Members of our Research Network are a fierce driving force behind therapeutic development and future treatment. Let’s find out what makes them so passionate about KIF1A! Each month, one of our invested members of the KIF1A Research Network will be in the spotlight. Hans Christinger, MBA, is next in the line up for our monthly Q&A.
Hans Christinger, MBAVice President of Business Development & Alliance Management, Ovid Therapeutics & KIF1A.ORG Board Member
Hans began his career as a bench scientist at Genentech where he authored 15 structural biology related peer-reviewed papers. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Babson College, a Master of Science in Chemistry from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Vermont.
Hans is a dedicated leader, innovator and advocate in the rare disease community with over 25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. He plays a critical role in bringing together multiple stakeholders to efficiently address the unmet therapeutic needs within rare and neglected disease communities. At Ovid, Hans establishes and manages global strategic partnerships to rapidly bring potential therapeutics to patients and families affected by rare, neurological disorders. Hans has led and executed numerous transactions for Ovid, Ophthotech, Abbott, Roche and Vertex. Having been based both in the US and abroad, he established and led teams to enable global, regional and local transactions across more than 30 countries in emerging and developed markets. Hans is driven by hope and passion to increase awareness and advance a scientific understanding for members of the rare disease community.
Hans is also an active board member and advisor to KIF1A.ORG, NYBIO and several early-stage biotechnology companies.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I wish I could wave a wand or touch someone living with a genetic syndrome and restore them to a comfortable way of living.
When did you know you wanted to be a scientist? Why were you drawn to this field?
I have always loved nature and the outdoors. I like to understand how things work, and I was intrigued by science from an early age. However, growing up in a family of engineers, I first took a short detour through engineering before figuring out that science is more my thing.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in therapeutic development in the last 10 years?
There have been so many major changes in therapeutic development over the last 10 years. Personally, my family and I just recognized 14 years since my mother passed from melanoma. In the last 10 years, advancements in the treatment of melanoma have come so far that had she been diagnosed today, we may have had a different outcome.
Today’s understanding of genetics and biology is truly amazing. The array of therapeutic tools and options is incredibly broad compared with 10 years ago. Additionally, there is a sense of urgency and collaboration with the FDA (and major regulatory authorities) and a clear role for foundations and families in helping to develop meaningful treatment options (care and cure).
I believe we have many of the ingredients required to deliver the kind of change we saw in melanoma to KAND and rare disorders. It will take urgent action and everyone in our community has a role to play, but I am hopeful.
What do you think is the biggest roadblock to developing treatment for rare disorders like KAND, and how do we get around it?
I believe the biggest challenge to developing treatments for rare disorders like KAND is making sure there is enough momentum, awareness and coordination to ensure that the best ideas are explored with urgency, and in parallel.
Let’s make sure hypotheses and therapeutic approaches are explored in parallel. We can’t be sure which of our favorite approaches will work, but we can be sure that if we do things in parallel, we will learn from each approach and accelerate the overall timeline to success.
What are you most excited about in terms of KIF1A research and therapeutics?
I am really excited about all of the amazing people and ideas that have come together to crack the KAND code. The sheer brain power, enthusiasm, collaboration and sense of purpose is something special. It is a privilege to be able to listen, learn and share in this mission.