Meet the speakers participating in the EFF Spring Summit 2021.
Daniel de Boer is the founding Chief Executive Officer of ProQR. When confronted with the diagnoses of his newborn son with cystic fibrosis, he decided to start ProQR to help patients like his son. He collected a group of experienced biotech entrepreneurs around him and in 2012 founded ProQR with co-founders Dinko Valerio, Gerard Platenburg and Henri A. Termeer. Daniel is an entrepreneur and passionate advocate for rare disease patients. Since founding ProQR he has assembled a group of successful biotech executives and built a team of a 150 experienced scientists and medicine developers, devoted to creating RNA therapies for patients in need. Under Daniel’s leadership ProQR has initiated clinical trials in multiple development programs for rare diseases. Before founding ProQR, Daniel was founder and Chief Executive Officer of RNA Systems, PC Basic and Running IT, companies he led through phases of growth, developing and launching several products in multiple European countries. In 2018 Daniel was named "Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year" by EY in the Netherlands.
Aniz Girach, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of ProQR. After having spent 11 years in academia, he joined the pharmaceutical industry with Eli Lilly, focusing on retinal diseases. He has in total 22 years industry experience in roles with Merck, as their Global Head of Ophthalmology, and Alcon, where he was Vice President of Clinical Development, and ThromboGenics (now Oxurion), where he was the Global Head of Ophthalmology/Chief Medical Officer.In addition to an Honorary Professorship at Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, USA, he was most recently the Chief Medical Officer at Nightstar Therapeutics, overseeing the development of gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases. He is a member of three Scientific Advisory Boards for international ophthalmic organizations currently, and reviewer for five peer-reviewed journals, including Eye and IOVS. He has edited four books and published over 100 abstracts/manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals in Ophthalmology.
Dr. Paul Yang is an assistant professor in ophthalmic genetics and immunology at the Casey Eye Institute (Oregon Health & Science University) where he specializes in patients with inherited retinal degenerations, autoimmune retinopathy, and gene therapy associated uveitis. He is a principal investigator and sub-investigator on numerous gene therapy and neuroprotection clinical trials for inherited retinal degenerations. Dr. Yang continues to conduct translational research in his lab with the goal of bringing new medical treatments to the clinic for patients with inherited retinal degenerations. Dr. Yang received doctorates in medicine and neurophysiology at Dartmouth Medical School, which was funded by an MD/PhD pre-doctoral award from the National Institutes of Health. He completed residency and fellowship in ophthalmology at the Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City, during which he first developed an interest in inflammatory eye diseases and degenerative retinal disorders. Thereafter, he pursued a fellowship in ocular immunology and uveitis at the Massachusetts Eye Research and Surgery Institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as a fellowship in ophthalmic genetics and inherited retinal degenerations at Casey Eye Institute in Portland, Oregon. He was funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) Clinical Research Fellowship Award, FFB Career Development Award, and NIH K08 to evaluate the effectiveness of mycophenolate as a neuroprotective agent in inherited retinal degenerations. For his pioneering work, he was awarded the 2015 ARVO/Alcon Early Career Clinician-Scientist Research Award.
Krista Vasi serves as executive director of the Usher Syndrome Coalition, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and accelerating research for Usher syndrome, the most common genetic cause of deafblindness. Krista has been with the Usher Syndrome Coalition since its inception in 2008. Since that time, she has led three main initiatives: forging relationships with researchers dedicated to Usher syndrome, identifying and strengthening the Usher community worldwide, and building an international registry exclusively for individuals with Usher syndrome.
Prior to joining the Usher Syndrome Coalition, she was Director of Operations for the Decibels Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children with hearing loss and their families. Krista received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her Master's Degree in Public Administration, with a focus on Nonprofit Management, from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.
Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India. He has lived in the United States since 1985. He is deaf-blind due to a rare and progressive genetic disorder, Usher Syndrome Type 2. He graduated from the University of Bombay with a master’s degree in Computer Science following which, he was a software. Engineer for 30 years. He worked in several companies the last of them being Liberty Finance, Oracle, and Mathworks. After retiring due to blindness, he volunteered for the Usher Syndrome Coalition and developed and launched the USH Trust.
He also obtained an MFA degree in Poetry and went on to publish his first book of poems, ‘I Am the Dancing’ in 2019. In 2020, he graduated with a certificate in Braille Literacy from the Hadley Institute for the Blind. He enjoys writing poetry, practicing Braille, and learning new gadgets and technologies.
Jennifer Pluim is the VP and head of Medical Affairs at ProQR Therapeutics. She is responsible for building strong Medical Affairs capabilities to help prepare ProQR for the successful launch of Sepofarsen, and all subsequent launches, with an emphasis on how to best serve patients and the medical community. Jennifer has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, with extensive knowledge in clinical operations, project management and medical affairs. Her experience spans several therapeutic areas, where she has been involved in developing the medical affairs strategy of therapeutic targets in infectious diseases, respiratory critical care, cardiovascular disease, oncology and ophthalmology. For 8 years prior to joining ProQR, she had a leadership role at Bayer in developing the medical strategy for the launch and lifecycle management of Eylea®- an anti-VEGF therapy for the treatment of retinal diseases. During her career, she has had the opportunity to work for both big pharma as well as start-up biotechnology companies, where she has built and led medical affairs operations and infrastructure, focusing on providing data to meet the needs of patients and healthcare practitioners.
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