Thomas Steckler, MD, is Associate Director, Bioresearch Quality & Compliance, Preclinical Quality Risk Management and global Bioresearch Quality & Compliance Lead Animal Welfare, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Belgium. He studied Medicine at the Free University of Berlin, Germany and habilitated in Biological Psychology at the Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany. Prior to joining the Bioresearch Quality & Compliance organization at Janssen he was a Senior Director in Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Janssen and a Senior Janssen Research Fellow for 15 years, a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany, postdoctoral fellow at the MRC Neurochemical Pathology Unit, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and MD student at Schering, Berlin, Germany. Dr. Steckler is the project leader of the Enhancing Quality in Preclinical Data (EQIPD) Innovate Medicines Initiative (IMI), a co-lead of the ECNP Preclinical Data Quality Network consortium and serves as an AAALAC ad-hoc specialist. He has co-authored more than 140 peer reviewed publications, has been a principal editor of the journal Psychopharmacology for several years, is co-editor of a number of books, and most recently co-edited a Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology on Good Research Practice in Non-Clinical Pharmacology and Biomedicine. He has a focus on the non-regulated Discovery space, with a passion for data integrity, research ethics and animal welfare.
Renza Roncarati studied biology at the University of Bologna in Italy and obtained her PhD from the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research and the University of Cologne in Germany. Subsequently, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Medical Genetics and Virology of the University of Cologne where she studied host-virus interactions at the molecular and cellular level. After this period, she moved to the Pharmacology Department of the University of Verona in Italy as senior scientist and group leader, and conducted research on synaptic plasticity and mechanisms regulating the turnover of receptors and ion channels. In 2003 Renza joined Siena Biotech, an Italian start-up drug discovery company, as Head of the Cell Biology and Imaging Unit of the Neuroscience Department. There, she was also project leader of two drug discovery projects, leading to the first clinical development candidate of the company for Alzheimer’s disease. From 2011 to 2012 Renza was at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona (Spain) as Head of the Biomolecular Screening and Protein Technologies Unit of the CRG Core Facility. In this role, she managed an interdisciplinary technology platform, supervised projects in collaboration with several research groups and was responsible for technology development. Subsequently, Renza was Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Biotechnology of the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim (Germany) teaching drug discovery, and most recently, she spent 6 months at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica (SIMM) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China supporting screening of small molecule modulators and functional studies of a novel ion channel.
Paul trained as a pharmacologist in the UK, first in Bristol, then in Bath for his Ph.D., specialising in chronopharmacology. He has spent over 30 years in the pharma industry in both big and medium pharma companies, biotech and also in contract research. After a few years at Wyeth in the UK and after his Ph.D., Paul moved to France to join Merrell Dow at their research centre in Strasbourg where he worked on several compounds that advanced to clinical development, including dolasetron (5-HT3 antagonist), binospirone (5-HT1A partial agonist) and volinanserin (5-HT2A antagonist). He then moved to the Paris region where he headed a psychopharmacology unit for Synthélabo and then Sanofi where his group was largely responsible for developing SL 65.0105, a cognition enhancer which advanced to Phase II clinical trials. His career changed direction in 2001 when he became VP CNS Development for Genset, a French biotechnology company. This was followed by 7 years in the pharmacology CRO, Porsolt, as Scientific Director and 5 years at Pierre Fabre as head of CNS Pharmacology covering in vitro and in vivo studies in psychiatric disorders and pain. Subsequently, he moved to Bial in Porto, Portugal, to head the Department of Pharmacology, covering all preclinical and early development studies in neurological and cardiovascular diseases. Since 2018 he has his own consultancy company, Cerbascience and in 2019 joined PAASP as a regional partner for France.
As a behavioural pharmacologist, the issues surrounding translatability of animal models and reliability of experimental studies have always been a major concern for him, resulting in him to be one of the early members of the ECNP Preclinical Data Forum. Finding better ways to analyse and interpret data continues to be one of his major interests.
Rita Balice-Gordon, Ph.D., is the CSO of Muna Therapeutics, a newly formed Neurology focused biotech company working on developing novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. She is working with Anders Hinsby, Jakob Busch-Petersen, Joachim Vilstrup, Simon Glerup Pedersen and the team at Novo Ventures to transform cutting-edge science into impactful therapeutics for CNS diseases.
Dr. Balice_Gordon was the Global Head, Rare and Neurologic Diseases Research Therapeutic Area at Sanofi, Inc. She lead groups of scientists based in Boston and Paris working on small molecules, antibodies and gene therapy as modalities for discovering and developing innovative and transformative therapeutics for patients with rare genetic disorders, Multiple Sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Balice-Gordon was formerly Vice-President and Head of Circuits, Neurotransmitters and Signaling in Pfizer’s Neuroscience and Pain Research Unit, and was Head of the Worldwide Research and Development Postdoctoral Program there. Prior to joining Pfizer, Dr. Balice-Gordon was Professor of Neuroscience and Chair of the Neuroscience Graduate Group in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she currently holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor.
Dr. Balice-Gordon and her laboratory have studied the cell-cell signaling mechanisms underlying synapse formation and maintenance, the mechanisms underlying neuromuscular development and disease and the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying autoimmune CNS disorders that affect cognition and behavior. She was continuously funded by the NIH for more than 30 years.
Dr. Balice-Gordon has authored more than 100 scientific papers, has been the recipient of several awards and honors, has given hundreds of invited research talks around the world, has chaired or served on many NIH, national and international committees and study sections, has served on the editorial board of several leading scientific journals, and has served on the scientific advisory boards of several startups/biotechs. Dr. Balice-Gordon is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Skolnick is the Chief Scientific Officer at Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Prior to joining Opiant, he was the Director, Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH (2010-2017). He served as Chief Scientific Officer (2001-2009) and President (2007-2009) of DOV Pharmaceutical, Inc. Dr. Skolnick was a Lilly Research Fellow (Neuroscience) at Lilly Research Laboratories (1997-2000). His 25 year career at the NIH intramural research program began with a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. John W. Daly and ended as Chief, Laboratory of Neuroscience (1986-1997). Dr. Skolnick has received multiple honors and awards, including the A.E. Bennett Award in Biological Psychiatry, an Anna Monika Prize, the Experimental Therapeutics Prize from the American Society of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. He has also twice been awarded the Doctor of Science, honoris causa.Dr. Skolnick has co‑authored more than 580 articles. The Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) has named him to the elite group of “Highly Cited” authors.
Valentina obtained a PhD in pharmacology from Heidelberg University in 2005, based on her research done at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. Following her PhD, she continued as a scientist at the Central Institute of Mental Health, focusing on addiction. In particular, she identified new therapeutic targets that could help patients to remain abstinent. To this effort, Valentina has been managing several European and national projects aimed at discovering new medications for the treatment of alcoholism. Throughout the years, Valentina has had numerous collaborations with academic institutions around the world, e.g. National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, USA) and Tokyo University, and with the pharmaceutical industry, for example with GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffmann-La Roche, Abbott/Abbvie. Since 2009, Valentina teaches at the neurobiology postgraduate training program at Vilnius University where she also has her own research group. Since 2018, Valentina holds a position as professor in neurochemistry, at the Institute of Biosciences at Vilnius University.