Dr John Isaac
Senior Director, Neuroscience External Innovation
Place of work / study:
Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre in London
Area of Research:
Drug discovery and development for neurodegeneration and mood disorders (including enabling approaches such as biomarkers and diagnostics).
How is your work funded:
Via Janssen Pharmaceuticals (part of Johnson & Johnson), but also via public private partnerships co-funded by organisations such as the Wellcome Trust, MRC, ARUK, Alzheimer’s Society etc.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I am a synaptic physiologist interested in how the pathology of synaptic and circuit plasticity can contribute to cognitive dysfunction in dementia. I was an academic scientist for over 20 years, both in the UK and USA, until I joined Eli Lilly & Co. in 2010 to lead drug discovery programmes in psychiatry and neurodegeneration. In 2014 I joined Wellcome as Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and in 2016 I moved to J&J to take up my current role.
I see the interaction between Academia, Industry/Biotech and Non-profit/Government/ Charity as a sweet spot for innovation and collaboration. This partnership has the great potential to enable the best and most exciting science to be translated into new treatments for dementia. Having worked in all three sectors, I feel that I can add value by enabling these critically important interactions.
Why did you choose to work in dementia?
Dementia is a devastating syndrome that causes terrible hardship and burden on sufferers and families. I have personal experience of this in my family. The causes of dementia are not well understood, but the science is becoming more and more tractable as our understanding of the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease and other neurodegenerative disorders advances. The UK is an exceptional place to be involved in such work with many key leaders and an advanced collaborative ecosystem. These are exciting times!