July 2020
Vol 7 | Issue 327

Q&A with Joe Powers of North Shore Therapeutics


Principal Series:

North Shore Therapeutics is a precision digital psychiatry company focused on treating unmet needs in severe mental illness. Our first product is focused on negative symptoms of schizophrenia, a severe condition that costs the US healthcare system upwards of $84B annually, and tragically is without an FDA approved drug or device. In addition to schizophrenia, our world-class team of researchers, clinicians, regulatory, and commercial experts are similarly targeting the rest of our portfolio of first-in-class digital medicines to significantly improve outcomes for conditions where there are no FDA-approved treatments: rapid cycling bipolar disorder; and, peripartum psychosis.

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Why are you focusing on severe mental illness?

Severe mental illness is a top underlying driver of negative and costly clinical outcomes and tragic impacts to our society and affected patients and their families. In particular, severe mental illness sees suicide rates that are orders of magnitude higher than the general population, in addition to costly hospitalizations, substance use, and premature death. We have assembled a team that have dedicated their careers to improving the standard of care in severe mental illness by scaling new treatment protocols and advancing new solutions to patients. Our world-renowned team of researchers and clinicians have published over 900 peer-reviewed studies and articles in psychiatry and mental illness, globally scaled digital treatments in severe mental illnesses, led the FDA review and clearance of first-in-class digital medicines for severe mental illness. The solutions being considered are distinct from traditional mental health apps, in that we are targeting severe mental illnesses that require medical grade solutions with clinical evidence, FDA review, and administration by specialized physicians.

What leads you to believe that digital medicine can improve outcomes in severe mental illness?

Our wireframe product is based on 30 years of peer-reviewed and published research demonstrating the capacity of specialized digital engagements to drive neuroplastic states that can be leveraged to adjust and cement belief systems and behaviors in a way that drive lasting and improved outcomes. The potential for digital medicine is especially great in schizophrenia, negative symptoms where there are no drugs or devices that are FDA-approved to treat negative symptoms, and where patients are especially averse to human interaction. The deployment of a digital medicine in this population allows for a dynamic and personalized treatment for a disorder that presents dynamically and uniquely, while also overcoming the challenges of face-to-face and tele-therapy where due to the asocial nature of the condition patients fail to attend treatment.

What leads you to believe the psychiatric community would use and adopt your solution for their patients?

The psychiatric community is especially challenged by schizophrenia, negative symptoms because of the patients' inability to engage in therapy, and as a result patient conditions degrade overtime and hospitalizations, suicidality, and substance use take hold while the physician is generally challenged to fully help their patient. Additionally, there is a widely accepted gap in care in schizophrenia, negative symptoms and a willingness to adopt new and novel treatment protocols and treatment options in an effort to help solve that gap.

Joe Powers of North Shore Therapeutics

Joe Powers, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Strategy Officer, has been leading global innovation programs in the pharmaceutical industry, academia and in various startups for more than 20 years.  Prior to North Shore Therapeutics, Dr. Powers was Chief Strategy Officer at AppliedVR, where he was responsible for the company’s digital medicine and healthcare strategy focused on addressing the opioid epidemic and treating mental illness with virtual reality-based therapeutics. Prior to AppliedVR, Dr. Powers established and led Headspace Health, a prescription digital therapeutics subsidiary of Headspace.  For nearly a decade, Dr. Powers developed and led HealthIT and digital medicine programs within academia, including at Johns Hopkins and University of Pennsylvania, where he worked on pioneering efforts in predictive analytics, telehealth, mhealth and connected health solutions.  In addition, Dr. Powers spent 8 years in a variety of commercial roles within the pharmaceutical industry where he developed an expertise in mobile health and invented three patented software tools to improve patient-physician interactions, medical diagnoses and medication adherence

Contact Joe Joe joe@northshore.health