The External Oversight Committee (EOC) of the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network for Biologics (BPN-Biologics) is an external advisory group of experts directed to provide independent advice to the NIH program staff and its current projects. The Committee currently consists of six members with an executive level of expertise in therapeutics discovery and pre-clinical development as well as comprehensive experience in effective portfolio analysis, planning and control, and decision-making process in both academia and industry.
As individuals, EOC members deliver their perspectives independently on the oversight, strategy, and implementation of the BPN-Biologics program. The Committee members provide independent feedback on BPN-Biologics projects’ progression including developing and monitoring milestones-driven plans for individual teams.
As a link to the neurotherapeutic biologics discovery/development research community, the EOC will help the BPN-Biologics program adjust to changing landscapes and continue to provide a unique community scientific resource. Membership on this committee may be supplemented with ad hoc participation of individuals with expertise appropriate for specific programmatic matters within the BPN-Biologics program and the Division of Translational Research.
Peter Farina, Ph.D.- Interim Chair
Dr. Farina served as Senior Vice President of Development at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in Ridgefield, CT where he was responsible for North American pre-clinical development of drugs in the therapeutic areas of Immunology/Inflammation, virology and cardio-metabolic diseases. His career spanned 28 years and retired from the company in 2008. During his tenure as SVP, his interdisciplinary team worked on the development and successful registration of Aptivus®, an HIV protease inhibitor, Viramune XR® for HIV and Atrovent HFA® for COPD/emphysema and Jardiance® for diabetes. Prior to this position, he served as Vice President of Research at the Ridgefield Center. He has also held positions as Director of Inflammatory Diseases and Director of Biochemistry. Prior to joining BI, Dr. Farina spent 6 years in the Corporate Research Laboratories and Medical Products Division of Union Carbide Corporation in Tarrytown, NY where he worked on immunodiagnostics.
Dr. Farina’s research interests have been focused on chemical and biological mechanisms impacting human disease. He has worked over his career to develop drugs to modulate inflammatory and immunological processes and was also engaged in HIV virology research which led to the discovery and successful registration of one of the first non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors Viramune® (nevirapine).
Dr. Farina is currently an Executive in Residence at Canaan Partners, a venture capital firm located in Westport, CT. He is also the managing partner of Salient Science & Technology, LLC which advises several US and Asian biotech firms on strategic and technical matters in pharmaceutical R&D.
Dr. Farina currently serves as the Co-Chair and Board Member of BioCT; the Advisory Board of the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy(Emeritus), member of the NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN) Executive Oversight Committee; Emory University DRIVE Advisory Board, State of Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Advisory Board, and was a Founder and CEO of Developing World Cures, a nonprofit company focused on neglected diseases. Dr. Farina has a PhD in organic chemistry from SUNY Buffalo and did postdoctoral work in bioorganic chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Connecticut.
Leonard Post, Ph.D.
Dr. Post has more than 30 years of experience with all stages of drug development, from early discovery through FDA approval. He was a Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LEAD Therapeutics, which was later acquired by BioMarin Pharmaceuticals where he then served as the Chief Scientific Officer. At LEAD and BioMarin, he worked on the discovery and early development of the PARP inhibitor talazoparib. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President of Research and Development for Onyx Pharmaceuticals from 2000 to 2006. In this role, he was responsible for the co-development of Nexavar through to FDA approval for renal cancer. Leonard received a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is now the Chief Scientific Officer of Vivace Therapeutics, an oncology-focused portfolio-based drug discovery and development company.
Eva Feldman, MD, Ph.D.
Dr. Feldman received her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan, completed a neurology residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and returned to University of Michigan for a Neuromuscular fellowship. In addition to her active clinical practice in neurology and position as the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Feldman directed the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute until 2017, and is currently Director of the University of Michigan ALS Center of Excellence. She also runs her own 30-scientist laboratory, the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies, and is the principal investigator of two first-ever FDA approved human clinical trials of intraspinal stem cell implantation therapy for ALS. Dr. Feldman has published more than 460 original peer-reviewed articles, 70 book chapters, and four books and has had continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for more than 30 years.
She is Past President of the Peripheral Nerve Society (PNS) and served as President of the American Neurological Association (ANA) from 2011 to 2013, the third woman to hold this position in 130 years. Among Dr. Feldman’s greatest accomplishments is her training of both scientists and neurologists. Nine scientists have received their Ph.D. degrees under her supervision, and she has trained over 100 postdoctoral fellows and neurologists to specialize in understanding and treating neurological diseases, with an emphasis on ALS and neuropathy.
Dr. Feldman’s numerous honors include both the Early and Distinguished Career Development Awards from University of Michigan and being an elected member of the Association of American Physicians and National Academy of Medicine. In addition, she received the 2016 Castle Connolly National Clinician of the Year award, the 2016 Society for Neuroscience Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring, and the 2017 Endocrine Society Gerald D. Aurbach Award for Outstanding Translational Research. She was named a 2018 Honorary Fellow of the ANA, and recently honored with the 2019 PNS Alan J. Gebhart Prize for Excellence in Peripheral Nerve Research. In 2020, Dr. Feldman assumed the Chair of the Neurology and Psychiatry Section for the National Academy of Medicine.
Laureen Little, Ph.D.
Dr. Little has been a bioassay consultant for over 25 years. During this time, she worked with small and large pharmaceutical companies in all stages of development, as well as supporting authorized products. She has worked with protein products, including antibodies, enzymes, carbohydrate-based products, and many other types.
Dr. Little also has a vast experience with biopharmaceuticals including vaccines, viruses, cell-based products and combination products. She is the founder & President of BEBPA, Principal Consultant at Quality Services and was the original producer of the three largest and most popular bioassay conferences held in Europe and the USA.
Darryle Schoepp, Ph.D.
Dr. Schoepp has over thirty years experience in the discovery and development of innovative Neuroscience therapeutics in pharmaceutical industry. This includes 20 years at Eli Lilly as a scientist and leader of Neuroscience research department, and 11 years at Merck as the Neuroscience research therapeutic area leader.
As a scientist, he has over 200 publications (>19,000 citations of this work) and is an inventor of 15 US patents. He is recognized for having made major contributions in the investigation of the excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter glutamate in disease pathophysiology, pharmacology and therapeutics. His bench and leadership roles have led to the discovery and introduction into patients of over 20 novel first in class agents for psychiatric and neurological diseases. These include the first AMPA/kainate and metabotropic receptor negative and positive modulators (e.g. Tezampanel, Talampanel, LY354740, LY341595, Eglumetad and Pomoglumetad) investigated for migraine, pain, cognition, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. While at Lilly, he was a co-discoverer of the compound LY246736 (Alipimovan/Entereg) a first in class peripherally restricted opioid antagonist for post-operative ileus.
At Merck as head of Neuroscience research, his team have built a pipeline of innovative first class agents for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, pain/migraine, and schizophrenia. Merck Neuroscience successfully developed and launched the first in class orexin receptor antagonist Suvorexant (Belsomra) for insomnia and created the novel first in class oral CGRP antagonists Ubrogepant and Atogepant currently in registration trials for migraine treatment and prevention (by Allergan). His group made important contributions to the pioneering trials of the BACE inhibitor Verubecestat in prevention trials for Alzheimer’s disease.
Thomas Fuerst, Ph.D
Dr. Fuerst is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland (UMD). He also served as director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), UMD, in which the Institute’s mission is focused on biomolecular structure-function relationships and measurement sciences with an emphasis on structure-based vaccine design, next generation protein therapeutics, and macromolecular delivery systems. He has a distinguished track record as a senior biotechnology executive and former government official with more than three decades of experience in the research, development, and manufacturing of biological products. Dr. Fuerst has extensive scientific expertise and knowledge of state-of-the-art technologies and practices used in the discovery and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and related technologies.
Dr. Fuerst also served as a senior fellow at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He holds a BA in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, a PhD in molecular genetics from Cornell University, and an MBA in science, technology, and innovation from the George Washington University. He is the recipient of several Distinguished Service Awards for leadership from HHS, served on the Advisory Council for the College of Life Sciences at Cornell University, and participates on several advisory boards in the biotechnology industry.