It was the type of introduction that any MBA student would envy, and one at which David Snyder, 35 years later, still marvels.
Back in the late 1980s, a business school classmate introduced him to notable investor and billionaire tycoon Sam Zell, who subsequently offered Snyder a job.
Without hesitation, Snyder accepted Zell’s offer and in short order began working for him in Chicago, where he joined a group of recent young graduates whom Zell had recruited to help inside the realm of corporate acquisitions.Read More
More than any one deal or acquisition target, Snyder recalls, the greatest lessons from his days with Zell came from the sideline conversations.
“Just by my proximity to Sam, I learned a lot—he had sort of a Socratic approach, whereby we would have a dialogue with him in which he would begin sharing the investor’s point of view and how an investor thinks about the operating prospects of a given investment,” remembers Snyder, who adds that from those days onward he has always “come to the table” thinking like an investor.
He reports: “I’ve carried this with me through all of the ensuing 30 years.”
Snyder’s exposure to Sam Zell and his work in corporate acquisitions honed his strategic thinking skills. He emphasized the importance of understanding the investor’s point of view and translating business strategy into financial terms. –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Coya Therapeutics … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Snyder: Coya Therapeutics is built around what I think is a very powerful idea, which is that the misregulation of regulatory T cells leads to inflammation and contributes to a disease state. The key words here are “regulatory T cells.” What I think is increasingly well understood is that inflammation drives many chronic diseases. In particular, in our company, we have come to believe that inflammation drives neurodegenerative diseases, so we are studying ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and frontal temporal dementia. Similarly, lots of autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s colitis, also are driven by inflammation. Okay, so what drives inflammation? Stanley Appel, a distinguished neurologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, discovered that there’s this very important cell in the immune system called the “regulatory T cell,” whose purpose is to tamp down inflammation.Read More
When you have harm in the body, the immune system dials itself up and fights a little battle there, right? And when it’s done, it needs to go back home. Instead, what’s happening is that this army is now in the house and won’t go away, and it’s this chronic inflammation that drives these diseases. What tells these cells to go back home? The regulatory T cell. Dr. Appel discovered in ALS patients whom he studied quite deeply that these regulatory T cells were being down-regulated and were not functioning correctly.
Why this happens remains an open question, but, nonetheless, the hypothesis now becomes that if we can come up with a way of up-regulating regulatory T cells, then we can find a way of controlling and tamping down inflammation. And if we can tamp down inflammation, then we might have a therapeutic strategy for these diseases that are driven by it. So, we are all about finding ways to up-regulate regulatory T cells and tamp down the inflammatory response to the immune system. In so doing, we hope to have a therapeutic effect on these neurodegenerative disorders.
I’m happy to say that we’ve shown very interesting—albeit early—data in patients showing that this can be done for Alzheimer’s and ALS. We are now beginning a Phase 2 clinical study of our drug COYA 302 in ALS. Our hope is that we’ll be able to significantly slow the disease progression of ALS and make a difference for these patients. jb