Strategic & Scientific
Advisors

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Walter Kowtoniuk

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Walt is the father of two and spends his days playing with is kids, teaching them about the world, and having fun watching them grow up. Walt is also passionate about making a difference for patients. He spends his days focused on genetics and genomics and the insights they bring into disease biology. Walt works where science meets business and strategy, enabling insights from the lab to become the next generation of medicines that can change lives. He is enthusiastic about launching companies with emphatic, truly patient-centric cultures that effectively and efficiently execute drug discovery. He places priority on taking the time to listen to the patients whom we endeavor to help, recognizing that the value we aim to create is defined by the magnitude of the difference we can make in their lives.

Brett S. Abrahams

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Brett S. Abrahams, Ph.D. is the Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Magnolia Neurosciences Corporation, a biotech start-up developing neuroprotective therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders. Before joining Magnolia, Dr. Abrahams was Senior Director and Head, Pre-Clinical Biology at Ovid Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OVID), a company developing new treatments for rare forms of autism and epilepsy. Prior to joining Ovid, Dr. Abrahams was a member of the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he retains an adjunct appointment. His lab used genomic strategies to identify genes that increase risk for neurocognitive disorders and study these in model systems and patients. Results from his scientific research have been widely disseminated through publication of high impact peer reviewed manuscripts (e.g. New England Journal of Medicine, Cell, Nature, and Science Translational Medicine) and coverage in the popular press (e.g. ABC News, BBC News, Reuters, The Telegraph, and Time Magazine).

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Federico Bolognani

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Federico Bolognani has over 20 years of experience in translational neuroscience research in academia, pharmaceutical and the biotechnology industries. Federico is Vice President and Head of Clinical Science at Axial Biotherapeutics. Most recently, Federico served as the Vice President and Head of Clinical Science at VectivBio in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to VectivBio AG, Dr. Bolognani was VP and Head of Clinical Science at Therachon AG, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2019. Prior to Therachon, Dr. Bolognani held various senior-level positions at Roche. As Translation Medicine Leader, Dr. Bolognani led several of Roche’s programs in neuroscience, including the successful Phase 2 Balovaptan program in ASD, which was granted Breakthrough Designation in 2018. Dr. Bolognani received his Ph.D. and M.D. from Universidad Nacional de La Pata, Argentina and has an extensive scientific publication record in translational neuroscience research. 

Jamil M. Beg

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Jamil M. Beg joined 5AM Ventures in 2017 as a Principal and was promoted to Partner in 2020. Prior to 5AM, Mr. Beg was at Sage Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SAGE) where he contributed to building the company through business development, corporate strategy, medical affairs, health economics & outcomes research and commercialization roles. Previously, Mr. Beg was an investment professional at Quaker Partners and contributed to investments in the firm’s portfolio companies including EKR Therapeutics (acquired by Cornerstone Therapeutics), Transave Inhalation Therapeutics (acquired by Insmed), NuPathe (NASDAQ: PATH, acquired by Teva) and Cempra (NASDAQ: CEMP). Mr. Beg started his career at Cambridge Pharma Consultancy (acquired by IMS Health) with a focus on pricing, market access and health economics outcomes research strategies for the biopharma industry. Mr. Beg earned his B.S.E. in Bioengineering and Master of Biotechnology degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his M.B.A. in Healthcare Management and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he was a recipient of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Merit Award.

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Shafali Jeste

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A Board-certified pediatric neurologist, Dr. Jeste focuses on developing methods to improve precision in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. She is a prolific researcher whose lab has defined early predictors of autism in at-risk infants, and she has authored and contributed to more than 200 journal papers, editorials, chapters and abstracts. In 2019, she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her research in early predictors and intervention for genetic neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Jeste holds several national and international leadership positions including the Board of Directors of the American Brain Foundation, Board of Directors of the National Organization for Rare Disorders and the Board of Directors of the International Society for Autism Research. She also is Co-Founder of ACEing Autism, a national nonprofit that uses tennis to help children with autism connect, grow and develop.

Dr. Jeste earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Yale University before obtaining her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She completed an internship, residency and a fellowship in behavioral child neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Jeste joined Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in 2021 as Chief of the Division of Neurology. In this role, she oversees clinical care delivery and quality, strategic planning, recruitment and program development.

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Morgan Sheng is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he serves as co-director of the Broad’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research. He is also a professor of neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and an affiliate of both the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.
From 2001 to 2008, Sheng was the Menicon Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, as well as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 2008 to 2019, Sheng was vice-president of neuroscience at Genentech, a leading biotech company, where he led research and drug discovery efforts for major diseases of the nervous system. His research at Genentech focused on human genetics and pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease, particularly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Sheng is a fellow of the Royal Society (UK), a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK), a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He has served on the editorial boards of Neuron, Journal of Neuroscience, and Current Opinions in Neurobiology. A past recipient of the Fondation Ipsen Prize in Neuronal Plasticity and the Young Investigator Award of the Society for Neuroscience, Sheng is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying the structure and plasticity of synapses and the molecular-cell biology of neurodegeneration.
Sheng received a B.A. (1st class honors) from Oxford University and obtained his medical degree and training at London University. His Ph.D. thesis was completed at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Michael Greenberg. Following postdoctoral research in the lab of Lily Jan at the University of California, San Francisco, Sheng served as a faculty member in the Department of Neurobiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (1994-2001) before joining MIT (2001-2008).

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