About Us

DISCERN™ was launched by SYNAPS Dx to assist health care providers with the necessary scientific data they need to identify Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and distinguish it from the other types of Dementia.
The DISCERN™ story began with Dr. Daniel Alkon, who, as a new graduate of Cornell Medical School and a new employee at NIH, found himself intrigued by the question; “what comprises a memory?”.

He set out to establish answers to this question because he believed that if one could understand the physics and chemistry that comprised the mechanisms for memory storage, it would be possible to enhance, restore or modify memories – impacting a broad range of neurologic and psychiatric abnormalities.

Dr. Alkon spent 30 years researching neuroscience and memory at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a Medical Director in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and as Chief of the Laboratory of Adaptive Systems.

Through the formation of Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute – created by Rockefeller IV in WV, Dr. Alkon and his team were presented with the perfect opportunity to pursue scientific research on memory and its nuanced intricacies.

Later, they were able to do a series of studies and perform clinical trials in humans. This led to the pursuit of therapeutic pathways and, ultimately, to the creation of the 3 key proprietary biomarkers that are the foundation of the DISCERN™ test. These biomarkers can determine the level of synaptic loss in the brain before the onset of amyloid plaques or tangles. Each biomarker plays a role in providing extreme accuracy in determining the presence or absence of AD in a patient.

Board of Directors

Frank Amato

Chief Executive Officer & President

Frank Amato is CEO and President of SYNAPS Dx. Previously, after two decades in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries he was President, CEO, and Director of electroCore, a NASDAQ-traded bioelectronic medicine company focused on treating neurological conditions. Frank is an accomplished leader with a track record of consistently delivering strong results. Prior to his tenure at electroCore, Frank was Vice President of the Specialty Commercial Operations Group at Merck, which comprised 9 specialty therapeutic divisions. He had responsibility for leading approximately 2,000 employees, generating $4.5b in annual revenue across 16 different pharmaceutical products. After Merck’s acquisition of Schering-Plough, he led the integration of approximately 3,000 employees into the new company. In addition to his day-to-day business responsibilities, Amato was accountable for various aspects of due diligence, negotiation, integration, and launching products in neuroscience, virology, and ophthalmology.

After serving as an infantry field medic in the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army, Frank began his career as a sales professional in New York City with the Upjohn Company. Throughout his career, Frank has worked on key initiatives in the US, Europe, and Japan, managing teams of senior executives in sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, medical, regulatory, and research and development. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Theology from St. John’s University and MBA from Pepperdine University.

Frank Amato

Frank Amato

Chief Executive Officer & President
Frank Amato

Frank Amato

Chief Executive Officer & President

Frank Amato is CEO and President of SYNAPS Dx. Previously, after two decades in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries he was President, CEO, and Director of electroCore, a NASDAQ-traded bioelectronic medicine company focused on treating neurological conditions. Frank is an accomplished leader with a track record of consistently delivering strong results. Prior to his tenure at electroCore, Frank was Vice President of the Specialty Commercial Operations Group at Merck, which comprised 9 specialty therapeutic divisions. He had responsibility for leading approximately 2,000 employees, generating $4.5b in annual revenue across 16 different pharmaceutical products. After Merck’s acquisition of Schering-Plough, he led the integration of approximately 3,000 employees into the new company. In addition to his day-to-day business responsibilities, Amato was accountable for various aspects of due diligence, negotiation, integration, and launching products in neuroscience, virology, and ophthalmology.

After serving as an infantry field medic in the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army, Frank began his career as a sales professional in New York City with the Upjohn Company. Throughout his career, Frank has worked on key initiatives in the US, Europe, and Japan, managing teams of senior executives in sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, medical, regulatory, and research and development. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Theology from St. John’s University and MBA from Pepperdine University.

Paul Tanico

Chief Strategy Officer & Executive Chairman

Paul Tanico

Chief Strategy Officer & Executive Chairman

Mr. Tanico founded CastleRock Management, an investment firm that managed long/short long-biased U.S. equity funds. Mr. Tanico served as President and Chief Investment Officer at CastleRock. At its peak, CastleRock had over $1 billion AUM and over a 20-year period CastleRock Partners, L.P., the flagship fund, generated compounded cumulative net returns of almost double that of the S&P 500. In 2013, CastleRock liquidated its main fund and has since used its research capabilities to make both active and passive investments in several industries including financial, information technology, healthcare, energy, and a multi-country consumer restaurant franchise in Africa. Prior to CastleRock, Mr. Tanico’s was a portfolio manager (PM) and original partner at Omega Advisors and also served as an analyst – PM at Atalanta Sosnoff, Neuberger Berman and David J. Greene. Mr. Tanico received a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from New York University in 1977 and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1980 and is a member of the New York State Bar. He is a member of or has served on the following boards: Board of Trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine, NYU Stern Board of Overseers, NYU Stern Executive Board, Dean’s Planning Council of Fordham University School of Law, Board of Trustees of Public Broadcast Station WNET, Trinity School in New York City, and Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, New York.

Michael Gibbons

Director

Michael Gibbons

Director
As Sr. Managing Director of The Walsh Investment Group, Michael leads the family’s efforts in exploring investment opportunities outside its traditional spaces. This includes sourcing, diligence, funding, and ongoing management of selected investments. He also provides executive oversight of the company’s Operations & Maintenance business (Walsh Infrastructure Management) and is a Member of The Walsh Group’s corporate Executive Committee. Prior roles at Walsh include Managing Director of the day-to-day planning, direction, and execution of Walsh’s infrastructure investment initiatives in Public Private Partnerships across North America, where he acted in both bid director and steering committee roles. Prior to joining and helping grow the Walsh Investment Group, Mr. Gibbons lead Walsh’s internal construction equipment rental business, co-created and delivered Walsh’s Executive Training Program, and was a member of Walsh’s corporate Safety Committee. Outside of Walsh, Michael serves as a Director of both RepairClinic.com and Sundberg America, and is a Senior Advisor to each’s respective holding company Burke America. Mike is member of the President’s Advisory Council for Graduate Studies & Research at the University of Notre Dame, from which he holds both a Bachelor’s and Executive MBA degrees.

Peter Lucey

Director

Peter Lucey

Director

Peter J. Lucey is the President and Founder of Bull & Bear. Mr. Lucey founded Bull & Bear in 2017 and over his fifteen years in the investment industry has extensive knowledge and experience in focusing on global macro discretionary strategies. Mr. Lucey is currently the Chairman of the firm’s Executive and Investment Committees and a member of the firm’s Risk Committee. Prior to founding Bull & Bear, Mr. Lucey had significant experience in the investment industry including 1 year (2016-2017) as an Advisor at Morgan Stanley, and 9 years (2007-2016) having been the Founder and President of Arsenal Advisors. Mr. Lucey has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Northwestern University.

Management Team

Frank Amato

Frank Amato

Chief Executive Officer & President
Frank Amato

Frank Amato

Chief Executive Officer & President

Frank Amato is CEO and President of SYNAPS Dx. Previously, after two decades in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries he was President, CEO, and Director of electroCore, a NASDAQ-traded bioelectronic medicine company focused on treating neurological conditions. Frank is an accomplished leader with a track record of consistently delivering strong results. Prior to his tenure at electroCore, Frank was Vice President of the Specialty Commercial Operations Group at Merck, which comprised 9 specialty therapeutic divisions. He had responsibility for leading approximately 2,000 employees, generating $4.5b in annual revenue across 16 different pharmaceutical products. After Merck’s acquisition of Schering-Plough, he led the integration of approximately 3,000 employees into the new company. In addition to his day-to-day business responsibilities, Amato was accountable for various aspects of due diligence, negotiation, integration, and launching products in neuroscience, virology, and ophthalmology.

After serving as an infantry field medic in the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army, Frank began his career as a sales professional in New York City with the Upjohn Company. Throughout his career, Frank has worked on key initiatives in the US, Europe, and Japan, managing teams of senior executives in sales, marketing, operations, finance, legal, medical, regulatory, and research and development. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Theology from St. John’s University and MBA from Pepperdine University.

Daniel Alkon

Dr. Daniel Alkon

Chief Scientific Advisor
Daniel Alkon

Dr. Daniel Alkon

Chief Scientific Advisor

Dr. Alkon received his undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1965 at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning his M.D. at Cornell University and finishing an internship in medicine at the Mt Sinai Hospital in New York, he joined the staff of the National Institutes of Health where during his 30-year career he became a Medical Director in the U.S. Public Health Service at the NINDS and Chief of the Laboratory of Adaptive Systems. In 1999, Dr. Alkon then became the founding Scientific Director of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and occupies the Toyota Chair in Neuroscience at the Institute. In this position, he and his team conducted multidisciplinary research on the molecular and biophysical mechanisms of memory and memory dysfunction in psychiatric and neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. He was also a Professor of Neurology at West Virginia University until September 2016.

As an internationally recognized pioneer in research on brain-based neural networks and the molecular basis of memory, he has authored hundreds of scientific articles as well as several books including Memory Traces in the Brain by Cambridge University Press, and the popular book Memory’s Voice by Harper Collins.

Paul Tanico

Executive Chairman

Paul Tanico

Executive Chairman

Mr. Tanico founded CastleRock Management, an investment firm that managed long/short long-biased U.S. equity funds. Mr. Tanico served as President and Chief Investment Officer at CastleRock. At its peak, CastleRock had over $1 billion AUM and over a 20-year period CastleRock Partners, L.P., the flagship fund, generated compounded cumulative net returns of almost double that of the S&P 500. In 2013, CastleRock liquidated its main fund and has since used its research capabilities to make both active and passive investments in several industries including financial, information technology, healthcare, energy, and a multi-country consumer restaurant franchise in Africa. Prior to CastleRock, Mr. Tanico’s was a portfolio manager (PM) and original partner at Omega Advisors and also served as an analyst – PM at Atalanta Sosnoff, Neuberger Berman and David J. Greene.

Mr. Tanico received a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from New York University in 1977 and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1980 and is a member of the New York State Bar. He is a member of or has served on the following boards: Board of Trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine, NYU Stern Board of Overseers, NYU Stern Executive Board, Dean’s Planning Council of Fordham University School of Law, Board of Trustees of Public Broadcast Station WNET, Trinity School in New York City, and Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, New York.

Michael Vieten

CFO

Michael Vieten

CFO

Mike has spent his career investing in and operating innovative businesses. Prior to joining Synaps Dx, he ran a consulting firm called MV Advisory. While there, he led investments in numerous private companies, and advised dozens of businesses across key financial and strategic capabilities.

Previously, Mike worked as an equity research analyst at Stifel Nicolaus and Cowen and Company. In that role, he met with management teams, built financial models, and wrote investment research reports on publicly traded companies.

Mike is a CFA charterholder. He received his MBA from Columbia Business School, and his Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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Michael Tunkelrott

Vice President of Marketing
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Michael Tunkelrott

Vice President of Marketing
Michael Tunkelrott is the VP of Marketing for SYNAPS Dx. Michael has extensive experience in the pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, providing commercial leadership during clinical development and market preparation, successfully launching products both in the US and globally. During his 25 years in sales and marketing, Michael has worked across several specialty areas and disease states, including hepatology, neurology, virology, infectious diseases.
Tapan Khan

Tapan Khan

Director of Research and Development
Tapan Khan

Tapan Khan

Director of Research and Development

Independent position (PI) as a senior research scientist (Associate Professor) and Lead Research Scientist (14 years). Accomplished scientist in the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics of neurodegenerative diseases, Program manager in academic and non-profit research organization. Outstanding record as a translational scientist, International expert as health research and development grant reviewer. Experience in developing diagnostic lab accredited by Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) compliance, IRB protocol submission, and FDA submission for in-vitro diagnostic test, Serves as a member of the Joint Management Committee, Serves as the scientific and technical leader and as the primary source for the scientific expertise of in vitro diagnostics/therapeutics.

Doug Toal

CLIA Lab Director

Doug Toal

CLIA Lab Director

Experienced business leader and Laboratory Director with a long track record of delivering improved profitability by streamlining processes, improving quality, eliminating excessive and repetitive practices and adding value to the customer. An exceptional manager with an in depth knowledge of strong and sustainable organizational structure and a knack for identifying talent and enabling team members to achieve organization goals and objectives. An effective and diverse collaborator, able to work across external and internal groups to build consensus through recognition of common goals. A strong advocate for uncompromising quality and customer satisfaction.

Advisors

Florin Chirila

Florin V. Chirila, Ph.D.

Founding Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic Lab Director – Advisor
Florin Chirila

Florin V. Chirila, Ph.D.

Founding Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic Lab Director – Advisor

Dr. Chirila received his Ph.D. in Physics from West Virginia University with a thesis in feedback control of wave propagation patterns in excitable media. This research got the cover of the Journal Science. His background is in nonlinear dynamics and neuroscience. His research focuses on the use of quantitative and interdisciplinary approaches to solving neuroscience problems, including specific methods of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders using peripheral skin fibroblasts and blood B-Lymphocytes. His work has involved network measures, cell size, cell growth, protein amount, and gene expression in synchronized skin fibroblasts and blood B-lymphocytes as biological markers for the prediction of Alzheimer’s disease prior to symptomatic diagnosis.

In August 2011, Dr. Chirila became the Diagnostic Laboratory Director at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, and Assistant Professor at the institute. He was also an Adjoint Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at West Virginia University until September2013. His work has involved demonstrating that skin spatiotemporal networks are dysregulated in Alzheimer’s Disease when compared with other types of dementia and healthy controls.

In July 2016, Dr. Chirila became the Diagnostic Laboratory Director at SYNAPS Dx where he helped bringing the three major biomarkers to the market, getting the CLIA status in 49 states, and the breakthrough status with the FDA. While at SYNAPS Dx Dr. Chirila continued his quest for new biomarkers such as cell size, cell growth, protein amount, gene expression, while validating the main biomarkers in blood B-lymphocytes. His work is measured by ten patent applications, out of which two patents were awarded.

As the Founding Diagnostic Laboratory Director at SYNAPS Dxs, Dr. Chirila helps completing the current projects and advises on the technical aspects of the Alzheimer’s Disease biomarkers.

Publications:

Dave Rosa

Advisor

Dave Rosa

Advisor

Mr. Rosa serves on the board of directors of NeuroOne and is an entrepreneur with three decades of experience in the medical device industry spanning a variety of technologies and products. In addition to CEO roles with early stage medical device companies, Mr. Rosa’s background also includes senior roles with C.R. Bard Inc., Boston Scientific Inc., and St. Jude Medical, where his responsibilities included marketing, product development and business development. He has been named as an inventor on multiple medical device patents, serves on seven corporate boards, and has raised $200M in the capital markets. Mr. Rosa holds an MBA from Duquesne University, and a BS in Commerce and Engineering from Drexel University.

Wayne Jenkins, MD

Advisor

Wayne Jenkins, MD

Advisor

MD, payer and provider group strategist. Chief Medical Officer of Centivo.

Michael Gorton

Michael Gorton

Advisor
Michael Gorton

Michael Gorton

Advisor

Michael Gorton is a 14x Serial Entrepreneur who has created tens of billions of dollars in net worth from companies he has started.. As one of the pioneers of telemedicine and digital health, Gorton helped create, what is becoming a TRILLION dollar industry. The lessons learned from building 14 companies are reflected in his best seller: Broken Handoff, a book that educates entrepreneurs, human capital experts, and investors.

Audacious goals and adventure have always been an integral part of his daily life. The results of these goals can be seen in industry changing results from companies he has founded like Internet Global, Teladoc, Palo Duro Records, Back To Space, and Principal Solar. The current goal is to continue developing new ideas and technologies that have a transformative foundation, and can generate returns for stakeholders. Two of his books have made Amazon Top 10 lists, with Forefathers and Founding Fathers reaching the #1 position. In the world of adventure, Michael and his family are climbing the highest point of elevation (mountain) in each of the 50 states. Michael has 42 complete with 8 to go. He is working on his 3rd degree black belt in Kenpo Karate from Jim Dryburgh's Power Kenpo Studio.

Specialties: Telemedicine, Engineering, Space, early and mid stage company building, serving on Boards, as Advisor or Director, development of corporate culture, writing, legal analysis, capital raising and problem solving. Michael enjoys working with early and growth stage entrepreneurs who have industry-changing ideas, but need help "avoiding the potholes."

Fred Huie

Advisor

Fred Huie

Advisor

Healthcare industry expert with 20+ years’ experience in clinical programs around Risk, Quality and Cost containment. Eleven years with UnitedHealthcare’s Optum, clinical performance solutions division, designing clinical programs for early identification of chronic illness. More recently, with Molina Healthcare working on outcomes and cost containment.

Developed advanced algorithms around pharmacy, medical claims, labs and natural language processing of chart records for predictive models geared to promote pre-clinical diagnosis of chronic illness and monitoring of active disease. Algorithms are actively used on a population of over 20 million Medicare and Medicaid lives across multiple healthcare payers.

Currently working in public healthcare sector working for both Fire Department of New York and medical affairs emergency medical services (EMS), and department of sanitation New York (DSNY) occupational health, surgical consultant for more than 15 years. Board certified in General surgery by American College of Surgeons. Selected in 2019 to subcommittee for HHS fastCures Landscape analysis to align innovation budgeting to disease total cost and to speed products to market.

Alternative Test

Our Lab

SYNAPS Dx operates out of the Greencourt Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art facility located in North Bethesda, MD.

The SYNAPS Dx lab is certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) as qualified to perform high complexity clinical laboratory testing.

SYNAPS Dx is the exclusive licensee of the worldwide patent portfolio covering the biomarker technology.