’s New CSO Has a Personal Connection to Disease

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by Mary Chapman |

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A highly accomplished clinician and researcher, Dominique Pichard brings impressive credentials to her role as the International Rett Syndrome Foundation’s ( new chief science officer. As the mother of a daughter with Rett, she brings invaluable perspective.

A physician specializing in dermatology, Pichard was doing her medical residency when her oldest child was diagnosed with the genetic neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs in roughly 1 of 10,000 to 23,000 female births. The news committed her to a life of research.

“Dr. Pichard is an intelligent, energetic, highly respected colleague with an outstanding track record of scientific and therapeutic accomplishments,” said Joe Horrigan, MD, a board member, in a news release. “She is well-connected at key levels throughout our community and brings an intimate understanding of the crucial role organizations such as play in driving the best science forward.”

A graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine with a master’s degree in clinical research from Duke University School of Medicine, Pichard has been involved in clinical trials with pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she studied rare diseases and prospective treatments, and helped design early-stage clinical investigations.

“Dr. Pichard is a highly accomplished professional who will continue to sharpen our focus on potentially curative therapies during a time of rapid scientific change, while simultaneously building upon our robust portfolio of existing research investments,” said Melissa Kennedy,’s executive director. “We are excited to welcome her and believe that she will be an invaluable asset to the entire Rett community.”

Added Christian McMahan, vice chairman: “As a parent, I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Pichard. To have someone with her scientific background, combined with the passion she brings as a mother with a daughter with Rett syndrome, is an incredible addition to the entire Rett community.”

In her new position, Pichard said she will devote herself to identifying promising treatment breakthroughs. Currently, Rett syndrome treatments focus on symptom management and improvement of patients’ quality of life. The disease is characterized by behavioral, cognitive, emotional, sensory, motor, and autonomic problems.

“I strive to ultimately create a scientific path toward our goal of treating this devastating disorder so our children with Rett syndrome can one day do more and struggle less with the challenges of Rett,” she said. supports research to cure Rett syndrome — investing more than $49 million to date — and seeks to empower patient families through information, connectivity, and increased disease awareness.