Interview with Melissa Moore
Chief Scientific Officer of Moderna
In March 2022, we spoke to Melissa and asked her about emerging technologies that excite her within the RNA, what to expect from Moderna in the next few years and why she decided to join RNA Leaders.
Melissa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your focus within RNA?
Yes. I'm Melissa More, and I'm the Chief Scientific Officer of Moderna, and I run Scientific Affairs, which is involved in communicating our science to the public and also industry folks and other stakeholders. I came to Moderna after a long academic career. I was a professor for 23 years, first at Brandeis University and then at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where I'm an expert on RNA and working with messenger RNA and the means by which messenger RNA is made and then utilized to make proteins.
Fantastic. And which emerging technologies most excite you currently within the RNA?
Well, of course, as the CSO of Moderna, I'm very excited about messenger RNA. But the thing that's really exciting about RNA is that it has been an under-explored space compared to the protein space. And so, there are so many exciting things here at the meeting. We've got talks on long non-coding RNAs. There are other talks, of course, on small RNAs. I think another area is other non-coding RNAs, like tRNAs and RNA editing. So, there are just so many different possibilities. It'll be fascinating over the next several years to see which of those technologies and which of those areas really are able to utilize to make therapeutics.
So why did you decide to be a part of the launch of RNA leaders here in Basel?
I decided to be a part of RNA leaders here in Basel because I was invited to give the keynote lecture. And when I saw some of the other speakers that have been invited, I felt that this would be a really great place to connect with a network with my peers. So that's why I'm here.
You mentioned a few of those talks that are going on throughout the events over the next couple of days, but which areas of the RNA leader’s agenda, aside from your fantastic keynote talk this morning, most interest you and why?
I'm very interested in new delivery technologies for RNAs because that is the challenge that we have in terms of getting into other tissues. And so, it's all about delivery, delivery, delivery.
My next question was what do you see is the biggest challenge facing the RNAi field currently? Outside of science; are there any other challenges you see the field facing?
Well, I think one of the challenges that the field faces, in addition to how best to deliver our molecules to where we want them to go, is in educating the public about this exciting technology and educating them about the fact that RNA is already in their body. It's not something foreign to them. Now that we've learned to speak the language of the human body, we can use that knowledge to create new, what I call language-based medicines, based on instructing the human body to do what we need it to do.
“It'll be fascinating over the next several years to see which areas and technologies really are able to be utilised to make RNA therapeutics”
A large part of that is down to Moderna and the other vaccines that came about. But what can we expect to be hearing from Moderna in the next few months and years?
So Moderna has lots of exciting things going on. There are many, many vaccines that we're working on and also therapeutics for rare diseases for Immuno oncology. We've got many things in clinical trials. I fully expect that there will be lots of clinical trial data coming out shortly. So, at this meeting next year, I think that one of the things that would be really exciting is to see more and more clinical data being presented.
Join us for the second year of RNA Leaders Europe in 2023. You’ll have the chance to learn about the latest, discovery, clinical, manufacturing and commercially viable developments across mRNA, RNAi, and ASOs therapeutics and next-generation RNA Vaccines. Tickets on sale