Scientific Advisory Board

Jack W. Szostak, Ph.D., Chairman

Dr. Szostak (Co-Founder of Ra Pharma®) is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Szostak is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Szostak’s early research on the genetics and biochemistry of DNA recombination led to the double-strand-break repair model for meiotic recombination. Dr. Szostak also made fundamental contributions to our understanding of telomere structure and function, and the role of telomere maintenance in preventing cellular senescence. For this work, Dr. Szostak shared the 2006 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In the 1990s, Dr. Szostak and his colleagues developed in vitro selection as a tool for the isolation of functional RNA, DNA, and protein molecules from large pools of random sequences. His laboratory has used in vitro selection and directed evolution to isolate and characterize numerous nucleic acid sequences with specific ligand binding and catalytic properties. For this work, Dr. Szostak was awarded, along with Dr. Gerald Joyce, the 1994 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and the 1997 Sigrist Prize from the University of Bern. In 2000, Dr. Szostak was awarded the Medal of the Genetics Society of America, and in 2008 Dr. Szostak received the H.P. Heineken Prize in Biophysics and Biochemistry. Dr. Szostak has published over 200 scientific papers and has been awarded 15 US patents.

Anthony C. Forster, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Forster is currently Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. His current focus is protein synthesis, synthetic biology and drug discovery by peptidomimetic evolution. From 2005-2011, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN. Dr. Forster is a pioneer in the areas of catalytic RNA and in vitro translation with unnatural amino acids. He has published 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored multiple patents. Dr. Forster received a B.Sc. in Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, a B.Sc. (Honors) in Biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Adelaide, Australia. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Nobel laureate Sidney Altman at Yale and received an M.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School. He completed a residency in anatomical pathology followed by research as an Instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.