Emerging Opportunities in Multiple Sclerosis and Neurosciences

September 24, 2020

Emerging Opportunities in Multiple Sclerosis and Neurosciences

10:30am – 12:30pm EDT | 4:30pm – 6:30pm CET | September 24, 2020

Can we build a roadmap to conquer Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease that impacts more than 2 million globally as the leading non-traumatic disability disorder in young adults? How have lessons learnt so far shed light on broader neuroscience R&D?

On September 24, join us for “Emerging Opportunities in Multiple Sclerosis and Neurosciences,” the fourth episode in our “Collaborations That Transform” webinar series.

We would like to thank BioCenturyChildren’s Tumor FoundationCLSA, InformaNew England Hemophilia Association and UK Bioindustry Association for their great support of the “Collaborations That Transform” webinar series. 


10:30 AM


Hui Cai, VP and Head of Content, WuXi AppTec, Program Chair

10:30 AM - 10:50 AM

Session I: Meeting the Challenges in MS and Neuroscience Drug Development

A conversation with Dietmar Berger, Head of Development and CMO, Sanofi; moderated by Kevin Da Silva, Chief Editor, Nature Neuroscience

10:50 AM - 11:35 AM

Session II: Clinical Prospects for a Challenging Disease

Tanuja Chitnis, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Director, Partners Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center, Massachusetts General Hospital
Mark Freedman, Professor of Neurology, University of Ottawa; Sr. Scientist, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Ari Green, Chief, Division of Neuroinflammation and Glial Biology, Medical Director, Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroinflammation Center, UCSF
Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO, National MS Society
Moderated by Mandy Jackson, Managing Editor of US Commercial News for Scrip and The Pink Sheet

11:35 AM - 12:30 PM

Session III: New Directions in MS Therapies

Joachim Herz, Professor, Molecular Genetics, Neuroscience, Neurology; Director, Center for Translational Neurodegeneration Research, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Ralph Kern, President and Chief Medical Officer, Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics
Dan Lorrain, Chief Scientific Officer, Pipeline Therapeutics
Krish Ramanathan, Global Program Head, Neuroscience and Global Drug Development, Novartis
Moderated by Richard Soll, Head of WuXi AppTec’s Boston office; Senior Advisor of Strategic Initiatives

12:30 PM


As an industry enabler, WuXi AppTec is committed to improving the lives of patients globally. We share the conviction that we must work collaboratively to solve industry-wide challenges and bring transformative medicines to patients.

We welcome you to the conversation.


Hui Cai

VP and Head of Content Division, WuXi AppTec

Dr. Hui Cai joined WuXi AppTec in 2009 as Vice President of Business Development, and is currently Vice President and Head of Content Division.

Prior to WuXi, Dr. Cai spent 10 years at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development leading multiple drug discovery programs in the therapeutic areas of inflammation and autoimmune diseases. She is a co-author and co-inventor to over 50 scientific publications and issued or pending patents. Dr. Cai is a Councilor of the American Chemical Society (ACS), a member of BayHelix, and a member of the UCSD Alumni Board. In her past capacity, she served as a Commissioner at the City of San Diego Science and Technology Commission, Chair of SABPA, and President of SDCA. Dr. Cai received her BS and MS in Chemistry from Peking University, PhD from The Scripps Research Institute, and MBA from UCSD Rady School of Management as a DLA Piper – Athena Scholar.

Kevin Da Silva

Chief Editor, Nature Neuroscience

Kevin received his BSc in pharmacology from the University of Toronto. He then obtained his PhD in neuroscience in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto where he did vaccine research on Alzheimer’s disease. As a post-doctoral fellow he continued his work on neurodegenerative disease at Sunnybrook Research Institute, investigating neurogenesis and cholinergic neuron degeneration in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. In 2009, he joined the journal Nature Medicine as an editor, where he handled research manuscripts related to immunology, neuroscience and stem cells. Since 2016, he has been the Chief Editor of Nature Neuroscience.

Dietmar Berger

Head of Development and CMO, Sanofi

Dietmar Berger is Chief Medical Officer and Head of Global Development at Sanofi. In this role, Dr. Berger leads global development science, strategy and operations for the company’s portfolio in Immunology, Hematology, Oncology, Rare Diseases, and Neurology, and oversees pharmacovigilance and medical centers of excellence. Formerly, he was Senior Vice President of Global Product Development, Clinical Science Hematology/Oncology at Genentech/Roche, and Head of Research and Development at Atara, focusing on development of T cell immunotherapies. Prior to that, he held positions of increasing responsibility at Bayer and at Amgen.

Dr. Berger completed his medical training in Freiburg (Germany), Basel (Switzerland) and Chicago (United States) and holds an M.D. and Ph.D. from the Albert-Ludwigs University School of Medicine. He has more than 25 years of experience in oncology research and development, including as Head of the Clinical Research Center at the University Medical Hospital, Freiburg, Germany. Dr. Berger has led academic research groups focusing on preclinical drug development, tumor models, angiogenesis, and immunotherapy in Germany, and at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA. He received the Cancer Award of the German Cancer Society for his research on angiogenesis and has authored more than 50 scientific publications and five books.

Ralph Kern

President and Chief Medical Officer, Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics

Ralph Kern MD MHSc is President and Chief Medical Officer of BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics. His industry experience includes senior executive roles at Biogen, Novartis and Genzyme. Prior to joining industry, he was head of the post graduate academic neurology program at the University of Toronto. He completed neurology training at McGill University and the University College London, fellowship training in neuromuscular disease, and the MHSc program in Health Administration from the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Joachim Herz

Professor, Molecular Genetics, Neuroscience, Neurology; Director, Center for Translational Neurodegeneration Research, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Joachim Herz is a Professor of Molecular Genetics, Neuroscience, Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and the Director of the Center for Translational Neurodegeneration Research at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center. He graduated from Medical School in Heidelberg, Germany in 1983. After residencies in Germany and the U.K. he joined the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) as a postdoctoral fellow, where he began his work on LDL receptor-related proteins and their diverse biological functions in development, the vasculature and the peripheral and central nervous system. His current research focuses on the role of LDL receptor-related proteins as ApoE receptors and modulators of synaptic neurotransmission in the pathogenesis of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and as immunomodulators at the vascular/neurovascular interface. He also investigates the cell biological basis of a form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration that is caused by haploinsufficiency in progranulin and explores therapeutic approaches to correct this genetic deficiency.

Ari Green

Chief, Division of Neuroinflammation and Glial Biology, Medical Director, Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroinflammation Center, UCSF

Dr. Ari Green is a neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist. He is Chief of the Division of Neuroimmunology and Glial Biology where he leads a program of more than 20 faculty members as they search for treatments for MS and other neuroinflammatory and glia related degenerative disorders of the Central Nervous System. dr. Green also medical director of the UCSF MS and Neuroinflammation Center, Co-founder and Co-director of the Small Molecule Program got Remyelination and Director of the Neurodiagnostic Center.

Green’s research focuses on developing tests that help bring reparative treatments to patients with MS and halt neurodegeneration in patients with diseases that cause neurological injury. His work aims to advance treatments that would enable recovery after injury to the myelin sheath — the protective layer around nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.

Green has led a team dedicated to bringing advanced imaging and electrophysiological measures of the visual system and brain to the clinic. His team pioneered early-stage testing of promising new treatments for optic neuritis, MS and other diseases of the central nervous system. In his laboratory, Green supervises postdoctoral fellows and students on projects related to this work.

Green earned his medical degree at Duke University School of Medicine, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow for two years. He then completed his residency in neurology at UCSF, where he spent time as chief resident, followed by UCSF fellowships in neuroimmunology and neuro-ophthalmology. In 2005 the American Academy of Neurology and National Multiple Sclerosis Society named Green their first joint clinical research fellow.

Green is a Full Professor at UCSF and holds the title of Debbie and Andy Rachleff Distinguished Professor of Neurology. He was a prior Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar. He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society and Association for Clinical and Translational Science. He is also associate editor of JAMA Neurology.

Mark Freedman

Professor of Neurology, University of Ottawa; Sr. Scientist, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Mark Freedman is Professor of Medicine (Neurology) at the University of Ottawa, Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at the Ottawa Hospital-General Campus.

His extensive research includes molecular neurochemistry, cellular immunology, and clinical studies in MS. His basic science interest concerns immune mechanisms of damage in MS, with a particular interest in the role of the innate immune system such as gamma-delta T-cells. His main clinical interests are cell-based therapies for MS. He was the lead investigator of the Canadian Bone Marrow Transplant Study in MS and he co-heads an international study of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of MS. He is the current President- Elect of ACTRIMS.

Tanuja Chitnis

Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Tanuja Chitnis a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Senior Scientist within the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at BWH where she created the Translational Neuroimmunology Research Center focused on bringing bench discoveries to clinical trials for multiple sclerosis and related diseases. She a board-certified neurologist specializing in multiple sclerosis (MS) with a dual appointment at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. In addition, she serves as the Director of the CLIMB Natural History of MS study at the Partners MS Center, which is located within the Neurosciences Center at BWH. CLIMB follows over 2400 MS patients longitudinally. Here she oversees a team of analysts and postdoctoral fellows working to identify biomarkers precision treatment in MS patients, and immune mechanisms of MS risk and disease course. Her interest in children with MS led her to start the Partners Pediatric MS Center at MassGeneral Hospital for Children where she serves as the Director. Between 2010-2018, she served as the elected Chair of the International Pediatric MS Study Group, where she has led several initiatives in the study of MS in children including the launch of the first clinical trials in this population, leading to the first FDA-approved therapy for this disease. She has authored over 250 publications and reviews related to MS and demyelinating disorders, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Neurology and Journal of Neuroscience. She serves on the advisory board and steering committee of several MS-related organizations and studies including ACTRIMS, U.S. Network of Pediatric MS Centers, and the National MS Society. She receives grant funding from the Department of Defense, NIH, National MS Society, Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation, and is the co-PI of a large study of SysteMS biology in MS sponsored by Verily. She is the recipient of several awards including the Joseph Martin Award for Clinical Research in 2019 from the Scientific Advisory Council at MGH, and the 2018 Milestones Award from the National MS Society.

Cyndi Zagieboylo

President and CEO, National MS Society

Cyndi Zagieboylo became president and CEO of the National MS Society in 2011. Her Society career started in 1985 and she has worked with every CEO of the organization including founder, Sylvia Lawry. Ensuring people affected by MS can live their best lives while providing leadership on a global basis to reach a world free of MS is her life’s work.

Cyndi serves on the Society’s National Board of Directors and on the MS International Federation Board of Directors. She is a founding member and executive committee chair of the International Progressive MS Alliance which was launched in 2013. The Alliance expedites the development of therapies for progressive MS and currently includes membership from 18 countries and 6 industry partners.

She is passionate about building the MS movement, amplifying the voices of people affected by MS to influence lawmakers, and ensuring people affected by MS know that they have a supportive partner in their life journeys through a nationwide MS Navigator service.

Cyndi received her bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and psychology from Springfield College, followed by a master’s degree in social psychology from the University of Connecticut.

Mandy Jackson

Managing Editor of US Commercial News for Scrip and The Pink Sheet

Mandy Jackson is Managing Editor, US Commercial News, for Scrip and The Pink Sheet. Mandy reports on daily biopharma developments, writes feature stories, produces the Finance Watch column and oversees Emerging Company Profiles. She covers finance, start-ups, dealmaking, clinical trial results, commercial competition and corporate strategy.

Mandy regularly interviews everyone from big pharma CEOs to biotech start-up founders, enhancing her expertise on industry trends and market dynamics. She also is interested in drug pricing and novel reimbursement strategies, new treatments in areas of true unmet need, diversity in the biopharma industry and novel approaches to drug development. She has been a business reporter since 2000, covering biopharma, biotech law and commercial real estate.

Krish Ramanathan

Global Program Head, Neuroscience and Global Drug Development, Novartis

Krishnan (Krish) Ramanathan, is currently Global Program Head in Neuroscience in the Novartis Development Unit. His responsibility includes taking medicines in late stage of research in neuroscience and developing them for regulatory submission and commercial launch. He was responsible for overseeing the registration of Kesimpta®, recently approved by US FDA for adults with relapsing multiple sclerosis.

Krish has an academic background in Biomedical Engineering. He completed his degrees in Master of Science in Engineering and a Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. He specialized in the area of neuroscience and studied some of the fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying the process of “hearing” different frequencies of sound.

Since obtaining his Ph.D. Krish has spent majority of his time working in the Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology area. He has covered different disease areas in Pharmaceuticals, different functional roles and different geographies. He started his professional career with McKinsey & Company based in Chicago, then moved onto GlaxoSmithKline based in Philadelphia, and had a brief stint in Nuvelo, based in San Carlos, before joining Novartis in Cambridge USA.

Prior to his current role in Novartis, Krish spent 3 years based in Moscow, Russia, where he was the Chief Scientific Officer for the Russian affiliate of Novartis Pharma AG. His previous experiences include therapeutic areas in cardio-metabolic diseases, immunology, dermatology, and infectious diseases. Krish is passionate about translating complex science into stories that everybody can appreciate.

Dan Lorrain

Chief Scientific Officer, Pipeline Therapeutics

Daniel is a founding executive team member of Pipeline Therapeutics where he currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer. Pipeline is creating a portfolio of first-in-class small molecule therapeutics with the goal of restoring function through remyelination, synaptogenesis, and axonal repair. Previously, he was VP of Biology at Inception Sciences — a Versant Ventures discovery engine — where he led all aspects of biology and non-clinical pharmacology, including the acquisition of the remyelination company Inception 5 by Roche pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Inception, Dan was Senior Director of Pharmacology at Amira Pharmaceuticals and contributed to the discovery of several clinical stage small molecule therapeutics to treat inflammation and fibrosis. Notably, he led the efforts of the LPA1R program that was acquired by BMS. Prior to that, he was a Research Fellow at Merck where he contributed to early CNS drug discovery. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago and received a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Buffalo.

Richard Soll

Head of WuXi AppTec’s Boston office; Senior Advisor of Strategic Initiatives

Dr. Richard Soll is presently Senior Advisor, Strategic Initiatives for the Research Service Division at WuXi AppTec and Head of the WuXi office in Boston, Massachusetts. He has held various leadership roles at WuXi as Senior Vice President including head of the medicinal chemistry unit known as the International Discovery Service Unit, business development, and corporate alliances.

Dr. Soll’s contributions led to the discovery of the HCV NS5A inhibitor elbasvir (a component of Zepatier®) in the Merck-WuXi partnership, the JAK2 inhibitor fedratinib at TargeGen which formed the basis of the $7B partnership between Celgene and Impact Biomedicines, and more than 10 other clinical stage drugs throughout his career.

Dr. Soll is currently a board member at Simcha Therapeutics, an board observer at the Accelerator Life Science Parnters, and an advisory board member with the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery at Tel Aviv University, the Children’s Tumor Foundation, and the Pistoia Alliance.

Dr. Soll was CSO / VP of R&D at TargeGen and was VP of Chemistry at 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals. He started his career at Ayerst Research Labs and was trained as a synthetic chemist at Dartmouth and Harvard.

Subscribe to WXPress

Receive our newsletter and information on upcoming events.