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UMMS celebrates opening of Voyager Therapeutics headquarters

UMass Medical School Communications

October 22, 2014
   Pictured left to right at the Voyager Therapeutics ribbon cutting are Steven Paul, Susan Windham-Bannister, Mark Levin, Michael Collins, Terence Flotte and Guangping Gao.
  Pictured left to right at the Voyager Therapeutics ribbon cutting are Steven Paul, Susan Windham-Bannister, Mark Levin, Michael Collins, Terence Flotte and Guangping Gao.

UMass Medical School celebrated the opening of Voyager Therapeutics’ new headquarters in Cambridge yesterday. Voyager is a gene therapy company founded by four world leaders in the fields of AAV (adeno-associated virus) gene therapy, RNA biology and neuroscience to develop life-changing treatments for fatal and debilitating diseases of the central nervous system. UMMS researchers Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, and Guangping Gao, PhD, director of the Gene Therapy Center, are two of the scientific founders. The new facility features state-of-the-art research and process development laboratories. 

Representing UMMS at the event were Michael F. Collins, MD, UMass senior vice president for the health sciences and chancellor of UMMS; Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in Medicine, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine; and Dr. Gao, the Penelope Booth Rockwell Professor in Biomedical Research and professor of microbiology & physiological systems. Other local life sciences and government officials included Mark Levin, partner at Third Rock Ventures and chairman of Voyager Therapeutics; Steven Paul, MD, CEO of Voyager Therapeutics; and Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

“Philip Zamore and Guangping Gao exemplify the passion, perseverance and scientific excellence needed to translate discoveries into therapeutics,” said Chancellor Collins. “Given our role as the state’s public medical school, we are truly excited to partner with another Massachusetts entity and to contribute our institutional expertise in gene therapy and RNA biology to help Voyager develop life-saving treatments.”

Voyager’s short term goal is to target CNS diseases in dire need of effective new therapies, including Parkinson’s disease, a monogenic form of ALS and Friedreich’s ataxia. Long term, Voyager is committed to advancing the field of AAV gene therapy through innovation and investment in vector optimization and engineering, dosing and delivery techniques, as well as process development and production. The company was launched earlier this year with $45 million in funding from Third Rock Ventures.

Dr. Flotte, who was credited by Dr. Paul with building UMMS into a gene therapy powerhouse, said “There is now a gene therapy renaissance underway.”

Noting the goal of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to make Massachusetts the best place in the world for the life sciences, Dr. Windham-Bannister said, “This new office and lab space will enable Voyager to accelerate their R&D efforts in discovering, developing and commercializing innovative treatments related to the central nervous system, right here in Massachusetts. It is exciting to see Voyager’s broad strategic collaboration with UMass Medical School, because this collaboration leverages a substantial capital grant to UMMS from the MLSC.”

Related link on UMassMedNow:
Voyager Therapeutics targets novel gene therapies to combat diseases