20th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ALZHEIMER’S DRUG DISCOVERY
September 16-17, 2019 • Jersey City, NJ (across from NYC on the Hudson)

2019 Speakers

Howard Fillit, MD

Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation

Howard Fillit, MD, a geriatrician, neuroscientist and a leading expert in Alzheimer’s disease, is the founding Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF). The ADDF’s mission is to accelerate the discovery and development of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease, related dementias and cognitive aging.

Dr. Fillit has had a distinguished academic medicine career at The Rockefeller University and The Mount Sinai School of Medicine where he is a clinical professor of geriatrics and medicine and professor of neurobiology. He is a co-author of more than 300 scientific and clinical publications, and is the senior editor of the leading international Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.

 

Previously, Dr. Fillit was the Corporate Medical Director for Medicare at New York Life, responsible for over 125,000 Medicare managed care members in five regional markets. Dr. Fillit has received several awards and honors including the Rita Hayworth Award for Lifetime Achievement. He also serves as a consultant to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, health care organizations and philanthropies. Throughout his career, he has maintained a limited private practice in consultative geriatric medicine with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Dr. Fillit is the conference chair and will provide the opening remarks to introduce the conference’s scope, structure, and guest lecturers.

Alberto Benussi, MD

University of Brescia, Italy

Alberto Benussi, MD, has focused his scientific interest in the application of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques in patients with neurodegenerative diseases, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease, sporadic and genetic forms of frontotemporal dementia, atypical parkinsonisms and rare diseases, such as Niemann-Pick type C disease and several forms of hereditary and sporadic ataxias. In this context, he has implemented and developed several neurophysiological protocols of transcranial magnetic stimulation, identifying several biomarkers of cortical connectivity both for the differential diagnosis of various neurodegenerative disorders, and as preclinical biomarkers of disease. Moreover, he has conducted several clinical trials using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques applied to different neurodegenerative disorders. The applications of these methods have been acquired in Italian and foreign centers of excellence.

Dr. Benussi will lecture in Session II on Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation to Restore Cortical Plasticity in FTD.

Roger Bullock, MBBS

Oryzon

Roger Bullock, MBBS, is a licensed psychiatrist with more than 30 years of clinical experience. He is widely published in the areas of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and memory loss, and serves as a scientific consultant for Bioclinica’s Alzheimer’s research studies.

Dr. Bullock completed his pre-clinical medical training at Keble College, Oxford University, gaining a BA (Hons) Physiological Sciences in 1978 (converted to MA in 1985). This was followed by clinical medical training at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London where he gained the MB.BS in 1981.

In 1990, he specialized in psychiatry, gained membership of The Royal College of Psychiatry and undertook postgraduate psychiatric training including higher specialist training in geriatric psychiatry which concluded in 1993.

Dr. Bullock is committed to research, particularly in psychopharmacology, neuropsychology, and the use of both in all areas of care. He believes that clinical trials not only benefit his current patients but will be of benefit to further patients in the future. He also feels that trials improve the service, introducing additional rigor to clinical practice.

Dr. Bullock will lecture in Session III on Epigenetic Approaches for Alzheimer’s Treatment.

Susan Catalano, PhD

Cognition Therapeutics

Susan Catalano, PhD, is the founder of Cognition Therapeutics and architect of its proprietary and unique biological discovery platform that is based on unbiased phenotypic screens in the target cell population of mature primary neurons. Using her 15 years of industry experience, she and her team discovered and developed the company’s drug candidate Elayta (CT1812), currently in clinical testing for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Prior to founding Cognition Therapeutics, Dr. Catalano was director of discovery biology for Acumen Pharmaceuticals, leading the team that discovered Acumen’s lead candidates targeting Aβ oligomers. Earlier at Rigel, she led the team that pioneered the use of high content phenotypic screening to discover the Aurora kinase inhibitor R763. In scientific leadership roles within the neurophysiology and neuroimaging groups at Roche Palo Alto she led exploratory programs against targets involved in anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

Dr. Catalano received her PhD from U.C. Irvine and postdoctoral training at University of California, Berkeley with Dr. Carla Shatz and at Caltech with Drs. Mary Kennedy and Scott Fraser studying the neurobiology of synaptic plasticity.

Dr. Catalano will lecture in Session III on CT1812 for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Jeffrey Cummings, MD

Cleveland Clinic

Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD, is Vice Chair of Research, UNLV Department of Brain Health. He is Founding Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Professor of Medicine (Neurology), Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Cummings is Principal Investigator/Director of the NIH/NIGMS-funded Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience.

Dr. Cummings is a world-renowned Alzheimer’s researcher and leader of clinical trials. He has been recognized for his research and leadership contributions in the field of Alzheimer’s disease through the Henderson Award of the American Geriatrics Society (2006), the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Award of the national Alzheimer’s Association (2008), and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology (2017). In 2010, he was honored by the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry with their Distinguished Scientist Award. In 2018, he was honored with the Leadership and Achievement Award by the International Society of CNS Drug Development, and he received the Bengt Winblad Lifetime Achievement Award from the national Alzheimer’s Association. In 2019, he received the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s Melvin R. Goodes Prize that honors an innovative researcher who has made a significant and lasting impact in the field. He was featured in the Gentleman’s Quarterly (June 2009) as a “Rock Star of Science™.”

Dr. Cummings completed Neurology residency and a Fellowship in Behavioral Neurology at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. US training was followed by a Research Fellowship in Neuropathology and Neuropsychiatry at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, London, England. Dr. Cummings was formerly Augustas Rose Professor of Neurology and Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, Director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, and Director of the Deane F. Johnson Center for Neurotherapeutics at UCLA. He is past president of the Behavioral Neurology Society and of the American Neuropsychiatric Association.

Dr. Cummings has authored or edited 43 books and published over 750 peer-reviewed papers.

Dr. Cummings will lecture in Session III on Rasagiline Rescue (R2): A Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trial for Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease.

Mari DeMarco, PhD

University of British Columbia

Mari DeMarco, PhD, is a clinical chemist at St Paul’s Hospital, and a clinical associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada. Dr. DeMarco earned a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Washington, as part of the Biomolecular Structure and Design Program. She subsequently completed a Clinical Chemistry fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine.

With a strong interest in bridging basic biomedical science, analytical chemistry and laboratory medicine, Dr. DeMarco’s research group focuses on building new biofluid tests for direct translation into patient care. A particular area of interest is advancing protein-based clinical diagnostics for neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. Critically, the goal of this program of research is to ensure that these new tools make the challenging jump from the research setting to the health care system.

Dr. DeMarco will lecture in Session II on TDP-43 Proteinopathies: Challenges and Opportunities for a Pathology-Specific Biofluid Test.

Steven Finkbeiner, MD, PhD

Gladstone Institutes / University of California, San Francisco 

Steve Finkbeiner, MD, PhD, is Director of the Center for Systems and Therapeutics and Taube/Koret Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at Gladstone Institutes, and is a Professor of Neurology and Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Finkbeiner earned a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, and concurrently earned an MD and a PhD in neuroscience from Yale University. He completed an internship in internal medicine and chief residency in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by a research fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Finkbeiner’s academic research laboratory has focused on understanding the causes and finding treatments for ALS, AD, HD, PD and other neurological and psychiatric disorders. The laboratory pursues these goals through the use of genomics, induced pluripotent stem cells, artificial intelligence and robotic microscopy, which they invented, and is engaged in myriad collaborations with others in academia and pharma/biotech.

Dr. Finkbeiner will lecture in Session II on Novel Human FTLD Neuron and Microglia Cell Models for Drug Discovery.

Thota Ganesh, PhD

Emory University

Thota Ganesh, PhD, obtained his MSc and PhD in chemistry from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. Shortly after, he completed his postdoctoral studies at IIT-Bombay (India), University of Durham (UK) and Virginia Tech (USA).

Dr. Ganesh is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Ganesh’s current research interests are to develop chemical tools for biological targets. His current research focuses on developing small molecule agents to mitigate the inflammatory pathologies in neurodegenerative diseases, including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Ganesh is an author of more than 60 publications in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of medicinal chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology.

Dr. Ganesh will lecture in Session I on Pharmacological Inhibition of EP2 Receptors Suppress Neuroinflammation in the Female 5xFAD Mice, but not in the Male 5xFAD Mice .

Ihab Hajjar, MD

Emory University

Ihab Hajjar, MD, is an internist and a geriatrician in the Emory University Department of Medicine, Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics. He completed his MD at the American University of Beirut and his internal medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He also completed a two-year fellowship in geriatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. After completing his training, he served on the faculty at University of South Carolina until 2006. He then moved to Harvard Medical School, where he was an assistant professor of medicine and associate director of the CV Research Lab. He moved to the University of Southern California in 2011, and then to Emory in 2013.

His research is focused on the link between hypertension and vascular disease with brain health including cognitive performance, cerebrovascular function. In particular, he is studying the effects of antihypertensive medications that modulate the renin angiotensin system on both prevention of cognitive decline and as potential therapeutic modalities for early dementia. Dr. Hajjar has published more than 50 scientific articles and book chapters and has been funded by grants from National Institute of Health and other governmental and private organizations since 2001. Dr. Hajjar sees patients with cognitive disorders and/or vascular risk factors at the Memory Disorder Clinic at the Emory clinic and is the medical director of the Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC) at Emory.

Dr. Hajjar will lecture in Session III on Vascular Approaches for Alzheimer’s Treatment.

Dimitrios Kapogiannis, MD

National Institutes of Health

Dimitrios Kapogiannis, MD, is a Clinical Investigator at the Laboratory of Clinical Investigations at the National Institute on Aging, NIH, and adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. He earned his Medical Degree from the National University of Athens, Greece, and completed his Neurology residency training at Harvard University/Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, followed by a clinical fellowship at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He is ABPN-certified in Neurology and UCNS-certified in Behavioral Neurology.

He leads a Lab at the National Institute on Aging conducting translational and clinical studies on various neurodegenerative diseases with a primary focus on discovering novel biomarkers for diagnosis and preclinical prediction of Alzheimer’s disease. He has been a pioneer in deriving Extracellular Vesicles enriched for neuronal and astrocytic origin from peripheral blood and using them as a source of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Kapogiannis will deliver Monday’s Keynote on Biomarker-drug and Liquid Biopsy Co-development for Disease Staging and Targeted Therapy: Cornerstones for Alzheimer’s Precision Medicine and Pharmacology.

Dawn Matthews, MS MBA

ADMDx

Dawn Matthews, MS, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of ADM Diagnostics (ADMdx), leads the development of image analysis technology to support the diagnosis of brain disorders and detection of treatment effects. Under her direction, ADMdx has developed analysis products to support the differentiation of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and to aid in clinical trials. Ms. Matthews has led image analysis for studies including the evaluation of rasagiline in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease patients, a multi-modality study of at-risk patients with Down syndrome, and studies of imaging biomarkers in dementias, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. She has co-authored and directed multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Aging focused on innovative brain image analysis tools. Ms. Matthews is co-chair of the Radiologic Society of North America Quantitative Imaging Biomarker Alliance (QIBA) Amyloid Profile working group, and previously served as Imaging Biomarker co-chair for the Critical Path for Parkinsons Consortium. She has been a regular speaker at Alzheimer’s conferences, and is a co-author of book chapters and publications related to imaging biomarker advances in the dementia field. Prior to her work in neuroimaging, she was a Director of Business Development at Motorola Biochip Systems, Vice President and co-founder of Aksys Ltd, a medical device company, and a senior principal engineer at Baxter Healthcare. Ms. Matthews holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering with biomedical emphasis from the University of Michigan, a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Ms. Matthews will lecture in Session IV on FDG PET, Tau PET, and MR Imaging Biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease Therapeutic Trials. 

Zane Martin, PhD

NIH/NIA

Zane Martin, PhD, is Program Director for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Translational Research in the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). She oversees SBIR and STTR grants focused on drug discovery, drug development, and clinical trials aimed to ameliorate various dementias of aging.

Before being hired as Program Director, Zane was a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at NIA. During that time, she was awarded the National Institutes of Health Award of Merit for helping with the development and implementation of the Alzheimer’s Disease Preclinical Efficacy Database (AlzPED). AlzPED is a publicly available data resource that aims to increase reproducibility, transparency, and translatability of preclinical Alzheimer’s drug discovery studies with the goal of improving the drug pipeline to human clinical trials. Dr. Martin has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and M.S. in Pharmacology from the University of Texas Medical Branch. She received postdoctoral training in the Department of Neurochemistry at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities.

Her research career has primarily focused on drug discovery strategies to combat Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. She has investigated a wide range of therapeutic targets, including tau hyperphosphorylation, synaptic dysfunction, and amyloid aggregation.

Dr. Matthews will lecture on NIA’s Alzheimer’s Translational Research Funding Opportunities. 

Swati More, PhD

University of Minnesota

Swati More, PhD, received her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Minnesota and acquired postdoctoral training in pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. More was appointed to the faculty of the Center for Drug Design in 2013. Research in her laboratory seeks to identify, describe and solve biological problems through chemical means. A keen emphasis is placed on mechanistic probes into neurodegeneration, with diagnostic tools and therapeutic agents being the end-goals.

Dr. More in collaboration with Prof. Robert Vince at the Center for Drug Design, has developed a retinal hyperspectral imaging technique that has shown promise as an early diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease. This technology has recently been licensed to RetiSpec, a medical device company focused on Alzheimer’s detection, with the hope that it will be developed into a product approved for use by the public.

Dr. More will lecture in Session IV on Ocular Approaches for Alzheimer’s Diagnosis.

Chris Norris, PhD

University of Kentucky

Chris Norris, PhD, received his doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Virginia in 1998, working in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Foster. His dissertation research showed that hippocampal synapses in aged rats were more susceptible to activity-dependent depression arising from Ca2+ dysregulation and elevated protein phosphatase activity: a finding that has been subsequently demonstrated in numerous injury and disease models characterized by learning and memory deficits.

His work as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Phil Landfield’s laboratory at the University of Kentucky found that Ca2+-dysregulation and elevated phosphatase activity are not only intimately linked, but form a deleterious positive feedback cycle in aging brain. These investigations led to the unexpected discovery that astrocytes are a focal point of hyperactive Ca2+-dependent phosphatase (calcineurin) activity, highlighted by the intense upregulation of calcineurin in activated astrocytes of aging wild-type mice and transgenic APP/PS1 mice—especially in the immediate vicinity of amyloid deposits. After joining the faculty at the SBCoA in 2004, the Norris lab has investigated the impact of astrocyte activation, and hyperactive calcineurin signaling, on the progression of Alzheimer’s pathophysiology using both human postmortem brain specimens and mouse models of amyloidosis. Experimental approaches commonly used in the Norris lab include electrophysiology, multiphoton imaging, AAV-mediated gene delivery, protein biochemistry, gene expression analysis, and small rodent behavioral assessment. An ongoing R01 project, funded since 2006, has revealed key causative roles of astrocytic calcineurin/NFAT signaling on neuroinflammation, glutamate dysregulation, and synapse dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s pathology and small cerebrovessel disease.

Dr. Norris will lecture in Session I on Novel Small Chemical Compound with NFAT Inhibitory Properties Ameliorates Synaptic Deficits in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Sabrina Paganoni, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University

Sabrina Paganoni, MD, is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and works as a physician scientist at the Healey Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Paganoni’s research focuses on therapy development for ALS. She designed and is currently leading several ALS clinical trials that include novel endpoints and biomarkers and innovative trial designs. She is currently working on the first Platform Trial for ALS.

Dr. Paganoni received her medical degree from the University of Milan, Italy, and her PhD in Neuroscience from Northwestern University. She completed her residency and fellowship training in Boston in the Harvard Medical School hospital system. Dr. Paganoni published >70 peer-reviewed papers. Her research has been funded by the NIH, foundations, and industry. She received several awards for her work including the NIH Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program Award (2012), the American Academy of Neurology / ALS Association Three-Year Career Development Award in ALS (2017), and the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine Scientific Impact Award (2019).

Dr. Paganoni will deliver Tuesday’s Keynote Session on The Use of Platform Trials in CNS Disorders.

Rodney Pearlman, PhD

The Bluefield Project to Cure FTD

Rodney Pearlman, PhD, is President of The Bluefield Project to Cure Frontotemporal Dementia. Bluefield is a non-profit medical research foundation based in San Francisco that manages a consortium of 20 researchers focused on developing treatments for FTD.

Previously he was President and CEO of Nuon Therapeutics, a company developing drugs for treating diseases of the immune system and inflammation.

Prior to joining Nuon, Rodney was a co-founder, President and CEO of Saegis Pharmaceuticals, developing treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease mild cognitive impairment and schizophrenia until its acquisition by H. Lundbeck A/S. He held previous positions at the gene therapy company Valentis and was Director of Pharmaceutical Research and Development at Genentech, where he and his group developed novel formulations, processes and delivery systems for recombinant human proteins. He also was the Project team Leader for Nutropin® human growth hormone through its NDA approval.

Prior to that, he taught at the University of Texas in Austin and was previously a Senior Scientist with Eli Lilly and Company. Rodney received his PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Kansas with Prof. Takeru Higuchi on the delivery of drugs to the brain. He received his B. Pharm. from the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Dr. Pearlman will lecture in Session II on Blood Biomarker Monitoring in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration.

Grace (Beth) Stutzmann, PhD

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/NeuroLucent, Inc.

Grace Stutzmann, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School/Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, where she studies early cellular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and is developing novel therapeutic approaches to treat neurodegenerative disorders.

She received her PhD in Neuroscience from New York University/The Center for Neural Science in 1999. She then trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine under George Aghajanian, MD, and then at UC Irvine in the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior, and The Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia with Frank LaFerla, PhD and Ian Parker, PhD, FRS.

In 2005, she moved to the Chicago Medical School as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, where she is currently. Dr. Stutzmann’s research is and has been supported by the NIH, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Federation for Aging Research, The Schweppe Foundation, and the VA.

Dr. Stutzmann has served on numerous NIH, foundation, and international review committees, as well as scientific advisory boards. She has presented over 60 lectures at international symposia and universities since 2006. Honors include fellowships from NIH, the Young Investigator Award from The Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, The NeuroImaging Award from AFAR, and The Board of Trustees Award from RFUMS/CMS.

Dr. Stutzmann will lecture in Session I on Inhibiting Ryanodine Receptors, and ER Calcium Channel, to Prevent Synaptic Pathology and Protein Mishandling.

Esmerina Tili, PhD

OSU/Gnome Diagnostics, LLC

Esmerina Tili, PhD, currently at the Ohio State University, holds a PhD on Genetics from Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. A significant part of her scientific work is dedicated toward understanding of the molecular malfunctions leading to prolonged chronic inflammation particularly neuroinflammation and ultimately resulting in neurodegeneration.

Since 2007, when she discovered that miR-155 is a pro-inflammatory microRNA, acting downstream of LPS/TLR signaling in macrophages she has been using different mouse models of miR-155 to understand the effects of this gene in neuroinflammation and ischemic spinal cord injury, Down’s syndrome dementia, and other neuro-related pathologies. Part of her work is funded by NIH and she is a highly cited scientist.

Dr. Tili will lecture in Session IV on The Utility of cFLIP and MCL I and their Regulatory MicroRNAs as Novel Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Paul Worley, MD

Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Paul F. Worley is a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. An expert in the molecular basis of specific forms of long-term learning and memory, Dr. Worley serves on the faculty of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences and as an associated investigator with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Dr. Worley’s laboratory focuses on a class of proteins found at the interfaces of connecting neurons (synapses) that ramp up as the neurons engage in information processing and storage. These proteins directly modify the strength of the signals sent between neurons and are essential for information storage.

Recent work reveals how molecules that regulate reward-signaling neuronal responses (such as dopamine) can selectively strengthen communication across synapses – and implicates this process in addiction.

Dr. Worley’s research also has clinical potential in the treatment of patients with degenerative memory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Worley will lecture in Session IV on Resilience Biomarker NPTX2 and AD Progression.

Shijun Zhang, PhD

Virginia Commonwealth University

Shijun Zhang, PhD,  is currently a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Dr. Zhang also serve as the Board Member of Alzheimer’s Associate Greater Richmond Chapter.

He received his BS in Pharmacy and MS in Medicinal Chemistry in 1993 and 1996 from Shandong Medical University, respectively. In 2000, he moved to the United States and received his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences from Wayne State University in 2004. After his postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota with Professor Portoghese, he joined the School of Pharmacy, VCU as a faculty where he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and to Professor.

The research in Dr. Zhang’s group is focused on rational small molecule design for neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory disease, particularly focusing on Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury. Another area that his research group has actively engaged is the design of chemical probes into understanding the dysfunctions of inflammasomes and mitochondria in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Zhang will lecture in Session I on Design and Exploration of NLRP3 Inhibitors for Neurodegenerative Disorders.