NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Orion Bionetworks will become Cohen Veterans Bioscience, a non-profit organization that will focus research on Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to improve diagnoses and treatment of veterans. The announcement was made today by Dr. Magali Haas, President and CEO of Cohen Veterans Bioscience and Steven A. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Point72 Asset Management.
“Our veterans have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan facing PTS and TBI and we owe it to them to find better diagnostic tools and treatments,” Mr. Cohen says. “PTS is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed and our service members don’t receive effective treatment as a result.”
The goal of Cohen Veterans Bioscience is to speed the discovery of first generation diagnostics, treatments, and cures for PTS and TBI by improving the scientific understanding of the basic biological mechanisms that set the stage for these conditions.
“Breakthroughs don’t come from one person – they come from many people. Collaboration is key,” says Dr. Haas. “Cohen Veterans Bioscience will bring people together and that will have a compounding effect on the knowledge we now have and give us deeper insights, broader understanding, and better science to translate into the best treatments for patients.”
Cohen Veterans Bioscience will also harness the power of high-performance computing and data analytics to discover and develop predictive disease models from integrated biomarker, biosensor, and phenotypic data. The hope is that, in the next three years, there will be a first generation of diagnostics for PTS and TBI.
“Once we have a better understanding of the science of PTS and TBI, we can advance a new pipeline of therapeutics and improve the delivery of medical care,” says Dr. Haas.
Cohen Veterans Bioscience plans to fund $30 million or more in research programs over the next five years, including its established partnerships with New York University and Columbia University, and new public-private partnerships it expects to foster.
“We have moved from funding research by others to creating primary research efforts of our own,” says Mr. Cohen.
This is the latest endeavor supported by Steven Cohen to address the needs of our nation’s veterans. He co-chaired, along with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, the Robin Hood Foundation’s Veterans Advisory Board where he helped create a program designed to aid the growing number of veterans, reservists, national guardsmen, and their families living in poverty in New York City.
In a Washington Post op-ed piece, they described the challenge:
“Many vets never get the treatment they need — and the families who suffer alongside them, and whose support is essential to successful treatment, are ineligible for care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
In 2013, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation gave the largest individual single private gift in the nation—$17 million—to establish the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury at NYU Langone Medical Center. Mr. Cohen has since augmented that amount to found the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone.
Magali Haas, MD, PhD, founded Orion Bionetworks in July 2012 and served as its CEO and President. She has more than 15 years of pharmaceutical executive and clinical research experience, predominantly at Johnson & Johnson, where she assumed broad end-to-end development leadership roles in medical marketing, full clinical development, early development, and translational and biomarker sciences in psychiatry and neurology. She launched Orion Bionetworks to accelerate the discovery of next-generation diagnostics, treatments, and cures for brain disorders.
Since September 11, 2001, more than 2.5 million American service members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and many others have been posted in a number of other dangerous regions around the world. According to a RAND Corporation study, nearly 19 percent of returning service members met criteria for either PTS or depression and nearly 20 percent reported experiencing a probable TBI during deployment. Seven percent of veterans suffer from both PTS and TBI.
And it is not just veterans of recent wars who are suffering. A study published this summer in JAMA Psychiatry found that 40 years after the Vietnam War ended, about 271,000 veterans who served in the war zone still suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder and more than one-third have current major depressive disorder.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done to address the mental health needs of our veterans. But we haven’t done nearly enough,” says Mr. Cohen. “With Dr. Haas’ leadership, Cohen Veterans Bioscience will advance the science and availability of new medical treatments and we will be able to help more veterans tomorrow than we did yesterday.”
Cohen Veterans Bioscience is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the detection and treatment of PTS and TBI and related co-morbidities through cutting-edge research, so the burden of these conditions may be lessened on service members, veterans, and their families.