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Featured Scientists

Every few months, FARA will introduce one of our researchers to you.

Feature articles include their area of research, the focus of their work and how they are helping us to achieve our goal- an effective therapy, and eventually a cure for FA.


Bronya Keats

Bronya KeatsName: Bronya Keats

Where do you work? I work voluntarily with FARA as the Chief Research Officer and also with the Australian Friedreich Ataxia Stem Cell and Gene Therapy Consortium, Melbourne. Previously I was a Professor of Genetics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans (LSUHSC, 1982-2008).

How long have you been working on FA and who was the first fellow FA researcher you met? I have been working on FA since I moved to New Orleans almost 40 years ago. The first FA researcher I met was Dr. Andr Barbeau (Montreal Clinical Research Institute), who led the Quebec Cooperative Study of Friedreich’s Ataxia, initiated in 1974. In 1983 he participated in our FA clinic in Lafayette, LA (the center of Acadiana).

Giovanni Manfredi

Manfredi TeamName: Giovanni Manfredi

Where do you work? Weill Cornell Medicine, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Mitochondrial Research Unit.

How long have you been working on FA and who was the first fellow FA researcher you met? I have been FARA Chief of Science for over 10 years, until December 2019. Currently, I serve on the FARA Scientific Advisory Board and Scientific Review Committee. The first FA researchers I met were Helene Puccio, Gino Cortopassi, and Massimo Pandolfo.

Arnulf H. Koeppen, M.D.

ArnulfName: Arnulf H. Koeppen, M.D

Where do you work? VA Medical Center, Albany NY, and Albany Medical College

How long have you been working on FA and who was the first fellow FA researcher you met? 40 years. Dr. Massimo Pandalfo

What got you interested in FA research? The complex clinical and pathological phenotype.

What question or challenge were you setting out to address when you started this work? The pathological process in FA.

What research topics or questions are you currently focused on? Proteins of the nervous system in FA.

Dr. Barbara Tate

Barbara TateName Barbara Tate

Title Chief Scientific Officer

Tell us a little about your background. I came to FARA from the venture world, where I was part of a mission-focused venture fund developing therapeutics for neurological diseases. I have previous experience in company creation and biotech startups, as well as large pharma drug discovery experience. I also spent time in academia. I have a Ph.D. in biology and lots of experience in neuroscience.

Dr. Hélène Puccio

HeleneName: Hélène Puccio

Where do you work? Since 1998, I have been working at the IGBMC, an academic institution right outside of Strasbourg, in the east region of France. I am currently moving my laboratory to a new institute, l'Institut Neuromyogène (INMG) located in Lyon, south of France.

How long have you been working on FA and who was the first fellow FA researcher you met? I have been working on FA since 1998 when I started as a postdoctoral fellow in Michel Koenig's laboratory at the IGBMC. In 2001, I got a permanent governmental research position through INSERM with an FA based project and was able to build my own team. Michel Koenig was the first fellow I met working on FA in 1992 (before the identification of the gene). He was working with his team, and in collaboration with Massimo Pandolfo, on positional cloning (that is trying to identify the gene responsible for FA). At that time, I was a Master's student at the University of Strasbourg, working in Dr. Jean-Louis Mandel team on Adrenoleukodystrophy.

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