Vasant Jadhav, PhD.
SVP Head of RNAi Platform
How did you become interested in the field of oligonucleotides and who were your early mentors?
During undergrad, I was intrigued by the molecular machines and mechanisms behind secrets of life- replication, transcription, and translation. Understanding nature’s language and redirecting it for applied research seemed like super cool idea! To do so, I teamed up with fellow chemists and joined the renowned group in oligo space led by Dr. K. N. Ganesh at National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, India. This lab explored the interface of chemistry and biology to find new applications of synthetic oligonucleotides. In fact, many of my NCL alumni friends are very active in the OTS field at various companies.
During my post-doc, I got the opportunity to work with Prof. Mike Yarus at CU Boulder where I helped discover ribozymes that supported the RNA world hypothesis. With applied research in mind, I joined Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals which soon transitioned to Sirna Therapeutics in 2004. Sirna was then acquired by Merck in 2007 and in 2014, Sirna assets were acquired by Alnylam. Throughout my career, I have remained connected with this technology and have contributed to translate this revolutionary science to meaningful medicines.
Big admirer of the power of novel assays that have led to so many inventions. Examples include the monumental work on DNA/Protein sequencing Frederick Sanger and cool idea of PCR by Kary Mullis.
What is special about the type of research/work you’ve done?
- Coenzymes as coribozymes; Designs and chemical modifications of siRNA; Mechanistic understanding of siRNA safety and durability
- Co-lead of Merck GalNAc-conjugate program
- Co-inventor of advanced ESC, ESC+ designs, Reversir for precise control of RNAi pharmacology, Bis-RNAi, Delivery to extrahepatic tissues including CNS and eye, Covid-19 siRNA program
- Forever addicted to new ideas and innovative discoveries!
When did you become involved in OTS and why do you continue to support the society?
I became an OTS Member in 2012. I’m proud to be a member of the OTS community. OTS has created this wonderful mix of science driven by the purpose of making impactful medicines by learning from the secrets of nature. I am thankful for those who have shaped this community to what it has become today. I always look forward to spending a week with the OTS family during the annual meeting.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Hiking, biking, exploring new places and the game of badminton.
Any other fun facts/tidbits you would like us to know!
I love the beach and books. Some of my favorite books include – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner. I am currently reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova. During commute, love listening to podcasts- few favorites: Smartless, The Happiness Lab and First Rounders