Protecting cognition
Targeting microglia

Tiaki means “to protect” in Māori, and the Māori fish hook is a symbol of this culture. It embodies our mission to protect cognitive function in patients with our first-in-class therapeutics that target microglia and halt neurodegeneration.

About Tiaki

Tiaki has created a systems biology platform that models the specific transcriptomic signature of neuroinflammation in dementia patients. This discovery engine recapitulates the fully integrated cellular communication that is dysregulated in CNS disease, and enables a new generation of target validation and drug discovery. Our differentiated approach reveals novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers that are anchored in the biological signature of patients with neuroinflammatory-driven dementias.

Our Vision

To transform the lives of patients and their families affected by dementia by delivering disease-modifying therapies

At Tiaki, we are passionate about the potential of our approach and our first focus is identifying treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

Major Disease of Our Time

44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the 5th leading cause of death. There are no treatments to slow or stop the disease.

Insights from Patient Data

Next generation bioinformatics can now analyze genomics, transcriptomics, and other patient data to reveal new insights for Alzheimer’s drug development

New Therapeutic Solution

Targeting microglia is a new therapeutic approach, focused on neuroinflammation pathways that drive cognitive decline.

Microglia & the Tiaki Platform

Based on Tiaki’s deep understanding of microglial function, our platform is focused on identifying drug targets that resolve neuroinflammation to result in disease-modifying therapeutics for patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

Microglia, the immune cells of the brain, play a critical role in neuroinflammation. Microglia normally function in concert with other cells in the brain to drive important processes that maintain CNS health. Dysregulation of microglia cellular interactions and functions play a key role in disease processes. Mutations in genes expressed by microglia are associated with increased risk for developing dementia.

Our proprietary systems biology platform reveals novel targets for dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, using a unique approach that links human disease datasets with an authentic ex vivo brain model and bioinformatic analyses to yield patient specific treatments for neuroinflammatory diseases.

  • Tiaki ex vivo Systems Biology. Tiaki’s proprietary ex vivo systems biology approach contains all relevant brain cell types in their native environment and models a neuroinflammatory signature found in patients with dementia.
  • Curated Human Datasets. Tiaki’s proprietary database integrates human genomic, transcriptomic and clinical data from patients to identify dysregulated pathways for neuroinflammatory diseases.
  • Bioinformatics Analysis. The integration of Tiaki’s systems biology platform with human datasets drive bioinformatics analyses that enable new insights into dysregulated neuroinflammatory pathways. These insights have identified druggable targets that reverse the neuroinflammatory signatures in Alzheimer’s disease, and, in parallel, reveal biomarkers that can be used to speed drug development.

Therapeutic Focus

Therapeutic Focus: Neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer’s disease

Tiaki’s near-term focus is Alzheimer’s disease.

Our approach targeting microglia represents a promising new therapeutic strategy. Distinct from historical drug development in Alzheimer’s disease, Tiaki’s approach is designed to target the neuroinflammatory state that drives cognitive decline and thereby restore normal function to the underlying dysregulated pathways involving microglia.

Tiaki’s systems biology platform is uniquely positioned to investigate the complicated matrix of intercellular communication that occurs in the neuroinflammatory state that drives cognitive decline across neurodegenerative diseases, and may have application beyond Alzheimer’s.

Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases

Chronic neuroinflammation is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases and has been linked to cognitive decline. Neuroinflammation is the result of dysregulation of inflammatory cell function in the brain. Genetic data links altered function in microglia with uncontrolled neuroinflammation. Left unchecked, chronic inflammation is detrimental to neuronal health and function.

Neuroinflammation is a critical driver of cognitive decline in dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease
Why
Neuroinflammation
in Dementia?
Chronic inflammation is detrimental to neuronal health and function
Genetic data links altered function of microglia with neuroinflammation
Time for a different approach targeting neuroinflammation to open up new possibilities for treatment
Neuroinflammatory signature identified by Tiaki reveals a specific set of genes dysregulated in patients
Activated microglia are key contributors to neurotoxicity and synapse loss

Our Team

ManagementBoard of Directors
Suzanne Bruhn, PhD
Chief Executive Officer 

Sue Bruhn serves as CEO and President of Tiaki Therapeutics. She most recently served as president and CEO of Proclara Biosciences, a privately held, clinical-stage company with a novel approach to treat disorders of protein misfolding including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as orphan amyloidoses. Prior to that she served as president and CEO of Promedior, Inc., a privately held, clinical-stage immunotherapy company pioneering the development of targeted therapeutics to treat diseases involving fibrosis. There, she successfully negotiated an exclusive agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb for the right to acquire Promedior. Prior to Promedior, she spent 13 years at Shire Human Genetic Therapies (HGT), a division of Shire PLC, where she held a series of positions of increasing responsibility before serving as senior vice president of strategic planning and program management. During her tenure at Shire HGT, Dr. Bruhn was responsible for establishing the program management function, driving strategic planning and portfolio management, and for global regulatory affairs. Prior to her time at HGT, Dr. Bruhn held various positions at Cytotherapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company. Dr. Bruhn currently sits on the board of directors of Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: AGLE), Novelion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NVLN), and Pliant Therapeutics.

Dr. Bruhn holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Iowa State University, a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Thomas Miller, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer 

Thomas Miller serves as CSO of Tiaki Therapeutics. He is a seasoned drug hunter with a track-record of identifying and advancing drug candidates into clinical development, including nine molecules evaluated in clinical trials and the successful approval of Zolinza®. Most recently, Dr. Miller held the role of head of discovery chemistry at Shire, where he built and oversaw all key aspects of small molecule drug discovery for rare diseases and other unmet medical needs. Prior to that he held positions of increasing responsibility during a 10-year tenure at Merck, where he led drug discovery teams, development teams, and provided strategic leadership and oversight to licensing, collaboration and global business initiatives. Prior to Merck, he joined Aton Pharma as a founding employee, where he served as the head of chemistry and made substantive contributions to the company’s valuation that supported its successful acquisition by Merck and the approval of Zolinza®. He has also served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board at UBS AG, where he provided science and technology advising to the Global Equities Division of one of Wall Street’s largest investment banks.

Dr. Miller holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Indiana University SE, a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Virginia and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. He has contributed to more than 100 scientific publications and patents.

Jonathan Levenson, PhD
Vice President of Translational Biology 

Jonathan Levenson is the VP of Translational Biology at Tiaki Therapeutics. He previously served as the VP of preclinical research and development at Proclara, where he oversaw two preclinical programs characterizing novel biological therapeutics targeting misfolded proteins in neurodegenerative, orphan and metabolic disease. Prior to joining Proclara, he worked at Galenea, a drug development company focusing on the cognitive symptoms of psychiatric disorders, where he held positions of increasing responsibility, culminating in the role of senior scientist. Before that, Dr. Levenson was an assistant professor and the director of the rodent behavioral core at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was previously a consultant at Saegis Pharmaceuticals and an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Levenson earned his Bachelor of Science, cum laude, from Vanderbilt University, his doctorate in Biology from the University of Houston, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine.  He has authored or co-authored over 60 research publications focused on neuropharmacology and the treatment of neurological diseases.

Lauren Herl Martens, PhD
Director of Biology 

Lauren Martens is the Director of Biology and scientific co-founder of Tiaki Therapeutics. She co-lead the first DDF Discovery project focused on neuroinflammation which resulted in securing Tiaki’s seed funding from the Dementia Discovery Fund. Prior to joining the DDF, she was an early member of the discovery biology team at FORUM/En Vivo Pharmaceuticals focused on developing therapeutic strategies to treat FTD-GRN. Her doctoral work was performed at the Gladstone Institutes at UCSF where, as part of an academic consortium funded by the nonprofit Bluefield Project, she worked to elucidate the CNS function of progranulin and its causal role in frontotemporal dementia. Her passion to identify ways to intervene in CNS diseases began during her time at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease while investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Martens earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of New Hampshire and doctorate in Biomedical Sciences, Neurobiology from the University of California, San Francisco. She has authored or co-authored 20 research publications focused on microglial biology and mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

Angus Grant, PhD
  

Angus Grant has been CEO of the Dementia Discovery Fund since July 2018. He has over 25 years of R&D and business development experience. He serves as a Director of Tiaki Therapeutics, MaRS Innovation, Cerevance and Rheostat Therapeutics.  Prior to joining the DDF, Angus worked at Celgene for almost 12 years.  He started at Celgene as Vice President North American Regulatory Affairs in 2006, in the Summit NJ Headquarters.  In 2008, Angus moved to London as Head of Europe RA for 3 years to build out the function. Angus returned to the Summit NJ Headquarters as VP, Business Development and Global Alliances, in 2011, where he built the alliance management function to manage over 60 collaborations and completed multiple innovative deals.  In 2016, Angus became focused on deals, serving as Corporate VP of Business Development, leading a BD team running the transactions from deal inception to close as well as select acquisitions before leaving Celgene for the DDF.  Angus previously worked at Novartis, Merck KGaA, Rhone Poulanc-Rohrer, SmithKline Beecham, and the US Food and Drug Administration.

Angus received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond, then his Ph.D. in Anatomy & Immunology from the Medical College of Virginia and completed his post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda.

Jonathan Behr, PhD
 

Jon joined the DDF as Partner in July of 2019, and brings over 10 years of venture and venture creation experience. Jon joined the DDF from the JDRF T1D Fund, a growing $75 million mission-driven fund focused on venture investments in companies developing solutions for type 1 diabetes, where he joined at inception as the fund’s first managing director. He led the development of the fund’s investment strategy with the board of directors, built an investment team, and led 14 of the fund’s first investments. Prior to the JDRF T1D Fund, Jon was a Market Sector Leader and Executive in Residence at Partners Healthcare Innovation, leading a team responsible for driving technology translation from research hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical School. His areas of responsibility included neuroscience, and successes included Tilos Therapeutics. He has held senior venture creation roles, including Principal at PureTech Ventures (PRTC) and Vice President of New Ventures for Enlight Biosciences. In these roles he co-founded and supported seven companies and took senior operating roles in several. In all his prior roles he was a director or observer on more than 13 companies including Provention Bio (PRVB), Semma Therapeutics, AntolRx, Exosome Diagnostics, and Entrega Inc. Jon has a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow, and received his B.S. in Bioengineering summa cum laude as phi-beta-kappa co-valedictorian from Rice University.

Barbara Tate, PhD
  

Barbara Tate joined the Dementia Discovery Fund a Venture Partner in 2016 and became Chief Strategy Officer in 2018. She is trained as a neuroscientist who has worked in both large and small pharmaceutical companies. She was Vice President and Head of Biology at Rodin Therapeutics, an Atlas Venture company, where she also consulted on other portfolio companies. Prior to Rodin, Barbara was Vice President for Research at Satori Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. At Pfizer, Barbara managed the neurodegenerative disease area group in Groton, CT. Prior to working in industry, Barbara was an academic researcher at Brown Medical School and Harvard Medical School.  She received a BA in Biology, a PhD in Physiology, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.

Suzanne Bruhn, PhD
 

Sue Bruhn serves as CEO and President of Tiaki Therapeutics. She most recently served as president and CEO of Proclara Biosciences, a privately held, clinical-stage company with a novel approach to treat disorders of protein misfolding including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as orphan amyloidoses. Prior to that she served as president and CEO of Promedior, Inc., a privately held, clinical-stage immunotherapy company pioneering the development of targeted therapeutics to treat diseases involving fibrosis. There, she successfully negotiated an exclusive agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb for the right to acquire Promedior. Prior to Promedior, she spent 13 years at Shire Human Genetic Therapies (HGT), a division of Shire PLC, where she held a series of positions of increasing responsibility before serving as senior vice president of strategic planning and program management. During her tenure at Shire HGT, Dr. Bruhn was responsible for establishing the program management function, driving strategic planning and portfolio management, and for global regulatory affairs. Prior to her time at HGT, Dr. Bruhn held various positions at Cytotherapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company. Dr. Bruhn currently sits on the board of directors of Aeglea BioTherapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: AGLE), Novelion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NVLN), and Pliant Therapeutics.

Dr. Bruhn holds a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Iowa State University, a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

 

Partners & Investors

COLLABORATOR

Eisai Center for Genetics Guided Dementia Discovery (G2D2)

is a research facility launched to harness the power of human genetics to develop next-generation medicines for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias.
INVESTORS
 

News & Publications

 

Careers

Put your brain to work at Tiaki

We are a team of passionate drug developers who are unafraid to blaze a new trail in diseases that need new science and new approaches. If you are interested in joining our team, please consider the open positions below, and check back with us we continue to grow.

Open Positions

There are no open positions at this time.

Contact Us

Tiaki Therapeutics Inc.
Lab Central
700 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

info@tiakitx.com

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