Codiak BioSciences Names Jan Lötvall, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientist
Codiak BioSciences Inc., a leading company in the field of exosome biology, today announced the appointment of Jan Lötvall, M.D., Ph.D., as Chief Scientist. As a member of the executive leadership team, Dr. Lötvall will report to Douglas E. Williams, Ph.D., President and CEO, and will continue his pioneering research on the potential of exosomes for therapeutic uses. He will begin his new position this summer, working on a consulting basis during his relocation from Gothenburg, Sweden.
Dr. Lötvall joins Codiak from Göteborg University, Sweden, where he has served as professor of Allergy since 2002, and as chairman of the Krefting Research Centre. This month he also completed his term as the first elected President of the International Society of Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV), which he helped start in 2011.
“Jan’s research formed a key component of Codiak’s core science and he has been an active scientific advisor to the company since our founding in 2015,” said Dr. Williams. “We’re both fortunate and delighted to now be able to count him as a member of the Codiak management and R&D team.”
“I am exceptionally excited to join Codiak, as the company is whole-heartedly exploring the opportunities to develop exosomes as therapeutics,” said Dr. Lötvall. “This is also a natural next step for me to take, after having pursued a long career in understanding the basics of exosomes. These exciting vesicles have been observed to deliver much more advanced medication than any other type of biological, and have the potential to lead to exciting new medications targeting multiple aspects of complicated diseases.”
About Jan Lötvall
Dr. Lötvall is a specialist in Clinical Pharmacology as well as Clinical Allergy, and also has previous experience in General Surgery and Internal Medicine. He has over the last ten years been a pioneer in studies of the biological function of exosomes and other extracellular vesicles, and their natural ability of transferring RNA between cells. Dr. Lötvall published the first study documenting the ability of exosomes to send functional RNA into cells in 2007 in Nature Cell Biology. In 2013 he received the International Society for Extracellular Vesicles (ISEV) Special Achievement Award for this discovery and for his role in developing the ISEV community.
Dr. Lötvall was a fellow at the Department of Thoracic Medicine, Imperial College, London from 1988 to 1990, and a visiting professor in the Department of Respiratory Medicine, McMaster University, Canada from 1997 to 1998. He has published approximately 260 scientific papers and has been instrumental in starting two open access journals, including the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles as well as Clinical and Translational Allergy.
In addition to his recently completed term as president of the ISEV, Dr. Lötvall is a past-president of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and has received its Charles Blackley Award for the Promotion of the Specialty.
Exosomes are tiny membrane sacs, or vesicles, that are released by all cells. Virtually all bodily fluids contain exosomes, and it is estimated that there are 1,000 times more exosomes than cells in our bodies. For much of the three decades since their discovery, exosomes were thought to be waste receptacles, eliminating unwanted matter from cells. Exosomes are now known to be an ancient system of intercellular communication, through which they carry nucleic acids from cell to cell, and once inside the receiving cell change its biology. Moreover, exosomes do not randomly distribute; they appear to seek specific cellular targets, offering the potential to deliver diverse therapies to specific cells, modulating their function to achieve therapeutic benefit. Codiak BioSciences seeks to take advantage of the natural propensity of molecules to transmit nucleic acids between cells.
Codiak BioSciences, a world leader in the rapidly developing field of exosome biology, was founded in 2015 based on the groundbreaking research of Raghu Kalluri, Ph.D., professor and Chairman of the Department of Cancer Biology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, combined with foundational intellectual property developed by the VentureLabs innovation unit of Flagship Ventures, based on seminal research of Jan Lötvall, M.D. Ph.D., at the Department of Internal Medicine, and chairman of the Krefting Research Centre at University of Gothenburg in Sweden, now the Chief Scientist of Codiak. Codiak was founded by ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, Fidelity Management and Research Company, the Alaska Permanent Fund and Alexandria Venture Investments.