R. Jude Samulski, PhD

"When we first cloned AAV almost 40 years ago, I knew we were on to something that could change lives. Realizing the promise of gene therapy is now truly within our grasp."

R. Jude Samulski, PhD


Dr. Samulski received his PhD in Medical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Florida. His graduate work (1978–1982) demonstrated the first substrate for use of AAV as a viral vector and culminated in the first U.S. patent involving non-AAV genes inserted into AAV.

After completing his 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. In 1993, he co-founded an AAV-based gene therapy company called Merlin. This research group was headed by Xiao Xiao, PhD, and was the first to demonstrate AAV-mediated long-term gene transduction in muscle (J. Virology, 1996). This finding precipitated a merger of Merlin with Somatix Corp., which then merged in 1995 with Cell Genesys Inc.

In total, Dr. Samulski has worked with AAV for more than 40 years. He spent 25 years of those years as 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 Vice President, Gene Therapy to ensure the successful transition of Bamboo’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapeutic, which is now in pivotal trials. Dr. Samulski is a former member of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC), which assists the FDA with gene therapy clinical trial approvals in the U.S. He also frequently serves as a gene therapy consultant to the FDA. In 2008, Dr. Samulski was honored by the American Society of Cell and Gene Therapy with the inaugural Outstanding Achievement Award. He was also invited by Pope Francis to the Vatican in recognition for his work in the treatment of Canavan disease.

Dr. Samulski has advanced therapeutics into human clinical trials for hemophilia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, giant axonal neuropathy, Pompe disease, and heart failure. He holds more than 200 patents related to AAV technology.