‘Jeff can’t help himself’: A frenzied CEO’s push to get depression drugs to market

Jeff Jonas is a 64-year-old longboard-surfing, ketchup-loving bolt of energy. And he's hoping to get new and much-needed depression drugs to market.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For Dr. Jeff Jonas, the desire to understand complex mechanics extends from how drugs reach brain receptors to the design of a well-run clinical trial to the craftsmanship that goes into a first-class watch, of which he owns many.

“This is a Rolex, a new Daytona, which is hard to get,” Jonas was saying of the piece on his wrist the other day, racing through his mile-a-minute, no-need-to-complete-a-sentence explanation. “They have an ultrahard piece of ceramic, which is their big innovation, plus they have a clutch system in the chronograph, which makes it very accurate, so the shape of the clutch, whether it’s vertical or horizontal, it’s all — and some guy does this.”

Jonas himself is the guy in charge of Sage Therapeutics, a company fresh off positive clinical trial results for drugs to treat two forms of depression and pushing ahead with its aim of getting medicines for central nervous system disorders approved.

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