More good news! This month we welcome a new board member to FAST: Mike Hanrahan. Mike and his wife, Jo, have been vital and beloved members of the AS community for years. We are thrilled and privileged that Mike will be bringing to FAST his peerless experience in the world of business and entrepreneurship, as well as energy for and optimism about the future for AS therapeutics. For a bit more about Mike, please read below, and help me give him a very warm welcome!
Q: Welcome to the board, Mike! This is a new role, but you’re not new to the AS community and its work. Can you tell us a bit about when you first got involved, and what forms that engagement has taken?
A: Thanks, Alana. I am very excited to be joining the board at such an exciting time for the AS community. My first, very minor involvement goes back more than 10 years at this point, when I was an enthusiastic participant in the Vivint competition on Facebook. I spent weeks cajoling family members, friends and co workers to get onto Facebook everyday, and ultimately we were successful — which was a huge win for the community at the time. More recently, I feel very privileged to have been able to serve on the board of the FAST majority-owned Genetx Biotherapeutics company that did such amazing work in getting the GTX-102 ASO to human trials.
Q: How do you envision contributing to FAST at this moment in its evolution? Are there any areas you see yourself focusing on, or especially interested in?
A: My background and experience definitely lend themselves to working with the various companies and funds out there who are trying to establish paths to trials or market for therapeutics. In addition to any commercial agreements, it’s going to be important to ensure these companies put their AS therapeutics first and that they are motivated and incentivized in the right ways to get their work done as quickly as possible (something FAST has always excelled at!) In addition to that, I would love to explore ways we can bring additional researchers into the world of Angelman syndrome. Finally, I have a love of all things science, so I fully expect to be spending a lot of time emailing random articles to Allyson (FAST’s Chief Science Officer) on some topic I read and misunderstood on the internet 😊.
Q: I think a lot about where we will be in five years. Without speculating too much (or at all!), what hopes do you have for the future?
A: I am an incredibly optimistic person, and I put a lot of stock in the saying that humans “overestimate what they can do in 2 years, but underestimate what they can do in 5 years.” If you look at all the changes in AS research over the last 5 years and project that forward, it’s hard not to think that we won’t have at least one or two effective non-gene therapy therapeutics and a couple of “one and done” gene therapies. However, to achieve this there is an incredible amount of work and science still to do, and we are going to need a lot of funding to get there. Even once we are there, our work won’t be done as there will always be more we can do around patient access, cost, improving efficacy etc. So while we are racing towards incredible breakthroughs, we should think of this as a forever project — as we will always be able to do better and improve.