Future RNA Therapeutics Symposium

17 October 2022

Virtual meeting hosted by the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork


RNA-based drugs are a new class of biologics on the path to become a major platform in drug development. With the advent of SARS-CoV2 messenger RNA vaccines, therapeutic delivery of RNA using nanoparticles has been recognized as a safe and effective modality for regulating protein expression, which holds the potential to revolutionize vaccination, protein-replacement therapies, and the treatment of genetic diseases. This event will feature recent developments in the field of RNA therapeutics and opportunities for advancing this technology to the clinic.



Welcome and introduction


“Develop CRISPR-based tools for gene therapy and nucleic acids detection”, Prof. Hao Yin, Wuhan University, China


“Converging engineering, chemistry and immunology to create delivery molecules for better efficiency, tolerability and accessibility”, Prof. Omar Khan, University of Toronto, Canada


Break (10 min)


“mRNA therapeutics for treatment of liver fibrosis”, Dr. Patrick Baumhof, Curevac, Germany


“Lipid nanoparticles for RNA delivery: SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, chemistry, and beyond”, Prof. Kathryn Whitehead, Carnegie Mellon University, USA


Closing remarks


End of the symposium

About the speakers:


Kathryn A. Whitehead is a Professor in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering (courtesy) at Carnegie Mellon University. Her lab develops drug delivery systems for RNA, proteins, and applications in maternal and infant health. She obtained bachelor and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering (Univ. of Delaware; Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) before an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at MIT. Prof. Whitehead is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the DARPA Director’s Fellowship, and the ASEE Curtis W. McGraw Research Award. She has also received the Controlled Release Society’s Young Investigator Award and served on its Board of Directors. Prof. Whitehead is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the Controlled Release Society. In 2021, she gave a TED talk on the lipid nanoparticles (i.e., “fat balls”) used in the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. Her publications have been cited over 9,000 times, and her patents have been licensed and sublicensed for reagent and therapeutic use.

 Professor Omar F. Khan is the Canada Research Chair in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Immunology. He earned his B.A.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry from the University of Toronto, and his academic supervisor was Professor Michael V. Sefton. He later joined the laboratories of Professors Daniel G. Anderson and Robert Langer as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Khan was also the Scientific Founder and Chief Scientist of a Boston-area company spun out from his postdoctoral research, and an industry consultant in Chemistry, Manufacturing

His early work focused on the creation of three dimensional organoid models and engineered tissue substitutes. This work evolved to include the development of nucleic acid-based platform technologies and novel biomaterials to study the genetic mechanisms of diseases and create RNA-based therapies. Now, Professor Khan continues to create new regenerative medicine-enabling RNA technologies whilst training highly qualified personnel capable of addressing diverse local and global bioengineering needs. As an RNA nanotechnology expert, he is regularly featured in television, radio and print news. Outside of work, he loves swimming, and family time with his wife and two adorable babies. For more information visit  ofklab.com.


Hao Yin is a professor at the Medical Research Institute of Wuhan University. He obtained his PhD from School of Pharmacy at University of Colorado and finished his postdoc training at Robert Langer/Daniel Anderson lab of MIT. Since early 2018, he returned back to China and joined Wuhan University. His research focuses on gene editing and gene therapy. Recently, he has published as corresponding authors in Nature Methods, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Cell Biology and Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.


Patrick Baumhof, PhD, Senior Vice President Technology trained in Chemistry, at the University of Leipzig. His scientific expertise includes chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences and immunology. He joined CureVac in July 2007 when he was responsible for the development and preclinical testing of new formulations for mRNA vaccines and therapeutics. He is inventor of several patents and he co-authored several publications on mRNA technology. Currently he is Senior Vice President Technology at CureVac AG.

School of Pharmacy


Pharmacy Building Room UG06 University College Cork