Leading the Revolution in Treating Genetic Lung Diseases
Spirovant is focused on changing the course of cystic fibrosis and other pulmonary diseases. Our gene therapy technologies are designed to overcome the historical barriers that have prevented effective genetic treatments for cystic fibrosis.
Joan Lau, PhD, MBA
Joan Lau is Chief Executive Officer of Spirovant, responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the gene therapy company. She delivers more than 20 years of biopharma leadership experience, including as CEO for several venture-capital-backed biotech companies. Dr. Lau co-founded Spirovant (then called Talee Bio), envisioning the potential for advanced gene therapy to treat cystic fibrosis and other patients in need. Within a few years under Dr. Lau’s leadership, Spirovant gained the prestigious scientific support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was acquired twice (in one year), most recently by Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma.
Previously, Dr. Lau co-founded and served as Managing Partner of Militia Hill Ventures, focused on building and growing high quality life sciences companies. Dr. Lau also has served as President and CEO of Azelon Pharmaceuticals, a venture-backed clinical stage company; President and CEO of Locus Pharmaceuticals, a computational chemistry discovery company; and in various leadership roles at Merck, including roles in R&D drug development and business development.
In addition, Dr. Lau is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves on several boards including the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and the Roy & Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences Management, and she co-founded the nonprofit PhillyBio, an organization focused on fostering relationships across Philadelphia-based biopharma.
Dr. Lau earned her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and her BS in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Eric Yuen, MD
Eric Yuen is the Chief Medical Officer of Spirovant and a clinical development physician with over 20 years of experience in academia and industry. During his career, Dr. Yuen has developed numerous biologics and small molecule therapeutics for a variety of diseases, including rare genetic diseases and neurology, psychiatry, pain and oncology disorders. Dr. Yuen has led departments responsible for Phase I-IV development and submissions of numerous INDs, CTAs, NDAs and MAAs.
Dr. Yuen was the Director of Clinical Research at Merck & Co., working on CNS and pain indications, and later Vice President of Clinical Development at Johnson & Johnson. While at Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Yuen served as the therapeutic area head for CNS and the head of clinical development at a monoclonal antibodies and vaccines joint venture between Johnson & Johnson and Elan. He later served as CMO of Ultragenyx, a start-up company focused on rare genetic diseases, as VP Clinical Development at BioClin Therapeutics, a start-up focused on the rare genetic disorder achondroplasia (dwarfism) and bladder cancer, and was CMO and co-founder of Talee Bio.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Yuen was an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Washington where he conducted clinical research in rare disorders such as ALS and muscular dystrophies. He received his BA from Stanford University, MD from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, and completed his neurology residency at UCSF and his post-doctoral fellowship at UCSF studying neurotrophic factor signaling.
Roland Kolbeck, PhD
Dr. Roland Kolbeck is Chief Scientific Officer of Spirovant and is responsible for leading the company’s research efforts and for identifying future gene therapy assets to build the pipeline. He delivers more than 20 years of research and executive leadership experience, specializing in respiratory sciences. Previously Dr. Kolbeck held executive roles of increasing responsibility and leadership at MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics organization. Most recently, he served as Vice President, Head of Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmune research (RIA), RIA Research Committee Chair and a member of the MedImmune Research Leadership Team as well as the Early Stage Portfolio Committee. During his tenure there, he set the scientific vision for more than 80 scientists; led development of FASENRA®, AstraZeneca’s first biological for the treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma; and contributed to the spinout of six pre/clinical-stage autoimmune assets. Prior to that, he held senior scientific roles at Peptimmune and Millennium Pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Kolbeck also serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University. He earned a PhD from the University of Regensburg and Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Munich.
Hope D’Oyley-Gay, JD
Hope D’Oyley-Gay is General Counsel and Vice President of Administration at Spirovant. She was formerly Counsel at Reed Smith, LLC, where she represented biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in a variety of strategic collaborations. Ms. D’Oyley-Gay was also an Executive-In-Residence at Militia Hill Ventures, a business focused on building and growing high quality life sciences companies. Prior to her roles at Reed Smith and Militia Hill Ventures, she was Vice President and Associate General Counsel at GlaxoSmithKline, where she supported Worldwide Business Development on numerous strategic collaborations, including licenses, divestments, joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions.
Ms. D’Oyley-Gay earned her JD at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and her BS in Economics from the University of Delaware.
Scientific Advisory Board
Beverly L. Davidson, PhD
Dr. Davidson is the Chief Scientific Strategy Officer of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Director of the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics and the Arthur V. Meigs Chair in Pediatrics at CHOP. She is also a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Davidson serves on the board of directors for the American Society for Gene Therapy and was Associate Director for the Center of Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Diseases at the University of Iowa. Dr. Davidson also serves on the scientific advisory board for the NCL Foundation, Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovative and Translational Science Core Facilities, and the Hereditary Disease Foundation, and has served on the editorial boards for Gene Therapy, Molecular Therapy and EMBO Reports. Dr. Davidson received her PhD from the University of Michigan, where she was also a post-doctoral research fellow.
Paul B. McCray, Jr, MD
Dr. McCray is a pediatric pulmonologist and Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology, and Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa. He is the Executive Vice Chair in the Department of Pediatrics, Associate Director of the Center for Gene Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis, and the Roy J. Carver Chair in Pulmonary Research. Dr. McCray’s research interests include cystic fibrosis, airway epithelial biology, and pulmonary innate immunity. Dr. McCray also focuses on integrating vector systems for the treatment of inherited diseases, including gene transfer to airway epithelia for cystic fibrosis. A goal of his laboratory program has been to better understand the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis as a path to new treatments. Dr. McCray earned his BA in biology from St. Olaf College. He completed his MD, pediatric residency, and pediatric pulmonary fellowship at the University of Iowa. He practiced pediatric pulmonology at Children’s Hospital of Oakland and performed research at CHO Research Institute, where he collaborated with investigators at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.
John F. Engelhardt, PhD
Dr. Engelhardt is Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Internal Medicine and the Roy J. Carver Chair in Molecular Medicine, Chair Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Director of the Center for Cystic Fibrosis and other Genetic Diseases at the University of Iowa. Dr. Engelhardt’s research focuses on the molecular basis of inherited and environmentally induced diseases and using gene therapy to treat those diseases. Dr. Engelhardt received a BS in biochemistry from Iowa State University and a PhD in human genetics from Johns Hopkins University.
Michael Welsh, MD
Dr. Welsh is the Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Internal Medicine, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Neurosurgery at the University of Iowa. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator since 1989 and is director of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Center and the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute at the University of Iowa. Dr. Welsh served as president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and president of the Association of American Physicians. He received the second annual Distinguished Mentor Award presented by the Carver College of Medicine. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Welsh’s clinical activities center on pulmonary diseases, and his research focuses on the biology, pathogenesis and treatment of cystic fibrosis. Dr. Welsh received his MD at the University of Iowa and trained in pulmonary medicine and research at the University of California at San Francisco and the University of Texas at Houston.
Joseph Zabner, MD
Dr. Zabner is Professor of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine at the University of Iowa and Director, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine and Vice Chair for Translational Research at the University of Iowa. Dr. Zabner’s research focuses on gene transfer to airway epithelia to develop gene therapy for cystic fibrosis and fluid composition of the airway surface liquid and its effects on innate immunity. Dr. Zabner’s clinical focus is on cystic fibrosis and non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. Dr. Zabner received his MD from the Universidad Central del Venezuela.