Scientific Advisors

Abraham Fisher, PhD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Fisher has nearly 40 years of experience in drug design and discovery. He has taken lead compounds including AF102B (EVOXAC®, cevimeline HCl) from concept to approval. AF102B is the first muscarinic agonist approved for sale in the U.S. (2000) and in Japan (2001) to treat dry mouth in patients with Sjogren’s Syndrome. Dr. Fisher is also the inventor of AF710B (renamed ANAVEX 3-71). Dr. Fisher is co-founding Chairman and President of the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases Conference,is on the scientific review board of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and is a reviewer of the Alzheimer’s Association. He is named on 21 patents worldwide, is the author of numerous peer-reviewed papers and academic book chapters and is associate editor of Current Alzheimer Research. He also serves on the editorial board of Neurodegenerative Diseases and was on the editorial boards of CNS Drug Reviews, Japanese Journal of Pharmacology and Drug Development Research. Currently Dr. Fisher is a visiting professor at the Department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. Previously he was senior scientist at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) and held faculty appointments as adjunct professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Southern Illinois University and in the School of Medi­cine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, University of Miami.

Norman Relkin, MD, PhD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Relkin is an internationally recognized expert on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. An American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology-certified neurologist, he graduated from Yale and earned MD and PhD degrees from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Relkin is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Founding Director of the Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program. He has 20+ years of clinical trials experience, serving as principal investigator in over 20 therapeutic studies, including multi-center trials he designed. Over the past decade, Dr. Relkin pioneered the study of naturally occurring human antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. He led all three clinical trial phases of Intravenous Immunoglobulin as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment, including the pivotal National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Baxter co-sponsored study carried out at 45 sites (US and Canada). The author of numerous publications on neurodegenerative and traumatic disorders of the brain during the past 25 years, Dr. Relkin sits on editorial boards for three scientific journals. Additionally, he has been a reviewer for NIH and funding agencies in Europe and Australia, and has been a long-standing member of the Weill Cornell Institutional Review Board. In 2012, he was elected to the Board of Directors of The American Federation for Aging Research.

John Harrison, PhD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Harrison is an internationally acknowledged specialist for design of human clinical outcome measurement in Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments. Dr. Harrison has successfully integrated cognitive testing into drug development programs for many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies including eight of the current ‘Fortune’ top 10 pharmaceutical companies. He is Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College in London, focusing on investigating cognitive change that may show disease progression in Alzheimer’s and other related indications. Dr. Harrison is a member of the American Psychological Association, holds Chartered Psychologist status with the British Psychological Society and Chartered Scientist status with the UK Science Council. He has authored/co-authored more than 60 books and scientific articles and has been invited as a specialist for cognitive tests at many international meetings, including the European Task Force for Alzheimer’s disease and American Alzheimer’s Association roundtable events. Dr. Harrison’s background also includes prior positions as Head of Neuropsychology at CeNeS Pharmaceuticals, Principal Consultant at CPC Pharma Services, and Principal Scientist at CogState Ltd. In addition to his current academic appointment, he is principal consultant at Metis Cognition Ltd and holds a PhD in neuroscience from the University of London.

Ottavio Arancio, MD, PhD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Arancio is a cellular neurobiologist who has pioneered the field of mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. He is Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at the Columbia University Medical Center and The Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University. Over the last 10 years, Dr. Arancio has raised more than $25 million in grant funding and published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Dr Arancio’s honors include the “G. Moruzzi Fellowship” (Georgetown University), the “Anna Villa Rusconi Foundation Prize” (Italy), the “INSERM Poste vert Fellowship” (France), the Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation Award (2010), the Margaret Cahn Research Award (2008), the American Health Assistance Foundation Centennial Award (2007) and the Zenith Award (2007). He also founded Citta Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company for development of small molecules to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Tangui Nicolas Maurice, Ph.D.
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Maurice has spent 15 years in the field of neurosciences, including behavioral and molecular neuropharmacology, sigma receptors, neuropeptides, neurosteroids, neurotrophic factors, normal/pathological aging models for Alzheimer’s and related disorders, and behavioral phenotyping of rodent models. Dr. Maurice is a researcher at the Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale (INSERM) U710 at Montpellier. He has also held research positions at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), INSERM U336, the department of neuropsychopharmacology and hospital pharmacy at Meijo University (Nagoya, Japan), and Jouveinal Research Institute (Fresnes, France).

Jeffrey Cummings, MD
A clinical expert on the Anavex Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Jeffrey Cummings is Professor of Neurotherapeutics and Drug Development in the Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic. He is Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Las Vegas, Nevada and Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Jeffrey Cummings graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wyoming, Laramie and obtained his MD degree (with thesis) from the University of Washington, Seattle. He completed internship at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut and did his Neurology residency at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Cummings was formerly the Augustus S. Rose Professor of Neurology and Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA. He was the Director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA and Director of the Deane F. Johnson Center for Neurotherapeutics at UCLA. Dr. Cummings has expertise in neuropsychiatric assessment, outcomes in clinical trials, clinical trial design and analysis, and global clinical trials. He is a frequent consultant to industry. Dr. Cummings has authored more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and 30 books on Alzheimer’s disease, neuropsychiatry, and clinical trials. Dr. Cummings’ interests embrace the neuropsychiatry of neurologic disorders, biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, and clinical trials and drug development for neurologic diseases.

Paul Aisen, MD
A clinical expert on the Anavex Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Aisen is a leading clinician and researcher in Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials and is founding director of the University of Southern California (USC) Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute in San Diego. Previously, he was on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine’s Department of Neurosciences. His primary research interests focus on the development of new strategies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2007, Dr. Aisen has been Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, a consortium funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to develop assessment instruments and conduct clinical trials. Dr. Aisen is Associate Editor of Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, a major international peer-reviewed journal, and sits on the editorial board of BMC Medicine. He has published more than 180 peer-reviewed papers.

Corinne Lasmézas, DVM, PhD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Professor at The Scripps Research Institute for the past 10 years and frequent TED Speaker, Dr. Lasmézas is an internationally recognized expert in the field of neurodegenerative diseases with a focus now on studying the mechanisms of neurodegeneration. Since her appointment at Scripps in 2005, Dr. Lasmézas has focused on how misfolded proteins lead to neuronal dysfunction and loss in diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and prion diseases. Additionally, Dr. Lasmézas is a reviewer for national and private funding agencies worldwide, including the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the UK Medical Research Council, and an advisor for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). She has published more than 60 original scientific papers. Earlier in her career, Dr. Lasmézas’ research provided the first experimental evidence that the prion disease “mad cow disease” had been transmitted to humans, causing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This fatal disease belongs to the same group of age-related neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases, caused by aggregates of misfolded proteins. At the peak of the mad cow crisis, Dr. Lasmézas became an advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as several governmental and public health committees. Dr. Lasmézas holds a PhD in Neurosciences from the University Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris and obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and Diploma of Aeronautic and Space Medicine from the University of Toulouse, France.

Jacqueline French, MD, FAAN
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, professor in the Department of Neurology at New York University (NYU), Co-Director of Epilepsy Research and Clinical Trials at NYU’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and Director of the Epilepsy Study Consortium, Dr. French is an award-winning, internationally recognized expert on epilepsy, new therapeutic interventions and clinical trial methodology. She plays an ongoing leadership role in the area of development of new therapeutics for epilepsy, including co-directing a bi-annual symposium on trial design and its implications and holds positions on committees of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), where she has also co-authored several AAN clinical practice guidelines. Broadly published, including numerous research articles, editorials and chapters, her writings have been featured in respected publications including The New England Journal of Medicine, Neuron, Neuro Image, Epilepsy Currents and Lancet Neurology. She has also edited two books on epilepsy and is an in-demand global speaker on antiepileptic drug therapeutics and related topics. Previously, Dr. French was Assistant Dean for Clinical Trials at the University of Pennsylvania, a recent President of the American Epilepsy Society, Secretary of the American Society of Experimental Neurotherapeutics, and worked with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developing new trial designs for the approval of antiepileptic drugs. Dr. French trained in Neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital (New York), and did her fellowship training in EEG and epilepsy at Mount Sinai Hospital and Yale University. She was the recipient of the Epilepsy Foundation’s 2013 Hero of Epilepsy Award, honoring her longtime contributions to epilepsy research and clinical trials, alongside her significant impact on the epilepsy community.

Andrew J. Cole, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C.) 
Dr. Andrew J. Cole is Director of the MGH Epilepsy Service, Chief of the Division of Clinical Neurophysiology and Epilepsy and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He graduated from Dartmouth College Magna Cum Laude and Dartmouth Medical School. He trained in Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology at the Montreal Neurological Institute, and then moved to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he was Assistant Professor of Neurology. He came to Massachusetts General Hospital in 1992 where he started and developed the MGH Epilepsy Service and founded the MGH Pediatric Epilepsy Service. He has published extensively in clinical neurology, epilepsy, clinical neurophysiology and basic neuroscience. In addition to research and clinical work, Dr. Cole lectures frequently throughout the United States and internationally, and has been a visiting professor at numerous institutions in the U.S.A. and abroad.

Harald Hampel, MD, MA, PhD, MSc
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board and an internationally recognized expert on Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases, Dr. Hampel is Professor and AXA Research Fund Chair at Sorbonne Universities’ Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) in Paris, the leading university in science, technology and medicine in France. The AXA-UPMC Chair is hosted within the highly specialized Institute for Memory and Alzheimer’s Disease (IM2A), a reference center for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, and affiliated with a leading neuroscience institution, the Brain and Spine Institute (ICM), as well as the Department of Neurology at the Pitié-Salpétrière University Hospital. He has conducted more than 50 clinical trials over the past 20 years and has developed international programs focused on Alzheimer’s therapy, diagnosis and the development of biological and imaging biomarkers, including his current work as AXA-UPMC Chair, which aims to improve early detection at the preclinical ‘silent stage’ before the onset of any clinical signs and symptoms. After a post-doctoral fellowship focused on structural and functional neuroimaging of the healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease brain at the NIH/NIA Laboratory of Neurosciences in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Hampel became founding director of the Alzheimer Memorial Center and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Munich. In 2006, he was appointed as a Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. During this time, he was a leading Principal Investigator at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN). In 2010, Dr. Hampel was appointed as Professor, Chair and Head of Department of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Brain Imaging Center (BIC) at the University of Frankfurt. Dr. Hampel has published more than 500 peer-reviewed research papers, 80 book chapters and eight books, many in world-leading scientific journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, The Lancet, The Lancet Neurology, Nature Genetics, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery and Nature Reviews Neurology. He has won numerous awards for his scientific work on healthy and diseased brains as well as biomarker and therapy discovery in Alzheimer’s. Additionally, Dr. Hampel has been a reviewer for leading international scientific journals and funding agencies in the US, Canada and Europe and is Senior Associate Editor of the leading international Alzheimer’s journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Tanya Simuni, MD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Simuni is AC Nielsen Professor of Neurology and Director, Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. She earned her medical degree from Leningrad Medical School (Russia), completed a neurology residency and clinical neurophysiology fellowship at Temple University, Philadelphia, and a fellowship in movement disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She has built a multidisciplinary Parkinson’s disease center that has been designated a Center of Excellence by the National Parkinson’s Foundation. Dr. Simuni’s research interests include experimental pharmacology, early diagnosis, non-motor manifestations and surgical management of Parkinson’s disease. As principal or co-investigator of numerous NINDS, MJFF and industry-sponsored clinical trials, Dr. Simuni has done extensive research on the treatment of Parkinson’s disease focused on studying potential disease modifying strategies. Dr. Simuni is the principal investigator on the NINDS-funded, multicenter Phase III study of the potential disease modifying agent, isradipine. Dr. Simuni has received several prestigious awards and dedicates a substantial amount of her professional time to teaching and mentoring. She has also served as the neurology residency program director at Northwestern.

Daniel Weintraub, MD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Weintraub is professor of psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  He is professor of psychiatry and neurology at Penn and psychiatrist at the Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Center (PADRECC) at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. A geriatric psychiatrist, he conducts clinical research in the psychiatric and cognitive complications of Parkinson’s disease and is author of more than 100 journal articles, reviews and book chapters. Dr. Weintraub completed a NIMH Career Development Award titled “Depression Diagnosis and Treatment in Parkinson Disease” and has been PI on grants from the VA, Penn, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and several industry-sponsored studies. He is also the current Clinical Core Leader of the Penn Udall Center focused on cognition in Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Weintraub is Associate Editor for Movement Disorders journal, was formerly on the Executive Committee of the Parkinson Study Group (PSG), has been a member of four Movement Disorder Society (MDS) task forces to revise and make recommendations for the assessment of cognitive and psychiatric symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and was chair of the Psychiatry Subgroup of the NINDS Common Data Elements (CDE) project.

Kalpana M. Merchant, PhD
A member of the Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Merchant is the President and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) for TransThera Consulting Co., Adjunct Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis. She has deep expertise in the neurobiology of chronic neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders plus almost 25 years of experience in drug discovery and development with a special emphasis on translational strategies that improve the success rate of drug development. Earlier in her career, Dr. Merchant worked in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry as a scientific contributor and in strategic leadership/ management roles. She retired in March 2014 from Eli Lilly and Company where she was the CSO for Tailored Therapeutics – Neuroscience, accountable for scientific and business strategies to deliver personalized therapies and associated biomarkers for the neuroscience portfolio – from discovery through Phase III. Prior to Eli Lilly, Dr. Merchant conducted neuroscience drug discovery research at Pharmacia Corp. She received her PhD in neuropharmacology from the University of Utah. Following a postdoctoral research fellowship at University of Washington, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the same institution. Dr. Merchant has been appointed a member of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council and the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Executive Scientific Advisory Board for the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and The Wellcome Trust Review Board.