At a 2012 GGC event, Ravenel Curry shared the passion and dedication that his late father, Boykin Curry, had for the mission and vision of the Greenwood Genetic Center. That vision is closer than ever to being fulfilled with the recent announcement that Dr. Walter Kaufmann will join GGC in September as the Ravenel Boykin Curry Chair in Genetic Therapeutics.
Born in Santiago, Chile, Dr. Kaufmann, a graduate of the University of Chile School of Medicine, is currently a Senior Associate Neurologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Throughout his distinguished career, he has also enjoyed faculty appointments at his alma mater as well as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the recipient of a Honorary degree from Harvard Medical School in 2013.
His research interests have focused on neurodevelopmental disorders including Fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome. Dr. Kaufmann is extensively published in the medical literature and has been funded through numerous major grants from the NIH, industry and academia. He has served as editorial peer reviewer for over 90 scientific journals.
As the Curry Chair, Dr. Kaufmann will be the preeminent chair in GGC’s Division of Clinical Services.
“Dr. Kaufmann is well known to GGC having been a part of the Rett Syndrome Natural History Study with us, and he has also collaborated with Dr. Luigi Boccuto and others in the J.C. Self Research Institute,” shared GGC Director, Steve Skinner. “We know firsthand his reputation for excellence and his passion for serving patients. We are thrilled and honored to welcome him to lead the charge for therapeutics here at GGC.”
Dr. Kaufmann will bring several clinical programs to the Center upon his arrival in September.
He has a trial already underway testing the effectiveness in IGF-1 to improve anxiety and breathing abnormalities in girls with Rett syndrome. IGF-1 is a hormone and growth factor that enhances connectivity between neurons, which has already showed promise in treating patients with Phelan-McDermid syndrome. Both Rett syndrome and Phelan-McDermid syndrome are linked to autism.
Dr. Kaufmann will also be bringing other projects aimed at identifying biomarkers that can detect how well patients with Rett syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders are responding to certain medications. This project uses advanced biomechanical engineering to detect the neurological function.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to establish a program for developing new treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders and birth defects at the Greenwood Genetic Center,” said Kaufmann. “GGC has been at the forefront of the application of new genetic technologies and knowledge, while maintaining a strong commitment to patients. This combination is a strong foundation for a program on new drug development.”
GGC co-founder, Dr. Roger Stevenson commented, “Our goal was to fill this Chair with a distinguished scientist who would reflect Boykin Curry’s integrity and accomplishment. I have no doubt that we have honored Boykin with this selection.”