The NorthWest NeuroNeighborhood held its 3rd Neuro-Networking event on July 10, 2013 7-9:30 pm at the ACT Theater. Our first two events were in August 2012 at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and in February 2013 at the Center for Sensorimotor Neuron Engineering).0 About 60 people attended the event from all over the Northwest, from OHSU in Portland to ABV Sciences in Victoria, and included Revalesio in Tacoma and M3 Biotechnology in Pullman. NWNN now has over 170 members representing ~100+ organizations or departments.
In Memory of Dr. Greg Foltz
Our event was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Greg Foltz (former Director of the Ivy Center for Glioblastoma at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute) who died in late June after a long fought battle with pancreatic cancer.
We had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Neal Goodwin at Jackson Laboratories who worked with Dr. Foltz to prepare glioblastoma tumor mouse xenograft models using brain tumors that Dr. Foltz had removed from his patients. Hundreds of these brain tumor mouse models are now shipped all over the world each year in support of numerous research programs. We also heard from Dr. John Henson, at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (NWNN Co-Founder) who worked closely with Dr. Foltz, and spoke about the incredible talent that Dr. Foltz had with patient care, and his amazing ability as a neurosurgeon to remove of brain tumors. These memories of Dr. Foltz were especially fitting to have been made at the ACT Theater, which houses “Buster’s Room”, named after Dr. Ellsworth ‘Buster’ Alvord, who like Dr. Foltz was a revered Seattle physician scientist. Dr. Alvord was the former head of the UW Department of Neuropathology and well known for the philanthropic endeavors where Buster and his wife Nancy have supported the ACT Theater and the University of Washington’s Alvord Brain Tumor Center.
We also welcomed two new neurosurgeon’s to the Seattle area, Dr. Eric Holland who has recently joined the FHCRC and UW from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Dr. Charles Cobbs who was personally recruited by Dr. Foltz from UCSF to be his replacement as director of the Ivy Center at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute.
Glioblastoma Research Theme
The disease topic focus for our event was obviously brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme, which is the first in a series of brain disease-centric topics that will be covered at each upcoming Neuro-Networking Event. We heard inspirational talks from three (3) NW NeuroNeighbors who are involved in starting local companies to develop diagnostics or therapeutics for glioblastoma.
Dr. Jim Olson holds joint appointments at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is a physician scientist and spends one day a week in pediatric neuro-oncology, mostly working with glioblastoma patients. He also has an active research laboratory that’s looking at peptide approaches to treating cancer and brain disease. Dr. Olson’s research in cancer / brain tumor diagnostics and therapeutics have led him to found two companies Presage Biosciences and Blaze Bioscience, which together have raised over $16 M in the last 12 months. Presage uses drug-cocktail laden needle and thread to assess tumor sensitivity to chemotherapy. Blaze is developing “tumor paint” which is given to patients before surgery to literally “light up” tumors so surgeons can more accurately remove the cancer mass. Dr. Olson also spoke about Project Violet, an effort he launched to crowd-fund research on new “Optides” (shorthand for “optimized peptides”) that may one day be found to have new drug properties to aid in treating many unmet medical needs.
Dr. Nephi Stella is a Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry at the University of Washington, expert in cannabinoid pharmacology and brain tumor biology and Founder of Stella Therapeutics, which was awarded a Phase 1 SBIR grant to pursue the development of anti-cancer molecules that are derivatives of THC, the famous pharmacologic ingredient from marijuana. By researching the pharmacology of THC derivatives, Dr. Stella’s research team have identified chemical mechanisms for how to trigger cancer cell death by apoptosis through activation of certain G-protein coupled receptors.
Dr. Marnix Bosch, is an immunobiologist who spent several years in research at the University of Washington, before joining Northwest Biotherapeutics over 10 years ago as their CTO, to pursue the development of brain cancer vaccines such as DCvax®-L which is now in Phase III clinical trials for treatment of glioblastoma. There is a rich cancer vaccine history here in the Northwest, with Dendreon being the first ever to have an approved cancer vaccine (Provenge for prostate cancer). Northwest Biotherapeutics has very promising clinical trial data on their vaccine for glioblastoma.
NWNN Business Matters
Bob Wilcox presented our Board of Directors and listed the projects they are working on to foster the growth of our emerging neuro-cluster in the Northwest:
Bob Wilcox, CEO at Viket Medical (President and Co-Founder)
Lance Stewart, Sr. Dir. of Alliances at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. (Vice President, and Co-Founder) creating a graduate level NeuroVentures entrepreneurship course at UW and a high school senior project in neuro-informatics, Neuro-Networking events.
John Henson, VP of Medical Affairs at Swedish Neuroscience Institute (Co-Founder) working on NWNN website
Greg Demopulos, CEO of Omeros – developing a collaborative program grant application for the Northwest
Bill Rooney, Director of OHSU Advanced Imaging Research Center – member of the team planning a national neuro-summit meeting in the Northwest
Rad Roberts, Industry Liason for UW Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering – member of the team planning a national neuro-summit meeting in the Northwest
Norm Beauchamp, Chair of UW Medical School, Department of Radiology
Gary Kocher, Partner at K&L Gates – (Secretary) NWNN legal and incorporation
Christiana Dellorusso, Vice President of Commercialization at WBBA , Managing Director of WINGS
Sean MacLeod, President at Stratos Corp. (Treasurer) developing sponsors and our financial strategy
Mike Hite, CEO of Impel NeuroPharma – member of the team planning a national neuro-summit meeting in the Northwest
Richard Wohns, Founder of South Sound Neurosurgery
We collected comments from attendees to gain insight in how NWNN can best serve the cluster. As shown below, members most frequently list themselves as involved in research (though not uniquely academic), and want us to emphasize networking events over other communication efforts.
Networking: Neuro-Networking events
Collaboration: Making local resources more visible to you
Visibility: Making the NWNN more visible to legislators, researchers, and advocacy groups
Thank You To Our Sponsors
We thank our sponsors for their enthusiastic support: Cirtec Medical Systems, K&L Gates, Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering , Swedish Neuroscience Institute, The Allen Institute for Brain Science, Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, ACT Theater, Stratos, UW Medicine Department of Radiology, Organization for Human Brain Mapping Annual Meeting, and Omeros.
Posted by Lance Stewart, Ph.D. MBA, Sr. Director of Alliances at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Northwest NeuroNeighborhood Co-Founder and Board Member.