Experienced leaders in business, media, and law, join the SMA Foundation’s Board of Directors

New York, NY – January 20, 2011 – The Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation announces the addition of Andrew Knight, Helen Meates, Stephen Mikita, Juli Oh and Simon Prisk to the SMA Foundation Board of Directors. They join a distinguished group of business and scientific leaders who oversee the SMA Foundation.

Currently, there is no treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of early childhood mortality. The SMA Foundation has diverse drug discovery collaborations with both academia and the private sector to accelerate the development of a treatment or cure. The addition of the new board members will strengthen these collaborations and the advancement of therapeutics towards the clinic.

Andrew Knight is the Chairman of the J. Rothschild Capital Management. He has over 35 years of experience in media and business. Mr. Knight was the second youngest editor in the history of the Economist and the former Chairman of News International. Mr. Knight has served on the Boards of: the Imperial College of Science & Technology, the Ballet Rambert, Mariinsky Theatre Trust, the Royal Opera House, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Institute of International Studies at Stanford University and the Center for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University. He is a current Board member of the News Corporation. Mr. Knight is also the Founder and Trustee of the SMA Trust, a UK-based charity funding medical research in Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Mr. Knight received an M.A. in Modern History from Balliol College at Oxford University.

Helen Meates is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley and is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Global Capital Markets based in New York. She is also co-chair of the Firm’s Capital Commitment Committee. Ms. Meates joined Morgan Stanley in 1992 in the Investment Banking Division and spent most of her career in Leveraged Finance, covering the media, transportation and industrial sectors. Ms. Meates received an L.L.B. from Canterbury University in New Zealand and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.

Stephen Mikita is a specialist in disability law and has been an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah for almost 30 years. He also serves as an advocate for people living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Mr. Mikita has achieved numerous milestones for individuals with disabilities as the first admitted student in a wheelchair in the history of Duke University, where he graduated magna cum laude; the first student in a wheelchair at Brigham Young University’s Law School and the first recipient of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s National Personal Achievement Award for his advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. He is the author of many books including The Third Opinion and I Sit All Amazed and has been featured on Sally Jessy Raphael, Leeza, EXTRA, Court TV, CNBC and 60 Minutes. Mr. Mikita received a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from the Brigham Young University Law School.

Juli Oh is a transactional attorney and community leader, currently serving as the President of the Board of Trustees of the Hanna Fenichel Center for Child Development and serves on the Board of the Stanford Alumni Association. Ms. Oh received a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Simon Prisk is a member of the corporate department of The Ruchelman Law Firm, an international tax and corporate law firm. The firm is based in New York and provides a range of tax planning and corporate legal services for foreign companies operating in the United States. Mr. Prisk received an L.L.B. from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and an L.L.M. from Columbia Law School.

The addition of these experienced leaders increases the SMA Foundation’s Board to fourteen distinguished and diverse advisors. Biographies of all of the Board of Directors can be found on the SMA Foundation website, https://smafoundation.org/about-us/board.

The Foundation would also like to express our deepest thanks to departing Board members Wendy Belzberg and Susan Lin. Ms. Belzberg and Ms. Lin have served the Foundation for over 7 years, providing important guidance and support, serving as advisors on strategy, and facilitating the building of important relationship with clinicians and scientists during the initial years of the Foundation. The Foundation is forever grateful to Ms. Belzberg and Ms. Lin for sharing their time and talents with us.


Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a motor neuron disease and the leading genetic cause of death among infants and toddlers. Characterized by the selective loss of nerve cells in the spinal cord, the disease leads to increasing muscular weakness and atrophy. Patients afflicted by SMA lose muscle control and strength, leading to progressive inability to walk, stand, sit up and breathe, depending on the severity of the disease. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 6,000 – 10,000 infants are born annually worldwide with SMA.


Founded in 2003, the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating progress towards a treatment and cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy through targeted funding of clinical research and novel drug development efforts. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over $60 million in sponsored research agreements. In addition, the Foundation is committed to raising awareness and generating support for increased research efforts in SMA among the leaders of industry and government. For more information on the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation, visit https://smafoundation.org or call (646) 253-7100.