Meet Charles Mobbs, PhD, of Team Gilga-Med: the Winner of the Mount Sinai Pitch Challenge 2021

Charles Mobbs, PhD, Professor in the Departments of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Neuroscience, and Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, won the Mount Sinai Pitch Challenge on May 5 by presenting the healthcare startup Gilga-Med. Read the Q&A with Mobbs below to learn more about Gilga-Med, a drug discovery platform for the treatment of age-related diseases.

MSIP: Tell us about Gilga-Med. What is the healthcare solution it aims to provide?
Mobbs: Gilga-Med is based on a unique phenotypic drug discovery platform that is tailored to treat age-related diseases, with an initial focus on Alzheimer’s Disease. It also has the potential to treat Huntington’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.

MSIP: What inspired you to dive into drug discovery?
Mobbs: When I began my career, I was attracted to science because of its potential to “save the world.” I ultimately decided that understanding the link between age and age-related diseases is the most impactful issue I could study. My ultimate plan was to translate my science and “put it in a pill” in order to create solutions that would benefit a wide range of individuals.

MSIP: What inspired you to develop Gilga-Med, a startup based on this technology?
Mobbs: My primary passion is research, but I wanted to ensure that our discovered technology receives all the potential resources it needs to maximize its impact. Normally, I would have sought a licensing partnership with an existing pharmaceutical company, but many projects that follow this route fail via “valley of death” from lack of funding and development. As a startup, Gilga-Med is a commercialization vehicle that allows for the acquisition of alternative funding, development of new and improved drugs beyond an academic focus and, ultimately, the creation of a virtuous circle of growth.

MSIP: How has Gilga-Med progressed since last year’s Pitch Challenge?
Mobbs: Since last year, patent applications were filed for novel compounds — one of them, for Alzheimer’s treatment, was the subject of Gilga-Med’s Pitch Challenge presentation for 2021. Gilga-Med has now been formally incorporated, applied for SBIR/STTR funding, found a CEO to run the company, and is currently fundraising.

MSIP: Why did you get started with MSIP’s entrepreneurial series?
Mobbs: As an academic, I didn’t know anything about how to start a company. MSIP’s entrepreneurial series, with programs such as the Bootcamp and Tech Launchpad, has been an incredible opportunity. I have learned an astonishing amount and there is no way I could have founded a startup without it. Thanks to fantastic MSIP team members such as Dov Shamir and Louise Lammers, I’ve been able to gain the necessary skills to launch Gilga-Med and feel confident in its future success.

MSIP: What do you think distinguished Gilga-Med from other Pitch Challenge teams?
Mobbs: Gilga-Med is further down the development pipeline than the other Pitch Challenge teams. None of the other teams are dedicated to drug discovery. I also suspect that we have far more preliminary data to support our pitch. Nevertheless, I hasten to add that many of the other teams had excellent ideas which may very well benefit patients much sooner than Gilga-Med will.