Nicholas T. Hertz, PhD, is originally from Santa Monica, California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in 2006, doing research in both a synthetic organic chemistry lab and a biochemistry lab. He then combined his research interests by performing a PhD in chemistry and chemical biology with Drs. Kevan Shokat and Al Burlingame at the University of California, San Francisco, using chemical genetic techniques to elucidate kinase signaling pathways. Dr. Hertz then conducted postdoctoral research with Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne at Stanford, where he identified a novel gene, Rufy3, that controls sensory axon degeneration during development.
During his time in the Shokat lab he made the discovery that PINK1 could utilize the N6 modified ATP analog kinetin triphosphate (KTP) more efficiently than ATP. The development of novel activators to treat underactive kinases could represent a new weapon in the fight against diseases that are associated with kinase underactivity. Dr. Hertz is now CSO at Mitokinin, which he cofounded to develop novel PINK1 targeting therapies.