Scientific Advisory Board

ARON H. LICHTMAN

Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Lichtman’s research focuses is in the area of behavioral pharmacology, with an emphasis on the investigation of the endogenous cannabinoid system.

His NIDA-supported research has resulted in the publication of over 150 peer-review articles that have revealed: 1) the physiological functions of the endocannabinoid system; 2) the neural substrates and mechanisms of action underlying cannabinoid-induced behaviors; and 3) the consequences of chronic cannabinoid administration (i.e., dependence). His research utilizes a collaborative multidisciplinary approach examining the relationship between the pharmacological effects of cannabinoids on behavior and the underlying biochemical/molecular processes. His research group has provided proof of principle that the endogenous cannabinoid system can be harnessed to modulate drug dependence, pain and inflammation, and extinction of aversive memories. The long-term goal of the Lichtman research program is to increase understanding of the physiological functions of the endogenous cannabinoid system and to contribute to the development of cannabinoid-based medications for the treatment of pain and inflammatory disorders, psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.

Dr. Lichtman earned his B.A. in Psychology at Rutgers College in 1984 and proceeded to earn his Ph.D. in Psychology with Drs. Michael Fanselow and Catherine Cramer at Dartmouth College in 1989. He received postdoctoral training from 1989-1993 in pharmacology under the mentorship of the late Dr. Billy R. Martin at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He then joined the faculty at VCU, where he was ultimately awarded tenure and rose up through the ranks to Professor. Dr. Lichtman was recognized for outstanding research contributions made to the cannabinoid field by winning the 2013 Mechoulam Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society. He is also a dedicated to teacher and was recognized by the VCU School of Medicine that same year with the Distinguished Mentor Award.

BENJAMIN F. CRAVATT, PH.D.

Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Physiology
at The Scripps Research Institute

Dr. Cravatt’s research group is interested in understanding the roles that enzymes play in physiological and pathological processes, especially as pertains to the nervous system and cancer. To address this challenge, they develop and apply an array of biochemical, chemical, and genetic technologies.

The Cravatt group has obtained fundamental insights into the chemical, biochemical, and physiological workings of several important mammalian serine hydrolases, including enzymes involved in the neurobiology of pain and in proteases associated with tumor progression.Dr. Cravatt obtained his undergraduate education at Stanford University, receiving a B.S. in the Biological Sciences and a B.A. in History. He then trained with Drs. Dale Boger and Richard Lerner and received a Ph.D. in Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in 1996. Professor Cravatt joined the faculty at TSRI in 1997 as a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and the departments of Cell Biology and Chemistry. His honors include a Searle Scholar Award (1998-2001), the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (2004), a Cope Scholar Award (2005), the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award (2007) and the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry (2008).

DALE BOGER

Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute

Dale Boger received his B.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas (1975, with highest distinction and honors in chemistry) and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University (1980) under the direction of E. J. Corey.

He returned to the University of Kansas as a member of the faculty in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry (1979-1985), moved to the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University (1985-1991), and joined the faculty in the newly created Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute (1991-present) as the Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry. Professor Boger is internationally recognized for his work in organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, heterocyclic chemistry, natural products total synthesis and biological evaluation, synthetic methodology development, and combinatorial chemistry and has made seminal contributions to the understanding of the interaction of biologically active molecules with their targets (e.g., DNA-drug interactions of naturally occurring antitumor drugs, glycopeptide antibiotic binding with bacterial cell wall precursors). He was a founder of CombiChem, a long term consultant to several major pharmaceutical companies (Dupont/Dupont-Merck, J&J), a Scientific Advisory Board member for many biotech firms (Rib-X, Conforma, Neurocrine, 3D Pharmecueticals), has served as an advisor to more than 50 PhD and 150 postdoctoral students, and is the coauthor of more than 500 publications and 2 books. He was the founder Editor and continues to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters.
JULES A. HOFFMAN, PH.D.

Distinguished Class Research Director at CNRS, French National Center of Scientific Research (Emeritus) and Group Leader, Past President of the French National Academy of Sciences, and Professor of Biology at the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Science

Dr. Hoffmann’s research has focused on studies of the development and the defense reactions of insects. In exploring the potent antimicrobial mechanisms of Drosophila as a paradigm for innate immune defenses, he and his group have determined the role of Toll receptors in fighting infections.

Dr. Hoffmann received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Strasbourg. He completed postdoctoral studies at the Institut für Physiologische Chemie at Philipps Universität in Marburg an der Lahn, Germany. He is a Member of the French National Academy of Sciences, where he served as Vice-President (2005-06) and President (2007-08). He is also a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Dr. Hoffmann is a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of many international awards including the Canada Gairdner Award (2011), the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (2011), the Alexander von Humbold Price, the Robert Koch Prize, and the Lewis Rosenstiel Prize. Dr. Hoffmann has published over 250 articles and edited several volumes.

NANCY A. THORNBERRY

Senior Level Life Sciences Executive

Nancy A. Thornberry was formerly Senior Vice President and Franchise Head, Diabetes and Endocrinology, for Merck & Co. Inc. In this role, she led discovery and clinical research in diabetes, osteoporosis, fertility and contraception.

Her research at Merck focused largely on the role of enzymes in disease and the identification of therapeutic approaches to enzyme targets, and included work on the caspase family of cysteine proteases, and the dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) project, which resulted in the discovery of JANUVIA® for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

RUDOLPH E. TANZI, PH.D.

Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at the Massachusetts General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease

Dr. Tanzi’s research is focused on identifying and characterizing gene mutants and variations that are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. His group discovered mutations in three genes, amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin (PS)-1 and (PS)-2, that cause early-onset familial Alzheimer’s Disease. His lab is developing several potential treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr Tanzi’s group has also discovered genes implicated in other neurological disorders, such as Wilson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and autism.

Dr. Tanzi received a B.S. from the University of Rochester with a double major in microbiology and history and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from Harvard University. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Metropolitan Life Foundation Award for Medical Research and The Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick’s, Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders. In addition, he is a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and chairs the Research Consortium at Cure Alzheimer’s Fund where he heads the Alzheimer’s Genome Project.

Dr. Tanzi serves on many editorial boards, including Genomind Scientific Advisory Board, Prana Biotechnology R&D Advisory Board, and Lifeboat Foundation Advisory Board. He has published over 300 research articles and co-authored two books, ‘Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease’ and ‘Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being;’ the latter was made into a PBS special.

BARRY J. GERTZ, MD, PHD

Strategic Consultant, Drug Development

Barry started his career at Merck nearly 28 years ago in Clinical Pharmacology, ultimately heading this department and all aspects of early development including a laboratory dedicated to biomarker evaluation and quantification. Over more than a decade, Barry participated in or directly supervised early development work on more than 80 new molecular entities.

Barry’s portfolio subsequently expanded beyond early development and for12 years, as Senior Vice President, Global Clinical Development, Barry had oversight of those departments responsible for the design, analysis, reporting and execution of all clinical trials required for the registration and life cycle management of new molecules.

Most recently, Barry was enlisted to lead a newly created department devoted to observational research and the emerging use of real world data. Barry has coauthored over a hundred scientific publications and has been a contributor to the evaluation and approval of more than 23 new drugs or vaccines, with 3 new molecular entities currently under regulatory review.

Barry completed his undergraduate degree in chemistry and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. He subsequently received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine with his Ph.D. in the Department of Pharmacology. His medical training included a residency in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which was followed by a fellowship and subsequent faculty appointment in the UCSF Department of Endocrinology.

CHRISTOPHER T. WALSH, PH.D.

Hamilton Kuhn Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School (HMS)

Dr. Walsh’s research spans the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine. Projects focus on the chemical logic and enzymatic machinery of life, mechanism-based enzyme inhibitors, and biosynthesis and mechanism of action of natural antibiotics and antitumor agents.

Dr. Walsh’s career has spanned both academic research and academic administration; the latter includes stints as Chair of MIT Chemistry department at MIT (1982- 1987), Chair of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department at HMS (1987 – 1995), and President and CEO of Dana Farber Cancer Institute (1992 – 1995). Dr. Walsh earned an A.B. in biology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in life sciences from The Rockefeller University and completed postdoctoral work at Brandeis University. He has co-authored almost 800 research papers and books. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

For over 30 years, Dr. Walsh has consulted with government, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and biotechs. At present, he is a member of the Board of Directors of Ironwood, Achaogen and Proteostasis, as well as on the Scientific Advisory Boards of Eisai, Epizyme, Verastem, and LS9. He is also involved with several nonprofit organizations, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Scientific Review Board), Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Scientific Advisory Committee) and Calibr (Scientific Advisory Board Chair).

JOHN W. KOZARICH

Chairman and President of ActivX Biosciences, Inc., La Jolla, CA.

John W. Kozarich’s research over the years has focused on the mechanisms of enzyme and drug action.

He received a B.S. in Chemistry from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from MIT. Following postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Harvard, he entered the ranks of academia (1977-94), ultimately holding full professorships in Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine and in Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park. A sabbatical in 1990 as CSO of a start-up biotech company Alkermes, in Cambridge, MA motivated him to explore other venues for his chemical interests. In 1992, he joined Merck Research Labs as Vice President of Biochemistry, having responsibility for a broad array of drug discovery programs and biotechnology collaborations and for the initial development of Merck’s Boston Research Center. In 2001 he joined ActivX, a start-up company specializing in the design of chemoproteomic tools for drug discovery. He has served on many advisory committees in the academic, professional society, government and business sectors. He was an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Awardee (1983-88) and received the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry (1988) by the American Chemical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a recent recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award of the San Diego Section of the American Chemical Society. In addition to his role at ActivX, he is Chairman of the Board at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Chief Scientific Advisor at Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co. (Tokyo), Adjunct Professor of Chemical Physiology at The Scripps Research Institute and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences.

KAREN SEIBERT, PH.D.

Director of Genomics and Pathology Services, Professor, Department of Pathology and Immunology, Department of Genetics

Dr. Karen Seibert is currently Professor of Pathology and Immunology, Professor of Genetics and Director of Genomics and Pathology Services (GPS) at Washington University School of Medicine. As Director of GPS, she leads an effort to develop genomic-based clinical tests for use in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cancer and other diseases.

Additionally, Dr. Seibert oversees numerous clinical research programs that have potential to lead to improvements in diagnosis or treatment of disease, especially in the area of cancer and rare disease research.

Previously, Dr. Seibert spent nearly twenty years in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as Vice President of Research and Development for Pfizer at the St. Louis Laboratories. Her responsibilities included the management of research programs as they relate to multiple patient populations. While at Pfizer Dr. Seibert collaborated with leaders at Washington University to renew the long-standing Biomedical Agreement between the two institutions and served as co-chair of the collaboration’s Joint Steering Committee.
Dr. Seibert is known as one of the principal investigators who identified the arthritis and pain drug, Celebrex®. In studies initiated at Washington University in the late 1980′s, Dr. Seibert and colleagues were the first to describe a novel enzyme involved in pain and inflammation (COX-2). These discoveries led to the development of specific inhibitors of the COX-2 enzyme that provide significant improvement over current therapies for patients with arthritis.

In 2000, she was awarded the Edgar Queeny Prize by the Monsanto Company for excellence in science and technology, in recognition of her contributions to COX-2 research, and in 2002 she received the pharmaceutical industry’s Discoverer’s Award. In 2008 she was named the “St Louis Health Care Hero” for her contributions to drug discovery and development and has recently been awarded the 2013 Outstanding Scientific Leadership Award from the St Louis Academy of Science.

Dr. Seibert received her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Northwestern University, a Master of Science in pharmacology from the University of Toledo, and a PhD. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis before joining Monsanto in 1991. Dr. Seibert has delivered many papers worldwide in the areas of inflammation, pain, and cancer research and has coauthored nearly one hundred scholarly publications.
Dr. Seibert is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the St Louis YWCA, and previously served on boards for St Louis Winning Women, Lydia’s House, the United Way of St Louis Executive Leadership Team and American Heart Association She was named a Leader of Distinction by the St Louis YWCA in 2005.

PHIL S. BARAN, PH.D.

Professor of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute and Member, Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology

Phil S. Baran is currently a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute and Member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology. Phil received his B.S. in chemistry from NYU in 1997, his Ph.D. at The Scripps Research Institute in 2001, and from 2001-2003 he was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. His independent career began in the summer of 2003 and in 2006 he was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure. In 2008 he was promoted to Full Professor and in 2009 he was appointed to the Skaggs Institute.

He has published over 120 scientific articles and has been the recipient of several ACS awards such as the Pure Chemistry (2010), Fresenius (2006), and Nobel Laureate Signature (2003) and several international distinctions such as the Hirata Gold Medal (Japan) and the Sackler Prize (Israel).  He is the recipient of numerous young investigator awards such as the Beckman and Searle scholarships and from industrial sponsors, including: Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Roche. He has delivered hundreds of lectures around the world and consults for numerous companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont, TEVA and is currently a member of the Eisai scientific advisory board. He is also the co-founder of Sirenas Marine Discovery. His laboratory is focused on the invention of new reactions of broad utility and synthesizing complex natural products in a scalable, economic fashion.

SANDER G. MILLS, PH.D.

Medicinal Chemistry & Drug Discovery Consultant

During a nearly three decade career as an organic chemist in the Merck Research Laboratories, Sandy took on a number of senior level roles, including Head of Rahway Medicinal Chemistry, Head of Global Chemistry, and most recently as Vice President and Head of Process Chemistry. His research at Merck was wide-ranging, dealing with the design and synthesis of small molecules to treat asthma, pain, HIV infection, autoimmune diseases, and CNS disorders.

Sandy was part of the team that discovered EMEND®, a substance P antagonist for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. He and his group also identified IVEMEND®, a water-soluble prodrug of EMEND® for parenteral administration. Dr. Mills has been an author or co-author on more than 90 papers in professional journals on drug design, synthetic organic chemistry and the biology of medicinally active substances. He has also been an inventor or co-inventor on eighty U.S. patents covering an array of drug candidates and synthetic methods.

After graduating from Drew University magna cum laude in chemistry, Sandy completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in Professor Peter Beak’s laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. He then carried out post-doctoral studies in the laboratories of Professor Clayton H. Heathcock at the University of California, Berkeley as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow.