Team

Management

Tim Kutzkey

Tim Kutzkey, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Tim Kutzkey serves as the interim Chief Executive Officer at Neurona.  He is currently a Partner at The Column Group (TCG). Since joining TCG in 2007, Dr. Kutzkey has contributed to the conception, formation, and management of many of the firm’s portfolio companies. In addition to Neurona, he is currently a Board Director of Peloton Therapeutics, a company he launched in 2010 as the President and CEO.  Dr. Kutzkey also serves on the Board of Directors of Nurix, Carmot Therapeutics, and Kallyope.

Dr. Kutzkey was formerly a scientist at KAI Pharmaceuticals, focused on the discovery and development of selective protein kinase C inhibitors. Prior to KAI, he worked at UC Berkeley as a graduate student and postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. Robert Tjian, completing his PhD in 2005. Dr. Kutzkey was previously educated at Stanford University.

Cory R. Nicholas

Cory R. Nicholas, PhD

Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Cory Nicholas is Chief Scientific Officer at Neurona Therapeutics. Prior to launching Neurona, Dr. Nicholas was a faculty member in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco where his research program was focused on elucidating the ontogeny of human cortical interneurons. Using embryonic brain development as a blueprint, Dr. Nicholas pioneered methods to derive interneuron precursors from human pluripotent stem cells and developed transplantation cell-based therapies for multiple animal models of neurological disease. He maintains an adjunct faculty appointment at the University. Dr. Nicholas’s post-doctoral studies were conducted at UCSF.  His pre-doctoral work at both UCSF and Stanford University investigated germ cell development from both primordial germline and pluripotent stem cells. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to his interest in stem cell and developmental biology, Dr. Nicholas was a member of the discovery research team at Sugen, Inc.

Catherine Priest

Catherine Priest, PhD

Vice President of Preclinical Development

Dr. Catherine Priest is head of preclinical development at Neurona Therapeutics.  Dr. Priest was most recently a Senior Science Officer at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), where she managed a grant portfolio of Translational and Clinical programs.  Previously, Dr. Priest led the preclinical cellular therapeutics group at Geron Corporation, working on treatments for spinal cord injury, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  During that time, the company developed the first successful IND application for an embryonic stem cell-derived cellular therapeutic that was approved by the FDA for use in a clinical trial.  Dr. Priest also managed a research group at Bayer Biotechnology and was an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where her lab focused on neuroendocrine modulation of behavior and neural circuitry.  Dr. Priest received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology from Kalamazoo College in Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Neuroanatomy and Cell Biology from the UCLA School of Medicine.  She did postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University and Mt. Sinai Medical School.

Ralph Brandenberger

Ralph Brandenberger, PhD

Senior Director, Process Sciences

Dr. Ralph Brandenberger serves as the Head of Process Development at Neurona Therapeutics. Prior to joining Neurona, Dr. Brandenberger was Head of Technical Operations at Baxalta Hayward, a GMP manufacturing plant of clinical stage biologics and reagents used in commercial drug substance manufacturing. He had oversight over Manufacturing Sciences, Lab Scale Operations, Analytical Sciences and GMP Cell Banking. Dr. Brandenberger was previously the Director of Process Sciences for Cellular Therapeutics at Geron Corporation. In that role, he was responsible for process development from nonclinical research through early clinical cGMP manufacture, as well as leading continuous process improvement and technology development for commercial manufacturing strategies. Dr. Brandenberger received a M.S. and Ph. D. in Cell Biology from the Biocenter of the University of Basel, Switzerland. He did his postdoctoral training at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.

Alessandro Bulfone

Alessandro Bulfone, MD

Senior Operations Manager

Dr. Alessandro Bulfone leads all the necessary operational support for the planning, prioritization, and execution of the company’s research and development programs. Most recently, Dr. Bulfone was head of the Biomedicine Department at CRS4 in Italy, an interdisciplinary research center focused on the application of state-of-the-art computational and genomic technologies in large collaborative biomedical research projects. Previously, while leading an early-stage start-up company, he contributed to the identification and early development of putative molecular biomarkers in neuro-oncology and autoimmune diseases. In his prior career as an independent research investigator, he managed research projects at Hospital San Raffaele and Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine in Milan (Italy), focused on the characterization of genes involved in early forebrain development. Dr. Bulfone earned his M.D. and completed his residency in Neurology at the University of Turin, Italy. He completed his post-doctoral training in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco contributing to the early discoveries that are being studied further at Neurona Therapeutics.

Board of Directors

Tim Kutzkey, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Tim Kutzkey serves as the interim Chief Executive Officer at Neurona. He is currently a Partner at The Column Group (TCG). Since joining TCG in 2007, Dr. Kutzkey has contributed to the conception, formation, and management of many of the firm’s portfolio companies. In addition to Neurona, he is currently a Board Director of Peloton Therapeutics, a company he launched in 2010 as the President and CEO. Dr. Kutzkey also serves on the Board of Directors of Nurix, Carmot Therapeutics, and Kallyope.

Dr. Kutzkey was formerly a scientist at KAI Pharmaceuticals, focused on the discovery and development of selective protein kinase C inhibitors. Prior to KAI, he worked at UC Berkeley as a graduate student and postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. Robert Tjian, completing his PhD in 2005. Dr. Kutzkey was previously educated at Stanford University.

David Goeddel, PhD

Board Director

Dr. David Goeddel is currently a Managing Partner at The Column Group. Dr. Goeddel was the first scientist hired by Genentech and from 1978 to 1993 served in various positions, including Staff Scientist, Director of Molecular Biology and Genentech Fellow. His pioneering work in the fields of gene cloning and expression of human proteins was the basis for five marketed therapeutics developed by Genentech, including human insulin, human growth hormone, interferon-alpha, interferon-gamma, and tissue plasminogen activator.

Dr. Goeddel co-founded Tularik in November 1991, was Vice President of Research until 1996 and CEO from 1996 – 2004, when Tularik was acquired by Amgen. He served as Amgen’s first Senior Scientific Vice President until 2006. Dr. Goeddel has received numerous scientific awards including the Scheele Medal, the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, the Inventor of the Year Award, the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award, the Howley Prize for Arthritis Research and the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds a BA in Chemistry from UCSD and a PhD in Biochemistry from U. of Colorado.

Dr. Goeddel serves on the Board of Directors of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Igenica Biotherapeutics (Chairman), NGM Biopharmaceuticals (Chairman), Nurix, and Peloton Therapeutics, where he is also a Scientific Advisor.

Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD

Co-Founder, Board Director and Scientific Advisor

Dr. Arnold Kriegstein is currently the John Bowes Distinguished Professor in Stem Cell and Tissue Biology and Founding Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kriegstein’s research focuses on how neural stem and progenitor cells in the embryonic brain produce neurons and ways to translate this information for cell-based therapies to treat diseases of the nervous system. His lab found that radial glial cells are neuronal stem cells in the developing brain and also identified a second type of precursor cell produced by radial glial cells responsible for generating specific neuronal subtypes. He has recently begun to characterize the progenitor cells within the developing human brain, to determine the genetic profiles of specific progenitor populations, and to explore how these cells contribute to the enormous expansion of neuron number that characterizes the human cerebral cortex.

Dr. Kriegstein joined the Neurology Department at UCSF in 2004 and has held academic appointments at Stanford University, Yale University, and Columbia University. He received his BA from Yale University and his MD and PhD degrees from New York University in 1977 where his thesis advisor was Dr. Eric Kandel. He subsequently completed Residency training in Neurology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Dr. Kriegstein has received numerous awards including the Stanford University William M. Hume Faculty Scholar and two Javits Awards from the NIH. He was elected to the National Institute of Medicine in 2008.

Leo Guthart, PhD

Board Director

Dr. Leo A. Guthart currently manages Topspin Partners, a venture capital fund and Topspin Partners LBO, a buyout fund. The funds are both based on Long Island and invest approximately $600 million with principal focus in the venture area on biotechnology, computer security and rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. Dr. Guthart served as a Director of Aragon Pharmaceuticals (sold to Johnson & Johnson) and Seragon Pharmaceuticals (sold to Roche-Genentech). He is presently a Director of Peloton Pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Guthart was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hofstra University from 1993-1996, and is currently a member of the Hofstra Board of Trustees. He serves as Treasurer of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and is a member of its Executive Committee, an Overseer of the Hofstra-NSLIJ Medical School and a Trustee Emeritus of the Stony Brook Foundation. He was inducted into the Long Island Technology Hall of Fame. He was a Founding Director of the Long Island Research Institute and was a Trustee of the Acorn Funds, a leading growth-oriented family of mutual funds. He is a Director of AptarGroup, Inc. (NYSE), an international producer of dispensing valves, pumps and closures for pharmaceuticals and perfumes. He served as Chairman of the Security and Fire Solutions Group of Honeywell International. Until its sale to Honeywell in 2000, he served as Vice Chairman of Pittway Corporation and Chief Executive Officer of its Security Group of Companies. He also served as Chairman of Cylink Corporation for many years. Cylink was the first to offer electronic public key encryption to the commercial market.

Dr. Guthart is a graduate of Harvard College where he received a BA degree in Physics and of Harvard Business School where he was a George F. Baker Scholar and received both an MBA and a Doctorate in Business Administration with a specialty in Corporate Finance. Dr. Guthart served on the faculty of Harvard Business School and was a Ford Foundation Fellow performing research on corporate share repurchases. His articles on share repurchases have been published in the Harvard Business Review, the Financial Analysts Journal and the Journal of Finance.

Stephen Hauser, MD

Board Director

Stephen L. Hauser, M.D. is the Robert A. Fishman Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. A neuroimmunologist, Dr. Hauser’s research has advanced our understanding of the genetic basis, immune mechanisms, and treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Hauser is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Physicians, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (Chair of Committee on Gulf War and Health Outcomes [2009] and Chair of Committee on Long Term Effects of Blast Exposure [2014]). He also serves the Veterans Administration as Chair of the VA Secretary’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses. He is an editor of the textbook Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, and has served as editor-in-chief of Annals of Neurology (2008-2014). He is a former President of the American Neurological Association and President of the Medical Staff at UCSF. He also serves on several scientific advisory boards for nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Hauser has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the NIH, the John Dystel Prize and the Charcot Award for Multiple Sclerosis Research. In April 2010 Dr. Hauser was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues charged with advising the President on issues that may emerge from advances in biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.

He is a graduate of MIT (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Medical School (Magna Cum Laude). He trained in internal medicine at the New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center, in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and in immunology at Harvard Medical School and the Institute Pasteur in Paris, France, and was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School before moving to UCSF.

Scientific Advisory Board

Arnold Kriegstein, MD, PhD

Co-Founder, Board Director and Scientific Advisor

Dr. Arnold Kriegstein is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and the John Bowes Distinguished Professor in Stem Cell and Tissue Biology and Founding Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Kriegstein’s research focuses on how neural stem and progenitor cells in the embryonic brain produce neurons and ways to translate this information for cell-based therapies to treat diseases of the nervous system. His lab found that radial glial cells are neuronal stem cells in the developing brain and also identified a second type of precursor cell produced by radial glial cells responsible for generating specific neuronal subtypes. He has recently begun to characterize the progenitor cells within the developing human brain, to determine the genetic profiles of specific progenitor populations, and to explore how these cells contribute to the enormous expansion of neuron number that characterizes the human cerebral cortex.

Dr. Kriegstein joined the Neurology Department at UCSF in 2004 and has held academic appointments at Stanford University, Yale University, and Columbia University. He received his BA from Yale University and his MD and PhD degrees from New York University in 1977 where his thesis advisor was Dr. Eric Kandel. He subsequently completed Residency training in Neurology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Dr. Kriegstein has received numerous awards including the Stanford University William M. Hume Faculty Scholar and two Javits Awards from the NIH. He was elected to the National Institute of Medicine in 2008.

Arturo Álvarez-Buylla, PhD

Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor

Dr. Arturo Álvarez-Buylla is a Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also serves as the Heather and Melanie Muss Endowed Chair and Principal Investigator in the Brain Tumor Research Center. Dr. Álvarez-Buylla’s research specializes in developmental neuroscience and stem cell neurobiology with special interests in neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain, the assembly of the brain circuits, origin of brain tumors, and interneuron transplantation. His research identified the neural stem cells in the adult brain, their origin in the embryo, long-range neuronal migration in the postnatal brain and new mechanisms of neuronal translocation. His laboratory also identified the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) as a source of young neurons that after transplantation can migrate and integrate in the postnatal and adult brain. In collaboration with other groups at UCSF, his laboratory has shown that MGE cells can induce new periods of brain plasticity, ameliorate epileptic seizures and increase pain thresholds. An ongoing interest of the Álvarez-Buylla Lab is understanding how adult neural stem cells are regulated, studying how cells derived from these progenitor cells integrate into the adult brain and which populations of MGE-derived neurons can be used therapeutically.

Dr. Álvarez-Buylla joined the UCSF faculty in 2000. Prior to that he was head of lab at Rockefeller University. Dr. Álvarez-Buylla obtained his PhD degree at Rockefeller University in 1988 and a Bachelor degree in Biomedical Research at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico City, Mexico) in 1983. Dr. Álvarez-Buylla has received numerous awards including the Robert L. Sinsheimer Award in Molecular Biology, the Jacob Javits Award and the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.

John Rubenstein, MD, PhD

Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor

Dr. John Rubenstein is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He also serves as a Nina Ireland Distinguished Professor in Child Psychiatry at the Nina Ireland Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology. His research focuses on the regulatory genes that orchestrate development of the forebrain.

In the mammalian embryo, the forebrain is the portion of the neural tube where primitive cells are organized to form the cerebral cortex, the basal ganglia and other components of the adult brain — the structures of the human brain most involved in key functions such as speech, language, cognition and fine motor skills.

Dr. Rubenstein’s lab has demonstrated the role of specific genes in regulating neuronal specification, differentiation, migration and axon growth during embryonic development and on into adulthood. His work aims to elucidate mechanisms underlying human neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy and mental deficiency.

Dr. Rubenstein joined the Psychiatry Department at UCSF in 1991. He received his PhD and MD degrees in 1982 and 1986 and completed his medical residency at Stanford University. He obtained his BS in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1977. Dr. Rubenstein was elected to the National Institute of Medicine in 2006.

Allan Basbaum, PhD

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Allan Basbaum, PhD, FRS, studies the molecular mechanisms of neuropathic pain in peripheral neurons and in the central nervous system. His interest is in the mechanisms through which tissue and nerve injury lead to persistent pain and the development of novel approaches to pain management. He advocates for thinking broadly about pain mechanisms, and for grounding research in a firm understanding of the experience of patients. Dr. Basbaum is a professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco. He is co-editor of the textbook Science of Pain, and from 2003 to 2012 served as editor-in-chief of Pain, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Institute of Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal Society in the UK. Dr. Basbaum trained with Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall, two pioneers in the world of pain research.

Lorenz Studer, MD, PhD

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Lorenz Studer is the founding director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology and a member of the Developmental Biology Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is also a Professor in Neuroscience at Weill-Cornell Graduate School. Dr. Studer is a leading researcher in the field of human stem cell biology. As a native of Switzerland, he received his MD and doctorate degree from the University of Bern where he co-developed the first cell-based therapy for Parkinson’s disease in the country. He subsequently trained as postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Ron McKay at the National Institutes of Health pioneering the therapeutic application of neural stem cell-derived neurons in models of neurodegeneration. In his laboratory, he has established techniques that can turn human pluripotent stem cells into many of the diverse cell types of the central and peripheral nervous system. He has been among the first to realize the potential of patient-specific stem cell for modeling human disease and for drug discovery. Furthermore, he is currently leading a multidisciplinary consortium to pursue the first clinical application of human stem cell-derived dopamine neurons for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Studer’s work has been recognized by numerous awards including the Boyer Young Investigator award and the Annemarie Opprecht Award.

Oscar Marín, PhD

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Oscar Marín is the Director of the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London. Dr. Marín aims to understand the balance between neural excitation and inhibition for cortical function, and how disruption of this dynamic equilibrium leads to disease. His lab largely concentrates on the analysis of the mechanisms controlling the migration, final allocation and connectivity of cortical interneurons, as well as on understanding the general principles regulating the development of other classes of cortical neurons with an eye towards understanding and eventually treating major psychiatric disorders. Prior to his appointment at King’s College London, Dr. Marín took a group leader position in 2003 at the Instituto de Neurociencias in Alicante (Spain). Prior to that he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of John L. R. Rubenstein at the University of California in San Francisco. He graduated in Biological Sciences from the Universidad Complutense (Madrid, Spain) in 1993, where he also obtained his Doctoral Degree in 1997 (Extraordinary award and European mention). He has received numerous Awards and recognitions and is a European Research Council Advanced Awardee and a Wellcome Trust Investigator. Dr. Marín serves in several editorial boards and is currently a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors at Science. In 2005, Dr. Marín was selected as one of the 22 founding members of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council, where he served until 2010.

Investors