James J. Collins, PhD
Henri Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering
James J. Collins is the Henri Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering & Science and Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT. A pioneer in the field of synthetic biology, he is also a Founding Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Prior to his position at MIT, he was the William F. Warren Distinguished Professor, University Professor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Center of Synthetic Biology at Boston University. Dr. Collins’ research group works in synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defense mechanisms, and the emergence of resistance. His patented technologies have been licensed by more than 25 biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical devices companies, and he has helped to launched a number of companies, including Sample6 Technologies, Synlogic, and EnBiotix. Dr. Collins’ many awards and honors include a Rhodes Scholarship, a MacArthur “Genius” Award, a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, as well as several teaching awards; and he has been named to the Technology Review list of top 100 young innovators and the Scientific American list of top 50 outstanding leaders in science and technology. Dr. Collins is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, as well as a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
James E. Darnell, Jr., MD
Vincent Astor Professor Emeritus of the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology
Dr. Darnell is the Vincent Astor Professor Emeritus of the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at Rockefeller University and a pioneer in RNA research. He has made fundamental discoveries in the molecular biology of mammalian RNA and in cytokine control of transcription. Dr. Darnell was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The American Philosophical Society, The Royal Society, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards including the National Medal of Science from the White House for lifetime achievement in the field of scientific research, the Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science. Dr. Darnell has authored multiple articles and books including “General Virology”, “molecular Cell Biology, and “RNA, Life’s Indispensable Molecule”. Dr. Darnell received his MD from the Washington University School of Medicine.
Paola Leone, PhD
Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Cell & Gene Therapy Center
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
Paola Leone is a Professor of Cell Biology and Director of the Cell & Gene Therapy Center at RowanSOM, NJ, USA. In 2012, Dr. Leone and her team completed a NIH-sponsored clinical gene therapy Phase I/II study for Canavan Disease that entailed the first worldwide application of adenoassociated viral vectors in the human brain as part of an international Phase I/II clinical protocol with a minimum of five years follow-up on each patient. This benchmark protocol has been widely cited and implemented worldwide by other investigators. She is currently undertaking preclinical development of a novel gene-based therapeutic intervention targeted to a broad range of neurodegenerative diseases, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Traumatic Brain Injury. She has served as a conference organizer and chair of several neurodegenerative disease conferences and symposia and is a distinguished member of numerous scientific and data & safety monitoring advisory boards. She has authored or co-authored over 66 scientific publications and she has been honored with many awards, including a United Nation Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Award in 1999. She has also been nomitated as an International Rare Disease Ambassador in 2010 and 2011 and in 2012 received an Excellence in Medicine Award by the Edward J. Ill Foundation. She earned her PhD in Neuroscience in 1987 from the University of Padua, Italy.
John Monahan, PhD
Executive Vice President of Research & Development
Synthetic Biologics Inc.
Dr. Monahan is an experienced CEO-level executive of biotech companies focused on gene medicine and pharmaceutical companies with biotechnology research departments. He is Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Synthetic Biologics. Inc. He is currently also a board member of a number of private biotech companies. In 1992, he founded and built Avigen, Inc., a biotech company that pioneered and led the development of gene medicines based on AAV vectors, now an industry standard. Over a 12 year period as CEO of Avigen, Dr. Monahan took the company public through its IPO, raised over $235 million and led the company through a number of gene medicine Investigational New Drug (IND) applications. Prior to founding Avigen, Dr. Monahan served as Vice President – Research and Development at Somatix, another pioneering gene medicine company, Prior to that he was Director of Molecular & Cell Biology at Triton Biosciences (since merged with Berlex Laboratories). Prior to that he was Research Group Chief, Department of Molecular Genetics at Hoffmann-LaRoche, Inc. and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology at New York University. He earned a PhD in Biochemistry from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada and a BS degree in Science from University College, Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Monahan has over 50 publications/reviews in the scientific literature and has made hundreds of presentations including public TV interviews, to scientific groups, investors and the public in general over the years.
Arthur Tzianabos, PhD
President and CEO
Dr. Tzianabos is President and CEO of Homology Medicines. He brings 25 years of experience in the biotechnology industry leading teams in the discovery, development, clinical translation and commercialization of new treatments for rare diseases. During his nine-year tenure at Shire, he played an active role in the development, approval, and commercial launch of multiple therapies for patients with rare genetic disorders. He also worked closely with the Business Development and Corporate Venture functions to invest in and acquire new companies and technologies to build Shire’s product pipeline. Dr. Tzianabos joins Homology Medicines from OvaScience where he served as President and CSO and was responsible for translating breakthrough science into new treatments, which included the commercial launch of the company’s first product. Earlier in his career, Dr. Tzianabos was an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and maintained laboratories at the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He has published more than 80 scientific papers, reviews, book chapters, and patents. Dr. Tzianabos holds a B.S. in Biology from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire.
Thomas J. McGahren, MD, JD
Senior Managing Director
Griffin Securities, Inc.
Dr. McGahren is a Senior Managing Director at Griffin Securities, Inc., and a member of the founding group for Agilis Biotherapeutics. He joined Griffin in 2010 as an investment banker were he advises life sciences companies particularly those focused on biotechnology and synthetic biology. Prior to Griffin Securities, Tom was a Senior Director and Senior Biotechnology Analyst at Merrill Lynch where he covered large, mid and small cap biotech companies and had a passion for developments in the rare disease space. Forbes ranked him the #1 Drugs Analyst in 2008. Tom joined Merrill Lynch in 2002 from Banc of America Securities where he was an associate biotech analyst. Prior to Wall Street, Tom was a litigator at the international law firm of Kaye Scholer in New York rom 1993 to 2001 representing pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies, particularly in patent, FDA, and other corporate matters. Tom received his M.D. from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, and a B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Colgate University.