mRNA as Medicine
Melissa J. Moore, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer, Platform Research, Moderna Therapeutics
Friday, November 5, 2021
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The 2021 Wang Lecture is part of the DIC Wang Memorial Symposium. On Friday, November 5, leaders in the field of biochemical engineering will share their views on the legacy of Institute Professor Daniel I.C. Wang and the future of the field.
All are invited to attend. [See Friday Schedule]
A new class of drugs wherein cells are programmed with synthetic messenger RNAs (mRNAs) to make any desired protein (e.g., cytoplasmic, intraorganelle, membrane-bound, secreted) is an emergent technology with tremendous promise. The ability to simultaneously deliver multiple mRNAs species enables production of multiprotein complexes in their native state. mRNA therapeutics already in or soon to enter the clinic include mRNA-based vaccines (both prophylactic and therapeutic), pro-inflammatory cytokines as anticancer agents, an angiogenic factor for blood vessel regrowth in damaged heart muscle, and protein replacement therapies for treatment of metabolic diseases. Nonetheless, how to combat mRNA’s inherent chemical and biological lability, how to direct therapeutic mRNAs to desired cell types, and how to enable repeat dosing without eliciting adverse immune reactions remain challenges for the field. I will discuss recent progress at Moderna in overcoming these challenges, with particular emphasis on our development of new technologies optimized for functional mRNA delivery.
About Dr. Moore
In her role as chief scientific officer, Platform Research, Dr. Melissa Moore is responsible for leading mRNA biology, delivery and computation science research at Moderna. She joined Moderna in 2016 from the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where she served as professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research and a long-time investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Dr. Moore was also a founding co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute (RTI) at UMMS, and was instrumental in creating the Massachusetts Therapeutic and Entrepreneurship Realization initiative (MassTERi), a faculty-led program intended to facilitate the translation of UMMS discoveries into drugs, products, technologies and companies. Dr. Moore is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2017) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019).
Dr. Moore holds a BS in chemistry and biology from the College of William and Mary, and a PhD in biological chemistry from MIT, where she specialized in enzymology under Professor Christopher T. Walsh. She began working on RNA metabolism during her postdoctoral training with Phillip A. Sharp at MIT. During her 23 years as a faculty member, first at Brandeis and then at UMMS, her research encompassed a broad array of topics related to the roles of RNA and RNA-protein (RNP) complexes in gene expression, and touched on many human diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration and preeclampsia.