Moderna Appoints Oncology Leader Dr. Stephen Kelsey as President of Onkaido

July 1, 2014

Former Genentech executive to lead Moderna’s first venture company, focused exclusively in novel biology for oncology drug development

Moderna Therapeutics, the pioneer in developing messenger RNA (mRNA) TherapeuticsTM, a revolutionary treatment modality to enable the in vivo production of therapeutic proteins, announced today that Stephen Kelsey, M.D., will become president of Onkaido Therapeutics, Moderna’s oncology drug development company, effective July 21. Launched in January of this year, Onkaido is Moderna’s first venture company, focused exclusively on developing and commercializing mRNA-based oncology treatments.

“As we continue to grow Moderna and perfect our mRNA Therapeutics platform, we are also focused on building a transformational oncology company that will benefit patients and society. This requires hiring the best oncology talent to lead Onkaido,” said Stéphane Bancel, president and founding chief executive officer, Moderna. “Steve brings a wealth of experience in oncology drug development to his new role. His knowledge and leadership, combined with the team of Onkaido scientists and Moderna’s innovative mRNA technology, will help speed a new class of cancer drugs to patients around the world.”

Dr. Kelsey has extensive pharmaceutical industry experience in oncology. After 16 years as an academic clinician, he started his industry career at Sugen, and later was vice president of hematology/oncology at Genentech. While at Genentech, Dr. Kelsey played a significant role in the development of key products Perjeta®, Kadcyla® and Erivedge®, as well as other molecules in the company’s oncology portfolio. He left Genentech in 2009 to run Geron’s oncology division, where he served for four years as executive vice president, research and development, and chief medical officer helping to develop therapeutics and vaccines to fight cancer.

Most recently Dr. Kelsey was senior vice president, new projects at the cancer therapies company Medivation. Dr. Kelsey graduated with a Doctorate of Medicine (M.D.) from the University of Birmingham, UK and is a fellow of both the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Pathologists, UK.

For his new role as President of Onkaido, Dr. Kelsey will relocate to Cambridge from San Francisco.

“It is a huge privilege to be invited to lead Onkaido,” said Dr. Kelsey. “Moderna’s mRNA platform holds great potential for many therapeutic areas but especially for oncology, a field with many targets still undiscovered. With mRNA Therapeutics, we have the opportunity to rapidly develop new cancer therapies that address unmet medical needs currently untreatable by existing approaches.”

For more information on Onkaido Therapeutics, please visit For more information on Moderna Therapeutics please visit

About Onkaido Therapeutics 

Onkaido Therapeutics, a venture company formed, funded and wholly-owned by Moderna, is focused exclusively on the advancement of oncology products for previously undruggable targets and as a superior alternative to existing drug modalities. Leveraging Moderna’s messenger RNA TherapeuticsTM platform, an entirely new in vivo drug modality that produces human proteins or antibodies inside patient cells, Onkaido plans to rapidly turn scientific innovation into cancer therapies that can make a real difference for patients.

About Moderna Therapeutics

Moderna is pioneering messenger RNA Therapeutics™, an entirely new in vivo drug modality that produces human proteins or antibodies inside patient cells, which are in turn secreted or active intracellularly. This breakthrough platform addresses currently undruggable targets and offers a superior alternative to existing drug modalities for a wide range of disease conditions. Moderna has developed a broad intellectual property estate, including more than 320 patent applications covering novel nucleotide chemistries and drug compositions. The company plans to develop and commercialize its innovative mRNA drugs through a combination of strategic relationships as well as new formed ventures, like Onkaido LLC, its oncology Drug Development Company. Founded by Flagship VentureLabs, Cambridge-based Moderna is privately held and currently has strategic agreements with AstraZeneca and Alexion Pharmaceuticals.



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