Dr. Weaver's research interests are focused on computer-aided drug design and medicinal chemistry with particular applications to chronic neurodegenerative disorders. His general approach employs a variety of theoretical chemistry techniques (molecular quantum mechanics [ab initio and density functional theory], force field calculations, molecular dynamics simulations) to design small molecules capable of binding to designated receptor sites; these small molecules are drug-like new chemical entities. The molecules are then synthesized using synthetic organic chemistry methods, and then evaluated to enable an iterative process of compound optimization driven by quantitative structure-activity relationship calculations.
Dr. Weaver is applying this drug design strategy to a variety of disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), and other protein misfolding dementias (tauopathies). In Alzheimer's disease, he is designing brain penetrant compounds that bind to beta-amyloid (and/ord tau) preventing its aggregation into neurotoxic oligomers. These agents hold beta-amyloid in a non-toxic conformation thereby blocking neuronal degradation. To date, his laboratory has devised three novel drug design molecular platforms as putative anti-aggregants. These agents have significant activities across a variety of in vitro and in vivo models of AD. Dr. Weaver is also focused on Alzheimer's disease as an autoimmune disease of innate immunity and the role of tryptophan and arginine in modulating the brain's immune system. His laboratory is evaluating beta-alanine as an inhibitory neurotransmitter around which to design agents targeting neuronal excitotoxicity.
In addition to the design and development of drug molecules, Dr. Weaver is also interested in clinical research related to dementia. This includes role of nutrition on elder health, unforeseen variables in clinical trial design, and availability of therapeutics across the socioeconomic spectrum. Dr. Weaver has also published a number of poems and short stories about dementia.
In all of his research, Dr. Weaver is focused on both basic science and translational science. He has pioneered the concept of " micropharma" , and his work emphasizes the importance of hospital and university-based biotech companies to address the growing need for new innovative therapeutics for a wide variety of human brain disorders.
Dr. Weaver co-founded Neurochem Inc., and was an inventor of tramiprosate, one of the first drugs targeting beta-amyloid to enter human clinical trials. More recently he co-founded Treventis Corp., and is currently the Chief Medical Officer of that company, where they are focussed on developing small molecule therapeutics targeting tau.
Oskar Fischer Prize in Alzheimer's Research; Weir Mitchell Award from the American Academy of Neurology; Prix Galien Canada award for drug design; Harrington Innovator-Scholar Award; Jonas Salk Award; Bantrel Award; Heinz Lehman Award; Bernard Belleau Award in Medicinal Chemistry; Merck Frosst Award in Organic Chemistry; Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Award