANDREA BARRY B.A., M.S.

Andrea Barry is the Managing Partner of Eleventh Hour Inc. She has over 20 years of successful leadership and management experience (MDL, Scitegic, Accelrys, Vertical*i and CDD). She has an earned reputation for exceeding rigorous organizational goals and objectives. Pragmatic, focused, and driven: a person recognized for “turning plans into action” while coaching and mentoring others to achieve their best.