West Coast CNS Therapeutics Xchange
San Francisco
29 September, 2022

Welcome to hubXchange’s West Coast CNS Therapeutics Xchange 2022, bringing together executives from pharma and biotech to address and find solutions to the key issues faced in developing CNS therapies.
Discussion topics will cover Novel Targets, Preclinical, Clinical Studies, Advanced Therapies and Drug Delivery.
Take advantage of this unique highly interactive meeting format designed for maximum engagement, collaboration and networking with your peers.

NOTE: This will be an In-Person event

VENUE DETAILS: DoubleTree by Hilton San Francisco Airport Hotel, 835 Airport Blvd., Burlingame CA 94010-9949

Novel Targets

Titles and Bullets
8:00 – 8:30am
8:30 – 9:00am
Opening Address & Keynote: Application of a versatile rodent operant platform to drug discovery today 

Operant conditioning procedures have played an important role in psychopharmacology research both in academic and applied drug discovery settings. The purpose of this presentation is to describe three examples from a rodent based operant platform separately established both at IVS and TPH, and now combined into a single unit within the merged company, has contributed to recent CNS drug discovery efforts.

  • The VMAT2 inhibitor tetrabenazine as a translational approach to discover new treatments for depression.
  • Operant procedures designed to investigate both “micro” and “macro” dose psychedelics.
  • Development of an operant platform approach to discover new treatments for ADHD

Chief Scientific Officer, Transpharmation

Guy Higgins has 30 years international experience in CNS R&D with major pharmaceutical companies (Glaxo-Wellcome,
Hoffmann-La Roche, Schering-Plough, NPS Pharmaceuticals). He has success in developing translational models and bringing multiple NCEs to clinical development. Guy is also the Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology, U. Toronto, with 100+ peer-reviewed papers in Neuroscience Drug Discovery.

Guy Higgins

9:05 – 10:05am

Novel Targets in Neurodegeneration Therapeutics

  • Why are we not trying to do more with focus on the lives of patient in such dire symptomatic and QOL need right now, rather than placing so many bets and so much investment (human and financial) on ‘pie in the sky’ wishful thinking and false promises of disease modification
  • Is the complex and heterocellular nature of cerebral function, and accordingly neurodegenerative pathobiology, too challenging for focuses on reductionist monogenic or single cell-type approaches to novel therapy?  
  • In the face of such dismal failure in targeting protein pathobiological byproducts of neurodegeneration for therapeutics, have we gone remotely close enough to understand the earliest changes occurring in the brains of the most prevalent, sporadic neurodegenerative diseases to identify truly transformational approaches to disease
  • How can we continue to focus so heavily on ‘novel’ disease modifying targets in degeneration when there is so little translational evidence for their role in causing the underlying loss of function, and so few markers to reliably predict potential for offering benefit? 
  • Are there any common mechanistic threads that can connect therapeutic approaches more broadly, for greater potential to achieve greatest impact in neurodegeneration (lumping rather than splitting)?

President & CEO, Curasen Therapeutics Inc.

Anthony Ford has over 30 years of neuroscience discovery & development experience from leading biopharma companies, and is CEO of CuraSen Therapeutics, which he co-founded as venture partner for NLV Partners in 2018. Prior to CuraSen, he was founder and CSO for Afferent Pharmaceuticals, and led development of first-in-class P2X3 antagonists for sensory conditions until the company’s acquisition by Merck in 2016. Previously, he held positions at Roche Pharmaceuticals (Palo Alto) over 20 years, including head of neuroscience, initiating and driving innovative programs in neurobiology. Dr. Ford trained in pharmacology / neuroscience at Universities of Bradford and Nottingham, UK and has published extensively with focus on therapeutics for poorly addressed neuroscience diseases.

Anthony Ford
10:10 – 10:40am
10:40 – 11:10am
1-2-1 Meetings / Networking Break
1-2-1 Meetings / Networking 
11:10 – 11:20am
Morning Refreshments
12:20 – 1:20pm
Networking Lunch
1:20pm – 1:50pm

Spotlight Presentation: Enhanced Delivery of Biotherapeutics in Nonhuman Primates

  • Altasciences Preclinical Services
  • Specialized delivery methods in nonhuman primates
  • Case studies: Gene Therapy & Stem Cell Transplantation

Vice President Toxicology, Altasciences

Norbert Makori is Vice President of Toxicology, Altasciences. He has over 20 years of industry experience as a toxicologist (general and reproductive toxicology) and immunotoxicology, including study director role and management. Prior to joining Altasciences, Norbert was Director of the General Toxicology group at Charles River Laboratories in Ashland, Ohio. Prior to that, he held the position of Director of Toxicology and Immunotoxicology at WIL Research Laboratories. Norbert is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT), trained as a veterinarian and has a PhD in Comparative Pathology from the University of California in Davis.

Norbert Makori

1:55 – 2:55pm

Utility or Futility of target-based screening for identifying disease-modifying therapies for CNS disorders

  • Has the deconvolution of human disease biology and human genetics led to the identification of promising drug targets for CNS disease?
  • Will target-based virtual database screening and in silico molecular design live up to the promise of dramatically shortening drug development timelines and reducing R&D expenses?
  • Will AlphaFold live up the hype and revolutionize drug discovery?
  • Because preclinical animal models are poor predictors of human efficacy in the clinic is there a compelling need to develop in vitro human disease models?
  • What is the status of iPSC-based disease modeling and drug discovery for CNS disorders?
  • Can functional phenotypic screening of patient-derived brain organoids identify promising disease-modifying targets and therapeutic candidates for CNS disorders?

Chief Scientific Officer, Vyant Bio

Robert Fremeau is an experienced R&D leader with over two decades of drug discovery experience in academia and industry advancing next-gen drug development for severe neurological disorders. He is an accomplished scientist and biotech entrepreneur with an established history of scientific innovation and program leadership at the intersection of target discovery and validation, translation, and clinical development. As a Scientific Director at Amgen Inc., he led and contributed to multiple teams that advanced small molecules into clinical trials against innovative targets across neurological indications. Throughout his academic career at Duke University and UCSF, Dr. Fremeau made seminal contributions to the first molecular and functional characterization of the receptors and transporters for the biogenic amine and amino acid neurotransmitters. Dr. Fremeau holds numerous patents and has offered over 65 peer-reviewed publications in high impact scientific journals.

Robert Fremeau
3:00 – 3:30pm
3:30 – 4:00pm
1-2-1 Meetings / Networking Break
1-2-1 Meetings / Networking Break
4:00 – 4:10pm
Afternoon Refreshments
4:10– 4:40pm

Preclinical Topic: Brain-Wide Cellular Resolution Measurement of Therapeutic Distribution, Target Engagement and Efficacy Using Tissue Clearing and Machine Learning-Enabled Software

  • Recent advances in optical clearing and light sheet imaging have opened an exciting new avenue for neuroscientists, providing access to the intricate anatomy of intact brain
  • The Translucence Biosystems pipeline provides unbiased and complete cellular resolution measurements of brain-wide therapeutic distribution and efficacy in pre-clinical rodent brains
  • We will show examples of our methods helping CNS drug discovery efforts
    visualizing Ab therapeutics crossing the BBB, measuring β-Amyloid plaques in AD model mice and examining brain-wide effects of small molecules on neuronal activity
  • The discussion will focus on the needs in CNS Drug Discovery for better pre-
    clinical measures of therapeutics in the brain and cases where tissue clearing
    and light sheet imaging may or may not be appropriate

CEO, Translucence Biosystems

Damian Wheeler is the co-Founder and CEO of Translucence Biosystems. As a
neuroscientist with more than 25 years of research experience, both in academia and in
drug discovery, Damian’s focus is on developing and commercializing the next-
generation technologies to advance neuroscience research and accelerate CNS drug
discovery. During his Ph.D. studies at McGill University and Post-Doc at Stanford,
Damian became a leading expert in the signaling mechanisms by which neuronal
activity activates gene transcription. He then spent 9 years at Dart NeuroScience
developing cognition-enhancing drugs that engage these mechanisms. In mid-2018,
Damian co-founded Translucence Biosystems Sunil Gandhi and Ricardo Azevedo.


Damian Wheeler photo

4:45 – 5:45pm

Emerging non-Amyloid targets for Alzheimer’s disease

  • Given the continuing reports of negative studies, is the amyloid hypothesis dead?
  • How can we advance our understanding of Alzheimer’s biology beyond amyloid? AI/ML? Novel biomarkers?
  • How can small or emerging biotechs advance their innovative hypotheses?

Vice President Clinical Development, Neuroscience & Rare Disease, Recursion

Glenn Morrison is a neuroscientist by training and has over 20 years experience in clinical development. He is currently VP Clinical Development, Neuroscience and Rare Diseases at Recursion. Before joining Recursion, Glenn was leading clinical development at both small and large bio-pharma companies. Most notably, as VP of Global Clinical Development at Zogenix, he led clinical development efforts to deliver FDA and EMA approvals of fenfluramine for Dravet syndrome, and led development efforts to support FDA and EMA submission and future approval for Lennox Gastaut Syndrome. He spent six years at Roche/Genentech where he led the Phase 3 global implementation for two anti-amyloid antibodies in Alzheimer’s disease. Other relevant therapeutic area experience includes Down syndrome, Autism, Fragile X, MS and spinal cord related spasticity, and ALS. Glenn earned his BSc, and MSc and PhD in neurobiology all from the University of Toronto, and did post-doctoral research at UCLA.

Glenn Morisons
5:45 – 6:45pm
Closing Address & Canape/Drinks Reception


CNS Therapeutics Xchange | West Coast 2022