Founders

Sheila Mikhail, JD, MBA

CEO, President, Co-Founder

Sheila Mikhail co-founded and was the initial CEO of AskBio from 2002 through 2007. Ms. Mikhail left the company to become CEO of NanoCor Therapeutics, Inc. Most recently, Ms. Mikhail co-founded and was CEO of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc., which in 20 months raised $50 million, advanced a therapeutic for GAN into the clinic, completed Pre-IND studies for the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy therapeutic, and built a GMP manufacturing facility. Bamboo was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016.

Trained as a lawyer, Ms. Mikhail practiced law for over 15 years, including a law firm that she founded, Life Sciences Law, which serviced clients such as Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Sanofi, and Aventis. Ms. Mikhail also practiced with Ropes and Gray in Boston. Ms. Mikhail earned a JD, with honors, from Northwestern University; a finance MBA, with honors, from the University of Chicago; and a BS, with highest honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Richard Jude Samulski, PhD

Co-Founder

Dr. Samulski received his PhD in Medical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Florida. Dr. Samulski’s graduate work (1978-82) demonstrated the first use of AAV as a viral vector and culminated in the first US patent involving non-AAV genes inserted into AAV. After completing post-doctoral training at Princeton, Dr. Samulski was hired to provide his expertise in AAV biology as a member of the scientific advisory board of Avigen, a new AAV research company. Later, in 1993, Dr. Samulski co-founded an AAV-based gene therapy company called Merlin. This research group was headed by Dr. Xiao and was the first group to demonstrate AAV-mediated long-term gene transduction in muscle (J. Virology, 1996). This finding precipitated a merger of Merlin with Somatix, Inc., which then merged in 1995 with Cell Genesys. In total, Dr. Samulski has worked with AAV for 40 years, and for 25 years, was director of the University of North Carolina Gene Therapy Center. Dr. Samulski was the scientific founder of Bamboo Therapeutics, Inc. and served as the Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Chairman of the company until its acquisition by Pfizer in 2016. Upon its acquisition, Dr. Samulski joined Pfizer, as VP Gene Therapy, to ensure the successful transition of Bamboo’s Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy therapeutic. Dr. Samulski is a former member of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC), a committee tasked with assisting the FDA with approving or disapproving gene therapy clinical trials in the United States. Dr. Samulski also frequently serves as a gene therapy consultant to the FDA. In 2008, Dr. Samulski was recognized by the American Society of Cell and Gene Therapy with the Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for his work. Dr. Samulski has been invited by Pope Francis to attend the Vatican as recognition for his work in the treatment of Canavans. Dr. Samulski has advanced into human clinical trials therapeutics for hemophilia, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Giant Axonal Neuropathy, and heart failure. Dr. Samulski is the inventor of over 200 patents related to AAV technology.

Xiao Xiao, PhD

Co-Founder

Xiao received a B.S. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the Shanghai Medical University School of Pharmacy in 1982. He received a M.S. in biochemistry in 1985 from Wuhan University in China and a Ph.D. in biology in 1992 from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Xiao’s work on muscular dystrophy, especially the Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has received international recognition. His paper published in 2000 on gene therapy for DMD was broadly covered by the media, and his groundbreaking work has been developed into the first gene therapy phase I clinical trial for DMD in the United States. In 2005, his paper on systemic gene delivery for muscular dystrophy was recognized by the National Institutes for Health as a major scientific advancement and was selected as one of the 100 top scientific stories in 2005 by Discover magazine.

As an independent investigator, Dr. Xiao has published 137 peer-reviewed papers from 1998 to 2018. He is the inventor or co-inventor of twelve issued or pending U.S. patents and is also a member on a number of study sections at the National Institutes of Health.

Since 1998, Dr. Xiao’s lab has mainly focused on gene delivery to treat muscular dystrophy (including limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2I), metabolic diseases and nervous system diseases.