John Commissiong is chief scientific officer at Amarantus Therapeutics, a biotech company developing astrocyte-derived, biologic proteins to treat neurodegenerative diseases, with Parkinson's as the focus. He was previously professor of physiology, McGill University (1979-89); chief of the Neural Transplantation Unit at NINDS-NIH (1989-94); head of the Neurotrophic Factors Group at NINDS-NIH (1994-97); and has held senior management positions in the biotechnology industry since 1997. While at the NIH, he immortalized protoplasmic astrocytes without the loss of phenotype. His team later discovered the neurotrophic factor MANF, a 158-AA, human secreted protein and the company’s lead molecule for Parkinson's disease, from one of these cell lines. The bimolecular interactions between astrocytes and neurons in the brain are local. Dr. Commissiong believes that astrocytes are destined to become a major source of neuroprotective drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases and depression. In 1994, he received the NIH Merit Award for contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of nerve repair after injury.