Dr. Melissa J. Moore currently serves as Chief Scientific Officer, Scientific Affairs, 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 UMMS RNA Therapeutics Institute (RTI) 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), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2019), and recipient of the RNA Society Lifetime Achievement Award (2021). Other accolades include being named one of the 100 Fiercest Women in Biotech (2018) and to the PharmaVoice 100 (2019). She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Tessera Therapeutics, multiple Scientific Advisory Boards, and has co-founded two companies (Comanche Biopharma and Via Scientific) to further initiatives begun at UMMS.
Dr. Moore holds a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from MIT, where she specialized in enzymology under Prof. Christopher T. Walsh. She began working on RNA metabolism during her postdoctoral training with Phillip A. Sharp at MIT. During her 23 years as faculty member, first at Brandeis University (1994-2007) and then at UMMS (2007-2016), 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. Her passions include educating the public about the coming age of nucleic acid medicines, increasing Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) at all levels of the biotechnology workforce, and playing Texas Hold’em.
Abstract – “mRNA as Medicine”
With synthetic mRNA now fully validated as a platform for the rapid creation and distribution of highly effective vaccines, the age of mRNA medicines is upon us. Because mRNAs can program the body to produce any desired protein (e.g., cytoplasmic, intraorganelle, membrane-bound, secreted) or set of proteins (e.g., multiprotein complexes) in their native state, possible applications are nearly infinite. In addition to a plethora of new vaccines (both prophylactic and therapeutic), experimental mRNA medicines already in the clinic include pro-inflammatory cytokines as anticancer agents, an angiogenic promoting blood vessel regrowth in damaged heart muscle, and protein replacement therapies for inborn metabolic diseases. I will discuss Moderna’s overall process for production of mRNA medicines and our new “mRNA Access” initiative designed get Moderna’s formulated mRNAs into the hands of academics interested in helping create the mRNA medicines of the future.