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Chemistry Alumnus Named Chair of Angelman Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee

February 5, 2013

Daniel Harvey (PhD 1985, Chemistry), chief operating officer of Dart NeuroScience since 2009, was named to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF) board of directors and appointed chair of its Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Angelman syndrome is a neurogenetic disorder associated with severe cognitive impairment, extremely limited verbal communication, seizures, and problems with movement and balance. Considered part of the autism spectrum, it occurs approximately once in 15,000 live births.

As head of the SAC, Harvey will lead a 15-person committee of academic researchers, clinicians, and experts in psychology, communications, and education to evaluate proposals submitted to the foundation for funding. In addition to reviewing research that seeks to improve treatments and find a cure for Angelman syndrome, the SAC plays a major role in the foundation’s annual scientific symposium, which will take place July 23-24, 2013.

Harvey has been involved with the ASF since his own son was diagnosed with the syndrome in 1996. Matthew, now 17, was born with serious cognitive impairments due to a sizable spontaneous deletion of genetic material on one of his chromosomes. “He’s doing well, with a lot of challenges because of this disorder. But he’s happy and healthy,” Harvey says. The Harveys have two older children, Michelle (23) and Jay (21), both free of the disorder.

From 1997 to 2001, Harvey served the ASF board of directors, as vice president from 1997 to 1999 and chair of the SAC from 1999 to 2003. He then rotated off the board for a decade.

I have seen and experienced how ASF-funded research has changed lives and provided immense hope for individuals with Angelman syndrome and their families,” said Harvey, who is looking forward to renewing his involvement. “I am honored to contribute to this incredible group.”

At Yale, Harvey wrote a dissertation titled “An Approach to the Synthesis of Polypropionates. The Synthesis of Subunits of Monensin, Tirandamycin and Rifamycin S,” advised by Samuel J. Danishefsky (now at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center). “Danishefsky was a great mentor. I really enjoyed working with him,” Harvey says.

As a graduate student and for more than 15 years after, Harvey was involved in basic research, first as a Miller Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and then on the faculty at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) for fourteen years. In 2001 he left academia and moved into translational research. holding senior management positions with Discovery Partners International and BioFocus DPI until 2008. From 2008 to 2009 he served as CEO of ChemVentures, Inc., before joining Dart NeuroScience four years ago.

I never imagined I’d be doing this kind of work,” he says. “I always expected my field of study to evolve, and in part because of my son’s diagnosis, that happened in unexpected ways.” Dart NeuroScience develops treatments for a wide range of  disorders associated with learning and memory.