Dr Paul Wicks, a neuropsychologist who has worked in the field of ALS (also known as MND) research for 22 years, joins the ranks of precision medicine scale-up Sano Genetics today, where he will take up the full-time role of Vice President of Neuroscience.
Sano Genetics, founded in 2017 by three Cambridge PhD students, has just announced fresh funding of $11.4M, bringing the total raised to more than $22M.
For the past five years, Wicks has been an independent scientific advisor in digital health, clinical trials, rare disease and patient centricity for Sano and other companies including Ada Health, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Woebot and The Wellcome Trust.
Before starting his consultancy, Wicks led the R&D team at PatientsLikeMe, a personalised health network for people living with a variety of medical conditions and worked at the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College London) studying cognition and neuroimaging in ALS/MND.
He gained a postdoc in psychological consequences of Parkinson’s disease and in 2011 was awarded MIT Technology Review’s TR35 Humanitarian of the Year award.
In his new role with Sano, Wicks will lead the company’s unique ‘Light the Way’ programme, which offers peer support, DNA testing, genetic counselling, education and research access to those diagnosed with or experiencing symptoms of ALS/MND, as well as those at risk of genetic ALS/MND.
In addition to providing resources for a typically overlooked population, a major focus for Wicks with Light the Way will be building equitable, sustainable and transparent funding partnerships with key stakeholders to drive the programme beyond proof of concept and maximise its impact for patients and their families.
Dr Paul Wicks, VP of Neuroscience at Sano Genetics, comments: “It's been such a pleasure watching Sano grow from six people to 70+ and I have been consistently impressed by the positivity, brilliance and collaborative spirit that starts with the co-founders and cascades to every level of the team. It is energising to spend your time working on meaningful challenges, and I can't wait to get started.
“Sadly, ALS is still a rapidly progressive and fatal disease, but today I am more hopeful than ever that we are on the cusp of a new era of precision medicine approaches, particularly with the recent approval of an antisense oligonucleotide called Tofersen in the US for patients with ALS carrying a SOD1 mutation.”