Innovating Medicines to Treat Rare Childhood Neurodegenerative Diseases

Innovating Medicines to Treat Rare Childhood Neurodegenerative Diseases

Ohio native Berit Powers went off to the University of Michigan with a keen interest in how the human brain works. A course on the biological correlates of addiction sparked her fascination with the processes that underly human behavior and disease. Later, as a lab assistant at the Cleveland Clinic, she had the “wild” experience of observing the surgical resection of human brain regions that were causing severe, drug-resistant seizures. After shadowing the epileptologist who performed the surgery, she got advice that would shape her career path. He told her, “My major frustration as a neurologist is I have very few treatments to offer my patients. So you go, make the next new drug, give me something I can give my patients.” Those words helped inspire Berit’s journey into translational medicine. Along the way she earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington and completed her postdoctoral studies at Harvard University. At Ionis, she leads research on investigational medicines to treat Alexander disease and Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, two rare neurodevelopmental disorders affecting young children.

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