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MANAGEMENT TEAM

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Randall N. Hyer, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Hyer has more than 15 years of experience in biotechnology with vaccines, biologics, and biosimilars. In November 2021, Dr. Hyer stepped down as Senior Vice President for Global Medical Affairs at Moderna where he worked on the FDA approval and launch of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Prior to Moderna, he headed Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at Dynavax, where he helped achieve approval of HEPLISAV-B, a new two-dose hepatitis B vaccine with a novel adjuvant. He left Moderna to launch MERNA Sciences and brings with him a wealth of development success.

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Nikhil Heble, Pharm.D, J.D.

President

Mr. Heble is a registered patent attorney who co-founded Thubrikar Aortic Valve, Inc., a Philadelphia-based medical device start-up, and a partner in a start-up company developing therapeutics for inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. He was also Senior Patent Counsel for a Fortune 500 consumer products company where he had global responsibility for developing and managing the patent portfolio and business interests of its largest business unit. He brings to MERNA extensive experience in business development, financing, product development and regulatory strategy, intellectual property-related issues, and board governance.

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Ju-Tao Guo, M.D. 

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Guo is Senior Vice President for Research and the W. Thomas London Professor at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute. He has been working on molecular virology and antiviral research of hepatitis viruses, flaviviruses and human coronaviruses for decades. Dr. Guo’s current research efforts are primarily focused on investigation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) cccDNA biology and identification of molecular targets for therapeutic elimination or inactivation of cccDNA to cure chronic hepatitis B. His previous work led to some of the first HBV capsid inhibitor and is co-inventor of MERNA’s hepatitis B and liver cancer technologies. Dr. Guo is one of the nation’s leading HBV virologists.

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Louis P. Kassa, III, M.P.A.

Chief Business Officer

Mr. Kassa is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Office of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, which is affiliated with the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and Hepatitis B Foundation. Since joining the Center in 2014, he has helped lead it to become one of the most successful life-sciences incubators in the nation, which involves identifying and cultivating new entrepreneur prospects. In addition, he oversees daily operations, finance, business development, and compliance. Mr. Kassa was named “The Best 10 COO’s in 2020” by Industry Era, a global technology media outlet  In July 2022, he will be appointed President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center.  

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Ian Henrich, Ph.D 

Vice President, Oncology

Dr. Henrich is the co-inventor of USP6 mRNA technology and a co-founder of MERNA Sciences. He completed his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Chou where he authored the first publications describing the unique anti-tumor properties of USP6. He continued his research as a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Chou’s lab to parlay his thesis into a cancer therapeutic and has joined MERNA to spearhead the commercialization of USP6 and lead the discovery and development of additional oncology assets.