Baptista takes over as chief scientific officer at Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Marco Baptista has been appointed as chief scientific officer for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. In his new role, Baptista will help lead the Short Hills-based foundation’s mission to advance cures for spinal cord injury and paralysis and will provide scientific and innovative oversight of the nonprofit’s collaborative approach to accelerating the field toward meaningful therapeutics.

Baptista joins the Reeve Foundation from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where he served as vice president of research programs. In his decade with the Fox Foundation, he led priority research around LRRK2, a major genetic mutation that can increase the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Baptista joins the Reeve Foundation as it celebrates 40 years of progress and the seismic shift that it helped steer to move the field of SCI research to its current state, whereby scientists agree that paralysis cures are not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

“What began as a grassroots movement by pioneers who refused to accept the long-standing dogma that the spinal cord, once injured, could never be repaired is today an exciting field primed to cross the critical threshold of laboratory science to real-world therapies widely available to our community,” Maggie Goldberg, CEO and president of the Reeve Foundation, said. “Dr. Baptista brings a special blend of neuroscience acumen to our organization, our research collaborative and the community of people living with or caring for someone with SCI.”

In his new role, Baptista will manage the foundation’s research portfolio, which includes a number of high-profile endeavors with the potential to swiftly move the needle toward clinically approved and market-ready products.

Baptista will also spearhead the creation of a modern approach to the foundation’s scientific endeavors — a novel platform designed to address roadblocks along the scientific continuum as it funds collaborative, translational research.

“Joining the Reeve Foundation is a natural extension of my long and deep commitment both to studying the central nervous system and my desire to help people. With the foundation’s reputation and impact in care and scientific research for those living with SCI, it’s an exciting place to be at the right moment in time,” Baptista said.

“The Reeve Foundation took this field from obscurity to one of real promise. Now — thanks in part to its funding of basic research — we’ve generated a solid understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying SCI and paralysis, and the drive toward cures is not a hammer looking at all the world as a nail. Rather, we can identify the studies that stand the greatest chances of success, learn quickly from those that fail and remove barriers to our greatest shared goal: long-awaited cures,” he added.