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Melissa Moore to join Moderna as chief scientific officer

Role will oversee Moderna’s efforts to advance messenger RNA to clinical pipeline

UMass Medical School Communications

September 13, 2016
  Melissa J. Moore, PhD
 

Melissa J. Moore, PhD

Moderna Therapeutics, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing messenger RNA (mRNA) to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients, today announced that Melissa J. Moore, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has been appointed chief scientific officer of Moderna’s messenger RNA platform. Responsible for leading all mRNA biology research at Moderna, Dr. Moore will help guide Moderna toward its vision of delivering on the promise of mRNA therapeutics for patients. Moore will begin at Moderna in October, but will retain her academic affiliation with UMMS as a part-time faculty member for a transitional period.

“We will all miss having Melissa as a colleague—I will, particularly, as I have really grown as a scientist and as a leader through my collaborations and friendship with her,” said Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, chair and professor of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, the Gretchen Stone Cook Professor of Biomedical Sciences and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Melissa’s move from academia to biotech is a huge success for the RTI, which has always represented a new way of envisioning biomedical research. Traditionally, we have spoken of ‘the academy’ and ‘industry,’ and enlightened institutions have sought to build bridges between those two behemoths. The RTI proposes a different model, which conceives of biomedical research as a continuum that begins with basic scientific research and moves through a series of practical steps to produce meaningful improvements in the lives of human beings.

“Now Melissa is taking her passion for RNA from the RTI to Moderna. As chief scientific officer of Moderna's mRNA platform, Melissa will be able to continue her goal to develop novel, RNA-based drugs, both within the company and through new and expanded collaborations between Moderna and RTI labs,” Dr. Zamore said. “As Melissa’s friends and colleagues, we look forward to watching Moderna thrive under Melissa’s scientific leadership and to working with her to advance RTI discoveries toward our shared goal of helping improve the lives of patients everywhere.”

Moore joined UMMS in 2007. Her research has encompassed a broad array of topics related to the role of RNA and RNA-protein complexes in gene expression and touched on many human diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration and preeclampsia. Prior to UMMS, she spent 13 years as a professor at Brandeis University.

Moderna is a clinical stage pioneer of messenger RNA therapeutics, a new in vivo drug technology that produces human proteins, antibodies and novel protein constructs inside patient cells, which are in turn secreted or active intracellularly. The company is privately held.