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2023 RNA Therapeutics Symposium Organizers

  • Phillip Zamore

    Phillip Zamore, PhD

    Academic Role: Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Gretchen Stone Cook Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Chair and Professor

    Phillip D. Zamore, Ph.D. has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2008. In 2016, he became the Chair of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, which was established at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2009. Dr. Zamore also is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, the department he joined in 1999, and he became the Gretchen Stone Cook Professor of Biomedical Sciences in 2005.

    Dr. Zamore received his A.B. (1986) and Ph.D. (1992) degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University. He then pursued postdoctoral studies on the role of the RNA binding proteins in Drosophila development at The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Dr. Zamore’s laboratory studies small RNA silencing pathways in eukaryotes and prokaryotes, including RNA interference (RNAi), microRNA, and PIWI-interacting RNA pathways. Dr. Zamore and his collaborators seek to use these insights to design therapies for human diseases, including Huntington’s disease. Under Dr. Zamore’s mentorship, the Zamore Lab has produced dozens of researchers working at top institutions both in the United States and abroad.

    In 2015, Dr. Zamore was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for Excellence in Scholarship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In 2023, Dr. Zamore was elected as a member to both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

    To date, Dr. Zamore has more than 170 publications and has been among the most highly cited researchers for more than a decade. He serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals and is in demand as a presenter at conferences and institutions worldwide.

    Dr. Zamore holds more than 20 patents, with other applications pending; he was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. In 2002, Dr. Zamore co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, MA), a publicly traded biotech company which now has more than 1000 employees and multiple drugs in clinical trials. Alnylam’s first drug, ONPATTRO, a first-of-its-kind RNAi therapeutic, for the treatment of the polyneuropathy of hereditary transthyretin-mediated (hATTR) amyloidosis in adults, was approved by the FDA in 2018. In 2014, he co-founded Voyager Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA. He serves on the scientific advisory boards of Alnylam, Voyager, and ProQR.

  • Angela Messmer-Blust

    Angela Messmer-Blust, PhD

    Academic Role: Senior Scientific Advisor, Associate Professor, RNA Therapeutics Institute

    Dr. Angela Messmer-Blust studied cell motility during her graduate studies at the University of Toledo where she received her PhD (2009). She began her postdoctoral research at the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School under Jian Li, investigating transcriptional regulation in diabetes and obesity. Following her postdoctoral studies, she held editorial positions at the Journal of Visualized Experiments, and later joined Cell Press as the director of scientific conferences from 2012 - 2017. In 2017, Dr. Messmer-Blust joined the faculty of the RNA Therapeutics Institute (RTI) as Assistant Professor and Senior Scientific Advisor. She is currently an Associate Professor in the RTI and continues her work developing and directing departmental initiatives including the annual RNA Therapeutics symposium and educational outreach in the Worcester area. In 2021, she received the Boston Celtics Foundation’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ award for her work in leading the creation of Emma RNA Saves the Day, a coloring book explaining the science behind the mRNA vaccines. In 2022, she was awarded the inaugural Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society (OTS) Science Outreach Award for her efforts in leading the Emma RNA coloring book project.