Skip to main content
Press Release

Nobel Laureate J. Michael Bishop Joins the Scientific Advisory Board of the Rett Syndrome Research Trust

Media Contact
Monica Coenraads
Chief Executive Officer
Rett Syndrome Research Trust
June 17, 2009

The Rett Syndrome Research Trust announced today the appointment of Nobel Laureate J. Michael Bishop, Christopher Lipinski and Axel Unterbeck to its Scientific Advisory Board. The Trust welcomes the gracious participation of this elite group of scientists who join the existing members including preeminent Rett Syndrome researchers, Adrian Bird and Huda Zoghbi.

Dr. Bishop received the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his colleague Harold Varmus, currently the President of Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, for the revolutionary discovery of normal genes whose malfunction disposes cells to become cancerous.

Currently Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Bishop is stepping down as of August 3rd after an eleven-year tenure overseeing an unparalleled expansion of research facilities and accomplishments. He will continue to maintain his active laboratory and his position as Director of the G. W. Hooper Research Foundation at UCSF, which conducts multidisciplinary research on human disease.

“I know at first hand the personal and scientific challenges posed by Rett Syndrome and related disorders. I am eager to help the Rett Syndrome Research Trust in its quest for remedies to these tragic ailments.” - Chancellor Bishop

His many accolades include the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2003 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor. He is a member the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has written and collaborated on several books in addition to nearly 400 scientific papers, publications, and reviews.

Joining Dr. Bishop is Christopher Lipinski, a world-renowned medicinal chemist best known for his groundbreaking “Rule of Five”, an algorithm that has dramatically impacted the way that pharmaceutical industry approaches the development of orally active drugs. The 1997 publication which the “Rule of Five” first appears in is the most frequently cited medicinal chemistry paper in the last decade.

Currently, Dr. Lipinski is an independent medicinal chemistry consultant. In 2002 he retired from the highest scientific position in the worldwide Pfizer research organization (Senior Research Fellow) and now serves as a Drug-Like Properties consultant to a variety of profit and not for profit organizations.

“I am very pleased to join the SAB of the RSRT because I believe that a strong medicinal chemistry input is a very important contributor to bridging the formidable translational gap between breakthrough discoveries in academic biology and the actual discovery of a drug that benefits the patient.” - Dr. Lipinski

Dr. Lipinski serves on the scientific advisory board of Melior Discovery, a biotech company committed to identifying new therapeutic indications for pre-clinical and development-stage pharmaceuticals, as well as the KU Leuven University, Dundee University and MRC Technology UK drug discovery efforts. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the highlights advisory board of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. He is an adjunct faculty member in Biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has over 235 publications and invited presentations and 17 issued U.S. patents.

The Trust also welcomes Axel Unterbeck of Oxford Bioscience Partners, a venture capital firm that provides equity financing and management assistance to emerging, entrepreneurial-driven companies within the life sciences and healthcare sectors. He brings a wealth of experience spanning 23 years of R&D within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. He held various positions at Bayer AG in Germany and the U.S., including Head of Central Nervous System/Dementia Research. Prior to joining Bayer AG, Dr Unterbeck was a member of the scientific team at the Institute for Genetics in Cologne which achieved the first full-length cloning of the human amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. In 2001 he co-founded with Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel Memory Pharmaceuticals where he served as President and Chief Scientific Officer. Memory Pharmaceuticals was recently purchased by Roche.

“I am delighted to be working with Monica Coenraads and RSRT’s translational effort. At this critical point in Rett Syndrome research, the Trust is uniquely positioned to promote research towards multiple pathways for drug discovery and development and to identify new avenues for therapeutic intervention in this complex field. RSRT’s high standards and ability to engage extraordinary scientists and thinkers, combined with Monica’s ten-year track record of progress in this field, should inspire the confidence and hope of Rett families everywhere.” - Dr. Unterbeck

“Chancellor Bishop is a thoughtful man who cares deeply about science and its translation. His decision and that of Drs. Lipinski and Unterbeck, to join our board, is an incredible vote of confidence with regards to RSRT’s efforts. The intellectual capital behind the Trust coupled with our ability to drive meaningful collaborations between academia and industry will be key to the successful development of interventions. We are honored and grateful to Chancellor Bishop, Dr. Lipinski, Dr. Unterbeck and to all of our scientific advisors for their commitment to our cause.” - Monica Coenraads, Executive Director of RSRT

About Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder that almost exclusively affects girls. It strikes randomly, typically at the age of 12 to 18 months, and is caused by random mutations of the MECP2 gene on the X chromosome. Rett Syndrome is devastating as it deprives young girls of speech, hand use, normal movement often including the ability to walk. As the girls enter childhood the disorder brings anxiety, seizures, tremors, breathing difficulties, severe gastrointestinal issues. While their bodies suffer, it is believed that their cognitive abilities remain largely intact. Although most children survive to adulthood, they require total round-the-clock care.

About the Rett Syndrome Research Trust

The Rett Syndrome Research Trust (RSRT) is a non-profit organization with a highly personal and urgent mission: a cure for Rett Syndrome and related MECP2 disorders. In search of a cure and effective treatment options, RSRT operates at the nexus of global scientific activity. We enable advances in knowledge and drive innovative research through constant engagement with academic scientists, clinicians, industry, investors and affected families. These relationships catalyze the development and execution of a research agenda that neither academia nor industry could achieve

alone. RSRT refutes the conventional practice of labs working in isolation, instead seeking out, promoting and funding collaborations and consortia in which scientists work across multiple disciplines. Since 2008, RSRT has awarded $34 million to research projects. To learn more about the Trust, please visit