Driven by passion

We are relentlessly focused on bringing gene therapies to those with rare and life-threatening neurological genetic diseases.

    • Dr. David Lennon, President




      Dr. Lennon's past success:

      • Within Novartis Oncology, Dr. Lennon served as General Manager, Japan overseeing Novartis’ extensive portfolio in cancer, including hematology, solid tumors and cell and gene therapies. Prior to his role in Japan, he served as VP, US Solid Tumors Franchise.
      • Prior to Oncology, Dr. Lennon served in the Pharmaceuticals division, where he held leadership positions in roles of increasing responsibility, including global therapeutic head positions and sales & marketing operating roles in US. He has extensive experience in neuroscience, immunology, cardiovascular and rare diseases, and in his last role, served as Chief Marketing Officer, Greater China Region.
      • Dr. Lennon previously worked as an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company in New York.

      Dr. Lennon holds a B.A. in Biophysics from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Weill Medical College at Cornell University.

    • Michael B. Johannesen, SVP



      Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer

      Mr. Johannesen's past success:

      • He served as Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Hospira, where he was responsible for the commercial and compliance functions of Hospira’s legal department.
      • Prior to Hospira, Mr. Johannesen also worked as an attorney in the legal departments of Abbott Laboratories and Whirlpool Corporation.
      • Mr. Johannesen began his legal career at Winston & Strawn in Chicago.

      Mr. Johannesen earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Michigan Law School and holds a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration from the University of Illinois.

    • Brian K. Kaspar, PH.D.

      Dr. Brian K. Kaspar,

      Brian K. Kaspar, PH.D.

      Chief Scientific Officer
      Board of Directors Member

      Dr. Kaspar's past success:

      • Since August 2004, he's served as a principal investigator in the Center for Gene Therapy at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where his research focuses on basic and translational studies related to neurological and neuromuscular disorders.
      • Dr. Brian Kaspar was named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.
      • He's published more than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals.

      Dr. Kaspar earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Kaspar has also done post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

    • Andrew Knudten, SVP

      Andrew Knudten,

      Andrew Knudten

      Senior Vice President, Technical Operations and Chief Technical Officer

      Mr. Knudten's past success:

      • As Vice President of Operations and Vice President of API Operations at Hospira Inc., Mr. Knudten had overall global responsibility for the company's API business.
      • He served as Global Head of Contract Manufacturing and Strategy for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc.
      • Mr. Knudten also held the position of Vice President of Manufacturing at CoDa Therapeutics Inc.
      • From 1994 to 2007, he took on various research, product development, finance and operations roles at Amgen Inc.—supporting the development of numerous pipeline products and more than five eventual commercial products now being marketed by Amgen.

      Mr. Knudten holds a B.S. in biology and health from Concordia University, an M.S. in cell biology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an M.B.A. from the Anderson School at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    • Dr. James J. L'Italien

      Dr. James J. L’Italien,

      James J. L’Italien, PH.D.

      Senior Vice President, Chief Regulatory and Quality Officer

      Dr. L’Italien's past success:

      • As Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for InterMune Inc., Dr. L’Italien oversaw all global regulatory affairs and quality assurance activities in support of the company's commercial- and development-stage pharmaceutical programs—including the regulatory process for Esbriet®, which was granted a breakthrough designation by the FDA.
      • As Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance for the Geron Corporation, Dr. L’Italien supported development-stage programs in oncology and stem cell therapy.
      • He served as Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance at Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
      • Dr. L’Italien also held the global position of Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

      Dr. L’Italien earned a B.S. in chemistry from Merrimack College and his Ph.D. in protein biochemistry from Boston University.

    • Rick Modi, CBO

      Rick Modi,


      Senior Vice President, Chief Business Officer

      Mr. Modi's past success:

      • He brings more than 15 years of commercial, business, and corporate experience to the position, including pre-launch preparation and global product launch experience in rare disease settings.
      • Prior to AveXis, Mr. Modi held positions of increasing responsibilities in sales, marketing, access and corporate strategy at Centocor (Johnson & Johnson), Medimmune (AstraZeneca) and InterMune (Roche), where he played leadership roles in product launches in multiple different rare disease indications.
      • Most recently, Mr. Modi served as Chief Business Officer at Catabasis Pharmaceuticals.
      • Mr. Modi earned a BS degree in Pharmacy from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the Wharton School.
    • Lori J. Smith, SVP

      LORI J. SMITH,


      Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

      Ms. Smith’s past success:

      • Ms. Smith’s career has been focused in the human resources space across the pharmaceutical industry. She most recently served as an independent business consultant.
      • From 1999 to 2007, Ms. Smith held a number of senior management positions at Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, including: Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Administration; Vice President, Human Resources and Administration; and Director, Human Resources.
      • Prior to Takeda, Ms. Smith served as Director of Human Resources across several functions at Abbott Laboratories, and has served as the Vice President of Human Resources at Gateway, the third largest PC company in the U.S. at the time.

      Ms. Smith earned a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin.