Our Team

Leadership Team

Professor Nick Lench

 Portrait of Professor Nick Lench

Executive Director


Professor Nick Lench joined NATA as Executive Director in January 2022. Nick has over 25 years of academic, healthcare and commercial experience in medical genetics and genomics. He is an honorary Reader at the UCL Institute of Child Health, was awarded a personal Chair in Medical Genetics at Cardiff University in 2005, was a founding CEO of London Genetics Ltd and Programme Director at Oxagen Ltd.

Mark Cunningham

 Portrait of Mark Cunningham

Head of Operations 


Mark graduated from the University of Hertfordshire and started his career in recombinant protein expression & purification at start-up and biotech companies in England. In 1994, Mark moved to the United States where he contributed towards therapeutic monoclonal antibody development for the Janssen R&D arm of Johnson & Johnson. After a 20-year career with J&J as a scientific and operational leader, Mark moved back to the UK where he has recently joined NATA as Head of Operations.

Peter Oliver

 Portrait of Peter Oliver

Head of Biology


Pete comes to NATA with over 25 years’ experience in cell and molecular biology. After a degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Genetics, he led projects studying new models of neurological disorders at the University of Oxford, before becoming a group leader at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics in 2012 funded by an ERC Consolidator Award. His group’s work in rare disease modelling using the mouse resulted in a new position as an MRC Programme Leader at the MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit in 2017. Pete joined NATA in February 2022, bringing an understanding of multi-disciplinary approaches to translational science; from biochemistry and cell biology to the application of preclinical genetic tools. Pete remains a visiting academic member of the University of Oxford and is an active co-investigator in the MRC National Mouse Genetics Network.

Advisory Board

Paul Bolno (Chair)

 Portrait of Paul Bolno (Chair)

President and CEO, WaVe Life Sciences (US)


Dr. Bolno has served as President and CEO of Wave Life Sciences since 2013 and oversaw the company’s initial public offering in 2015. Prior to joining Wave, he was Vice President, Worldwide Business Development—Head of Asia BD and Investments, as well as Head of Global Neuroscience BD, at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). He also served as a Director of Glaxo Wellcome Manufacturing, Pte Ltd. in Singapore. Dr. Bolno joined GSK as Vice President, Business Development for the Oncology Business Unit, where he helped establish GSK’s global oncology business and served as a member of the Oncology Executive Team, Oncology Commercial Board and Cancer Research Executive Team. Prior to GSK, he served as Director of Research at Two River LLC, a healthcare private equity firm.

Shalini Andersson

 Portrait of Shalini Andersson

Chief Scientist of New Therapeutic Modalities and Head of Oligonucleotide Discovery, Astrazeneca (Sweden)


Dr. Shalini Andersson obtained a PhD in organic and analytical chemistry in 1989 from Linköping University. After a postdoc at the Institute for Pharmaceutical Chemistry in Münster, Germany, Shalini joined Linköping University as a Senior lecturer in Organic Analytical Chemistry and became an Associate Professor (Docent) in 1996. Shalini joined AstraZeneca in 1997 as a senior researcher, subsequently holding numerous management roles including Senior Director Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Head of Enabling Technologies and Head of Lead Optimization, Medicinal Chemistry. Shalini is currently Chief Scientist New Therapeutic Modalities and Head of Oligonucleotide Discovery, in AstraZeneca. Shalini is also a member of the joint steering committees for the collaborations with Moderna Therapeutics, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, MiNA Therapeutics and Silence Therapeutics on discovery and development of nucleic acid therapeutics.  Shalini is author of >50 papers and patents and serves on the board of OligoNucleotide Therapeutics Society and EU COST action on Delivery of Antisense RNA Therapeutics.

David Corey

 Portrait of David Corey

Professor, Department of Biochemistry, UT Southwestern (US)


Dr. David Corey received his B.A. degree in chemistry from Harvard University and his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of California Berkeley, working under the supervision of Dr. Peter Schultz to develop sequence specific engineering nucleases. Dr. Corey joined the UT Southwestern Pharmacology Department in 1992. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1998 and Full Professor in 2003. In 2014, he was named the Rusty Kelley Professor of Medical Sciences. He is also a member of the Department of Biochemistry and the Simmons Cancer Center. Dr. Corey is an Executive Editor for Nucleic Acids Research and is on the Editorial Board of Cancer Research, Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids, and Oligonucleotide Therapeutics. He is the author of more than 147 papers and has received funding from the Welch Foundation, NIH, the McKnight Award for Neuroscience Research, the American Heart Association, the Cure Huntington Disease Initiative, and the Freidreich's Ataxia Association.

Muthiah (Mano) Manoharan

 Portrait of Muthiah (Mano) Manoharan

Senior Vice President of Drug Innovation Chemistry, Alnylam (US)


Dr. Muthiah (Mano) Manoharan serves as a Senior Vice President and a Distinguished Research Scientist at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Dr. Manoharan joined Alnylam in 2003. He built the chemistry group at Alnylam and pioneered the discovery and development of RNA interference-based human therapeutics. Dr. Manoharan has had a distinguished career as a world-leading chemist in the areas of oligonucleotide chemical modifications, conjugation chemistry, and delivery platforms (lipid nanoparticles, polymer conjugates, and complex-forming strategies). He is an author of more than 200 publications (nearly 37,000 citations with an h-index of 85 and an i10-index of 329) and over 400 abstracts, as well as the inventor of over 225 issued U.S. patents.

Laura Sepp-Lorenzino

 Portrait of Laura Sepp-Lorenzino

Chief Scientific Officer, Intellia Therapeutics (US)


Dr. Laura Sepp-Lorenzino oversees all platform and pipeline research activities across in vivo and ex vivo (engineered cell therapy) areas as Intellia’s Chief Scientific Officer. Before joining Intellia, she was vice president, Head of Nucleic Acid Therapies, Research, and member of the External Innovation team at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. She also served as vice president, entrepreneur-in-residence at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leader in the development of RNAi Therapeutics. At Alnylam, she was responsible for the Hepatic Infectious Disease Strategic Therapeutic Area, championed extra hepatic siRNA delivery, and was active in licensing and partnering. She is a member of the board of directors of Taysha Gene Therapies, and serves on the scientific advisory boards of Thermo Fisher Scientific and Lodo Therapeutics.

John Shields

 Portrait of John Shields

Senior Advisor, Abingworth Investors (UK)


Prior to joining Abingworth he held positions at Cantab Pharmaceuticals as Senior Vice President, Research, the Glaxo Institute for Molecular Biology and the Institute of Child Health, UCL. In addition, John is on the boards of Adaptate Biotherapeutics and Microbiotica, and serves on numerous academic committees including the MRC Translational Research Group committee, the Biomedical Catalyst Major Awards Committee, Cancer Research UK CoLC Science Advisory Board, the Crick Institute Translation Advisory Group and the Sanger Centre Translational Committee. He has a PhD in Immunology from the University of Glasgow and has published more than 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals including Science.

Alison Smith

 Portrait of Alison Smith

Vice President, Portfolio and Technology Delivery, GSK


Dr. Alison Smith obtained her MChem from the University of Oxford and her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge working with Professor Sir David Klenerman to develop a novel combined scanning ion conductance and near field optical microscope for imaging of living cells.  She is currently Vice President, Portfolio and Technology Delivery at GSK and has 16 years of experience working within the pharmaceutical industry.  She has held a number of roles of increasing seniority at GSK leading projects and matrix teams working on development of small and large molecules as well as leading global departments focused on early product development and implementation of new technologies.  Prior to GSK, she worked in economic development consultancy evaluating UK central and local government funding programmes focussed on higher education, science and technology and local business sectors.   Dr Smith started her industrial career at Johnson Matthey as a materials scientist establishing new techniques for catalyst characterisation.  She is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and also currently a member of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) Technical Advisory Committee.

Sarah Tabrizi

 Portrait of Sarah Tabrizi

Professor of Clinical Neurology, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology (UK)


Sarah Tabrizi is Director of the UCL Huntington’s Disease (HD) Centre, Joint Head of Department Neurodegenerative Disease at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, a Principal Investigator at the UK Dementia Research Institute, and Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.  In addition to a basic bench science programme focussing on basic cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in HD that can be harnessed for therapeutics, she also leads a large translational research programme that is working towards finding effective disease-modifying treatments for HD. She was global clinical PI on the world’s first gene targeting study for HD using anti-sense oligonucleotide therapy. Sarah was elected as a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014. In 2017 she received the seventh Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science awarded by the Hereditary Disease Foundation. In 2018 she received the Cotzias Award from the Spanish Society of Neurology, and in 2019 the Yahr Award at the World Congress for Neurology and the Alexander Morison Medal from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Anne Willis

 Portrait of Anne Willis

Professor of Toxicology and MRC Toxicology Unit Director, University of Cambridge (UK)


Prof. Anne Willis obtained a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of London while working in the Imperial Cancer Research Fund laboratories (now CRUK) on DNA repair with Dr Tomas Lindahl.  She then moved to Cambridge to work with Professor Richard Perham in the Department of Biochemistry, where she also held a Junior Research Fellowship and then a College Lectureship at Churchill College Cambridge.  Anne was appointed to her first independent position as a Lecturer in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Leicester, progressing to Reader in 2002 and Professor in 2004, from 2000-2005 she held a BBSRC Advanced Fellowship. In 2004, she was appointed Director of Cancer Research Nottingham and Chair of Cancer Cell Biology, where she was based in the School of Pharmacy.  From 2009-2013 Anne held a BBSRC Professorial Fellowship. In 2010 Anne became Director of the MRC Toxicology Unit.  Anne was appointed as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation in 2015, and awarded an OBE for services to biomedical sciences and supporting the careers of women scientists.

Matthew Wood

 Portrait of Matthew Wood

Professor of Neuroscience | Deputy Head Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford (UK)


Matthew Wood is a world-leading translational scientist. He is currently Professor of Neuroscience and Deputy Head of the Medical Sciences Division at the University of Oxford and directs the Laboratory of RNA biology and Neuromuscular Disease. He is the Director of two Oxford research centres – the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre and the Oxford Harrington Rare Disease Centre, reflecting his work to develop gene-based/oligonucleotide therapies and delivery technologies targeting neuromuscular and neurological diseases. He is the co-founder of three spin-out companies and also serves on the Board of the University of Oxford technology transfer company, Oxford University Innovation (OUI).