After working for nearly a decade to break down barriers to progress, chordoma research is at a turning point and is now poised to advance like never before.
Through our model repositories, researchers now have access to the tools they need to understand chordoma and discover new treatments. Through our Drug Screening Pipeline the field now has a fast and efficient way to test drugs in preclinical models. And through our forthcoming clinical trials program a growing pipeline of promising therapies is progressing toward the clinic. These programs have cleared the way to rapidly translate new discoveries into better treatments for chordoma patients. At the same time, the knowledge gained about chordoma in recent years, coupled with a growing toolbox of cancer therapies are making entirely new treatment approaches possible for chordoma.
Looking ahead, the focus of our research efforts are expanding from basic research to understand chordoma, to using that knowledge to develop and test promising new therapies for chordoma patients. Two key priorities for the Foundation now are to develop therapies that can block brachyury – the key driver of chordoma – and to position chordoma to take advantage of coming advances in immunotherapy.
Taking on this next phase in research will require investing significantly more in the years ahead; succeeding will require investing wisely. To that end, we have begun searching for a Director of Research who will manage our growing research portfolio, and provide important leadership to drive forward our drug development efforts.
We are also delighted to welcome three new members to our Board of Directors whose deep expertise in research and finance will position the Foundation to smartly deploy larger and larger investments in research. Drug discovery expert David Drewry, seasoned research strategist David Sandak, and longtime finance executive Ingemar Lanevi bring with them a blend of experience and passion perfectly suited to help the Foundation push forward drug discovery and clinical research needed to bring new therapies across the finish line to chordoma patients.
Meet the new members of our Board of Directors:
David Drewry, Ph.D., is a leader in the medicinal chemistry of protein kinases and an expert in drug discovery. He is a principal investigator at the first U.S. site of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), a public-private target discovery consortium that catalyzes research in new areas of human biology and drug discovery. This center is housed in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where David is a Research Associate Professor.
One of the lead architects behind SGC-UNC’s research strategy to build an open and collaborative network for target discovery, David previously spent nearly 25 years with GlaxoSmithKline, where he directed the chemical biology group and helped to build the Published Kinase Inhibitor Set (PKIS), a collection of 376 compounds that GSK made available for external screening. Under the auspices of the SGC, he’s working with a wide range of companies and foundations to expand this initiative.
In his own words: “Though I’d worked on developing targeted cancer therapies for years, it was actually my daughter who first introduced me to chordoma. Her friend and classmate lost his life to the disease eight years ago, deeply affecting our family and community, and exposing us to the myriad of unmet needs in chordoma science. Since then, I’ve been a close follower and admirer of the Foundation’s work, and am thrilled to join the Board at this transformative time in chordoma research.”
David Sandak, Vice President of Accelerated Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), works in the early stages of the discovery and development pipeline to speed progress of innovative new cancer treatments to the clinic. As the manager of ABC2’s seed investment fund, David has pioneered novel approaches to investing in academic and commercial research, launching startup scientific and social enterprises aimed at advancing genomic analysis for cancer patients.
As a spinout from ABC2, David founded Allele, a social enterprise startup that provides robust genomic profiling to cancer patients in order to guide clinical care and power large-scale data research. He also actively works with the Rare Cancer Research Foundation (RCRF), a nonprofit dedicated to curing rare cancers through strategic investments and collaborations that catalyze effective research. With David’s help, RCRF recently launched Pattern.org, a flexible platform bridging gaps between cancer patients and scientists. With a diverse background that spans corporate, government and non-profit management, David is adept at forging collaborative research partnerships between all the players in the medical research ecosystem.
In his own words: “As someone who understands the challenges involved with advancing research for rare cancers, I have a lot of respect for what Josh and his team have been able to achieve in a short time against incredible odds. With a shared passion for disrupting the ecosystem and finding new ways to tackle old problems, CF and ABC2 have enjoyed many collaborations over the years, and I look forward to the work ahead.”
Ingemar Lanevi is an experienced finance executive with more than 25 years of corporate work at brand name, high-tech companies including NetApp, SGI, and HP, focused in the treasury and financing areas. Most recently, he has been involved with high-tech startup ventures TransCirrus and ReveMed Technologies, as the CFO and finance advisor.
Ingemar is on the Board of Directors of Lease Accelerator Inc., a software company in the leasing industry, where he also serves as chair of the Audit Committee. He has been a member of the Chordoma Foundation’s Finance Committee since 2012. Ingemar has a master’s degree in finance from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Flagler College in St Augustine, FL.
In his own words: “To truly leverage the tremendous research opportunities at-hand will require a renewed focus on resource building and oversight. Understanding both the urgent need for treatments, and the process by which an organization can plan for and achieve rapid growth, I look forward to bringing my experiences to bear on behalf of chordoma patients and families.”
The Foundation is grateful for the tremendous amount of time, energy, and support that all our Board members, past and present, have devoted to advance our mission to improve the lives of those affected by chordoma and lead the search for a cure. To read more about the Board, click here.