Scientific Advisory Board

Eric N. Olson, Ph.D.


Chief Scientific Advisor and Co-Founder of miRagen Therapeutics; Chairman of miRagen’s Scientific Advisory Board; Professor and Chairman of Molecular Biology, The Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Science, Annie and Willie Nelson Professor in Stem Cell Research and Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

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.


Co-Founder, miRagen Therapeutics

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.

Victor R. Ambros, Ph.D.


Silverman Professor of Natural Sciences Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

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.


Co-Founder, miRagen Therapeutics; Professor of Medicine in Cardiology and Co-Director of the University of Colorado Cardiovascular Institute at UC Denver School of Medicine

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, Ph.D.


Professor of Experimental Medicine and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Frankfurt (Germany)

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.

Douglas L. Mann, M.D.


Lewin Professor and Chief of the Cardiovascular Division at Washington University School of Medicine; Cardiologist-in-Chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Dr. Mann is the Lewin Professor and Chief, Cardiovascular Division at Washington University School of Medicine and the Cardiologist-in-Chief, Barnes-Jewish Hospital. His research interests have focused on the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to cardiac decompensation, including the role that inflammatory mediators play in regulating cardiac structure and function.

Dr. Mann is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of University Cardiologists, the Heart Failure Society of America, the International Cytokine Society, the International Society for Heart Failure Research and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology as well as the American College of Chest Physicians. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Circulation, The Journal of Cardiac Failure, Heart and Vessels, Heart Failure Reviews, Heart Failure Monitor and Cardiology Today.

Dr. Mann has published numerous articles peer reviewed articles on the role on inflammatory mediators in heart failure, and the molecular and cellular basis for cardiac dysfunction and remodeling. He has received numerous awards including the Alfred Soffer Award for Editorial Excellence from the American College of Chest Physicians, the Michael E. Debakey award for Excellence in research.

Jeffery D. Molkentin, Ph.D.


Professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center of the University of Cincinnati and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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.


Scientific Co-Founder, miRagen Therapeutics; Associate Professor, Hubrecht Institute, KNAW and University Medical Center Utrecht

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, Ph.D.


Director, Institute for RNA Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School

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.