Anthony D. Saleh, Ph.D.
Rob Place, Ph.D.
Ashwin Kulkarni, M.S
Tishan Williams, Ph.D.
Charles Marusak, Ph.D.
Rob has deep expertise in the field of oligonucleotide therapeutics with an entrepreneurial background in biotech spanning over 12 years. As a REAP fellow at UCSF, he was co-inventor and key scientific lead alongside Dr. Long-Cheng Li during the discovery of RNAa (RNA activation) unearthing a new field of oligonucleotide therapeutics – re-activating therapeutic genes silenced in disease. He helmed a joint collaboration between Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and University of California, San Francisco in the first efforts of RNAa drug development by combining Anlylam’s lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations with gene activating oligos. The first example of an RNAa-based drug entered Phase 2b clinical trials in 2019 with MiNa Therapeutics valued at over $400M. He has worked with several small biotech companies including Sevident developing their patented molecular capturing platform for diagnostic and prognostic tests acquired by Seinna Cancer Diagnostics in 2019 for payments up to $1.5M. In 2016, he helped establish the Chinese-based company Ractigen Therapeutic with long-time colleague Dr. Long-Cheng Li raising over $7M (US) in seed investment for the development of oligonucleotide-based therapeutics. In 2017, he co-founded the pharmaceutical company miRecule Inc developing miRNA replacement therapies with 3 disease pipelines and 1 strategic partnership. The executive team including Rob was a 2018 awardee and participant of the prominent entrepreneurial program, I-Corp at NIH. As of June 2019, miRecule is closing a combined $5M seed round including nondilutive grant funding and private investment. Rob has a scientific background in oncology and medicinal chemistry in context to oligonucleotide drug development, RNAa, and delivery platforms with prominent publications and patents, as well as experience in the IND and drug regulatory process.
Ashwin has operated in multi-faceted roles to guide and build life science companies at various stages of development, contributing to several successful funding efforts. As an Associate at BioHealth Innovation, he has functioned as an “entrepreneur on the ground” for over a dozen companies, being intimately involved in day to day business development activities. He also has significant experience in the management and execution of tailored consulting projects for a myriad of life science organizations – from nascent university technologies to Series A startups and big pharma. His role focuses on developing miRecule’s business and funding strategy from proof-of-concept through IND enabling studies and early clinical trials.
Tishan has significant experience in the fields of structural and molecular biology. Throughout her graduate studies and industry career, she has worked to elucidate the biophysical underpinnings of a myriad of biological pathways. Her strong background in the application of analytical techniques has helped hone her expertise in the practice of determining structure-function relationships between clinically-relevant protein targets and small molecule compounds. Her desire to conduct clinically translatable research led her to miRecule, where she focuses on the conception and characterization of novel therapeutic assets across multiple disease programs.
Charles is a scientist with years of experience in molecular and cell biology models to investigate the driving cause of diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. During his PhD he worked to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms of melanoma metastasis and collaborated to validate a novel therapeutic that helps counteract melanoma metastasis. His diverse experience in the pre-clinical development of novel therapeutics serves as an excellent basis for the validation of our oligonucleotide therapeutics.