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Moderna, Inc.
Traded as
IndustryBiotechnology research and development
FoundedSeptember 2010; 9 years ago (2010-09) (as ModeRNA Therapeutics)
FoundersStéphane Bancel
Noubar Afeyan
Robert Langer
Kenneth Chien
HeadquartersCambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Key people
Stéphane Bancel (CEO)[1]
Number of employees

Moderna, Inc. is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company that is focused on drug discovery and drug development based on messenger RNA (mRNA).[2] The company creates synthetic mRNA that can be injected into patients to help them create their own therapies.


Moderna was founded in 2010 under the name, "ModeRNA".[3] It was based on Harvard University research by Derrick Rossi, who had developed a method for modifying mRNA, transfecting it into human cells, "dedifferentiating" mRNA into stem cells, which then differentiated into the desired cell types.[4] Rossi approached fellow Harvard faculty member, Tim Springer – who had founded a company before – Kenneth R. Chien, and Bob Langer as cofounders, followed by a meeting with Noubar Afeyan, CEO of Flagship Ventures, to capitalize the new company.[4][5] After further validating experiments, the company began operations led by Stéphane Bancel as CEO in 2011.[4]

In March 2013, Moderna and AstraZeneca signed a five-year exclusive option agreement to discover, develop and commercialize mRNA therapeutics for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases, and selected targets for cancer.[6][7] The agreement included a $240 million upfront payment to Moderna, a payment that was "one of the largest ever initial payments in a pharmaceutical industry licensing deal that does not involve a drug already being tested in clinical trials."[6]

In January 2014, Moderna and Alexion Pharmaceuticals entered a $125 million deal for orphan diseases. Alexion paid Moderna $100 million for 10 product options to develop rare-disease drugs using Moderna's mRNA Therapeutics platform.[8]

In January 2016, Moderna announced the start of a Phase 1 clinical study in Europe for mRNA 1440 and filed an IND with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for development of mRNA vaccines against infectious diseases.[9]

Executive leadership[edit]

As of 2013, Moderna was led by Stéphane Bancel as its president and chief executive officer (CEO); he had previously led bioMérieux as CEO, and before that had been an executive at Eli Lilly.[1] Less than six months after Flagship Ventures infused funding into Moderna, Bancel joined the venture capital firm as a senior partner; he concurrently served as the executive chairman of BG Medicine.[1]


The Moderna platform develops mRNA therapeutic candidates which are delivered in liposomes, using mRNA with modified uridine nucleosides to improve folding and translation efficiency, and mRNA drug candidates targeted to specific cell types.[10]

2020 vaccine development[edit]

In January 2020, Moderna announced development of a vaccine to inhibit COVID-19 coronavirus, in competition with other biotechnology companies, such as Gilead Sciences, Vaxart, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and Novavax.[11][12][13] In March 2020, the Phase I human study of the vaccine candidate began in partnership with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alspach, Kyle (May 22, 2013). "Moderna CEO Bancel joins Flagship Ventures as senior partner". Boston Business Journal (Blog). American City Business Journals. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Catherine Shaffer (December 6, 2013). "Moderna Makes Entrance with $40M Round for mRNA Work". BioWorld. Retrieved Dec 11, 2013.
  3. ^ Erin Kutz (4 October 2010). "ModeRNA, Stealth Startup Backed By Flagship, Unveils New Way to Make Stem Cells". Xconomy.
  4. ^ a b c Gregory Huang (December 6, 2012). "Moderna, $40M in Tow, Hopes to Reinvent Biotech with "Make Your Own Drug"". Xconomy.
  5. ^ Catherine Elton (March 2013). "The NEXT Next Big Thing". Boston Magazine. Retrieved Dec 11, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Andrew Pollack (March 21, 2013). "AstraZeneca Makes a Bet on an Untested Technique". The New York Times. Retrieved Dec 11, 2013.
  7. ^ Robert Weisman (March 21, 2013). "Moderna in line for $240m licensing deal". The Boston Globe. Retrieved Dec 11, 2013.
  8. ^ Chris Reidy (January 13, 2014). "Alexion, Moderna announce agreement to develop messenger RNA therapeutics". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  9. ^ Mark Terry (January 12, 2016). "Booming Moderna Eyes Six Human Trials in 2016, Inks Deals with AstraZeneca PLC (AZN), Merck & Co. (MRK) and Signed Huge Lease in Cambridge for R&D Growth". Biospace. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Servick, Kelly (1 February 2017). "This mysterious $2 billion biotech is revealing the secrets behind its new drugs and vaccines". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aal0686.
  11. ^ Julie Steenhuysen, Kate Kelland (2020-01-24). "With Wuhan virus genetic code in hand, scientists begin work on a vaccine". Reuters. Retrieved 2020-01-26.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ Karen Carey (February 26, 2020). "Increasing number of biopharma drugs target COVID-19 as virus spreads". BioWorld. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  13. ^ Gwen Everett (February 27, 2020). "These 5 drug developers have jumped this week on hopes they can provide a coronavirus treatment". Markets Insider. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  14. ^ "NIH clinical trial of investigational vaccine for COVID-19 begins". National Institutes of Health (NIH). 16 March 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2020.

Further reading[edit]

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