Please join us in welcoming new Board Member, Hampus Hillerstrom who will also be taking the lead on our Development Committee.
Hampus was introduced to the Ds community after his son Oskar was born a year ago.
“Oskar’s birth left me curious about what was going on in the biotech industry in the field of Down syndrome,” explained Hampus, who has a background in biotech and health research. “Dr. Brian Skotko from Massachusetts General Hospital directed me to the LuMind Foundation, and I was immediately impressed by the team and the progress they achieved in little time and with very limited funds.”
Once he understood the current research efforts in Down syndrome, not just cognition research, Hampus asked the next big question. “What is the best way to make a change in Down syndrome research? I was aware the NIH had funding limits and that LuMind made grants once per year. There’s a big need for more,” he said.
Hampus not only brings a science background to LuMind Foundation, he also is a businessman. In 2006, he co‐founded NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals, a company developing a novel approach for treating Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other protein misfolding diseases. He currently serves as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
“As I was asking why there isn’t more Down syndrome research and therapeutics,” explained Hampus. “I wondered if it was simply a question of identifying the unmet medical need.” For cognition research, Hampus quickly identified the need was funding and saw promising lines of discovery were left unexplored due to lack of grants.
Hampus is also intrigued by the connections between Ds and Alzheimer’s disease. “The Alzheimer’s disease community has a neuroimaging project, ADNI [Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative]. There are so many similarities between Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome,” said Hampus. “We have a good start with the DS Consortium, but we can build a case for the need to add neuroimaging to advance research and assess candidates to test therapeutics.”
Hampus may have been motivated by Oskar and applied his business acumen to the science of Down syndrome, but he understands the long-range view of the possibilities.
“Oskar is a year old and wonderful,” said the proud father. “There are debates about research changing my son or daughter and I am so happy with where he is, but I like the plus 15 concept. I see stories of children with Down syndrome graduating high school and university, having jobs and living independently and need very little support. With cognition-targeted therapeutics and a lot of breakthrough scientific discoveries in Down syndrome, there are an increased number of amazing things to achieve, and some may help my son, while some may help the next generation.”
Businesspeople focus on the bottom line. Hampus joined the Board of the LuMind Foundation because our scientific approach appealed to his business sense.
“The approach LuMind Foundation took with the Scientific Advisory Board and focusing on strategically progressing research with targeted grants while supporting infrastructure and collaborative projects, highlights the best qualities about our Foundation and the success we’ve achieved. They think about the science the right way,” he said.