Targeting Neuroinflammation
Treat Brain Disease

Who We Are

RI-INBRE Centralized Research Core Facility, URI College of Pharmacy

RI-INBRE Centralized Research Core Facility, URI College of Pharmacy

Stevin Zorn ImgStevin Zorn, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer – Dr. Zorn has more than 27 years drug discovery, drug development experience across a broad range of neuro and psychiatric disorders and across the whole value chain for drug discovery and development. Dr. Zorn has a successful track record of leading a global therapeutic area and site business units of diverse, innovative scientists to conceive of, rigorously advance and enthusiastically prosecute a pipeline of novel druggable ideas through each phase of discovery and also through clinical development.

In conjunction with his responsibilities as President and CEO of MindImmune Therapeutics, Inc., Dr. Zorn is a Ryan Research Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island.

Most recently, Dr. Zorn was Executive Vice President and head of Neuroscience Research for Lundbeck’s Research Site in the USA, Lundbeck Research USA, board member for Lundbeck Research USA and Executive Scientist in Residence at Lundbeck LLC, Deerfield, IL. He has been a member of Lundbeck’s Global Research Committee, Development Committee, R&D Management group, the R&D Executive Committee and US Management Group. He conceived of and built one of the first Neuroinflammation Disease Biology Units in the industry. There he established a talented group of scientists that brought together disciplines of Immunology, Inflammation and Neuroscience to capitalize on the recently growing knowledge base showing the relationship between Neuroinflammation and CNS diseases to advance new approaches for the treatment of mental illness. This became Lundbeck USA’s primary area of focus.

Prior to Lundbeck, Dr. Zorn was with Pfizer Global Research and Development for nearly 20 years. He held positions including head of General Pharmacology, Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical Development Team Leader, Head of Psychotherapeutics Biology, Head of Neuroscience Therapeutics, Co-Chair of the Global Neuroscience Therapeutic Area Leadership Team including accountability for R&D as well as commercialization, and was Vice President and Global Therapeutic Area Head for Central Nervous System Disorders Research at Pfizer including chair of the Global Research Therapeutic Area Leadership Team. Zorn became Pfizer’s first global head of Neuroscience Research, was co-architect of what became the company’s overall Neuroscience area strategy, and co-led the 2nd largest and among the most productive therapeutic areas at Pfizer. As member of the Discovery Research Management Team of the Ann Arbor Pfizer site, Dr. Zorn was also jointly accountable for site deliverables from 5 therapeutic areas: Neuroscience, Cardiovascular, Inflammation, Dermatology and Infectious Diseases. Across his industry career, Zorn shepherded, led or contributed to research generating dozens of drug candidates from Lundbeck and Pfizer in clinical development for multiple indications; many have progressed to phase II/III or have been marketed (e.g. Geodon, Lyrica, Trintellix).

Dr. Zorn received a BS degree in Chemistry from Lafayette College, Easton, PA, and MS and Ph.D. Biomedical Science degrees in Neurotoxicology and Neuropharmacology, respectively, from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX. Subsequent postdoctoral research studies centered on basic research of brain and intracellular neuronal signaling mechanisms at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, in Paul Greengard’s, (Nobel Laureate) laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. He has been a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders, The NIMH Biomarker Consortium and PHRMA’s Biomedical Advisory Committee.

Frank S Menniti imgFrank S. Menniti, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer – Dr. Menniti has over 25 years of successful drug discovery and development experience.  Most recently, Dr. Menniti co-founded Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and served as Chief Science Officer (2010-2015).  He is the architect of the Mnemosyne’s therapeutic platform, the Subunit-selective NMDA Receptor Modulators, which yielded a partnership with Novartis to develop a new class of antidepressant.

In conjunction with his responsibilities as Chief Science Officer of MindImmune Therapeutics, Inc., Dr. Menniti is a Ryan Research Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island.

Prior to co-founding Mnemosyne, Dr. Menniti was a Research Fellow in the CNS Discovery group at Pfizer, Inc. (1992-2009).  While at Pfizer Inc., Dr. Menniti was a principal in developing the scientific rationale for use of NMDA receptor NR2B antagonists for stroke, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, and depression and in the clinical development of the prototype NR2B antagonist CP-101,606.

Dr. Menniti also was involved in developing the therapeutic utilities of phosphodiesterase inhibitors for neuropsychiatric disease.  This includes the identification of PDE10A inhibitors for schizophrenia and Huntington’s disease, with the first PDE10A inhibitor to reach Phase II development.

Dr. Menniti also led the discovery teams that advanced the first PDE9A inhibitor into Phase II testing for Alzheimer’s disease and the first PDE5A inhibitor into Phase II testing to improve functional recovery after stroke.

Dr. Menniti received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1987 and was a Staff Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. James W. Putney at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences from 1988-1992, participating in research elucidating the fundamentals of intracellular calcium signaling.

Robert B Nelson imgRobert B. Nelson, Ph.D., Vice President, Biology and Corporate Secretary – Dr. Nelson has over 24 years of experience in pharmaceutical drug discovery and development, including work on both small molecule and biologic drug candidates.  Most recently, Dr. Nelson jointly established and built one of the first Neuroinflammation units in the industry, which served as a primary focus of US research by Lundbeck. He was on the US research management team responsible for design and execution of drug discovery strategy (2010-2015).  He created and headed a research division that identified peripheral immune mechanisms acting across the blood-brain barrier to propagate multiple neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, small vessel disease (SVD), and progressive MS. Dr. Nelson was project lead on two academic/industrial collaborations pursuing biologics-based therapeutic candidates for AD and progressive MS, one with Dr. Katerina Akassoglou at the Gladstone Institutes, and the other with Dr. Dave Morgan at the USF Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.

In conjunction with his responsibilities as Vice President, Exploratory Biology of MindImmune Therapeutics, Inc., Dr. Nelson is a Ryan Research Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island.

Prior to joining Lundbeck, Dr. Nelson was an Associate Research Fellow in the CNS Discovery group at Pfizer, Inc. (1991-2009).  While at Pfizer, Dr. Nelson was leader on a project that nominated for clinical development a prototype nNOS inhibitor CP-601,073 for stroke and stroke recovery.  Dr. Nelson was also the biology lead on a joint collaboration with TransTech Pharmaceuticals that resulted in the nomination of TTP-488, a RAGE antagonist currently in Phase III clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Nelson received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University (Neuroscience program/Department of Psychology) in 1987, and was a Freudenberger Research Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Huntington Potter at Harvard Medical School from 1989-1991, studying the role of CNS proteases in neurite outgrowth, astrocytic differentiation, and aberrant protein production/protein refolding.

Charles E NolanCharles E Nolan, MS., Associate Research Fellow – Mr. Nolan is a biochemist and neuro- in vivo pharmacologist with eleven years academic and 27 years industrial experience.  Mr. Nolan has extensive knowledge of Alzheimer’s Disease drug discovery process with expertise in assay development, in vivo pharmacology, and pharmacodynamic model development.

Mr. Nolan has extensive experience with target identification and implementation of in vitro and cell-based screening and has led large in vivo pharmacology teams in the capacity as program leader and key biology liaison for multiple pre-clinical drug discovery programs.

Prior to joining Mindimmune Therapeutics, Inc., Mr. Nolan maintained a leadership role in numerous small molecule Alzheimer’s disease discovery projects at Pfizer Inc., targeting nNOS, GSK3β, γ-secretase and BACE-1 inhibition.

As Biology POC for BACE inhibitor program, Mr. Nolan led multiple BACE1 assets through lead development and candidate seeking stage gates to identify FIH candidate PF-6751979.

Mr. Nolan authored the Non-Clinical Overview (NCO) and established and prosecuted a robust phenotypic cellular MelanoDerm assay to tie BACE2 non-selectivity to pigmentation loss, which was critical for differentiation of lead compounds.

Mr. Nolan received his MS from the department of Biochemistry at the University of New Hampshire in 1980.

Diane B Gooding imgDiane Gooding, Director of Business Operations, and Corporate Treasurer – Ms. Gooding brings over 20 years of experience in Finance and Fundraising to her position as Director of Business Operations for MindImmune Therapeutics, Inc. Gooding most recently served as Director of Operations for Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (now Luc Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA), an early stage, drug discovery company in Providence, RI. From February 2013 to February 2014, Gooding’s responsibilities included setting up systems for cash flow management, document storage, and human resource policies.

Prior to her position at Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Gooding was Chief Development Officer of Bradley Hospital, a pediatric psychiatric hospital in East Providence, RI. From July, 2009 to August, 2013, Gooding served on the Bradley’s Executive Committee and was responsible for the strategic planning of the hospital’s fundraising efforts. Gooding wrote the 2012 Program Expansion Plan for the hospital and through volunteer management and personal solicitation, achieved three years of successive growth for annual fundraising for this Lifespan affiliate.

Gooding received her B.A. in French from the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, and her M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia University in New York, NY.