About Us

Founders Background and the NeuroBiology Foundation

As Founder of the Neurobiology Foundation, I am very excited to be working with colleagues on the Board of Directors with whom I have worked previously. I have a huge amount of respect for these individuals and I am confident that together we will make great strides in research in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. By way of background to the Foundation, here is an account of how it has come together. I’ve had an inquisitive nature for as long as I can remember and as a teenager, I would spend time at the local library to examine medical textbooks. One area of medicine that fascinated me was what was not known about certain mental illnesses and I vividly remember being intrigued by descriptions of unknown chemical substances that had been found in body fluids of patients with schizophrenia. I would cross-reference these articles among other clinical texts in attempts to find consistency, and to give me a base for more “research”. Corroboration was, as I recall, elusive. These library visits were however, for me, the start of a strong fascination and academic interest in understanding how alterations in neurobiology could manifest in mental illness. As a teenager in the mid 1970’s while on vacation I had the opportunity of meeting several patients from a psychiatric hospital that were on a day outing to one of the coastal towns in England. I had an aunt that worked with this group as a nurse, and she was with them that day. My aunt introduced me to some of the group and I remember being disturbed by their behaviors and facial expressions, and wondered if they were able to perceive their surroundings clearly despite their appearance. I carried the memory of this day with me and often thought of being involved in neurobiological research as a career. I actively sought a career path in medical research having felt more than comfortable in my first internship at the University of Sheffield’s teaching hospital in the early 1980’s studying pharmacokinetics and working alongside research physicians. Later, my Ph.D. studies focused on biochemical pathways and clinical chemistry, however links with mental illness here were slight. In 1989 I moved from England to the United States for a post-doctoral research appointment and continued to work alongside research physicians in elucidating biochemical pathways prior to being attracted into industry where I have worked for pharmaceutical and medical device companies ever since. I had maintained a keen fascination for the carefully choreographed chemical reactions present in biology and to the work of physicians and scientists studying the sensitivity of the human brain to alterations in them. This had been only an interest of mine and perhaps a missed opportunity until recently. In the early spring of 2011, I was able to make, what was to be for me, a profound connection that has prompted the formation of a charity, the Neurobiology Foundation. In a conversation with a colleague and local historian over coffee in March 2011, we discussed his background and family history in which he shared the internet search strategies he used. After our meeting I was driven with a strong desire and renewed effort in a personal search for information regarding the whereabouts of my father, of whom I knew very little. I never met my father and my searches on the internet previously were fruitless. Armed with access to better search tools, a better search strategy, and some luck, I was hugely surprised in how easily I was able to find a published obituary that almost certainly was my father’s. With follow-up, I confirmed this to be the case. He died at a young age, when I was only 4 years old. This was surprising, but what surprised me the most was other information in the obituary. My father’s profession was as a physician, one with a research specialty in neurochemistry of serious mental illnesses. I read this paragraph several times in the obituary notice to take in what I later concluded not to be casual coincidence. I am convinced that my father’s scientific interests and my own were not developed independently and that I express a component of genetics related to a specific curiosity and similar scientific interest.With this information, I was interested to relate current hypotheses and treatment for serious mental illnesses with what was known 30 years ago. I was very surprised to find that seemingly comparatively little progress had been made. The reasons for this undoubtedly were related to the complexity of the illnesses and the paucity in funding for research. I made a decision to assemble a group of very capable individuals and in utilizing our combined academic, non-profit and corporate backgrounds to develop a non-profit foundation to make significantly more headway in these illnesses. There are three main reasons for wanting to found an organization to facilitate a significant improvement in funding for research in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder:1.  Patients, families and friends would benefit from new and safer drug treatment options in the very near future.

2.  To facilitate our scientists and clinicians to better use their expertise, training and critical thinking in uncovering novel neurobiological targets for therapy.

3.  To make a continued contribution to the work that was a passion for my father.

The Neurobiology Foundation is a non-profit tax-excempt 501c(3) organization. The research that it will fund through grants will be highly focused in scope, will be determined by our Scientific Advisory Board and will be strategic to our mission. We intend to build strong relationships with our sponsors, our clinical and research scientists, patient advocacy groups and other foundations working in serious mental illness.I strongly believe that we will be successful in obtaining the financing needed to fund this critical work, in revealing new targets for treatment and improving the lives of the seriously mentally ill patients and those of their families and friends.