Cygnal Therapeutics Announces Scientific Advisory Board

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Cygnal Therapeutics, the first company to build a platform to develop drugs in the new field of exoneural biology, today announced the company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The members of Cygnal’s SAB are an unparalleled group of clinicians, researchers, and academic experts studying cancer and immune cells’ interaction with and dependence on nerves. The SAB will guide and advise Cygnal’s scientific programs, focusing particularly on target identification and validation, assay development, and in vivo models. Further, the SAB will contribute insights to aid in the clinical development of Cygnal’s lead programs.

“Our SAB is comprised of world-class pioneers in cancer research, inflammation, and neuroscience. Cygnal’s platform is built on biology with broad implications across multiple categories of disease, and we are thrilled to have brought together this group of scientific luminaries. We are tapping into their diverse perspectives, profound expertise, and tremendous insights to fuel Cygnal’s continued growth and our rigorous scientific programs across oncology, immunology, and inflammation,” said Pearl Huang, Ph.D., CEO of Cygnal Therapeutics.

The members of Cygnal’s SAB are:

Paul Frenette, M.D.
Since 2010, Dr. Frenette has served as the director of the Ruth L. and David S. Gottesman Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System in New York. Before joining Einstein, he served for 12 years in professorship roles at Mount Sinai Health System, most recently as professor of medicine. Earlier, he was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Frenette received his M.D. from Laval University in Quebec City and completed an internal medicine residency and internship at McGill University in Montreal. He completed his residency in hematology-oncology and his fellowship at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

Dr. Frenette has described how peripheral innervation impacts tumor biology, particularly in the context of prostate cancer. His laboratory has made critical observations that elucidate the role of sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation in promoting tumor initiation and metastasis.

Hubert Hondermarck, Ph.D.
A biochemist and expert in cancer cell biology, Dr. Hondermarck is a professor at the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He received his Ph.D. in neurobiochemistry from the University of Lille in France and completed his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Irvine. He founded a research unit at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research and led that unit for 10 years before he joined the University of Newcastle in 2011. He has published more than 100 articles over his career as a researcher.

Dr. Hondermarck has uncovered the importance of neurotrophic factors secreted by cancer cells that, in turn, attract and recruit neuronal processes to the tumor microenvironment.

Michelle Monje, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Monje is associate professor of neurology and neuro-oncology at Stanford University. Dr. Monje received her M.D and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford. She completed her residency in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. She has also completed a clinical fellowship in pediatric neuro-oncology and a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford.

Dr. Monje’s recent work has uncovered the role of neurons in the central nervous system in driving glioma cancer cell growth. With a series of elegant studies, her lab has shown that neurons signal to cancer cells in the brain via both soluble and synapse-driven interactions that drive brain cancer progression.

Erica Sloan, Ph.D.
Dr. Sloan is associate professor at Monash University in Australia. Dr. Sloan received her Ph.D. in cancer biology from the University of Melbourne. She completed her postdoctoral research in neuroimmunology at UCLA Medical Center and was an early-career fellow of the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Australia.

Dr. Sloan uncovered the role of sympathetic nervous system signals that drive the growth and metastasis of breast cancers, defining how signaling controls tumor cell invasion and remodeling of the tumor microenvironment. Her team recently demonstrated that sympathetic signaling may be targeted in breast cancer patients to modulate biomarkers of metastasis.

David Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Tuveson is the Roy J. Zuckerberg Professor of Cancer Research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York. He has served as director of CSHL’s Cancer Center since 2016, and he is chief scientist at the Lustgarten Foundation, a pancreatic cancer research organization. After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at MIT, Dr. Tuveson received both his M.D. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He completed a medical residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a medical oncology fellowship at DanaFarber/Partners Cancer Care, and a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT.

Dr. Tuveson’s laboratory was established first at the University of Pennsylvania and then at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., where he generated the first accurate mouse models of pancreatic cancer, which are now in widespread use. These mouse and more recent organoid models have been applied to fundamental and translational investigations including the prominent role of the tumor microenvironment in pancreatic cancer progression and drug resistance. In addition to his work at CSHL, Dr. Tuveson continues to practice medical oncology.

Ulrich von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. von Andrian is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Immunopathology at Harvard Medical School, a post he has held since 2006. He is also the program leader in basic immunology and a member of the steering committee at the Ragon Institute at MGH, MIT, and Harvard. After completing his medical degree and doctoral research in Germany at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Dr. von Andrian completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the La Jolla Institute for Experimental Medicine in California. He also completed a second postdoctoral fellowship in pathology at Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. von Andrian joined Harvard Medical School’s faculty in 1994. Since then, he has held additional professorships, and he has served on numerous editorial boards, including the boards of Cell, Science, Journal of Experimental Medicine, and Immunity.

Dr. von Andrian’s laboratory has uncovered the interaction between the peripheral sensory neurons and organs of the immune system. The lab’s discoveries open new gateways into the search for novel therapeutics for modulation of the immune response in both cancer and inflammation.

Timothy Cragin Wang, M.D.
Dr. Wang is chief of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases and co-leader of the Tumor Biology and Microenvironment Program at Columbia University Irving Medical Center’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also the Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Professor of Medicine at Columbia and holds a number of other posts within the university. Dr. Wang received his M.D. from Columbia and completed both an internship and a residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Missouri, followed by a fellowship at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was a member of the faculty for 10 years.

Dr. Wang’s work in gastric cancer has illustrated the importance of cholinergic nerves in driving gastric tumor progression via a neurotrophic (NGF) factor-dependent pathway. This work is suggestive of novel approaches to treatment of gastric cancer in the clinic and provides yet another proof of concept for the exoneural platform that Cygnal is pursuing.

Robert Weinberg, Ph.D.
A pioneering cancer researcher, Dr. Weinberg is a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Massachusetts. He is also an American Cancer Research Society professor at MIT. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in biology from MIT, working under Sheldon Penman. For his postdoctoral work, Dr. Weinberg joined Ernest Winocour’s lab at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, and Renato Dulbecco’s lab at the Salk Institute in California. After completing his postdoctoral research, he returned to MIT in 1972 and was appointed professor of biology in 1982.

Dr. Weinberg’s research is focused on human cancers and their genetic roots. He discovered the first oncogene and the first tumor suppressor gene. His lab continues to uncover crucial, novel insights into tumorigenesis and the spread of cancer. Dr. Weinberg’s encyclopedic knowledge and insight into the complexities of tumor biology are invaluable resources in the exploration of exoneural biology.

To learn more about Cygnal, please visit the company’s website at

About Cygnal Therapeutics
Founded by Flagship Pioneering in 2017, Cygnal Therapeutics is the first company to build a platform to develop drugs in the new field of exoneural biology, an unprecedented way of thinking about nerves and neural pathways outside of traditional neurobiology. Exoneural biology is broadly implicated in human health and disease. Fueled by its Exoneural Medicine Platform™, Cygnal is creating new medicines across multiple therapeutic areas, starting with cancer and inflammatory diseases. Learn more at

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