Ying Tam, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer of Acuitas Therapeutics, Dr. Ying K. Tam, is a globally respected expert in the areas of nanotechnology and immunology. Acuitas Therapeutics works with high-profile international partners, providing its delivery technology (lipid nanoparticles) to enable new drugs based on nucleic acid therapeutics. These partnerships include BioNTech (which partners with Pfizer), CureVac and Imperial College London, where the Acuitas delivery technology is required to develop effective messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for COVID-19. (To understand more about these partnerships, mRNA and lipid nanoparticles, please see the Acuitas Therapeutics backgrounder.)
Dr. Tam obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Developmental and Molecular Biology from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, ON prior to his post-doctoral fellowship in cancer immunotherapy at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, BC. He has held several academic positions including Instructor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, IL, overseeing the translational stem cell transplant immunotherapy research program. Dr. Tam also serves as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Tam’s industry positions include Senior Scientist and Director of Preclinical Research at Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (formerly INEX Pharmaceuticals) and AlCana Technologies, respectively. At Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Tam led a program developing a lipid nanoparticle (LNP), nucleic acid-based immunostimulatory drug. Subsequently, Dr. Tam was a founding scientist at Acuitas Therapeutics in February 2009 and helped the company to become a global leader in the application of LNP technology for the delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics. This includes the development of the LNP carriers used in Onpattro™ and COMIRNATY®. Onpattro™ was developed in partnership with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and approved in 2018 in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of transthyretin amyloidosis. This is a rare and fatal condition characterized by an abnormal buildup of a protein called amyloid in the body’s organs and tissues. Onpattro™ represents the first RNA interference-based drug receiving regulatory approval for use in humans. Similarly, COMIRNATY®, developed in partnership with BioNTech and Pfizer and authorized in 2020, represents the first mRNA drug and the first COVID-19 vaccine receiving widespread authorization for human use.
Dr. Tam oversees the scientific program at Acuitas and has guided both internal research programs as well as external programs with partners and collaborators. Dr. Tam has authored more than 75 peer-reviewed studies, including several in high-impact journals such as Nature and Nature Biotechnology, and has contributed to grant applications to secure millions of dollars in grant funding.