Steven Olson, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurology



Dr. Olson joined the IND in 2014 after 18 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist. He received a BS in chemistry from Harvey Mudd College, an MS from UC Santa Cruz, and a PhD from Yale University in the laboratory of Dr. Samuel Danishefsky, working on the total synthesis of the antitumor natural product calicheamicin. After postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley investigating the chemistry of β-sheet mimetics, Dr. Olson joined Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, New Jersey, as a medicinal chemist working on a diverse set of projects in the areas of antibiotic resistance, direct control of signal transduction pathways, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, and metabolic syndrome. In 2006, Steve moved to Amgen South San Francisco, where he served as chemistry lead for the MDM2-p53 project. His team used de novo structure-based design to prepare small molecule protein–protein interaction inhibitors with picomolar affinity, leading to the discovery of AMG-232, which is currently in multiple clinical trials for oncology.

As part of the IND, Dr. Olson is leading drug discovery efforts. He is focused on the ongoing collaboration between Daiichi Sankyo and the IND for the discovery of therapeutic agents that will directly alter the course of neurodegenerative diseases. He has a broad range of academic interests, including organic synthesis, natural products chemistry, conformational analysis, and structure-based ligand design.

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