In Memoriam:
Jean E. Rivier, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Founder, President

Professors Vale, C. Rivier, J. Rivier, and Dr. J. Spiess reported the structure of ovine CRF, a 50-year long historical challenge which led to the unraveling of a larger family of CRF-related peptides called the urocortins. Professor J. Rivier and colleagues showed that CRF and related peptides are responsible for many of the body’s reactions to stress, including disabling the immune system in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Professor J. Rivier was the Dr. Frederik Paulsen Chair in Neurosciences Professor at the Salk Institute (h index 134). He is the co-author of >700 refereed papers and co-inventor of >120 patents. He co-founded the Ferring Research Institute, Inc. in La Jolla where he co-discovered Degarelix/Firmagon (US Food and Drug Administration [FDA] and European Medicines Agency [EMA] approved for prostate cancer) and recently, a somatostatin receptor 2 (sstr2) selective antagonist (JR11) is also being clinically evaluated.

Read interview with Jean on Inside Salk

Dominic P. Behan, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Behan isolated corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) binding protein (CRF-BP) during his Ph.D. studies (supervisor Prof. Phil Lowry). He then spent three years as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Prof. Vale’s laboratory (Salk Institute, La Jolla, California). Dr. Behan has 24 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and has been involved in drug discovery and clinical development through to approval and commercialization. His industrial career began at Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. and he later co-founded Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. where he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer and was elected to the Board of Directors. Dr. Behan was responsible for leading the US FDA advisory panel process that resulted in BELVIQ being the first drug approved by the FDA for obesity in 13 years. In 2016, Dr. Behan co-founded Beacon Discovery. Dr. Behan was included in the PharmaVOICE 100 list of the most inspiring people. He received a higher doctorate (D.Sc.) degree from the University of Reading where he was appointed Visiting Professor. Dr. Behan also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Keystone, a world-renowned organization that arranges scientific conferences of excellence.

Catherine L. Rivier, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita

Dr. Catherine Rivier, who is a Salk Institute Professor Emerita, was the first to develop a radioimmunoassay for the measurement of plasma ACTH in laboratory rodents. She then utilized this novel method to establish the first known in vivo bioassay that detected the biological activity of CRF during the various stages of its purification. This step represented an instrumental innovation for the successful isolation and characterization of this hypothalamic peptide. Using her close collaboration with Dr. Wylie Vale (who raised CRF antibodies) and Dr. Jean Rivier (who devised antagonists to the CRF family of molecules), Dr. Catherine Rivier demonstrated the physiological roles of these peptides and accomplished the in vivo characterization of numerous CRF analogs that Sentia intends to advance into clinical trials. In parallel studies, Dr. Catherine Rivier also established the in vivo assays that formed the basis for the development of GnRH antagonists, eventually leading to the clinical use of Degarelix. Dr. Catherine Rivier’s work has been reported in >500 peer-reviewed articles and provided evidence for the importance of CRF in the regulation of the neuroendocrine, behavioral, immune and reproductive responses to stress.