Who We Are

ASAP is a coordinated research initiative to advance targeted basic research for Parkinson’s disease. Led by Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman, ASAP was created by the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy with support from the Sergey Brin Family Foundation.

 

Executive Leadership

Randy Schekman, PhD

Scientific Director, ASAP

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Randy Schekman, PhD

Scientific Director, ASAP

Dr. Randy Schekman is a University Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He studied the enzymology of DNA replication as a graduate student with Arthur Kornberg at Stanford University. His current interest in cellular membranes developed during a postdoctoral period with S. J. Singer at the University of California, San Diego. At Berkeley, he developed a genetic and biochemical approach to the study of eukaryotic membrane traffic.

Among his awards are the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with James Rothman and Thomas Südhof. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Foreign Associate of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, a Foreign Associate of the Royal Society of London and an Honorary Academician of the Academia Sinica. In 1993 he was appointed to the Board of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund and then served as the Scientific Director of the Fund from 2002–⁠2013. In 1999, he was elected President of the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2002 he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Reviews of Cell and Developmental Biology. From 2006–⁠2011 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the NAS. From 2011–⁠2019, he served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of an Open Access journal, eLife, sponsored by the HHMI, Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society.

“I am pleased to contribute to this initiative in promoting basic research on the causes, complications and potential control of Parkinson’s disease. As a result of my personal connection to the disease, I have become familiar with some of the issues and therapies and am convinced that we have much to learn before more effective treatments can be developed. Discovery research is surely the way forward to a basic understanding and ultimate control of this terrible disease that touches so many of us.”

Ekemini A. U. Riley, PhD

Managing Director, ASAP

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Ekemini A. U. Riley, PhD

Managing Director, ASAP

Dr. Ekemini A. U. Riley is a director of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy where she provides individual philanthropists and foundations with comprehensive, objective information and counsel related to the state of research for various diseases. Dr. Riley also serves as Managing Director of Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s Disease (ASAP), a coordinated research initiative she helped develop that funds and coordinates targeted basic research to uncover the roots of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Riley has successfully led multiple projects within the center’s medical research portfolio, from neurodegeneration and oncology to nephrology. Her projects at the center include leading the development and launch of ASAP, as well as the Gilbert Family Foundation’s Gene Therapy and Vision Restoration Initiatives. She also helped to execute a groundbreaking organ donation awareness campaign.

Prior to joining the Milken Institute, Dr. Riley worked as a science policy and communications analyst at Ripple Effect Communications, Inc., where she executed several projects across various divisions at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Riley completed her BA in natural sciences from the Johns Hopkins University and PhD in molecular medicine from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Her doctoral research focused on molecular cancer cell biology and gene regulation of an internal blood clotting and tumor suppressor protein.

“ASAP provides an incredible opportunity to bring cohesion to Parkinson's research and serve as a model for how science and philanthropy can come together to advance the field.”


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Current Scientific Advisory Board

Paola Arlotta, PhD

Harvard University

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Paola Arlotta, PhD

Harvard University

Paola Arlotta is the Golub University Professor and Chair of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. Her work aims at understanding the molecular laws that govern the birth, differentiation, and assembly into working circuitry of neuronal diversity in the cerebral cortex. She strives to integrate developmental and evolutionary knowledge to inform novel strategies for circuit repair in the cortex and for modeling of neuropsychiatric disease in vitro using brain organoids. Arlotta received her M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Trieste, Italy and her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Portsmouth, UK. She subsequently completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. Arlotta is the recipient of many awards, including the 2017 George Ledlie Prize from Harvard, The Fannie Cox Prize for excellence in science teaching, the 2018 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation, and a 2019 Harvard College Professorship.

Pietro De Camilli, MD

Yale University School of Medicine

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Pietro De Camilli, MD

Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Chair, Department of Neuroscience,
Director, Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine

Pietro De Camilli is John Klingenstein Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Cell Biology at the Yale School of Medicine. A native of Italy, De Camilli earned his MD from the University of Milano in 1972. He was a postdoctoral fellow (1978–⁠79) with Paul Greengard in the Department of Pharmacology at Yale and subsequently an Assistant Professor in the Yale Section of Cell Biology. Following a return of a few years to Milan, he moved back to Yale in the late 1980s. Since 1992 he has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. From 1997 to 2000 he served as Chair of the Department of Cell Biology and since 2005 as Founding Director of the Yale Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair. In the Fall of 2015 he was named Chair of the Department of Neuroscience and Director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience.

The De Camilli lab is interested in the cell biology of neuronal synapses. De Camilli’s studies on synaptic vesicle dynamics have contributed to the general fields of exocytosis and, more recently, endocytosis. His research has provided insight into mechanisms of membrane deformation and fission implicated in intracellular vesicular transport and in the dynamics of membrane lipids. His discovery and characterization of the role of phosphoinositide metabolism in the control of endocytosis have broad implications in the fields of phospholipid signaling and membrane traffic. His studies of synapses have also contributed to the elucidation of pathogenetic mechanisms of human diseases.

“A thorough understanding of the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease requires the cooperation of labs with different expertise, and this is an excellent opportunity to achieve this goal.”

David Ginsberg, MD

University of Michigan Medical School

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David Ginsberg, MD

Professor of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics, James V. Neel Distinguished University
Professor of Medicine, Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis
Member of the Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan Medical School
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

David Ginsburg is James V. Neel Distinguished University Professor of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics, Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Medicine, a member of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received his B.A. degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University in 1974 and his M.D. degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1978. Dr. Ginsburg is board certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology, Oncology, and Clinical Genetics. His postdoctoral clinical and research training was at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ginsburg joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor in 1985.

Dr. Ginsburg’s laboratory studies the components of the blood-clotting system and how disturbances in their function lead to human bleeding and blood-clotting disorders. The lab has studied the molecular basis of the common disorder von Willebrand disease and is identifying modifier genes that control severity for this and related diseases. The lab has also defined mutations in ADAMTS13, an enzyme that processes von Willebrand factor, as the cause of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Purpura. The lab also studies the plasminogen activation system, the mechanism by which blood clots are broken down, and has explored the role of this system in a variety of disease processes including atherosclerosis and microbial infection. Finally, studies of the bleeding disease combined deficiency of factors V and VIII identified mutations in a novel pathway for the transport of a select subset of proteins from the ER to the Golgi, leading the Ginsburg lab to further exploration of the intracellular secretory machinery and its role in human disease.

Dr. Ginsburg is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize and Stratton Medal from the American Society of Hematology, the Basic Research Prize and the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Heart Association, the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the AAMC Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences, and the Lucian Award from McGill University. He is a past president of the ASCI and has served on the Councils for the AAP, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Ginsburg has served on multiple Editorial Boards and Advisory Councils in both academics and industry. He recently served as a member of the Board of Directors for Shire plc, and is currently on Scientific Advisory Boards for Portola Pharmaceuticals and Syros Pharmaceuticals.

"Parkinson's Disease presents a challenging scientific problem as well as a major unmet medical need. The ASAP Initiative offers an opportunity for major innovative impact on both fronts in this important area."

William J. Marks, Jr., MD, MS-HCM

Verily Life Sciences

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William J. Marks, Jr., MD, MS-HCM

Verily Life Sciences

William J. Marks, Jr., MD, MS-HCM is Head of Clinical Science and Head of Neurology at Verily Life Sciences, formerly Google Life Sciences. At Verily, Dr. Marks is responsible for the team of physicians and other clinicians who provide clinical expertise across the work of the company. For neurology, he leads efforts to advance the understanding of neurological disorders to ultimately improve patient outcomes. Dr. Marks received an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Marquette University and his Medical Degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed his neurology residency and fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Marks also holds a Master of Science in Healthcare Management degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Before joining Verily, he was Professor of Neurology at UCSF, where he founded the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Center and the Center for Neurmodulation. He is now Adjunct Clinical Professor of Neurology & Neurological Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

"This initiative approaches the science of Parkinson's disease in a new way and holds the promise of creating breakthroughs that have been elusive and are desperately needed."

Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

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Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD

Dean, Professor, Biological Chemistry, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Kelsey C. Martin is the Dean for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She received her undergraduate degree in English and American Language and Literature at Harvard University. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she entered the MD-PhD program at Yale University where she studied influenza virus-host cell interactions in the laboratory of Dr. Ari Helenius, receiving her PhD degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and her MD degree in 1992. She did her postdoctoral training in neurobiology with Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University, and joined the UCLA faculty in 1999. The Martin lab integrates molecular cell biological, electrophysiological and next‐generation genomic approaches to understand how experience changes brain connectivity to store long‐term memories.

Martin’s research program provides insight not only into learning and memory in the healthy brain, but also into cognitive disorders that accompany neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, anxiety disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. Outside of UCLA, Martin is a Senior Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus. She is on the editorial board of Cell, the board of directors for the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the board of directors for the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience. In 2016, she became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“I am inspired by the initiative’s vision to cure Parkinson’s disease through the power of science. By enabling fundamental research in brain science and neurodegeneration, the initiative promises to lead to deep and profound insights into the biology of the human brain, paving the way for the development of effective treatments – and eventually a cure – for Parkinson’s disease”

Bernardo Sabatini, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School

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Bernardo Sabatini, MD, PhD

Takeda Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School

Bernardo Sabatini is the Takeda Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He obtained a PhD from the Department of Neurobiology and MD from the Harvard/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Program in Health Sciences and Technology in 1999. Sabatini chose not to pursue further medical training, and instead began a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Karel Svoboda at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. After his postdoctoral research, Sabatini joined the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in 2001.

In 2008, Sabatini was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and in 2010 was named the Takeda Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. His laboratory focuses on understanding the function and regulation of synapses in the mammalian brain with a particular interest in how the function of synapses is perturbed in human diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Sabatini’s laboratory creates new optical and chemical methods to be able to observe and manipulate the biochemical signaling associated with synapse function.

“Parkinson’s disease has been a mystery for too long. I’m excited to be part of an effort that takes a fresh look at all the evidence, funds new analyses, and finally cracks the causes and treatments of this disease.”

Carla Shatz, PhD

Stanford University

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Carla Shatz, PhD

Sapp Family Provostial Professor,
Professor of Biology and Neurobiology,
David Starr Jordan Director, Stanford Bio-X,
Stanford University

Dr. Carla Shatz’s research aims to understand how early developing brain circuits are transformed into adult connections during critical periods of development. Her work, which focuses on the development of the mammalian visual system, has relevance not only for treating developmental disorders such as autism, but also for forging new approaches to Alzheimer’s disease by understanding how nervous and immune systems interact.

Dr. Shatz graduated from Radcliffe College in 1969 with a B.A. in Chemistry. She was honored with a Marshall Scholarship to study at University College London, where she received an M.Phil. in Physiology in 1971. In 1976, she was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Harvard Medical School, where she studied with Nobel Laureates David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel. During this period, she was appointed as a Harvard Junior Fellow. From 1976 to 1978 she obtained postdoctoral training with Dr. Pasko Rakic in the Department of Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School. In 1978, Dr. Shatz moved to Stanford University, where she attained the rank of Professor of Neurobiology in 1989. In 1992, she moved her laboratory to the University of California, Berkeley as Professor of Neurobiology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 2000-2007 she was Chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and the Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology. In recognition of her contributions, in 1992, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1995 to the National Academy of Sciences, in 1997 to the American Philosophical Society, in 1999 to the Institute of Medicine, and in 2011 she was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London. Among her many awards, Dr. Shatz received the Gerard Prize in Neuroscience in 2011 from the 40,000 member Society for Neuroscience, and in 2015, the Gruber Prize in Neuroscience. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Champalimaud Vision Prize, and the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience for the discovery of mechanisms that allow experience and neural activity to remodel brain circuits. In 2018 she received the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

“ASAP can set a new standard for how to understand not only Parkinson’s disease, but complex neurodegenerative diseases in general. Emphasizing the importance of fundamental research and putting the searchlight on immune as well as on neural mechanisms should pave new paths to treatments and cures.”


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Planning Advisory Council

With thanks to ASAP's founding Advisory Council for their input and guidance in development of the strategic roadmap.

James Beck, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer, VP, Scientific Affairs, Parkinson's Foundation

Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD

Van Andel Research Institute Center for Neurodegenerative Science

Pietro De Camilli, MD

Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine

Marie-Françoise Chesselet, MD, PhD

Van Andel Institute Center for Neurodegenerative Science

Martin Citron, PhD

UCB Pharma

David Dexter, PhD

Parkinson's UK, Imperial College London

Ted Dawson MD, PhD

John Hopkins University School of Medicine

Thomas Gasser, MD, PhD

Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research

Magali Haas, MD, PhD

Cohen Veterans Bioscience

Karl Kieburtz, MD, MPH

University of Rochester Medical Center

Walter Koroshetz, MD

National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke

Robert Malenka, MD, PhD

Stanford University School of Medicine

Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD

David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Eliezer Masliah, MD

National Institute of Aging, NIH

K. Kimberly McCleary

The Kith Collective

Karoly Nikolich, PhD

Alkahest

C. Warren Olanow, MD

Mt. Sinai School of Medicine

Bernardo Sabatini, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School

Randy Schekman, PhD

University of California, Berkeley

Darryle Schoepp, PhD

Merck

Todd Sherer, PhD

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

Andrew Singleton, PhD

National Institute of Aging, NIH

Beth Stevens, PhD

Harvard Medical School

David Sulzer, PhD

Columbia University Medical Center

Huda Zoghbi, MD

Baylor College of Medicine

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