Beyond Celiac Amps Up Scientific Focus to Accelerate Hunt for a Cure

February 26, 2020
Left to right: Ken Kilgore, PhD, MBA, Chief Scientific Investment Officer; Kate Avery, MPH, Director of Research and Patient Engagement; Alice Bast, CEO; Salvatore (Salvo) Alesci, MD, PhD, Chief Scientist and Strategy Officer.

Beyond Celiac, the leading organization working to advance research and accelerate development of new treatments and a cure for celiac disease, is stepping up its scientific efforts by adding two innovative leaders to the organization. 

Salvatore (Salvo) Alesci, MD, PhD, will serve as Chief Scientist and Strategy Officer (CSSO) and Ken Kilgore, PhD, MBA, will fill the role of Chief Scientific Investment Officer (CSIO). In addition to having exceptional scientific credentials, backgrounds, and experience, both have a family connection to celiac disease. Finding solutions to help patients and their families overcome the burden of this disease has become both a personal and professional goal for them.

“In 2018 Beyond Celiac launched a strategy prioritizing focus and investment in science, in order to accelerate pursuit of effective treatments and eventually a cure for celiac disease. Today we are bringing on new expertise to lead the next phase of this strategy. We believe that with the right focus and investments, Beyond Celiac can be the catalyst for finding a cure within the next 10-15 years,” noted Alice Bast, Beyond Celiac CEO. 

Chief Scientist and Strategy Officer

As Executive Chair of the Beyond Celiac Scientific Advisory Council, Dr. Alesci will lead the organization’s science team and oversee the design and implementation of the scientific strategy and plan, with a particular focus on deepening partnerships with scientists, key opinion leaders, policy makers and influencers across pharmaceutical companies and academic and government institutions. Dr. Kilgore will identify and develop innovative funding models and administer the Beyond Celiac scientific grants program. Together, they will drive the creation of a transformational patient-centered research and investment agenda focused on accelerating the hunt for therapeutic solutions and a cure for celiac disease. They will be spokespersons, champions and advocates for the scientific mission and work of Beyond Celiac.

Dr. Alesci, formerly Vice President and Head of R&D Global Patient and Scientific Affairs at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, is a highly regarded physician-scientist and science policy and advocacy influencer. A dynamic and visionary enterprise leader, he has distinguished himself by transforming organizations through designing innovative functions and initiatives, championing and managing complex projects, building high-performing cross-functional teams, and nurturing long-lasting relationships with leaders from various sectors across the healthcare ecosystem.

“I’m both thrilled and humbled to join Alice and the Beyond Celiac team at an important inflection point in the history of this remarkable organization. As a physician-scientist, advocate and proud father of a wonderful young lady with celiac disease, I can’t think of a better opportunity for me to help move the needle in seeking a cure for this often-misunderstood debilitating medical condition,” noted Dr. Alesci.  

Chief Scientific Investment Officer

Dr. Kilgore, formerly the Director, ImmunoPharmacology at Johnson & Johnson, has more than 20 years’ experience in pharmaceutical research and external drug discovery. He has worked on developing models in many different disease areas and has deep experience in translational research – moving research from bench to bedside – and getting new molecules from early study to clinical trials. Recent efforts have focused on establishing highly-productive joint internal/external research alliances with academic and industry partners. In addition, Dr. Kilgore is currently serving on the Investment Committee of BioAdvance Venture Capital in Radnor, PA and is active in new venture development at the University of Michigan and Princeton University.

“My daughter, my father and I all have lived with celiac disease, so I have the opportunity to bring my personal and professional experience to the task of increasing the options available to patients through new treatments,” Dr. Kilgore said. “The Beyond Celiac grant program is one way we can fund groundbreaking work and support scientists who might otherwise have difficulty continuing their research. We will also be looking at other ways to invest in the future of celiac disease treatments and drug development. It’s an exciting time to be part of what Beyond Celiac is doing to advance science.”

The Beyond Celiac science team also includes Kate Avery, MPH, Director of Research and Patient Engagement and Amy Ratner, Medical and Science News Analyst. Ms. Avery earned her MPH in Health Behavior at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She plays an integral role in propelling original research by Beyond Celiac and engaging the community in the Go Beyond Celiac patient database. She is the lead author on an abstract accepted for presentation at the Digestive Disease Week conference (DDW) 2020 and has previously published on the topic of patient perspectives in disease management. Ms. Ratner has been curating the latest in celiac disease research for Beyond Celiac since 2016. The mother of a now-grown daughter with celiac disease, Ms. Ratner has been writing and editing for gluten-free and celiac disease-related publications for nearly 30 years.

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