Dr. Kah-Whye Peng and Dr. Stephen Russell

Dr. Kah-Whye Peng and Dr. Stephen Russell

Professor of oncology, Mayo Clinic; co-founder/CTO, Vyriad; Co-founder/COO and Professor of medicine, Mayo Clinic; co-founder/CEO

Imanis Life Sciences and Vyriad and Imanis

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When Mayo Clinic recruited Dr. Stephen Russell in 1998 to establish a new gene therapy program, he had one condition: that he could assemble his own team, which would include his former Ph.D. supervisee at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Kah-Whye Peng. In the two-plus decades since, the pair have worked closely at Mayo, building out a program focused on engineering viruses for cancer therapy and on teaching. In 2013, Mayo began allowing its employees to launch businesses. The pair quickly founded Imanis Life Sciences to sell lentiviral vectors, antibodies, plasmids research services, and more. Rochester-based Vyriad followed in 2015; its goal: to pioneer viruses for cancer therapy. In 2019, Vyriad closed a partnership with biotech company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Russell and Peng are currently seeking investors to carry Vyriad through an IPO.