Tessera Therapeutics Adds New Executives to its Leadership Team as the Company Continues to Pioneer Gene Writing™ Technology as New Category in Genetic Medicine
Company expands roster of industry experts with the additions of Michael Holmes, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer, Iain McFadyen, Ph.D. as Chief Data Officer, and Becky Lillie as Chief Human Resources Officer
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tessera Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new approach in genetic medicine known as Gene Writing™ technology, today announced the expansion of its executive leadership team with appointments of Michael Holmes, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Iain McFadyen, Ph.D., Chief Data Officer, and Becky Lillie, Chief Human Resources Officer. Jacob Rubens, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Tessera and Senior Principal, Flagship Pioneering, has transitioned from Tessera’s Chief Scientific Officer to Chief Innovation Officer. In addition to the three executive appointments, Rebecca Wais, Ph.D., JD, Vice President, Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs, and Ian O’Reilly, Vice President, Head of GMP Quality, recently joined the Tessera team to bolster the company’s internal legal and manufacturing capabilities.
“Michael, Iain, and Bec are invaluable additions to our Tessera team and our mission to cure disease by writing in the code of life,” said Dr. Geoffrey von Maltzahn, CEO and Co-Founder of Tessera and General Partner, Flagship Pioneering. “Their leadership, experiences, and mindsets will be critical in helping to realize our aspirations in genetic medicine, attract and maintain the best talent, and develop our pipeline of Gene Writer candidates to cure and prevent severe diseases.”
“We set out to revolutionize the field of genetic medicine by pioneering Gene Writing technology that can unlock the therapeutic potential of engineering DNA and address the short-comings of today’s gene therapy and gene editing approaches,” said Dr. Jacob Rubens. “To realize this goal, we’re building the field’s top team across all levels and functions of our organization. We’re thrilled that our research will be led by Mike Holmes, whose previous roles included spearheading development of the industry’s first gene editing platform and therapeutic candidates.”
Michael Holmes, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Michael Holmes has joined Tessera Therapeutics as its Chief Scientific Officer to lead the development of novel technologies and transformative therapies. Dr. Holmes has more than 20 years of experience working on the development and clinical translation of genome editing- and gene therapy-based approaches. He has an accomplished track record of translating genome engineering technologies to product candidates as evidenced by leading ten therapeutic programs across ex vivo and in vivo therapies. Prior to joining Tessera, Dr. Holmes was the Chief Scientific Officer of Ambys Medicines, and he also held various leadership positions at Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc., including Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.
Dr. Holmes led the efforts that resulted in the first ever clinical candidate of a genome editing-based therapy and has extensive experience in the genome editing of T-cells, hematopoietic stem cells, and hepatocytes. He was also responsible for the research efforts to develop the SB-525 human factor 8 protein (hFVIII) cDNA program, which achieved the highest ever reported level of hFVIII in animal studies and is currently being evaluated in a Phase III study for hemophilia A.
Dr. Holmes holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. He also has a B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego. To date, Dr. Holmes has authored more than 60 publications in the field of genome editing and gene regulation and he is listed as an inventor on more than 40 issued and pending U.S. patents.
“After working in the field of genetic medicine for more than 20 years, I was inspired by the capabilities and performance of Tessera’s Gene Writer candidates and their potential to fundamentally reshape the field of genetic medicine,” said Dr. Holmes. “Our Gene Writer tools can make single base pair changes, insertions and deletions, and write entire genes, each with meaningful advantages over current tools, and without reliance upon viral vectors. I look forward to working with the incredible team to advance our Gene Writing platform and to develop win-state medicines that can transform the lives of patients.”
Iain McFadyen, Ph.D., Chief Data Officer
Dr. Iain McFadyen serves as Chief Data Officer to help advance Tessera’s goal of developing potentially curative medicines across multiple therapeutic areas. Previously, Dr. McFadyen held executive and senior leadership positions at LifeMine Therapeutics and Moderna, Inc., respectively. As Chief Data Officer at LifeMine, Dr. McFadyen oversaw the development of the genomic search-based drug discovery platform, led the growth of the Data Sciences department as well as built a fully integrated informatics platform, and led target identification validation efforts. At Moderna, he founded, built, and led the Computational Sciences department, which included people working in data science, and helped develop the platform that delivered mRNA and lipid nanoparticles to patients in the form of the coronavirus vaccine. Throughout his career, Dr. McFadyen has worked in computational biology, computational chemistry, data science, and machine learning/artificial intelligence. He has experience working across various modalities (including mRNA, proteins, and vaccines) and scientific areas that he will apply to his work at Tessera.
"I was drawn to Tessera because I believe Gene Writing technology is the future of medicine,” said Dr. McFadyen. “I’ve previously developed industrial computational platforms for engineering RNA and for discovering genes with unique functions, and I am thrilled to leverage this experience towards creating and optimizing our Gene Writing platform at Tessera.”
Dr. McFadyen earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Loughborough University (UK) and the University of Michigan in the Traynor Lab, later serving as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Minnesota. He received his B.S. in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Loughborough University. Dr. McFadyen is the author of 21 publications and the inventor on eight patents and patent families with 16 patent applications pending.
Becky Lillie, Chief Human Resources Officer
Becky Lillie joins Tessera as the Chief Human Resources Officer to lead the HR function and oversee talent management strategies and incentives to enable the business strategy. Previously, Ms. Lillie served as the Chief Human Experience Officer at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where she modernized HR, IT, and Patient Advocacy departments. As a seasoned human capital strategist with over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Ms. Lillie has deep expertise in designing and executing human-centered organizations, operating models, and corporate governance structures.
“In today’s quickly evolving and highly competitive biotech industry, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate strong leadership and to build an employee environment that fosters innovative growth and development,” said Ms. Lillie. “I look forward to working with Tessera to continue building a robust team of scientists motivated by the challenge of developing a new category of genetic medicines to change how we approach disease.”
During her career, Ms. Lille progressed through the ranks at Alexion from Executive Director through to Chief Human Experience Officer over several years, modernizing its HR operation and revamping the R&D operating model in the process. She also held leadership positions in R&D at AstraZeneca and Pfizer Inc. Ms. Lillie earned her B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
About Tessera’s Gene Writer™ Tools
Tessera’s Gene Writer tools are based on nature’s genome architects, Mobile Genetic Elements (MGEs)—the most abundant class of genes across the tree of life, representing approximately half of the human genome. Tessera has evaluated tens of thousands of natural and synthetic MGEs to create Gene Writer candidates with the ability to write therapeutic messages into the human genome. Tessera’s research engine further optimizes the discovered Gene Writer candidates for efficiency, specificity, and fidelity—essentially compressing eons of evolution into a few months.
About Tessera Therapeutics
Tessera Therapeutics is pioneering Gene Writing™ technology, which consists of multiple technology platforms designed to offer scientists and clinicians the ability to write therapeutic messages into the human genome, thereby curing diseases at their source. The Gene Writing platform allows the correction of single nucleotides, the deletion or insertion of short sequences of DNA, and the writing of entire genes into the genome, offering the potential for a new category of genetic medicines with broad applications both in vivo and ex vivo. Tessera Therapeutics was founded by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences innovation enterprise that conceives, resources, and develops first-in-category companies to transform human health and sustainability. For more information about Tessera, please visit www.tesseratherapeutics.com.
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