Scientific Founders & Advisors

In addition to an experienced, qualified staff of research scientists, Q Therapeutics has enlisted the advice and assistance of some of the world's leading experts in the development of therapies for neurodegenerative disorders.

Mahendra Rao, MD, Ph.D.
Scientific Co-founder, Chief Strategy Officer and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Rao is the scientific founder of Q and world renowned for his work with neural stem cells. Most recently, he served as Director of the Intramural Center for Regenerative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also held joint research appointments at the at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) from 2011-March 2014. Previously, Dr. Rao was Vice President of Stem Cell Research at Life Technologies, Inc. (now Thermo Fisher Scientific, NYSE: TMO) from 2006-2011; Stem Cell Section Chief at the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the NIH National Institute of Aging from 2001-2005; and at the University of Utah School of Medicine from 1994-2001, where he became Associate Professor with tenure in Neurobiology and Anatomy.

Ian Duncan, BVMS, MRCVS, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Wisconsin

Dr. Duncan is a leading research authority on myelin repair by cell transplantation, with multiple sclerosis (MS) as a main interest.  Dr. Duncan has also done extensive studies treating leukodystrophies with stem cells.  He received degrees in veterinary medicine and a Ph.D. from Glasgow University in Scotland and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's National Academy.  Dr. Duncan collaborates with Q Therapeutics in running animal studies in inflammatory demyelinating diseases such as MS.

Douglas Kerr, MD, Ph.D. M.B.A
Global Neurology Development Lead at Shire

Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D. M.B.A, is the Global Neurology Development Lead for Shire. Dr. Kerr also serves on the Board of Directors at The Transverse Myelitis Association. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board at both The Transverse Association and Cure SMA. Previously Dr. Kerr served as a Senior Director for Corporate Strategy at Biogen where he assesses pipeline opportunities for the company and as Senior Medical Director, Research and Development in Neurodegeneration. Dr. Kerr is also an expert in autoimmune neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Transverse Myelitis. Dr. Kerr previously established the world-leading Transverse Myelitis center at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Nicholas J. Maragakis, MD
Associate Professor of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Maragakis treats patients with a variety of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on patients with motor neuron diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease). This expertise is coordinated with The ALS Center at Johns Hopkins, a multidisciplinary clinic.  In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Maragakis' laboratory studies the role of astrocytes (the supporting cells of the brain) in causing and propagating neurological diseases, such as ALS.  Q Therapeutics is conducting animal studies with Dr. Maragakis in models of ALS. Dr. Maragakis will be the Principal Investigator for the Phase 1 clinical trial in ALS.
Thomas N. Parks, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The University of Utah 
Founding Executive Director, The Brain Institute at The University of Utah

Dr. Parks' work in developmental neurobiology has provided an influential model of how the brain responds to early deafness.  His current research interest is in the neurobiology and genetics of human auditory processing disorders.  He is studying how early exposure to sound, and early deafness, affect the development of the brain circuits that support normal hearing.

Under his leadership, The Brain Institute launched collaborative research teams that have brought University of Utah scientists, physicians and engineers together with industry and community partners to find better approaches to a wide array of brain disorders including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and stroke.

In 1986, Dr. Parks co-founded NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc., using licensed technology developed in his University of Utah laboratory.  Now a public company, NPS has brought two drugs to market and has several others in development.  Dr. Parks completed his undergraduate work at the University of California, Irvine, and holds a Ph.D. from Yale University.  He has been on the faculty at the University of Utah's School of Medicine since 1978.