Perlstein joins the Foundation to speed the development of viable treatments and therapies that will facilitate greater recovery following spinal cord injury

Short Hills, N.J. (September 17, 2019) –The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation announced today the appointment of Ethan O. Perlstein, Ph.D., as the Reeve Foundation’s first Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). In this role, Dr. Perlstein will manage the Reeve Foundation’s basic and translational research portfolio and lead venture philanthropy investments in pursuit of the Foundation’s ultimate goal, curing spinal cord injury.

Since 1982, the Reeve Foundation has invested over $140 million in research labs around the world to accelerate the development of new treatments for individuals living with spinal cord injury. The Reeve Foundation was a driving force behind some of the earliest discoveries in the field and created a consortium of labs and clinical trials network to advance a full spectrum of spinal cord research. Dr. Perlstein joins the Reeve Foundation as it restructures its approach to research by leveraging the latest advances and building an innovative pipeline of potential therapies. Additionally, Dr. Perlstein will work to galvanize key stakeholders by bringing together researchers, foundations, government, and industry to form strategic partnerships and optimize resources, as well as streamline the clinical trials process.

“Dr. Perlstein is best defined as a disruptor with experience bridging the translational gap that exists between academia and industry. Most of all, he recognizes the urgency of our mission to accelerate the development of new treatments that will rapidly improve quality of life for individuals living with spinal cord injury,” said Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “Science never rests, and it’s not enough to uncover breakthroughs in the lab. Our greatest metric for success must be bringing those discoveries to the millions of people who are counting on the Reeve Foundation to change their lives, and Dr. Perlstein will be key in fulfilling our promise in the here and now.”

Dr. Perlstein brings nearly two decades of experience in biomedical research and over five years in biotech company formation and executive leadership. He holds a doctorate in molecular and cell biology from Harvard University and was a Lewis-Sigler Fellow at Princeton University from 2007-2012.

In 2014, Dr. Perlstein founded Perlara PBC, the first biotech public benefit corporation with a legal mandate to co-develop drugs in collaboration with families and communities affected by genetic diseases. During that time, Dr. Perlstein served as a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of Global Genes, the leading rare disease community-led advocacy organization. Prior to becoming a biotech entrepreneur, Dr. Perlstein conducted and led cross-disciplinary academic research in genetics, cell biology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and drug discovery.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Dr. Perlstein. "When the Reeve Foundation approached me during their search for their first-ever CSO who will develop a bold venture philanthropy vision, I knew I had to rise to the challenge. While I don’t have a background in spinal cord injury research or a personal connection to paralysis, the Reeve Foundation mission has quickly become hard coded to my DNA and I am eager to bring tomorrow’s long-promised cures within reach of patients waiting for them today. It’s thanks to the persistence and leadership of the Reeve Foundation that we have arrived at this inflection point in the field and truly the perfect time to take a more aggressive role to identify and pursue the best science primed for translation to the clinic.”

During his time at Perlara, Dr. Perlstein managed a team of cross-functional, mission-driven scientists who partnered closely with rare disease families, organizations and impact investors to achieve progress against their disease. He led the company to profitability and validated the business case for a new patient partnership business model called PerlQuest, which gave patient communities financial upside as well as the promise of new treatments and, one day, a cure. Those efforts resulted in multiple publications and patents, as well as yielded two clinic-bound drug repurposing candidates for congenital disorders of glycosylation.

About the Reeve Foundation

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB’s Charity Seal.For more information, please visit our website at or call 800-225-0292.

Media Contact:

Rebecca Laming

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