AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has hired veteran biopharmaceutical executive and researcher Peter H. Reinhart to be the founding director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS). The institute was created in 2013 with $150 million in capital funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) and additional contributions from the university to accelerate life science research and advance collaboration with industry.
Reinhart comes to the university from Alzehon, a Lexington, Mass., company where he most recently was the head of corporate development and new products for the biotechnology company that is focused on brain health, memory and aging and development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Prior to that he was Chief Scientific Officer and then president at Proteostasis Therapeutics, and head of neurodegeneration at Wyeth/Pfizer. He has also been an adjunct associate professor of neuroscience at the Duke University Medical Center for the past decade and was a tenured professor at the center for nearly 13 years prior to that.
Michael F. Malone, UMass Amherst’s vice chancellor for research and engagement, says hiring Reinhart is a significant milestone in developing the IALS. “We are very excited to welcome Peter Reinhart as the founding director of IALS,” Malone says. “His extensive experience in both academic and industrial biomedical research and training and his passion for advancing life sciences is the perfect background for leading the growth of the three IALS Centers.”
“IALS is a critical part of our strategy for innovation and impact in the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts and beyond,” says Kumble R. Subbaswamy, UMass Amherst chancellor. “As founding director, Peter Reinhart will play a critical role in shaping and expanding our collaborations on campus, with industry, and with colleagues at other UMass campuses.”
Reinhart says this is a position that is well suited to his experience and skills. “Having spent significant time in large pharma, biotechnology companies, as well as in academia allows me to understand the strengths and needs of each of these organizations. This experience will be useful both in advancing alliances across the UMass campuses to combine assets and capabilities, and in utilizing such assets to develop industry partnerships.”
The MLSC funding, a capital grant of $95 million, is the largest economic-development grant in the history of the UMass system and the largest grant the MLSC has awarded as part of the Commonwealth’s $1 billion, 10-year life sciences economic development initiative.
Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the MLSC, says,“On behalf of the center, I would like to congratulate both UMass Amherst and Peter Reinhart on his new position as founding director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences.” She notes that the agency is charged with implementing Governor Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, and the primary funder of the institute. “This hire shows important progress in moving forward the capital project that we funded at UMass Amherst in 2012. The Center will continue to make sound investments in capital projects that are consistent with regional strengths to foster job creation in the life sciences across the entire Commonwealth.”
Reinhart’s arrival at UMass Amherst was also hailed as good news by a key industry spokesman. “We are thrilled that UMass Amherst has hired Dr. Peter Reinhart as the founding director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences,” says Robert K. Coughlin, president and CEO of MassBio, the life sciences trade association. “Peter’s breadth of industry expertise, from R&D to business development, licensing deals and the implementation of industry partnerships, makes him the ideal person for this role. The integration of academia and industry is one of the keys to the life sciences industry’s success in Massachusetts. With Peter’s leadership and spirit of collaboration, we are sure to see new strategic partnerships that will support innovation and industry growth to fuel the life sciences in Amherst as well as the Commonwealth at large.”
Prior to joining Alzehon in February 2014, Reinhart was chief scientific officer and then president at Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc., from March 2010 to February 2014; was senior director at Pfizer from 2009-10, and a senior director at Wyeth Research from 2004-09. He was an associate professor of neuroscience at the Duke University Medical Center from 1991 to 2004 and was vice president of Cogent Neuroscience from 2001-03. Reinhart earned his doctorate in 1985 and a bachelor’s of science degree in 1980 from the Australian National University. He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, from 1985-87 and was a research associate in neurobiology at Brandeis University from 1988-91.
IALS seeks to generate fundamental scientific discoveries and develop applications and innovations to improve human health, foster and assist the transformation of regional industries working in the life sciences and medical device fields, increase industry collaborations and support new industries by strengthening connections among UMass Amherst and other key regional centers.
The IALS comprises three new centers, the Center for Bioactive Delivery, the Center for Models to Medicine and the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring.
- Bioactive Delivery focuses on discovery and application of new drug, agricultural and “nutriceutical” compounds.
- Models to Medicine focuses on translating basic protein research by UMass Amherst experts into new therapeutic targets.
- Personalized Health Monitoring focuses on developing nanotechnology and large dataset management to improve health care through low-cost, wearable, wireless sensors that analyze patient data continuously in real time.