BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cerevance, a drug discovery and development company focused on brain diseases, today announced that Jeremy Nathans, M.D., Ph.D., has joined the company as a senior-level scientific advisor. Dr. Nathans is Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where his research focuses on molecular mechanisms of visual system development, function, and disease. He is also an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Dr. Nathans is responsible for landmark discoveries that have changed our understanding of how humans see the world. His work over the past thirty-five years has also led to fundamental insights into the molecular basis of retinal development, function, and disease. His investigations into the mechanisms that allow us to see colors led him to identify the genes that code for color-vision receptors in the light-sensing cones of the retina. This breakthrough finding allowed him to show that variations in these genes cause color blindness. Most recently, his laboratory has focused on central nervous system vascular diseases and the role of Wnt signaling in controlling the development and maintenance of the blood-brain barrier.
Of particular relevance to Cerevance’s neuroscience research, Dr. Nathans and his colleagues have developed new genetic tools for defining patterns of gene expression and chromatin state in rare populations of cells and for genetically visualizing and manipulating single identified cells in mice. Nathans has used the latter approach to determine the complete morphologies of genetically defined neurons, particularly large and complex neurons – such as forebrain cholinergic neurons, dopaminergic amacrine cells in the retina, and large cutaneous sensory neurons in the skin – where visualizing the full structure of individual axonal or dendritic arbors was beyond the reach of traditional neuro-anatomic methods.
“Dr. Nathans’ deep expertise in studying the central nervous system will be tremendously valuable to Cerevance as we harness our platform to profile brain cell populations in human tissue,” said Brad Margus, Chief Executive Officer of Cerevance. “We look forward to drawing on his advice as we set research strategies, produce large datasets, select therapeutic targets, and advance drug development programs for brain-related diseases.”
“The Cerevance team is laser-focused on quickly generating new insights about pathways and circuitry impacted by neurological and psychiatric diseases,” said Dr. Nathans. “I look forward to guiding their efforts to build a great neuroscience company that delivers promising therapeutics.”
Dr. Nathans received his undergraduate degrees in Life Sciences and Chemistry from M.I.T. and earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and M.D. from Stanford University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Genentech, Inc. and then joined the Johns Hopkins faculty. He serves on the editorial boards of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and eLife, and on the scientific review boards for multiple foundations, including The Foundation Fighting Blindness, the Life Sciences Research Foundation, and the Klingenstein Foundation. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, and his work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience from the McGovern Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Cerevance is a recently formed pharmaceutical company focused on central nervous system diseases. The company’s strengths include a powerful technology platform, a pipeline of discovery-stage and clinical-stage compounds, a proven leadership team and more than $40 million of initial funding from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Lightstone Ventures and the Dementia Discovery Fund managed by SV Life Sciences. The company believes it is well positioned to deliver life-changing therapeutics for patients who have brain-related disorders.