Scientific Advisory Board

Craig Mello

Chairman

Craig is the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). He was also designated an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2000, the third HHMI researcher selected at UMMS. HHMI is a $13 billion medical research organization that employs more than 350 eminent researchers at 72 medical schools, universities and research institutes worldwide. 

Craig and his colleague Andrew Fire, Ph.D., formerly of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference (RNAi). Craig holds his B.S. in biochemistry from Brown University and his Ph.D. in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center before coming to UMMS in 1995. He is also a 1995 Pew Scholar in the biomedical sciences.

John DiPersio

Dr. John F. DiPersio is Chief of the Division of Oncology, Deputy Director of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and the Virginia E. and Samuel J. Golman Professor of Medicine. Dr. DiPersio’s clinical research focuses on fundamental and translational aspects of leukemia and stem cell biology. These studies include identification of genetic abnormalities in human leukemias, understanding processes involving stem cell and leukemia cell trafficking, and clinical and translational programs in both leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome and transplantation immunology.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. DiPersio was instrumental in developing two drugs, Plerixafor and Ruxolitinib, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008 and 2019 respectively, for the treatment of multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and graft versus host disease.

Dr. DiPersio is past Chair of ASH Scientific Committee on Hematopoiesis, immediate past President of the American Society of Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors (Clinical Science and Epidemiology) of the National Cancer Institute, and the 2013 recipient of the Daniel P. Schuster Distinguished Translational Investigator Award from Washington University in St. Louis. He has authored or co-authored more than 450 publications.

Dr. DiPersio earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and a B.A. in Biology (Magna Cum Laude) from Williams College. He completed his subspecialty training in Hematology-Oncology and his post-doctoral work at UCLA.



Page Bouchard

Page Bouchard is an independent biotechnology consultant with a focus on preclinical R&D and regulatory drug development. Page Bouchard retired from Novartis in March 2021 as the Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Early Development at Novartis Gene Therapies (formerly Avexis). In this role Page is responsible for managing the AAV gene therapy research platform and pipeline of projects within the Novartis gene therapy unit. He managed the Research and Early Development organizations and the effective collaboration across Novartis global R&D in support of the gene therapy pipeline. Prior to assuming the CSO role at AveXis, Page was Global Head of Preclinical Safety for Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) where he led a group of over ~250 associates responsible for all aspects of nonclinical safety assessment for Novartis pharmaceutical products and product candidates around the world. Before joining Novartis, Page headed R&D at Archemix Corp., a privately held biotechnology company developing Aptamer therapeutics, a novel oligonucleotide therapeutic platform.

Prior to Archemix, Page held positions as the Vice President of Drug Safety Evaluation at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Assistant Vice President of Pathology at Wyeth, and Director of Preclinical Safety at Genetics Institute. Page has 28 years of Pharma/Biotech experience working on a diverse range of product types including recombinant human proteins and antibodies, small molecules, medical devices, oligonucleotide therapeutics, and cell and gene therapies. He received a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a D.V.M. from Tufts University Veterinary School. He trained in veterinary pathology at Cornell Veterinary School and is Board certified in veterinary pathology by the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.

 

Oladapo Yeku

Dr. Oladapo Yeku is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a Clinical Assistant in Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Yeku completed his Medical Oncology fellowship training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and is an expert on immunotherapy for gynecologic cancers. Dr. Yeku is actively involved as a Principal Investigator in early phase drug development and adoptive cellular therapy clinical trials. His laboratory studies the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment in Gynecologic Cancers and develops immunotherapeutic approaches such as bispecific T-cell engagers and Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells to overcome these obstacles.  
 
Dr. Yeku has a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular pharmacology and has received postdoctoral training in immunotherapy and adoptive cellular therapy.

John Bell

Dr. John Bell received his PhD from McMaster University in 1982. The three years that followed, he trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa and then at the Medical Research Council in London, England. Dr. Bell began his independent research career at McGill University in 1986 and moved to the University of Ottawa, Department of Medicine, in 1989. He is a member of the Center for Cancer Therapeutics at The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Center, a Senior Scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. He heads the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, a Terry Fox funded group from across Canada that is developing virus based cancer therapeutics and is the Director of the Biotherapeutics Program for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He is the Scientific Director of the  National Centre of Excellence for the development of Biotherapeutics for Cancer Therapy and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Bell is the founder of the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, the first of its kind in the world, and it aims to expand cancer viral therapy discovery and application at all levels.

Bell is the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Jennerex, Inc., which is a biotech company in San Francisco that is producing oncolytic viruses as a new therapeutic technique to treat cancers. Early trials of this technique have been shown to be very effective in eliminating tumours, most notably so far OncoVEX GM-CSF (BioVex Inc, Woburn, MA) which is in Phase 3 clinical trials for melanoma.[4] These viruses are thought to even provide immunity against certain types of cancer.[5] It is hoped that these therapies will become a viable, and even more successful alternative to treatments such as chemotherapy, which are extremely physically demanding for patients.

Jeffrey M. Bockman

Executive Vice President, Head of Oncology Practice

Jeff leads the Oncology and Virology Practices at Cello Health BioConsulting, formerly Defined Health. The cancer practice is the largest therapeutic area. He often speaks at conferences on scientific and commercial issues in cancer, especially immuno-oncology.  Before joining Cello Health BioConsulting, Jeff was a Senior Research Scientist and Research Project Leader in the commercial development of oligonucleotide therapeutics for viral diseases and cancer at Innovir Laboratories; and an Assistant Research Professor at The George Washington University School of Medicine. He has worked closely with two Nobel Prize recipients: Dr. Sidney Altman on ribozymes, and Dr. Stanley Prusiner on prions, and holds four patents in the use of ribozymes. He received a BA from University of California at San Diego, a PhD in Medical Microbiology from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MA in English/Creative Writing from New York University.  

Jeff is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the American Society of Hematology (ASH), the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) and the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS).  Jeff is a mentor for the NCI Innovation Conference, a judge for the Citeline Awards, an advisor to the JPM Biotech Showcase, a member of the Advisory “Group” to Skipper Bio Med (a preclinical research consultancy that provides pro bono services to academic and industry groups, developing promising lung and/or pancreatic cancer therapeutics/device. Skipper is fully supported by a private US family that has been personally impacted by these cancers and is committed to bridging the research “valley of death”). Jeff has also recently joined the Clinical Advisory Board of ImmunOS (an immunotherapy company based in Zurich).

John Lueck

John Lueck is Assistant Professor in Department of Pharmacology and Physiology and is a member of The Center for RNA Biology the University of Rochester Medical Center.   Dr. Lueck is a multidisciplinary scientist with over nine years of experience designing and managing research projects. During his Ph.D. training at the University of Rochester Medical Center, he gained expertise in membrane biophysics, molecular biology and muscle physiology in studies focused on channelopathies that underly myotonia in myotonic dystrophy (DM). As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iowa he became interested in the field of genetic code expansion and its use as a therapeutic for diseases that result from nonsense mutations with a focus on cystic fibrosis (CF). There he also honed his skills in molecular genetics, protein biochemistry, viral gene delivery and generation of transgenic mice as models of disease. 

His current research is focused on the development of engineered tRNAs as a therapeutic platform for nonsense associated diseases. He and his team are also developing novel methodologies for manipulating DNA and high-throughput cloning and screening for development of eukaryotic nonsense suppression technologies. In addition to studying nonsense associated diseases, his group is focused on determining the mechanisms that underly skeletal muscle weakness and degeneration in DM with the ultimate goal of identifying novel targets for development of therapeutics.

Christopher Ahern

Christopher Ahern is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. As a researcher, he oversees an NIH funded research program and is the Director of the NIH/NINDS Facility for Atomic Mutagenesis, a research community resource for the high-resolution study of neurological ion channels and receptors. The principal scientific focus of his research laboratory has been on advancing the basis for bioelectrical signaling in the excitable cells of nerve and muscle.

Prior to the University of Iowa, he received training in Chemistry and Molecular Biology (BS UW-Madison), Membrane Biophysics (PhD UW-Madison), and Chemical Biology (Caltech and Thomas Jefferson Medical College). In 2008, he started his independent lab at the University of British Columbia where he was a Michael Smith Research Scholar and the Heart and Stroke Foundation MacDonald Scholar. Since 2012, at the University of Iowa he has developed methods which use transfer RNAs to advance the molecular basis for electrical signaling and for the repair of premature termination codons, with a focus on neuronal sodium channels.