scientific advisory board

  • Member Image

    Dr. Masad Damha
    McGill University

  • Member Image

    Dr. Mark Kay
    Stanford University

  • Member Image

    Dr. John Rossi
    City of Hope

Masad Damha, Ph.D.

James McGill Professor of Chemistry
Chair, Department of Chemistry McGill University, Canada

Dr. Masad J. Damha attended McGill University, completing a B.Sc. in Chemistry (’83) and then a Ph.D. (’87) in Organic Chemistry there with Professor Kelvin K. Ogilvie. Currently, he is James McGill Professor of Chemistry, and his research is bearing fruit in the development of new therapeutic drugs based on protein and RNA targeting. With his students, he has authored over 160 publications, and filed/received several patents worldwide. In 1999, Professor Damha co-founded Anagenis, Inc. – a start up company with proprietary antisense technologies. Anagenis was formed to assess and develop arabinonucleic acids chemistry against several biological targets, including cancer and a number of infectious diseases. In 2005, Anagenis, Inc. was acquired by Topigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Montreal-based biotechnology company that has discovered antisense compounds for the treatment of respiratory diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease and allergic rhinitis.

Prof. Damha is Chair of the Department of Chemistry (2013-2018), Past President of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society (2013-2014), and Treasurer of the International Society of Nucleosides, Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids (2012-2014). Recently, he served as Associate Vice-Principal (Research & International Relations) at McGill (2010-2011). He has hosted and/or organized of a number of conferences from the Oligonucleotide Therapeutic Society (2016), International Roundtable on Nucleosides, Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids (Montreal, 2012), the CSC (Montreal, 2001 and 2011), and symposia at Pacifichem (Honolulu, 2000- 2015) and the American Chemical Society (2007-09).

Select Honors and Awards: The John Charles Polanyi Chemistry Prize (Ministry of Colleges and Universities, 1989), The IUPAC Award (Chemical Institute of Canada, 1991), Ichikizaki Awards for Young Chemist (1989-94), the Merck-Frosst Award for Therapeutic Research (CSC, 1999), the Fellowship of the Chemical Institute of Canada (F.C.I.C.), the James McGill Professorship (McGill University, 2004-2011), the Bernard Belleau Award of the CSC (2007), the Fessenden Professorship in Science Innovation (McGill University; 2010), the David Thomson Award in Graduate Supervision and Teaching (McGill University; 2010), the Leo Yaffe Award for Excellence in Teaching (McGill University; 2011-12), and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (The Governor General of Canada; 2012).

Mark Kay, M.D., Ph.D.

Dennis Farrey Family Professor in Pediatrics, and Professor of Genetics
Head, Division of Human Gene Therapy
Vice Chair for Basic Research (Pediatrics)
Stanford University, USA

Dr. Mark Kay is the Dennis Farrey Family Professor at Stanford University. He is also the head of the division of the Human Gene Therapy at the Stanford School of Medicine. Further, he also serves as the Vice Chair for Basic Research (Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University). He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University (1980), Ph.D. (1987) and M.D. (1987) from Case Western Reserve University.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University (1980), Ph.D. (1987) and M.D. (1987) from Case Western Reserve University. He conducted his postgraduate training at Baylor College of Medicine. This was followed by his faculty appointment to the University of Washington and subsequently Stanford University. Dr. Kay is a clinician-scientist for over 25 years specializing in the field of gene therapy and working actively in the area of oligonucleotide drug development.

Dr. Kay has lead and advised several clinical trials in the area of gene therapy, including Phase I/II AAV-human factor IX mediated gene transfer into skeletal muscle, Phase I/II AAV-human factor IX mediated gene transfer into liver, and at present, Phase I/II AAV-2/8-human factor IX mediated gene transfer into the liver. He is currently serving (and has served) on numerous public and professional committees at Stanford University, and has been involved in many leadership positions. He is a member of many major professional and academic organizations in the field of genomics and gene therapy, and serves on many editorial boards. Some of these include the editorial boards for Gene Therapy, Human Gene Therapy, Molecular Therapy, Silence, and Nucleic Acid Therapeutics (formerly Oligonucleotides). During his career, Dr. Kay has given over 300 invited addresses at various international conferences and published over 200 articles in leading and highly respected research journals.

Select Honors and Awards: The Western Society for Clinical Investigation, Young Investigator Award (1996), Arosenius Swedish Honorary Lectureship (1997), American Society for Clinical Investigation-elected member (1997), E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Researcher of the Year (2000), National Hemophilia Foundation Researcher of the Year (2000), Named Professorship-Dennis Farrey Family Professor (2005), Association for American Physicians elected member (2010), Samuel Rosenthal Prize in Pediatrics (2011), Outstanding Investigator Award-American Society of Cell and Gene Therapy (2013), and many others.

John Rossi, Ph.D.

Morgan & Helen Chu Dean’s Chair
Lidow Family Research Endowed Chair
Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Dean, Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences
Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope

Dr. John Rossi is Lidow Family Research Endowed Chair and Professor in the Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope. He currently serves as the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean’s Chair, and Dean of Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences. He served as an Associate Director of Laboratory Research – City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center for City of Hope. He joined City Of Hope, Inc. (COH) in 1980 as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Molecular Genetics. He was Chairman of the Division of Biology in 1992. In 1993, COH bestowed its highest honor upon him by naming him to its Gallery of Medical and Scientific Achievement for his pioneering work at the molecular level in the battle against AIDS and other major diseases.

Dr. Rossi received a BA in biology from the University of New Hampshire and a PhD in microbial genetics from the University of Connecticut. Following a post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular genetics at Brown University Medical School, he has been on the faculty of City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California.

Dr. Rossi is widely regarded as a World Leader in the development of RNA interference and in clinical research with nucleic acids for the treatment of various diseases. His present focus is on enhancing the intracellular efficacy of ribozymes, small RNAs and siRNAi and their application to gene therapy for HIV and cancer.

He is the Editor in chief of Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids, along with Deputy Editor of Molecular Therapy. He also is an Editor for JBC, Editor in chief BMC Biotechnology and Human Gene Therapy. In 2002 he received the Merit Award from the Division of AIDS of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Rossi was honored with the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Outstanding Speaker Award in 1991, and AAAS Fellow in Medical Sciences 2011. He has authored more than 275 peer-reviewed papers and more than 70 book chapters.

Dr. Rossi Co-Founded Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and Calando Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and was the founding president of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society.