An internationally recognized researcher of novel drug therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders and epigenetics he has devoted his career to finding new treatments for autism, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, depression, addiction, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration and other human disorders. Claes Wahlestedt, M.D., Ph.D., a founding faculty member and professor of neuroscience and molecular therapeutics at the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute directs the Genomic Interdisciplinary Therapeutic Innovation Center (G-ITIC) as well as serving as associate dean for therapeutic innovations.
Highly respected by his peers, Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., Leonard M. Miller Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, who has known Wahlestedt for 30 years, called him “one of the most creative and talented neuroscientists in the world.’’Dr. Wahlestedt, was a founding director of the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics and a department chair at the Karolinska Institute in his native Sweden.The author of some 200 papers in major scientific journals in his field, Wahlestedt has a long-standing interest in non-protein-coding RNA (epigenetics) and pioneered various uses of antisense RNA, siRNA and small molecules that target RNA. At Scripps Florida, he co-founded CURNA, a spin-off company based on his patent for exploiting a cell’s ability to make therapeutic proteins, a discovery that holds promise for potential treatments for such diseases as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. CURNA recently sold for $10 million.
Born in Karlskrona, Sweden, Wahlestedt earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from Lund University in southern Sweden and completed postdoctoral work at the Georgetown Institute of the Neurosciences at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the Institute for Immunology at Kyoto University. He spent four years as assistant professor in the Division of Neurobiology, Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, at Cornell University Medical College in New York, and was subsequently adjunct professor of biochemistry, and pharmacology and therapeutics at McGill University in Montreal. He also spent more than a decade directing drug discovery or genomics efforts in the pharmaceutical industry for Astra-Zeneca, Pharmacia & Upjohn, and Pharmacia Corporation.