Leadership

  • Lee Rauch

    Lee Rauch is miRagen’s Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Rauch has more than 25 years of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. She has helped build successful companies that range in size from biotech start-up to multinational pharmaceutical corporation. During this time, she held various executive positions at Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT), Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Nuon Therapeutics, POINT Biomedical, COR Therapeutics, and Syntex Corporation (acquired by Hoffmann-la Roche). She has also served as a consultant to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining miRagen, she was the Executive in Residence at Columbia Technology Ventures. Until 2015, she held the role of Chief Business Officer at GBT. Prior to GBT, she was President and CEO of Nuon Therapeutics. Before Nuon, she was the Interim Chief Business Officer and V.P. of Corporate Development at Onyx. Earlier in her career she was a founding member of McKinsey & Co.’s Pharmaceutical Practice. Ms. Rauch received her M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Chemistry from Arizona State University.

    Currently, Lee also serves as Executive Chairman to Springboard Enterprises Health Innovation Hub, a private, international organization aimed at accelerating the growth of entrepreneurial companies led by women through access to essential resources and a global community of experts.

  • Jonathan Violin, PH.D.

    Jonathan Violin has deep experience aligning clinical and scientific evidence with strategies to efficiently finance discovery and development of novel therapeutics. He was the co-founder of Viridian Therapeutics and led the firm’s operations prior to its acquisition by miRagen. Prior to founding Viridian Therapeutics, he served as founding CEO of two virtual drug discovery companies, Quellis Biosciences and Dianthus Therapeutics. Previously, Jonathan co-founded and helped lead Trevena Inc. from discovery research through clinical development and NDA submission, including multiple rounds of venture and public financing. Jonathan holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, an M.B.A. with a concentration in Health Sector Management from the Fuqua School of Business, and a B.S. in Chemical Pharmacology from Duke University.

  • Vahe Bedian, PH.D.

    Vahe has expertise in ensuring that drug discovery platforms, screening strategies, and testing cascades match the pathophysiological characteristics of therapeutic targets and deliver new molecular entities that address patients’ needs. He was the co-founder Viridian Therapeutics and led the firm’s scientific efforts prior to its acquisition by miRagen. Prior to founding Viridian Therapeutics, he served as founding CSO of two virtual drug discovery companies, Quellis Biosciences and Dianthus Therapeutics. Vahe previously served for 10 years at AstraZeneca focused on antibody therapeutics and immuno-oncology as Director, Search and Evaluation, Global Product and Portfolio Strategy; other roles. Previously, Vahe spent eight years at Pfizer where he helped establish the company’s biologics strategy across therapeutic areas and led discovery efforts for four INDs and a Phase 3 program. Vahe started his career in academic research, serving as Director of the hybridoma and DNA sequencing core facilities at the University of Pennsylvania. Vahe holds a Ph.D. in Biophysics from SUNY Buffalo and a M.S. and B.S. in Physics from the American University of Beirut.

  • Jason A. Leverone, C.P.A.

    Jason A. Leverone, C.P.A., is miRagen’s Chief Financial Officer. In this capacity, he oversees the company’s financial, accounting, and operations functions. Prior to joining miRagen, Mr. Leverone was Senior Director of Finance and Controller for Replidyne, Inc., a publicly-traded biotechnology company. At Replidyne, he played an important role in completing the company’s initial public offering and executing its strategic sale to Cardiovascular Systems, Inc. Prior to joining Replidyne, Mr. Leverone was the Corporate Controller for CreekPath System, Inc., an international software development company. He commenced his professional career with the accounting firm of Ernst and Young LLP and served as an Audit Manager for Arthur Andersen LLP.

    Mr. Leverone is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

  • Diana Escolar, M.D., FAAN

    Dr. Escolar has served as our Senior Vice President of Clinical Science since January 2018 before becoming our Chief Medical Officer in December 2019. Dr. Escolar is a Board Certified Neurologist who brings nearly two decades of research experience in rare diseases to help guide the development of new therapies. Prior to joining us and from June 2011 to September 2017, Dr. Escolar was the Chief Medical Officer of Akashi Therapeutics, Inc. (previously DART Therapeutics, Inc.), a private clinical stage biotechnology company developing a portfolio of products for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other rare diseases. Prior to that, from June 2009 to June 2011, Dr. Escolar was the Principal Medical Consultant for Acceleron Pharma (publicly traded) and served as Senior Medical Consultant and Advisory Board Member for Shire Plc, a specialty publicly traded biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for rare disorders. From 2003 to 2005 Dr. Escolar was the Principal Medical Consultant and Co-Developer of Adult Onset Pompe Disease Natural History Study Protocol and Myozyme pivotal trial with public Genzyme Corporation. Between 2004 and 2011, Dr. Escolar held positions on advisory boards and as medical consultant for national and international companies, as well as government agencies, such as Wyeth, Summit Therapeutics, AVI Biopharma (now Sarepta), PTC Therapeutics, Aileron Therapeutics, the Center for Disease Control and as a scientific reviewer for the National Institute of Health. She was the co-founder and director of the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group (CINRG) from 2000 until 2007. Dr. Escolar was a Steering Committee member of the NIH-funded Spinal Muscular Atrophy Pilot Program from 2003-2012, playing a key role in preclinical drug discovery/ development effort for a virtual biotech model.

    Dr. Escolar was Associate Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University as well as Faculty at the Kennedy Krieger Institute from 2010-2017. Prior to that Dr. Escolar was Assistant and then Associate Professor of Neurology at George Washington Medical School. She was the Director of the GW ALS clinic, Director of the Pediatric Neuromuscular Program and MDA Clinic at Children’s National Medical Center and Faculty and Researcher at the Center for Genetic Medicine at the Children’s Institute, Washington, DC. Dr Escolar has authored dozens of original publications and holds an active medical license in Maryland. She received her M.D. from the University of Buenos Aires, School of Medicine in Argentina, where she was also an Instructor of Anatomy and Pharmacology. She completed her post-graduate training from Boston University- and Harvard Medical School-affiliated programs.

  • Jeffrey S. Hatfield, M.B.A.

    Jeff Hatfield is a senior life sciences executive who has led businesses in both the emerging biotechnology and global Fortune 500 pharma sectors. Mr. Hatfield is the Chief Executive Officer of Zafgen, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZFGN). Previously, Mr. Hatfield was President and Chief Executive Officer of Vitae Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: VTAE), where he led the growth of the company from start-up in 2004, until its unsolicited acquisition by Allergan Plc (NYSE: AGN) in 2016. Prior to that, Mr. Hatfield was a senior executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb Corporation (NYSE: BMY) for twenty years, where he held roles of increasing responsibility including Senior Vice President, Immunology and Virology Divisions; President, BMS-Canada; and Vice President of US Market Access. During his career at BMS, Mr. Hatfield was directly involved with several successful commercial launches, including Plavix©, Pravachol©, Glucophage© and Atripla©.

    Mr. Hatfield currently serves on the boards of aTyr Pharma (NASDAQ: LIFE), InVivo Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NVIV) and Zafgen (NASDAQ: ZFGN). He previously served on the board of Ambit (NASDAQ: AMBI), before its acquisition by Daiichi-Sankyo, and on the board and Executive Committee of BIO (the Biotechnology Innovation Organization).

    Mr. Hatfield earned an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a B.S. from the College of Pharmacy, Purdue University, where he currently serves as an Adjunct Professor for doctoral students, and as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council.

  • Peter Harwin

    Peter Harwin is currently managing member at Fairmount Funds Management LLC, a healthcare investment fund he co-founded in April 2016. Prior to Fairmount, Mr. Harwin served as a member of the investment team at Boxer Capital, LLC, part of the Tavistock Group, based in San Diego, most recently serving as a senior member of the team. In addition to his responsibilities at Fairmount, Mr. Harwin serves as strategic advisor to Quellis Biosciences Inc. and Dianthus Therapeutics, Inc. and serves as Chairman of the Board of Cogent Biosciences, Inc. Mr. Harwin served on the board of directors of Viridian Therapeutics, Inc. prior to its acquisition by miRagen. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration from Emory University.

  • Tomas Kiselak

    Tomas Kiselak is currently managing member at Fairmount Funds Management LLC, a healthcare investment fund he co-founded in April 2016. Prior to Fairmount, Mr. Kiselak served as a managing director at RA Capital Management LLC, based in Boston. In addition to his responsibilities at Fairmount, Mr. Kiselak serves as a strategic advisor to Quellis Biosciences Inc. and Dianthus Therapeutics, Inc. Mr. Kiselak also serves on the board of directors of Zenas BioPharma. He received his BA in Neuroscience and Economics from Amherst College.

  • Arlene M. Morris

    Arlene M. Morris has been a director of miRagen since January 2018. She has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries serving in numerous management and board roles.

    Ms. Morris currently serves as Chief Executive Officer at Willow Advisors, LLC, a consultancy advising biotech companies on financing, strategy and business development. From April 2012 until May 2015 she was Chief Executive Officer of Syndax Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an oncology company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for treatment-resistant cancers. She also served as a member of the Syndax Pharmaceuticals board of directors from June 2011 until May 2015.

    From 2003 to January 2011, Ms. Morris served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors of Affymax, Inc., a publicly traded biotechnology company. Ms. Morris has also held various management and executive positions at Clearview Projects, Inc., a corporate advisory firm; Coulter Pharmaceutical, Inc., a publicly traded pharmaceutical company; Scios Inc., a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company; and Johnson & Johnson, a publicly traded healthcare company. She is currently a member of the board of directors of Viveve, Inc., a public medical device company; Palatin Technologies, a public biotechnology company. She was recently a director of Biodel Inc., a public specialty pharmaceutical company, from 2015 until its merger with Albireo Limited in 2016; and Dimension Therapeutics, a public gene therapy company, until it was acquired by Ultragenyx in 2017. She also serves as Board Chair for the Foundation for Research and Development at the Medical University of South Carolina and as a Trustee of Carlow University. Ms. Morris received a B.A. in Biology and Chemistry from Carlow College.

  • Lee Rauch

    Lee Rauch is miRagen’s Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Rauch has more than 25 years of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. She has helped build successful companies that range in size from biotech start-up to multinational pharmaceutical corporation. During this time, she held various executive positions at Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT), Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Nuon Therapeutics, POINT Biomedical, COR Therapeutics, and Syntex Corporation (acquired by Hoffmann-la Roche). She has also served as a consultant to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining miRagen, she was the Executive in Residence at Columbia Technology Ventures. Until 2015, she held the role of Chief Business Officer at GBT. Prior to GBT, she was President and CEO of Nuon Therapeutics. Before Nuon, she was the Interim Chief Business Officer and V.P. of Corporate Development at Onyx. Earlier in her career she was a founding member of McKinsey & Co.’s Pharmaceutical Practice. Ms. Rauch received her M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Chemistry from Arizona State University.

    Currently, Lee also serves as Executive Chairman to Springboard Enterprises Health Innovation Hub, a private, international organization aimed at accelerating the growth of entrepreneurial companies led by women through access to essential resources and a global community of experts.

  • Joe Turner

    Mr. Turner has served as an independent director and audit committee chair for multiple biotech companies over the last decade. He currently serves on the board of BioClin Therapeutics. In recent years, he has served on the boards of Corcept Therapeutics, Kythera Biotherapeutics, Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Nora Therapeutics, Sophiris Bio, QLT and SGX Pharmaceuticals.

    Mr. Turner previously as served as the chief financial officer of Myogen, Inc. from 1999 until it was acquired by Gilead Sciences in 2006. Previously, he served as the chief financial officer of Centaur Pharmaceuticals from 1997 to 1999 and as the chief financial officer and vice president, finance and administration at Cortech, Inc. from 1992 to 1997. Prior to Cortech, he was employed by Eli Lilly from 1979 to 1991 in a variety of finance and administration roles.

    Mr. Turner holds an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.A. in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from University of Colorado and a B.A. in chemistry with a minor in biology from Swarthmore College. Since 2009, he has served on the board of managers of Swarthmore College where at various times he has served on its executive committee, finance committee, audit committee, academic affairs committee and student affairs committee and property committee.