Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A former investment adviser from Roslyn Heights is taking his talents to South Beach.Jonathan Gilbert, CEO of Scythian Biosciences Inc., a biotech firm, has secured $16 million in funding for a promising trial at the University of Miami considering the potential impact of a cannabis-based compound to treat concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).The cannabinoid compound at the center of the trials, cannabidiol (CBD), is believed to contain neuroprotective properties that could, in theory, reduce inflammation in the brain caused by head trauma. Adding to the intrigue, the drug would not contain Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which creates the psychoactive effect in the brain when using marijuana.Researchers at the University of Miami hope the trial could produce a first-of-its-kind pharmaceutical answer to concussions, which has recently been the focus of millions of dollars in research, largely in response to the impact concussions have had on current and former NFL players.For Gilbert, a career investment adviser who worked for a Connecticut-based hedge fund, it’s incredibly exciting transitioning to biotech, focusing his efforts on a potentially game-changing drug, something that has thus far remained elusive to concussion patients.“I can’t sleep at night thinking about what I can be accomplishing here,” he told the Press. “What an amazing accomplishment to create something that could be effective for everyone on Earth.”Gilbert founded Scythian Biosciences Inc. three years ago, following a Tourette Syndrome support group session in which teenagers indicated they had used marijuana to “self medicate.” Gilbert and his wife have three kids, the youngest of whom suffers from the neurological disorder.The conversation with the teens got Gilbert thinking: how could marijuana benefit not only his son, but people inflicted with various ailments, including concussion?Gilbert knew his extensive list of contacts and ability to raise money and attract talent would make up for whatever experience he lacked in the pharmaceutical industry. In the latter years of his investment career, he noticed an uptick in medical marijuana businesses seeking funding, though most pitches were underwhelming. Still keen on the idea of marijuana-based treatment, he made a decision to go his own route.Initially Gilbert’s goal was to enter the industry in Canada, whose prime minister, Justin Trudeau, recently introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide. The prospect of similar legislation being proposed by the Trump administration appears far-fetched.Gilbert went ahead and purchased a facility in Canada with the idea of growing and selling medical marijuana. But instead of joining the growing medical marijuana industry, Gilbert, with his own son in mind, gambled on an entry into the pharmaceutical industry.Mindful of the surprisingly minimal treatment options for concussions, Gilbert got the sense that it was a “wide open space” with the potential of becoming a billion-dollar industry.“I’m learning as I go,” he said.Even so, Gilbert already sounds experienced.“Our therapy, which involves the use of two drugs, targets two different brain receptors which are involved in suppressing this immune response and the associated inflammation,” he explained.Scythian Biosciences Inc now has offices in Canada and the United States—including one at the University of Miami. The company has applied for a patent for its treatment and the University of Miami is in the pre-trial phase of the five-year study.Heading the university’s research is Dr. Gillian Hotz, research professor of neurological surgery and director of the concussion program at University of Miami Health System Sports Medicine.When the university announced the study, Hotz acknowledged the previous work her team had done to develop concussion protocols and better educate high school, collegiate and professional athletes.“One thing has eluded us—a clinically proven medication to treat concussion,’ she said. “Whether or not this study leads to a pill that could treat concussion, this type of research will pave the way for UM and other researchers to better manage concussion. It’s a privilege to help lead this journey.”Researchers are currently examining TBI in rodents before testing the compound in the form of a pill on humans. Clues to as to whether the treatment could be the game-changer Gilbert is hoping it is won’t come until the third phase, which is expected to take three years.The University of Miami trial comes as medical professionals have earnestly been scrutinizing new ways to treat concussed patients. The US government has funded studies into hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which uses oxygen to reduce swelling and increase blood flow. At the University of Buffalo, researchers are testing how recently concussed athletes react to light aerobics, which would undermine years of conventional thinking that long periods of rest is best for a concussed brain.Gilbert welcomes the deluge of research. Given how pervasive concussions have become, he recognizes the need for changes in how concussions are treated—even if it means increased competition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, upwards of 3.6 million people suffer a TBI each year. Additionally, an analysis by Blue Cross Blue Shield found that concussions increased by more than 40 percent in the past five years.Gilbert is hardly alone in advocating for cannabis treatment to tackle America’s concussion problem. Harvard psychiatrist Lester Grinspoon in 2014 penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league to pursue marijuana treatment.“Already, many doctors and researchers believe that marijuana has incredibly powerful neuroprotective properties, an understanding based on both laboratory and clinical data,” Grinspoon wrote. “But unfortunately, the extensive research required to definitively determine cannabis’s ability to prevent CTE will require millions of dollars in upfront investment, and despite the great promise many now see in cannabinopathic medicine, it’s hard to imagine who else has both the motive and the means to provide such funding.”It appears Gilbert is both motivated and has found the financial backing for such an effort. And while he waits for the study to take shape, he said he’ll continue to raise money for his company, and perhaps even find a way to help more people like his son.
IT was an exciting second night on Thursday at Georgetown Club when the Toucan Distributors Junior Skill Level Squash Tournament continued.Shomari Wiltshire stayed securely on top with his conquest over Gianni Carpenter 11-4, 11-2, 11-2 – his expertise proving too much for the left-hander.Samuel Ince-Carvalhal and Michael Alphonso fought a tight 5-game battle that had spectators holding their breath but Ince-Carvalhal prevailed for a 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 win. He came back twice from a 9-5 deficit to take the second and then crucial fifth game.All four Category A players executed some outstanding shots throughout their games, but it was Wiltshire who stood ahead of the group.Another close 5-game match from Category B between Ethan Jonas and Mohryan Baksh saw some great play as the youngsters rallied it out to each other’s tipping point.The first four games could have gone either way with each player retrieving difficult balls and extending the rallies before the final game, which Jonas dominated to bring home his triumph 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5.Beau Fernandes put the pressure on Joshua Verwey when she played a solid second came to overcome him 11-9. Verwey regrouped to push through the third game despite Fernandes heading out to an early 7-2 lead, which he eventually claimed at 11-9. He finished strong in the fourth to earn an 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5 victory.In Category G, Brenno DaSilva, despite a 2-1 defeat, true to form stole the show. With animated court movement and an acrobatic dive to retrieve a drop from his opponent Abhinav Singh, DaSilva thrilled the crowd. After a game apiece, the third was a real battle that ended at 13-11 with a win for Singh.Play continued at the usual venue, the Georgetown Club, yesterday at 18:00hrs, There will be 2 sessions today with the finals tomorrow.Scores for the evening:Category AShomari Wiltshire shocked Gianni Carpenter 11-4, 11-2, 11-2.Samuel Ince-Carvalhal overcame Michael Alphonso 12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9.Category BAbosaide Cadogan defeated Lucas Jonas 11-7, 11-5, 11-7.Ethan Jonas got the better of Mohryan Baksh 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5.Category DNathan Rahaman defeated Teija Edwards 11-9, 11-7, 11-4.Joshua Verwey beat Beau Fernandes 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5.Category EAishani Persaud defeated Angel Rahim 11-8, 11-7.Dhiren Persaud whipped Arvin Seelall 11-5, 11-7.Rayad Boyce trounced Lucas Persaud 11-6, 11-5.Category FGrant Fernandes thrashed Matthew Spooner 11-2, 11-3.Christiana Fernandes bettered Noah Rahaman 12-10, 11-7.Kaden Pynaendy defeated Mailia Maikoo 11-6, 11-7.Noah Rahaman defeated Safira Summer 8-11, 11-9, 11-9.Category GAbhinav Singh defeated Brenno DaSilva 11-8, 5-11, 13-11.Tristan Seereeram edged William Escarraga 7-11, 11-8, 11-6.Category HTianna Gomes demolished Nicholas Sawh 11-1, 11-0.Shriya Persaud crushed Jnae Singh 11-6, 11-4.Solomon Ince-Carvalhal got past Eli Goveia 11-7, 11-6.
The Gould School of Law held a panel discussion on civil rights on Monday featuring actress and alumna Daniele Watts, who was involved in a controversy after she was arrested for lewd conduct in a September encounter with police. Watts, who graduated in 2007 with a degree in theatre, is known for her cinematic roles in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and the Weeds television series.Gray area · Watts, pictured, said that she and her boyfriend have often been unfairly targeted by police because she is black and he is white. – Jessica Zhou | Daily TrojanOn Sept. 11, Watts and her boyfriend Brian Lucas were mired in controversy after Watts was arrested. Watts and Lucas were in a parked vehicle near CBS Studios in Studio City, California, when the Los Angeles Police Department received a call reporting lewd acts, specifically that a black woman in floral shorts and a white man were “having sex in the vehicle with the door open.” The police officer who responded to the call asked the couple to provide him with identification to which Watts responded, based on a tape released by TMZ, “Do you know how many times the cops have been called … just because I’m black and he’s white?”In the aftermath of the arrest, Watts alleged that she was only “making out” with her partner and claimed that the police had targeted her because of her race.During the discussion, Shana Redmond, associate professor of American studies and ethnicity, described how black women’s sexuality has been criminalized. Redmond revealed that the NAACP told Watts to apologize to the LAPD.Assistant professor of history Diana Williams asked the panel about what kinds of sex society deems offensive. She said that socially accepted couples face less scrutiny when engaging in public display of affection.Watts’ talk revolved around empathy. As a theatre major, she described how during her undergraduate studies, one of her main objectives was to “put herself in someone else’s shoes” and try to feel what it’s like to be somebody else.Watts said that on a previous encounter with the police in the city of Loma Linda, she and her partner were approached by officers because of a report of a “suspicious black and white couple.” After the incident, she and her partner had agreed to deal with such interactions in a graceful and respectful manner.Watts also said, however, that the Sept. 11 incident was the fourth time she was forced to deal with the police since she shaved her head. She admitted that during the past interactions with the police, she had attempted to be as calm and polite as possible.Watts also stated during the discussion that the police sergeant on the scene told her boyfriend that “[Watts] needs to learn she doesn’t get to dictate what happens.”Jacob Bradley, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said that he was trying to be as objective as possible and that attending the discussion provided him with a more fair view of the events.“When I listened to the audio recordings, she sounded blameworthy, but I didn’t know that the police had edited the recordings before it was given to TMZ. Now I feel I have more of a balanced view on the incident,” Bradley said.The panel discussion received a significant amount of media attention and reporters from local networks, including CBS and KCAL9, were present for the event.Watts thanked the panel and the guests for coming, as she said discussions like these help raise awareness of racial issues in America.