Health care venture capitalist Jonathan Silverstein has more than two decades of professional experience with strategic investment in drug development. However, Jonathan's sense of urgency to find cures intensified after he received a diagnosis of GBA-associated Parkinson's at age 49.
In recent years, the genetic target GBA has come to the forefront of Parkinson's disease (PD) research. First linked to Parkinson's in 2004, GBA is the most common of the currently known PD genetic mutations; research estimates that up to 10 percent of people with Parkinson's in the United States, including Jonathan, carry the GBA mutation.
Read more on the connection between GBA and Parkinson's here.
Within months of receiving his diagnosis, Jonathan founded The Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson's with GBA to apply his professional acumen and personal sense of urgency to speeding new therapies and a cure. In a recent commentary on CNBC.com, Jonathan remarks on how his professional point of view changed dramatically after receiving his diagnosis:
"Venture capitalists are often reluctant to swing for the fences for cures because we lack a complete understanding of the disease, leading to a low probability of a return on investment and high expense to reaching clinically meaningful results.
However, as a patient, all I want is to find a cure."
Jonathan also speaks to what he calls the "hive mind" approach to strengthening collaboration across the research, academic and investment communities:
"I hope others in the biotechnology, research and venture capital communities will join me in bringing this model's promise to life. I understand now, even more than I did over the first 20 years of my career, that we need renewed energy in fighting these rare diseases and finding the treatments that will save lives. We have no time to waste. We must strive to be innovators and leaders in this race against the clock, ultimately providing the most important element in the equation: hope."
The Foundation's landmark clinical study, the Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), is currently studying the connection between Parkinson's and the GBA mutation. Fill out this form to see if you qualify to participate.