About Our Charity Foundation
The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy is a public charity foundation committed to fostering collaboration among today’s most gifted and dedicated neuroscientists and physicians. These specialists from around the country will help us maintain a comprehensive view of the field and determine the research areas that hold the most promise in neuropathy research and treatment to develop new and effective therapies that can reverse, reduce and one day eliminate peripheral neuropathy. It is our ultimate goal to utilize every means and opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of those living with this painful and debilitating disorder.
- Serving as the premier resource of information for patients, their families and healthcare providers
- Accelerating a cure for peripheral neuropathies
- Funding collaborative efforts of leading scientists
- Raising awareness of peripheral neuropathy
Awarded by GuideStar®
2023 Guidelines Certification
Meet the team
Board of Directors
Lou resides in Arlington VA, and has practiced law his entire career with Groom Law Group, Chartered in Washington DC. Groom is the largest employee benefit law specialty firm in the country and Lou has more than 45 years of experience with the firm, working on a wide variety of matters related to the tax aspects of employee benefits — including pension, 401k and health and life insurance plans — for Fortune 200, tax-exempt, institutional and state and local governmental clients.
Lou grew up in Northern New Jersey and graduated from New York University before attending law school. He continues to be involved with NYU – including participation on the Steering Committee to establish a NYU-DC campus in Washington DC opened in 2012. Lou graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC in 1974. He taught on the Adjunct Faculty there for five years in his field of practice and is an active alumnus.
In 2003, Lou was first affected with PN (of the relatively rare autoimmune variety, often referred to as “anti-MAG” or “monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance”). He was fortunate to become a patient of Dr. David Cornblath, who practices in the neurology department at Johns Hopkins and has helped Lou manage his illness for many years. Lou is funding research focusing on PN patients with anti-MAG with a goal of developing better information on effective treatment strategies.
Chairman Emeritus, The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
President, Jack Miller Family Foundation
Jack established our charity foundation to support the funding of collaborative research with the goal of improved treatments and an eventual cure for Peripheral Neuropathy. A prominent Chicago entrepreneur and philanthropist, he was the founder and former President/CEO of Quill Corporation. In addition to being Chairman of the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, his other endeavors include being co-chairman of Millbrook Real Estate and Chairman of the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History. He and his wife, Goldie, also support Jewish and community efforts through the Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund.
Senda Ajroud-Driss, MD
Associate Professor and Neurologist, Northwestern University
Dr. Senda Ajroud-Driss received her medical degree from The Medical School of Tunis, Tunisia; she completed her Neurology Residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Neuromuscular Fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Prior to her residency, she worked as a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Teepu Siddique’s Neurogenetic laboratory at Northwestern University, establishing linkage of an autosomal dominant mitochondrial myopathy and later identifying the causative gene.
She is Board Certified in Neurology and in Neuromuscular Medicine. She is currently an Associate Professor in the department of Neurology at Northwestern University. She is the program director for the neuromuscular fellowship program and has been involved with the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy for at least 11 years.
Director of Strategy, Anthem, Inc.
Adam is a Director on the Corporate Strategy team at Anthem, a Fortune 50 healthcare company. He previously served on the Social Innovation & Sustainable Finance team at the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), where he leveraged innovative financing models to drive investment in evidence-based interventions that address the social determinants of health.
Before joining GHHI, Adam served as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company where he advised clients in the healthcare, high tech and basic materials industries. Prior to joining McKinsey, Adam earned a JD from the University of Michigan Law School and an MBA from Oxford where he served as a portfolio manager for the business school’s venture fund.
Adam is deeply committed to improving the lives of PN patients around the world through better treatment options and greater awareness of current best practices in managing PN.
Chief Financial Officer, The Benida Group
Mr. Hirsch is the Chief Financial Officer of The Benida Group, responsible for accounting and tax functions for the real estate, investment and family office operations at The Benida Group. Previously, Mr. Hirsch held the position of Tax Manager at Miami Corporation and Deloitte & Touche LLP. Scott received his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Illinois and holds CPA and CFP® certifications.
President Positrigo USA
Ron currently resides in Bondville, VT, and is Chief Operating Officer of Prescient Medical Imaging LLC, a manufacturer of a dedicated Positron Emission Tomography system for diagnosing and monitoring treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He has been involved in the medical device industry since 1998 as owner of an imaging company which did joint ventures with academic medical institutions. From that time, Ron worked for several nationally recognized imaging and medical device companies. Prior to 1998, Ron was a practicing CPA in both New York City and New Jersey.
Prior to moving to Vermont, Ron lived in New York City for 35 years where he was very active in the philanthropic community as a board member of both The Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Bronx, NY) and the All Star Projects, Inc (New York City). In addition, he was on numerous fundraising committees for Montefiore (Bronx, NY), Lombardi Cancer Center (Washington, DC) and others.
He is a graduate of both Syracuse University (BS) and Harvard Business School (OPM Executive Management Program). Ron has been afflicted with Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy for the past nine years.
Gregory F. Maassen
Dr. Gregory F. Maassen is a multimedia, strategic digital marketing, videographer, and (interim) manager with over 23 years of experience, including 18 years of senior management experience with the IFC/World Bank, and USAID programs in Armenia, Southern Africa (15 countries), Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, Macedonia, and Jordan.
He specializes in managing and restructuring large, complex, and high-profile donor-assisted programs, videography, multimedia production, and strategic digital marketing. He taught at universities in Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Macedonia, and Indonesia (MBA executive courses).
In 2019, Dr. Maassen was diagnosed with post-infectious small fiber neuropathy and became a patient of Dr. Ahmet Hoke at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, USA, and was introduced to the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy for its wealth of patient resources and support.
Gregory is actively involved in the Foundation’s PN-patient outreach and education programs. He launched a fundraising and public awareness campaign for the Foundation in 2022, cycling 4,700+ miles across America on an e-bike through E-bike Lovers, raising $180,000 for research and education while establishing a new cross-country bike route.
Gregory is the recipient of several awards, including USAID’S Partnership of the Year and Oracle Innovation awards, and was a Fulbright recipient.
Consultant, Salmans & Associates
Van Salmans serves as a consultant to Salmans & Associates, a cheese marketing and sales company, which he founded and sold after 40 plus years in the dairy industry. Van received his B.A. in economics from Stanford University and his M.B.A from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Van resides in the Greater Chicago area.
Van first noticed a nerve condition in 1998 and has coped with the progression of peripheral neuropathy ever since. He is committed to increasing the awareness of, raising funds for and helping find cures for PN. He hopes FPN is able to assist in reaching a new level of national commitment to a disease affecting approximately 30 million Americans and countless more around the world. As a lifelong competitive golfer, Van believes that staying as active as one can along with continued exercise is one of the best ways to cope with and manage PN.
A. Gordon Smith, MD, FAAN
Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Smith is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to this role, he served as Vice Chair for Research, Chief of the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine and Director of the Jack H. Petajan EMG Laboratory at the University of Utah. Smith is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Mayo Medical School. He completed his neurology residency and a neuromuscular fellowship at the University of Michigan.
Smith’s NIH funded research team focuses on peripheral neuropathy in diabetes and obesity. He has a particular interest in biomarker development and novel clinical trial design in peripheral neuropathy. He was principal investigator of the Utah Regional site in the NINDS-funded Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials (NeuroNEXT), and sits on the NeuroNEXT Executive Committee. Dr. Smith is PI of the Topiramate as a Disease Modifying Therapy for Cryptogenic Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy (TopCSPN) trial being performed by NeuroNEXT. TopCSPN is the first large scale randomized trial of a treatment to alter the natural history of CSPN, which is one of the most common neurological disorders. He is also PI of the Activity for Diabetic Neuropathy (ADAPT) Trial. Dr. Smith has led or participated in numerous clinical trials in neuromuscular disorders including the Impaired Glucose Tolerance Neuropathy Study (IGTN) and the Utah Diabetic Neuropathy Study (UDNS).
Smith also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Neurology and is Chair of the Education Committee. Smith is active in the Peripheral Nerve Society, where he is a former member of the board of directors. He currently serves as the Secretary on the American Brain Foundation Board of Directors.
Kristy Townsend, PhD
Department of Neurosurgery
The Ohio State University | Wexner Medical Center
Kristy Townsend holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and has been investigating the brain and nervous system in the regulation of energy balance and metabolism for the past 20 years. Townsend is now Associate Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at The Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. Research in the Townsend Lab for Neurobiology & Energy Balance (ktownsendlab.com) at The Ohio State University focuses on neural plasticity (or, remodeling and regeneration) and how the brain and nervous system impact appetite, metabolism, and energy expenditure (or, calorie burning). Townsend is involved in neuropathy research in three ways: 1) the laboratory investigates how nerve endings can die back into the adipose tissue (or, fat tissue) under the skin in conditions of small fiber neuropathy and how this impacts metabolic health; 2) the laboratory researches mechanisms of neuropathy and potential treatments in cases of diabetes or aging; and 3) Townsend and colleagues are working on a medical device for the functional diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy through an academic spin-out company called Neuright, Inc.
Scientific Advisory Board
Nathan Staff, MD, PhD (Chair)
Associate Professor of Neurology
Department of Neurology
Dr. Nathan Staff is a neurologist, Professor, and Research Chair at Mayo Clinic Rochester who cares for patients with neuromuscular diseases such as peripheral neuropathy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease). He received his medical degree and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Northwestern University. He then was a resident and chief resident at Mayo Clinic Rochester, with subsequent subspecialization training in clinical neurophysiology and peripheral nerve disorders.
Dr. Staff is highly involved in patient care, education, and research at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Staff’s research efforts employ regenerative medicine strategies in both laboratory-based model systems and human clinical trials to study disorders that damage the neuromuscular system. His emphasis has been primarily on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and ALS, two diseases with high clinical morbidity.
Eva Feldman, MD, PhD
Director, ALS Center of Excellence
Director, NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies
Ann Arbor, MI
Eva L. Feldman MD, PhD, James W. Albers Distinguished University Professor, and the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at Michigan Medicine is a renowned neurologist and neuroscientist who has devoted her career towards understanding the etiology of neurological disorders and developing new treatments. Dr. Feldman is Director of the University of Michigan (UM) ALS Center of Excellence and the NeuroNetwork for Emerging Therapies. She is annually listed in Best Doctors in America, a Past President of the Peripheral Nerve Society and American Neurological Association (ANA)—when elected President of the ANA, she was the third woman to hold this position in 130 years. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) where she chairs the Neurology and Psychiatry section, the Association of American Physicians, and a Fellow of the AAAS.
Dr. Feldman has been continuously NIH funded since 1989, with a strong track record of successful collaborations, as she oversees an established lab with 25 exceptional scientists. Her research group develops novel cellular, gene, and growth factor therapies for neurologic disorders.
Ahmet Höke, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience
Director, Neuromuscular Division
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Following appointment to neurology faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1999, he rose through the ranks and became Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience in 2009. Currently he is the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Professor of Neuroimmunology, Director of the Daniel B. Drachman Division of Neuromuscular Diseases and Director of the Merkin Peripheral Neuropathy and Nerve Regeneration Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Höke’s clinical practice and his clinical research focuses on idiopathic, toxic, and inflammatory neuropathies. He is the principal investigator of several natural history studies aimed at developing biomarkers and understanding genetic underpinnings of peripheral neuropathies. His laboratory research focuses on biology of peripheral axons and Schwann cells and disorders affecting the peripheral nervous system. His discoveries have led to the identification and validation of novel therapeutic targets to prevent axon degeneration in peripheral neuropathies.
He is the recipient of several awards including Derek Denny Brown Young Neurological Scholar Award (2005) and Wolfe Neuropathy Research prize (2018) given by the American Neurological Association (ANA). He is an Ex-Officio member of the Board of Directors of the ANA, a Director on the Board of Directors of PNS and Vice-President of the Toxic Neuropathy Consortium. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.
Sandra Rieger, PhD
Department of Biology, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL
Dr. Rieger is an associate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Miami and affiliated with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Rieger’s research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms responsible for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Specifically, her investigations center around the identification of key pathways involved in this condition.
One significant finding from her team’s work is the activation of a crucial pathway in the skin following treatment with paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent known to induce CIPN. Dr. Rieger’s research has revealed that the mechanisms involved in CIPN share similarities with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Therefore, the drug treatments currently developed by Dr. Rieger’s team for CIPN could potentially have broader applications for individuals with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Steven S. Scherer, MD, PhD
Vice Chair for Academic Development, Department of Neurology
Steven S. Scherer is the Ruth Wagner Van Meter and J. Ray Van Meter Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Charles A. Dana fellow at the University of Pennsylvania from 1989-1991, in the laboratory of Dr. John Kamholz. His interest in peripheral nerve began with his Ph.D. thesis, and brought him to Penn’s Department of Neurology, which has a distinguished history in this area.
The diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathies is Dr. Scherer’s clinical interest. He is a member of the GBS/CIDP Center of Excellence and the CMT Center of Excellence at Penn. He is particularly involved with people who have CMT and is part of an ongoing effort to identify new genetic causes and to determine the relationships between the genotypes and phenotypes of these patients. He wrote and maintains the information for clinicians on the Inherited Neuropathies Consortium (http://rarediseasesnetwork.epi.usf.edu/INC/), which is one component of the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network. He has served various roles for the Peripheral Nerve Society, an international organization of physicians and scientists devoted to peripheral nerve and their diseases and is currently the past president. He serves on the medical board and the scientific advisory board of the CMT Association.
Meet the staff
Lindsay Colbert – Executive Director
Lindsay serves as the Executive Director for our charity foundation, focusing on raising awareness and support for individuals living with peripheral neuropathy. She is excited to turn the board’s enthusiasm into successful outcomes for the Foundation and its members.
Prior to Lindsay’s joining the team in April 2017, she gained a decade of experience in fund development, strategic planning, and marketing at Chicago-based non-profits, including Northwestern University and Rotary International. She holds a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys traveling, cycling, and watching baseball.
Jane Bartmann – Marketing and Communications Specialist
Jane serves as the Marketing and Communications Specialist for FPN. With decades of experience working with large and small nonprofits, in sectors such as education and human services, Jane is excited to bring her expertise to the FPN team to continue the important work of reversing the irreversible.
Jane holds a MA and BFA in graphic design from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. She’s a curious, analytical, problem-solving visual communicator with experience in branding, creative direction, design and integrated marketing. In her free time, Jane enjoys experiencing life via travel, tacos, type and books.
Tanya Zivin – Sr. Administrative Coordinator
Tanya serves as the Sr. Administrative Coordinator at FPN. She holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After a career in human resources in the corporate sector and taking time off to raise her two kids, Tanya has been supporting nonprofits for over seven years.
Tanya has a personal connection to neurodegenerative disease. She is a founding board member of the National Organization for Tardive Dyskinesia (NOTD), and her hope is to help a loved one reverse Tardive Dyskinesia by addressing its root cause. Tanya is excited to bring on board her lay knowledge of neurology and neurodegenerative disease to our Foundation to help further its mission to “reverse the irreversible.”