Leadership

  • Lee Rauch

    Lee Rauch is miRagen’s Chief Executive Officer and Board Member.

    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.

  • 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.

  • Christopher Bowden, M.D.

    Dr. Bowden is the Chief Medical Officer of Agios. He has more than 17 years of experience in clinical drug development, including the approval of several cancer medicines. Prior to joining Agios, Dr. Bowden was vice president product development oncology, franchise lead (Signaling Group) at Genentech, Inc., a member of the Roche Group. During Dr. Bowden’s eight years at Genentech, he was responsible for the successful development of a number of novel targeted oncology medicines, including Zelboraf™ for patients with BRAF V600E positive melanoma and Tarceva™ for patients with EGFr activating mutation positive, non-small cell lung cancer. From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Bowden was the executive director for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) regions for Bristol-Myers Squibb. In this role, he led medical affairs strategies for cancer, immunology and pain medicines. Earlier, Dr. Bowden held positions of increasing responsibility in oncology clinical development, Phases I-III at Pharmacia Corporation and Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc.

    Prior to his industry experience, Dr. Bowden was on the oncology faculty at the University of Virginia Health Science Center where he participated in numerous industry and cooperative group trials.

    Dr. Bowden received his medical degree from Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia followed by internal medicine training at Roger Williams Medical Center and the Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island. He completed his medical oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute Medicine Branch. Dr. Bowden is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.

  • Thomas E. Hughes, Ph.D.

    Dr. Hughes has more than 30 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development.  Dr Hughes joined Navitor as Chief Executive Officer in 2018.  Prior to joining Navitor, Dr. Hughes served as President and Chief Scientific Officer of Zafgen and previously led Zafgen as CEO from 2008 to 2017.  From 1987 to 2008, Dr. Hughes held several positions at Novartis AG (and formerly Sandoz Pharmaceuticals) including vice president and global head of the cardiovascular and metabolic diseases therapeutic area at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, MA. In these roles, he oversaw many drug discovery and development projects targeting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As a scientist, Dr. Hughes led Novartis’ efforts to discover and develop its dipeptidylpeptidase IV inhibitor vildagliptin (Galvus®/Eucreas®), a drug used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, currently approved in 70 countries. Dr. Hughes is the author of over 40 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on numerous issued and pending patents related to the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

    Dr. Hughes serves as a director on the board of miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., and is a member of several scientific and strategic advisory boards, including Broadview Ventures, HotSpot Therapeutics, and Nimbus Therapeutics.

  • Kevin Koch, Ph.D.

    Kevin Koch, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of Edgewise Therapeutics and a Venture Partner with OrbiMed Advisors, LLC. Dr. Koch has been active in the life science industry for 25+ years with a focus on drug discovery, translational medicine and clinical development. Most recently, Dr. Koch was the Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery: Chemical and Molecular Therapeutics at Biogen where he managed global drug discovery and biomarker development as well as the immunology and hematology teams. From 1998-2013, Dr. Koch served as the President, Chief Scientific Officer, Board member and Co-Founder of Array BioPharma, Inc. While there, he built a fully integrated R&D team that oversaw the invention of over 20 clinical development candidates in the multiple therapeutic areas. Prior to Array, Dr. Koch held senior positions at Amgen Inc. and Pfizer Central Research.

    Dr. Koch received a B.S. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from State University of New York, Stony Brook, and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Rochester. He is the co-author or inventor of over 80 patents and publications. Dr. Koch currently serves on the board of Encycle Therapeutics, Skyhawk Therapeutics, Neurogastrx Inc. and a number of scientific advisory boards.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • Lee Rauch

    Lee Rauch is miRagen’s Chief Executive Officer and Board Member.

    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.

  • Eric N. Olson, Ph.D., miRagen’s Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor, has dedicated his career to deciphering the mechanisms that control muscle gene regulation and development. His most recent work has focused on the genetic pathways responsible for congenital and acquired cardiovascular disease.

    Dr. Olson attended Wake Forest University receiving a B.A. in Chemistry and Biology, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. After postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine, he joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 1984 and became Professor and Chairman. He later founded the Department of Molecular Biology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

    Dr. Olson’s honors include: the Basic Research Prize, the Founding Distinguished Scientist Award, and the Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association; the Pasarow Medical Research Award in Cardiovascular Disease; the Gill Heart Institute Award; the Lucian Award for Research in Cardiovascular Disease; the Outstanding Investigator Award from the International Society for Heart Research; the Pollin Prize for Lifetime Contributions to Pediatric Research; the Passano Prize; the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology; and the International Society for Heart Research Achievement Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine.

    Dr. Olson is a member of numerous editorial boards and belongs to the Scientific Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was a Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor of Myogen, Inc., a biotechnology company focusing on therapies for heart muscle disease, acquired by Gilead Pharmaceuticals in 2006.

  • Marvin H. Caruthers, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado and a pioneer in the biotechnology field. One of the co-founders of Amgen and Applied Biosystems, Dr. Caruthers’ groundbreaking scientific research in nucleic acid chemistry led to the development of DNA synthesizing techniques that remain the industry standard today.

    Dr. Caruthers holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Northwestern University. A Guggenheim Fellow, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Caruthers was awarded the National Medal of Science for 2006, the nation’s highest distinction honoring scientific achievement.

  • Dr. Victor Ambros is the Silverman Professor of Natural Sciences in the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and serves as Co-Director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute at UMass Medical School. His laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation by microRNAs and how microRNAs function in regulatory networks affecting development and disease.

    The Ambros lab identified the first microRNA in 1993, while characterizing a genetic locus involved in the control of developmental timing in C. elegans. Since then, his research group has focused on the role of microRNAs in development.

    Dr. Ambros completed his Ph.D. at MIT, under the supervision of Professor David Baltimore, and his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. H. Robert Horvitz. He became a faculty member at Harvard University in 1984, moved to Dartmouth College in 1992, and joined the faculty at UMass Medical School in 2008. Dr. Ambros is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was named co-recipient of the 2008 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, with Dr. Gary B. Ruvkun and Dr. David C. Baulcombe, for his work on the discovery of microRNAs.

  • Michael R. Bristow, M.D., Ph.D., is currently a tenured Full Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at University of Colorado (CU) Denver School of Medicine and Cardiovascular Institute (CVI). He is the former Division Head of Cardiology at CU, and former co-Director of the CVI. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, a founding member of the Heart Failure Society of America, and a member of multiple professional societies and editorial boards.

    Dr. Bristow has authored over 400 peer-reviewed papers on heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, was instrumental in elucidating key molecular mechanisms underlying heart failure and the use of beta-blockers for its treatment, and is developing the first pharmacogenetically-targeted cardiovascular drug (bucindolol, Gencaro). Dr. Bristow has received many academic and industry honors, most recently the 2008 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Clinical Trial Exceptional Service Award for the development of carvedilol for heart failure and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 by the Heart Failure Society of America.

    Dr. Bristow is the Chairman and Chief Science and Medical Officer of ARCA biopharma, a company he founded in 2002 with the mission of developing genetically targeted therapies for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Bristow is also the principal Founder and former Chief Science and Medical Officer of Myogen, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company acquired by Gilead Sciences, Inc., in 2006. He completed his M.D and PhD (in Pharmacology) from the University of Illinois.

  • Stefanie Dimmeler, PhD., is miRagen’s Scientific Advisor. Her main scientific focus is the development of novel therapeutic strategies to improve neovascularization and cardiac repair, particularly by microRNA and cell therapy.

    Dr. Dimmeler received her undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Konstanz in Konstanz (Germany). She then completed a fellowship in Experimental Surgery at the University of Cologne and in Molecular Cardiology at the University of Frankfurt (Germany). She is Professor of Experimental Medicine (since 2001) and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Frankfurt since 2008.

    Dr. Dimmeler has received various awards including the Award of the German Heart Foundation in 1998, the Frankel-Award of the German Cardiac Society in 2000, the Alfried Krupp Award 2002, the Leibniz Award 2005, the Award of the Jung Foundation 2007 and the FEBS award 2006. She presented the prestigious George E. Brown Memorial Lecture at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in 2005 and the Basic Science Lecture of the European Society of Cardiology in 2006. Recently, she received the Science4life award and the GlaxoSmithKline Award. She is Chief Editor of EMBO Molecular Medicine and associated editor of Circulation Research and the European Heart Journal.

  • Dr. Molkentin performed his postdoctoral training with Dr. Eric Olson after receiving his Ph.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1994. In 1997, he began his first faculty appointment at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center of the University of Cincinnati, where today he is a Professor.

    Dr. Molkentin’s research program continues to focus on the identification of candidate genes and signaling pathways involved in cardiac hypertrophy, contractility, cell death, and heart failure.

    Dr. Molkentin has published over 300 original articles and is funded with multiple National Institute of Health awards. Dr. Molkentin was the recipient of the American Heart Association (AHA) Louis N. & Arnold M. Katz Award in Cardiovascular Medicine in 1999, and the AHA Basic Research Prize in 2012. Dr. Molkentin was also a Pew Scholar and is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

  • Eva van Rooij, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Hubrecht Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Her work currently focuses on unraveling the molecular signaling pathways relevant for cardiovascular biology.

    Dr. van Rooij attended University Hospital Maastricht in the Netherlands, where she received a Ph.D. at the department of Cardiology. She then went on to complete postdoctoral training in Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the lab of Dr. Eric Olson, where she served as lead scientist in the groundbreaking studies that linked microRNAs to cardiovascular disease. Her work subsequently became the foundation of miRagen’s patent estate on the therapeutic applications of microRNAs in human disease.

    Prior to joining miRagen’s Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. van Rooij was miRagen’s Senior Director of Biology, where she oversaw the pre-clinical studies for the company’s microRNA programs.
    Dr. van Rooij is a member of the Circulation Research editorial board and serves as an invited speaker at many major scientific conferences related both to cardiovascular and microRNA biology. She has received several scientific awards and has authored or co-authored approximately 40 research papers and 12 patents.

  • Frank Slack received his B.Sc. from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, before completing his Ph.D. in molecular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine. He started work on microRNAs as a postdoctoral fellow in Gary Ruvkun’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, where he co-discovered the second known microRNA, let-7 and the first human microRNA. He subsequent moved to the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University, where he was a program leader in the Yale Cancer Center, and the Director of the Yale Center for RNA Science and Medicine. There he discovered that microRNAs regulate key human oncogenes and have the potential to act as therapeutics. He also demonstrated the first role for a microRNA in the aging process. In 2014 he became Director of the Institute for RNA Medicine and a Professor of Pathology at BIDMC.

    Dr. Slack studies the roles and uses of microRNAs and their targets in development, disease and aging. He has been at the forefront of the small RNA revolution. He was in the team that discovered the first human microRNA, let-7 and subsequently showed that it is a tumor suppressor that controls key cancer genes, such as RAS, MYC and LIN28. They are developing let-7 and a second microRNA, miR-34 as novel cancer therapeutics with miR-34 already in Phase I clinical trials. They also proved that microRNAs act as key oncogenes and developed strategies to target these oncomiRs for cancer therapy. Their research also extends to discovery of additional novel small RNAs in development, cancer, aging and diabetes as well as identifying novel SNPs in the non-coding portions of the genome with an eye to identifying the next generation of actionable targets in cancer.

    Dr. Slack was an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar and received the 2014 Heath Memorial Award from MD Anderson Cancer Center.