Our Story

Through the combination of the business acumen of Tony Leon, P.A. and the thirty years of research conducted by Dr. Kiminobu Sugaya, Ph.D., the most promising cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are now within mankind’s grasp.

In 2009, Tony Leon and Dr. Sugaya met at a medical conference. From this chance meeting a lasting friendship developed that in time turned into a business relationship. They both shared the vision of freeing the world from the clutches of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Their tireless efforts have positioned SynapCyte to begin its quest in 2018 to meet the challenge of curing these devastating diseases.

SynapCyte Mission

The mission of SynapCyte is to develop and commercialize therapies for the treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases using its patented technologies.

Senior Management

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Bob Hering was successful in two very different and demanding work environments; business and military.

Prior to accepting the position of CEO for SynapCyte in October of 2017 Bob founded and built two businesses. In 1981 he started an industrial supply company. Over the next thirty-two years he and his incredible team built the company into one of the largest of its kind in the southeast United States. In 2013 he sold that company and in 2014 started a natural food distribution business, selling it in 2017.

Bob has thirty years of combined active duty and reserve time in the United States Marine Corps and  held command and staff billets in logistics, combat arms and civil affairs. He has deployments to Saudi Arabia in 1991 and to Iraq in 2004. His time in the Marine Corps prepared him to work in complex and compressed environments and to lead both individuals and large organizations. Bob retired from the Marine Corps in 2007 with the rank of Colonel.

Bob has a B.A. degree from the University of Florida and has been married to his wife, Patricia Ann for thirty-six years.

Dr. Kiminobu Sugaya has been a professor of medicine at the Burnett School of Biomedical Science, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida since 2004. He is Director of the Multidisciplinary Neuroscience Alliance, and a Chair of the Central Florida Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. In addition, he founded Progenicyte, which is a biotech company that has licensed more than 63 patents and patents pending from UCF and UIC. His primary research focus has been developing regenerative medicines for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease using iPS and adult stem cells. Dr. Sugaya earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the Science University of Tokyo. He received postdoctoral training under the direction of Dr. Ezio Giacobini, who is responsible for breakthroughs in cholinesterase Alzheimer’s disease therapies.

Following his postdoctoral work under Dr. Giacobini, Dr. Sugaya continued his research within the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he became Associate Professor. Dr. Sugaya moved to the Mayo Clinic at Jacksonville, where he introduced a hypothesis of glial activation as a mechanism of neurodegeneration and became Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Associate Consultant. His publication regarding improvement of memory in aged animals by stem cell transplantation was reported by the Washington Post, BBC, NBC, ABC and other media around the world. Dr. Sugaya continues to collaborate with many international institutions including National Institute of Health and Nobel Prize Institution, Karolinska Institute (Sweden) and aggressively investigates cures for the diseases associate with aging.

As a result of his research on stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, Dr. Sugaya recently received the National Honor Plaque of Panama presented by the President of Panama for his exceptional contribution to neuroscience.

Dr. Goodman is a board-certified neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s disease and memory disorders such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He is also Associate Professor of Neurology for the University of Central Florida, College of Medicine as well as Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology for the University of Florida, College of Medicine. Dr. Goodman was voted “Top Neurologist in Central Florida” for 15 consecutive years by readers of Orlando Magazine and named one of the “Top Neurologist in the Country” by US World News & Report.

Robin Zimmer has been a leader in the development and commercialization of molecular bio-markers, therapeutics and diagnostics for over 25 years. Dr. Zimmer has developed and implemented multiple clinical trial plans, coincident with his principal focus on technology licensing, regulatory approval and commercialization. He has licensed and commercialized advanced life science and defense technologies from US National Laboratories and leading academic research centers around the world. Dr. Zimmer was the owner, President and CEO of ApoCom Genomics, which was the largest worldwide commercial provider of DNA analysis software used by pharmaceutical and biotech researchers to unravel the complexities of genomic sequences during the early days of the Human Genome Project. This software (GRAILTM) proved to be a key tool in the identification of breast cancer genes – BRCA I and BRCA II. In addition, Robin oversaw the development of bioinformatics tools used in the analysis of high risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types associated with cervical cancer. He also successfully licensed, developed and commercialized several advanced Raman spectroscopy technologies from US national laboratories for use in identifying explosives, bio-agents and other deleterious compounds around the world.

In addition, Robin served as a special consultant to the US Patent and Trade Office regarding computational DNA sequence analysis and intellectual property. He is an expert in conducting advanced due diligence analyses and in evaluating the commercial viability of life science technologies.

Over his career, Dr. Zimmer has managed a number of for profit and not for profit enterprises and has served on numerous public and private boards.

Stephanie earned her BS degree from the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Molecular and Microbiologic sciences. While obtaining her degree she worked full time as a microbiological culture specialist and senior teaching laboratory specialist for UCF’s Department of Molecular and Microbiology.

Ms. Merchant’s laboratory skills facilitated her management of research laboratories for multiple UCF principal investigators, including Dr. Sugaya. Under Dr. Sugaya’s mentorship, Stephanie has gone on to develop a wealth of knowledge and experience in stem cell biology. Dr. Sugaya and Ms. Merchant have worked together for over a decade establishing biotech companies and continuing their collaborative research.

Following completion of her Master in Science Management (MSM) degree at UCF, Ms. Merchant became the Laboratory Director of Advanced Innovative Medicine (AIM), a stem cell company that conducts clinical studies for the treatment of Coronary Arterial Disease and Peripheral Arterial Disease. She successfully brought the company through FDA registrations and cleanroom ethics (cGMP) compliance while authoring the company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Science Advisory Board

SynapCyte has recruited a world class Science Advisory Board comprised of scientists and medical doctors working to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Click to expand the sections below to learn more about our science advisory board.

Professor Cuello has been trained at the Universities of Buenos Aires (UBA, Argentina), U. C. San Francisco (USA) and Cambridge (England). He held research and academic positions in the Department of Cell Biology at UBA and in the Department of Pharmacology at both Cambridge and Oxford. He is a past Chair of the McGill Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and presently holds the Charles E. Frosst Merck Chair within the same Department. He is also currently an Associate Member of the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, adjunct Professor of the Scripps Institute (LaJolla) and Visiting Professor at Oxford University.

Dr. Cuello’s lab focuses on degenerative and regenerative processes in the CNS with particular emphasis on aging and Alzheimer’s disease-related studies. His lab utilizes and develops transgenic animal models presenting features of the Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology. The research is of a multidisciplinary nature ranging from molecular approaches to whole animal experimentation and with a particular interest in Alzheimer’s therapeutics.

Ezio Giacobini is a professor associated with the Dept. of Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, University of Geneva Medical School in Geneva, Switzerland and an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology, Psychiatry and Neurology at Southern Illinois School of Medicine Springfield, Illinois. From January 1982 until June 1995 he was professor and Chairman of the Pharmacology Dept. and Scientific Director of the NIA (NIH) Alzheimer Center at Southern Illinois School of Medicine Springfield, Illinois. Before January 1982 he was professor of Bio-behavioral Science at the University of Connecticut, and head of the laboratory of neuro-psychopharmacology.

His major research interest is in the pre-clinical and clinical development of drug therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Giacobini is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed publications in international journals in the field of pharmacology, psychiatry and neurology, and books, chapters and articles in the field of neuropharmacology of the cholinergic system with a special interest in the area of Alzheimer’s disease therapy and cholinesterase inhibitors. He is the editor of three comprehensive volumes: Cholinesterases and Cholinesterase Inhibitors. (Martin Dunitz Publ. London, 2000; Butyrylcholinesterase: its Function and Inhibitors (Martin Dunitz Publ. London, 2003); and the Brain Cholinergic System (with GC Pepeu, Taylor and Francis, Publ. 2006). Dr. Giacobini was the founder with A. Vernadakis of Developmental Neuroscience (1973-1976) and International Journal Developmental Neuroscience and the Chief Editor of Alzheimer Insights (1995-2002).

Dr. Giacobini currently serves on the editorial board of seven international scientific journals and is the co-editor of a further four (Int. J. Developmental Neuroscience, Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, Int. Journal of Geriatric Psychopharmacology, J. of Neurotransmission). Ezio Giacobini is the organizer with J.P. Michel of ten International Springfield Symposia on Advances in Alzheimer’s Therapy, the last one of which, the 10th was in March 2008, Springfield-Hong-Kong PANASIAN meeting, Hong-Kong, China. He is the Vice-president (2000-2006) of the European Soc. Clinical Neuropharmacology.

Dr. Giacobini received the LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE RESEARCH from the Alzheimer Association (USA) presented at the 8th Int. Conference on Alzheimer’s disease in Stockholm, July 2002.

Nigel Greig was trained as a pharmacologist with a background in medicinal chemistry and physiology and gained his Ph.D. from the University of London; specifically, from the Pharmacology Department of the Royal College of Surgeons, England. Leaving the Cancer Chemotherapy Department of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, he joined the National Institute of Health (“NIH”) in 1982. His initial studies focused on optimizing the delivery to and action of drugs within the brain. This resulted in the development of drug candidates for the treatment of brain tumors, and cancers of the breast, lymphatics and ovaries, as well as agents for the treatment of drug abuse and technology for the delivery of neuropeptides, antisense oligonucleotides and proteins to the brain.

Leaving NIH in 1989, Dr. Greig was involved in the initiation of the successful California biotechnology company, Athena Neurosciences, now Elan Pharmaceuticals. The company was launched with technology from Dr. Greig’s program. Returning to NIH as a tenured scientist in 1991, his research has evolved into his present interest, the design and development of drugs and diagnostics for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, with particular emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease, and of type 2 diabetes.

He heads the Drug Design and Development Section of the Laboratory of Neurosciences that extensively collaborates within NIH, academia and industry. This has resulted in the development of several agents from concept in the laboratory, through the required U.S. Government regulatory requirements to the bedside. Patents covering a variety of novel compounds of clinical interest have now been licensed from the NIH to industry and are in preclinical and clinical development, and new research within his program is providing both publications and patent applications to support potential drugs of the future.

Dr. Mohtashem Samsam is an Associate Professor of Medicine and a faculty at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and College of Medicine. He joined UCF in fall 2004 and teaches anatomy, clinical neuroanatomy, and clinical neuroscience to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. Dr. Samsam studied Medicine in English language program of Albert Szent-Gorgyi Medical University, in Szeged, Hungary (1991-1996) and received his Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the Department of Cell Biology and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Salamanca, Spain, in 2002. He did his post-doctoral studies in developmental neurobiology at the Neurology University Clinic, Wuerzburg, Germany (1999-2002).

Publishing several articles in headache and migraine during his M.D. and Ph.D. studies he continued his post-doctoral studies examining the mechanism of neurodegeneration in animal models of inherited peripheral neuropathies and treatment of Charcot-Marie Tooth disorders using gene therapy and alteration of immune response. His research and scholarly activities are in migraine headaches and role of inflammation in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Samsam is the Editor in Chief of Neuro-Open Journal, http://openventio.org/EditorialBoard/Neuro.html; and he is an editor of several journals including the DATA Sets International (Dataset Papers in Medicine), Psychiatry: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/dpis/editors/psychiatry/; editor in Austin Journal of Biomedical Engineering, http://austinpublishinggroup.com/biomedical-engineering/editorialboard.php; and an editor in Science Domain International, Archives of Current Research International: http://sciencedomain.org/journal/41/editorial-board-members.

Moussa B.H. Youdim, is an Iranian-Israeli neuroscientist-neuropharmacologist who has received numerous national and international awards and prizes for his fundamental works on aminergic neurotransmitters metabolism and function and iron metabolism in brain function and dysfunction with reference to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

He spent 1972 at Department of Biochemistry Cambridge University and in 1973 he was Welcome Trust Fellow at College de France in Paris. For 4 years he was a member of MRC unit of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Faculty of Medicine at Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University. In 1977 he was appointed Chairman and Professor of Pharmacology at the new developed medical school at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He held the position of Distinguished Scientific Professorship at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hong Kong University, as well as Distinguished Professor of World Central Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. He is also Honorary Professor in 5 universities in China, including Materia Medica Shanghai University of Chinese Traditional Medicine for his research studies on Chinese green extract. He is the Director of the Eve Topf and USA, National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence for Neurodegenerative Diseases Research. He is an elected member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the oldest academy in the world.

Dr. Youdim was a discoverer of the anti-Parkinson activity of selelgiline (l-deprenyl) and rasagiline which is considered to be the first disease modifying drug used for Parkinson’s disease and ladostigil for Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Youdim received The Anna Monika Prize for the discovery of multiple forms of monoamine oxidases. The Shah of Iran, recognized him in 1978 for “his advances in understanding Parkinson’s disease and migraine headaches.” He was awarded The EMET Prize for Art, Science and Culture in 2010 for his work in brain research. He is the recipient of the 2010 ECNP, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his innovative and lasting contribution to the area of neurodegenerative diseases and neuropsychiatric drug development and the 2012 CINP, International College of Neuropsychopharmacology Pioneer Award, which included the Arvid Carlsson Medal.

Business Advisory Board

SynapCyte’s Business Advisory Board is comprised of individuals who saw the future and recognized early on the uniqueness of the patents and potential held by the company. As early investors into SynapCyte they offer their wisdom, experience and their connectivity to the marketplace gained from years of working in Fortune 500 companies, startups, non-profit organizations and international service organizations.

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Ron Janssen worked for Eastman Kodak for 20 years, and served as Kodak’s Worldwide Marketing Director of Consumer Film. He was also the owner and general manager of a chain of Italian Restaurants located in Central Florida for 15 years. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Noah’s Light Foundation, a foundation supporting efforts to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer. He has previously served on the Board of Directors, Board of Governors, and the Executive Board of the Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Janssen is the 2018-19 District Governor for Central Florida District of Rotary International. Mr. Janssen received his undergraduate degree in economics from Purdue University and attended the Finance and Marketing program at Syracuse University. Ron has been married to his wife, Sue, for forty-four years.

Denny’s business experience includes productivity management consultant, a merchant banker, and the CEO of a publicly traded company. He is a former District Governor of Rotary International and serves on the Rotary College of Governors. Mr. Kurir serves on the National Board of Directors of CART (Coins for Alzheimers Research Trust). He is the President of Gift of Life Central Florida and on the Advisory Development Board of Kids Beating Cancer. Denny has been married to his wife, Sharon, for forty-one years. They have three children and live in Longwood, Florida.

Bill served in the US Army for 22 years. His assignments included a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Warrant Officer aviator. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree Bill received a direct commission as a First Lieutenant in the US Army. After receiving his MBA from Harvard University he taught Economics, Finance and Accounting to cadets at The United States Military Academy at West Point. 

After retiring from the Army, Bill joined with a partner to start a broadband company offering high speed internet access to five counties around the Greater Hickory, NC area. Bill is active in his community serving as District Governor (07-08) for the 52 Rotary Clubs in western North Carolina. Bill is the Executive Director of The CART Fund. The CART Fund raised over $5.8m to conduct cutting edge research on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Bill has a Bachelor’s Degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, a Master’s Degree from Central Michigan in Personnel Management and a MBA from Harvard. Bill has been married to his wife, Rebecca “Diane”, for forty-six years.

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