Plenary Speakers
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Drew Weissman, MD, PhD

George Stamatoyannopoulos Memorial Lecture

Dr. Weissman is a professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He received his graduate degrees from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Weissman, in collaboration with Dr. Katalin Karik√≥, discovered the ability of modified nucleosides in RNA to suppress activation of innate immune sensors and increase the translation of mRNA containing certain modified nucleosides. The nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine platform Dr. Weissman’s lab created is used in the first two approved COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They continue to develop other vaccines that induce potent antibody and T-cell responses with mRNA–based vaccines. Dr. Weissman’s lab also develops methods to replace genetically deficient proteins, edit the genome, and specifically target cells and organs with mRNA-LNPs, including lung, heart, brain, CD4+ cells, all T cells, and bone marrow stem cells.

Francis Collins, MD, PhD

Founders Award

Dr. Collins was appointed the 16th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. In 2017, President Donald Trump asked Dr. Collins to continue to serve as the NIH Director. President Joe Biden did the same in 2021. Dr. Collins is the only presidentially appointed NIH director to serve more than one administration. In this role, Dr. Collins oversaw the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Dr. Collins chose to end his tenure as NIH director and his last day was December 19, 2021.

Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008.

Dr. Collins is an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009. In 2020, he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (UK) and was also named the 50th winner of the Templeton Prize, which celebrates scientific and spiritual curiosity.

Kathy High, MD

Presidential Symposium

Dr. High joined AskBio in January 2021 as president, therapeutics and member of the AskBio Board of Directors. Dr. High is responsible for driving the strategic direction and execution of the company’s preclinical and clinical programs. Most recently, she was a visiting professor at Rockefeller University. Previously, she served as president, head of research and development, and a member of the Board of Directors at Spark Therapeutics, where she directed the development and regulatory approval of Luxturna®, the first gene therapy for genetic disease to obtain regulatory approval in both the United States and Europe. She was a longtime member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and medical staff at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She served a five-year term on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee on Cell, Tissue and Gene Therapies and is a past president of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy.

Dr. High received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University, an MD from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, a business certification from the University of North Carolina Business School’s Management Institute for Hospital Administrators, and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (London), and the National Academy of Sciences.

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