Robert Hamlink Ring (born Dallas, Texas) grew up in the southern California town of Claremont, and currently lives with his family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His personal and professional arc has been defined by his passion for both art and science. this website offers an invitation to explore examples of his work and accomplishments in both worlds.
personal background - a neuroscientist by training, rob has over 18 years experience working in that spans leadership roles in pharma, the non-profit space, and world of biotech startups. he most recently served as chief executive officer of Kaerus Bioscience Ltg, a London-based early stage biotech developing medicines for rare neurodevelopmental disorders along the autism spectrum. prior to Kaerus, rob served as chief science officer for Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy foundation. as a college undergrad, rob double-majored in both fine art and biology at westmont college, located in the town of montecito overlooking santa barbara, california and pacific ocean. although he maintained a clear academic focus on art and science at westmont, anyone who knows him would be quick to point out that he dedicated as much time to training and playing on the soccer field, where he earned all-america honors as player and captain of westmont's nationally ranked soccer team of the late 1980s. he graduated with a double-major in both biology and fine art.
Upon graduation from Westmont, Rob decided to pursue art, and began painting while taking odd jobs (eg bellman, waiter) to support himself. By the mid 1990s, Rob was exhibiting his paintings in numerous solo and groups exhibitions across Southern California. a sampling of his work from that period is featured across this website. Numerous subjects form threads across different bodies of his work, many of which reflect his various experiences working in across Africa in the 1980s. The figure, and power of the portrait, dominate his work. Rob is widely known for his many portraitures of James Brandon Smith (Jim), a close friend of his who had lived on the streets of Claremont until his passing.
After 5 years as a professional artist, Rob returned to science, graduate work in genetics at Cal Poly Pomona, and a desire to enter medical school. During his time at Cal Poly he earned a research fellowship in medical genetics to study the genetics of Tourette's syndrome under David Comings at the City of Hope. He would go on to earn a PhD in molecular neurobiology from the City of Hope (COH) National Medical Center in Duarte, California. His research interests and thesis work at the COH centered on understanding how the immune system regulates brain function and its possible role in human psychiatric disease.
After earning his PhD, Rob was recruited to join the research faculty of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals based in Princeton, New Jersey, and moved from Southern California to the East Coast. At Wyeth he distinguished himself as a drug hunter, focusing on the discovery and development of medicines for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, and anxiety. His particular area of research expertise focused on therapeutic potential surrounding two neurohormones, oxytocin and vasopressin. It was his work in this area that first got him interested in autism.
With Pfizer's acquisition of Wyeth in 2009, Rob was appointed to lead a pioneering new research unit at Pfizer focused solely on developing new treatments for individuals living with Autism. This Autism Research Unit was a first of its kind in large pharma, and he oversaw research extending from basic discovery through proof-of-concept clinical trials. After several years, Rob left Pfizer to join the world's largest science and advocacy foundation, Autism Speaks. Rob served as Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks through early 2016, and was responsible for overseeing the non-profit's portfolio of projects and investments aimed at innovating treatment and improving methods for diagnosing individuals with autism. At the time, Autism Speaks had funded over $300 million into basic and translational research. During his tenure, Rob was directly involved in launching a number of the foundation's signature initiatives and collaborations, including their genomic databasing project with Google (called MSSNG), the Autism BrainNet with the Simons Foundation, and Autism Speaks' new venture arm DELSIA.
In 2016, Rob left Autism Speaks and started Autós Consulting (based on the greek word for 'self,' and origin of term autism). Autós provided strategic consulting and advisory solutions to partners across the R&D ecosystem, and ensured he continued his work turning science into things that matter for families living on the autism spectrum. His clients included large pharma, start-up biotech companies, investment funds, patient organizations, and government agencies.
In early 2019, Rob was recruited to head the London-based biotech start-up Kaerus Bioscience, and current serves as the company's Chief Executive Officer. Backed exclusively by the international life sciences-focused investment firm Medicxi. As an early-stage company, Kaerus focuses on the development of targeted therapeutics for rare genetic syndromes that impact neurodevelopment and brain function.
Ring has served as an advisor to patient organizations, non-profit foundations, and federal agencies. In 2015, he was appointed by then HSS Secretary Burwell to serve on the interagency autism coordinating committee (IACC) that advises the federal government on autism research. He has served on the scientific advisory boards of several rare disease foundations, including the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation, Global Genes, and the Pitt Hopkins Syndrome Research Foundation. He also holds adjunct faculty positions in the Departments of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine where he is a lecturer for the school's degree-granting program in drug discovery and development.