Dr. Rok Cerne, M.D., Ph.D. – Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Cerne has served at RespireRx, since October 2020, as Senior Research Scientist. Concurrently, he is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Anatomy, Cell Biology, and Physiology of Indiana University, a partner at the Center for Experimental Clinical Physiology of Ljubljana University with a focus on systems biology and assists the HEAL Initiative of NIH which targets opioid epidemics. From 2011 – 2018, Dr. Cerne directed an ion channel drug discovery group at the Lilly Research Labs that discovered multiple analgesics and antiepileptics including novel glutamate and GABA receptor neuromodulators. Several of these compounds entered clinical development. Prior to Eli Lilly, he headed a pharmacology lab at RedPoint Bio where he worked on TRP channel targets. His efforts were crucial for bringing a TRPM5 modulator into human studies and led to the filing of multiple patents. His earlier research efforts targeted the discovery of novel analgesics (Purdue Pharma) and the mechanisms of initiation and spread of epileptic seizures (Duke University). Dr. Cerne is a senior biopharmaceutical professional with 32 years of experience in the area of neuroscience research, out of which 19 were devoted to ion channel drug discovery in industrial settings. His electrophysiological studies in isolated neurons, native and human tissue were key to establishing the a2/3-selective GABAkine, KRM-II-81, as a potential drug candidate for epilepsy, chronic pain, and other areas of therapeutic need.