Frederik de Nassau / Co-Founder, Creative Director
At 20, Frederik de Nassau is living with PolG Disorder. With courage and creativity, Frederik rises above the great challenges of his disease to lead the creative design of The POLG FOUNDATION’s digital presence. “The mind is the strongest thing we have,” notes Frederik, “We have the potential to do anything we want to. Every second counts.”
Samuel Seward, M.D / Chief Executive Officer
As the Foundation's CEO Samuel brings 25 years in healthcare leadership. His most recent role, which he occupied since 2016, was Chair of the MSMW Department of Medicine in the Icahn Mount Sinai Health System and involved running a $100M (USD) and 600+-person department with a broad mission in training future generations of physicians; clinical care delivery across socioeconomic and other barriers to access; population health with a focus on improving health outcomes of communities; and discovery in therapeutics and our understanding of human biology.
Trained as both a pediatrician and an adult internist, since the earliest days of his career, Samuel has been committed to the rare diseases community. This has included direct patient care providing him with the gift of knowing—through his patient’s stories and their lives—the myriad challenges incumbent upon each person living with a rare disease. Most pressing among these is the general lack of approved, effective therapies and cures.
Over the years, Samuel’s clinical practice included children and adults living with Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type 2), Charcot Marie Tooth Disorder, complex congenital heart disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, oculcocutaneous albinism and others.
As well, Samuel is a founding Board member of the 501(c)(3)-designated HPS Network, a rare disease organization with global scope. His efforts for the Network have included critical assistance enrolling two pivotal phase 4 clinical trials for the drug, Pirfenidone, which later became the first (off-label) treatment for people living with HPS-Pulmonary Fibrosis (HPS-PF), a deadly complication of the HPS-1-, 2-, and -4 mutations. As well, he has been instrumental in facilitating research collaborations, attracting grant funding (e.g., from the Chan-Zuckerberg Institute and American Thoracic Society), and helping identify early investigators whose later work has advanced our understanding of the biology of the HPS disorder and associated therapeutic targets. He was co-author of the definitive standards-of-care manuscript for caregivers of HPS people, published in Pediatrics. In recognition of his many contributions, Samuel was named Physician of the Year by the HPS Network in 2010 and 2023 and received its Leadership Award in 2019.
Samuel received his Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
Samuel could not be more excited to join the POLG team, its founders, and its Board in support of the POLG Foundation mission—advancing discovery and, as quickly as possible, identifying a promising treatment for people living with the PolG mitochondrial disorder. In this, he recognizes the urgency of this need for these individuals and for the world.
Brian Tseng, M.D., Ph.D. / Chief Scientific Officer
As a board-certified M.D., Ph.D. pediatric neurologist/neuromuscular physician–scientist, Brian Tseng has led large cross-functional teams (Novartis, AveXis, Vertex) to develop and bring forward many new medicines approved for use in infants and children with rare disorders, in particular genetic disorders. As a retired vice president from two top R&D companies, he has deep experience in translational and clinical development of novel molecules (small, biologic, cell-based, AAV genetic replacement, and CRISPR-mediated gene editing) for children. He is currently an expert consultant with NDA Partners, LLC. His most recent clinical/academic practice has been at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School; he was previously at Children's Hospital Colorado. His physiology undergraduate degree is from University of California Berkeley and he has a Ph.D. in molecular biology from MD Anderson Cancer Center/University of Texas at Houston McGovern Medical School. Dr. Tseng also teaches in several medical schools, including at the Gates Foundation University of Siena, and volunteers on several boards of nonprofit patient advocacy foundations. He is on the Board of Directors for the Estes Valley Fire Protection District in Colorado. He is also a NOLS Wilderness Medicine first responder.
Luca Bolliger, Ph.D. / Chief Strategy Officer
Luca trained as a scientist in biochemistry and immunology, and brings 20+ years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. First as Global discovery portfolio manager at Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. He then pursued his career in the financial industry as a Fundamental analyst at BT&T asset management. He established Biopolo Ticino before becoming Director Business Development at Actelion. Luca Bolliger joined Recordati from Novimmune where he is VP and Director Corporate Licensing. Luca also founded abcDNA, an advisor Company.
Paula Casanova / Chief Operating Officer
Paula Casanova joined The PolG Foundation staff as Project Manager in September 2022. She brings to the Foundation a richly varied cultural background: childhood in Spain, boarding school in Switzerland, a degree in International Policy from New York University. Her post-graduate work has been in start-up efforts in New York and London (fashion), Iraq (fin-tech) and Moscow (skin care). Between business and family obligations, Paula has engaged in humanitarian work through foundations working in Ghana as well as Bolivia. She brings to her role within The PolG Foundation the administrative and organizational skills, as well as the professional passion, needed to support and manage the search for effective, life-sustaining research.