Dr. Timothy Coetzee Named Chief Research Officer by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Dec 16, 2010, 11:06 ET from National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Society Moves Forward with Its Comprehensive Research Strategy to Stop MS, Restore Function and End MS Forever

NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Timothy Coetzee has been named as the organization's Chief Research Officer, effective January 1st, 2011.  

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Dr. Coetzee has been engaged in the MS movement his entire career.  Most recently, he served as President of Fast Forward, an initiative launched by the National MS Society to focus on speeding commercial development of new MS treatments.  Dr. Coetzee was instrumental in the founding and establishment of Fast Forward.

"Dr. Coetzee's experience across all disciplines in MS, from basic research to speeding business development of new therapies for people with MS, makes him the right person at the right time to move us closer to a world free of MS," says Joyce Nelson, president and CEO, National MS Society.

"It's an honor to be chosen to lead the Society's research efforts at this exciting time as we move ever closer to ending MS forever," advises Dr. Coetzee, Chief Research Officer. "To speed that goal, I look forward to engaging the best scientific minds, to pursuing the most innovative research and business approaches, and to spurring world-wide collaborative efforts."

Dr. Coetzee received his PhD in microbiology and immunology from Albany Medical College in Albany, NY in 1993.  He subsequently joined the laboratory of National MS Society grantee, Dr. Brian Popko, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In 1995, Dr. Coetzee received the National MS Society's Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship to support his research on the structure and function of myelin. In 1999, Dr. Coetzee was appointed to faculty of the University of Connecticut Health Center serving as an instructor in the Departments of Microbiology and Neuroscience.  

Dr. Coetzee joined the National MS Society's Research Department in 2000 as the Director of Research Training Programs.  Subsequently, he held the positions of Director of Research Initiatives and Outreach, Associate Vice President of Research Initiatives and Outreach, and Vice President of Discovery Partnerships where he assumed responsibility for the development, launch and establishment of Fast Forward in 2006.  

Under Dr. Coetzee's leadership the Society created its Career Transition Fellowship, the first transition award for postdoctoral fellows to be established by a patient advocacy organization, and the MS Clinician Scientist Development Award, a joint venture award between the National MS Society and the American Academy of Neurology to recruit young physician-scientists to MS clinical research.  

Dr. Coetzee was also a leader in establishing the Translational Research Partnerships in Nervous System Repair and Protection in MS Program, a five-year, $15 million commitment to fund four large collaborative research teams focused on developing tools and strategies to promote nervous system repair and protection in MS.  This program became the cornerstone of the Society's $32 million Promise: 2010 campaign, and Dr. Coetzee was a major force in raising funds for the accomplishment of those efforts.  

As President of Fast Forward, Dr. Coetzee implemented a proposal solicitation and review process resulting in the evaluation of more than 100 investment opportunities with a total value exceeding $45 million over the first three years of Fast Forward operations.  He oversaw deployment of $3.5 million in funding to support 11 commercial therapeutic development programs and provided leadership in securing $9 million in philanthropic contributions from individuals and private foundations towards the Fast Forward fundraising campaign.  In addition, he was central to the negotiation of a five-year, $19 million collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, the parent company of EMD Serono as well as first-of-their-kind partnerships to co-fund therapeutic development programs with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Italian MS Society

"Dr. Coetzee's experience and expertise in both academic and commercial research will ensure the Society can aggressively pursue all promising paths for treating MS and deliver results to people affected by this terrible disease," said Dr. Aaron Miller, Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Coetzee will assume responsibility of the Society's research program, which funds more than 375 projects around the world. In this role, he will continue oversight of the Fast Forward initiative.  

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.1 million worldwide.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn't.  The Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.  In 2009 alone, through its national office and 50-state network of chapters, the Society devoted over $132 million to programs that enhanced more than one million lives. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested nearly $36 million to support 375 research projects around the world. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. To learn more about multiple sclerosis or to join the MS movement visit: www.nationalMSsociety.org

SOURCE National Multiple Sclerosis Society