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BME alumnus Ash Jayagopal named Chief Scientific Officer of Opus Genetics


Opus Genetics, a patient-focused gene therapy company developing treatments for orphan inherited retinal diseases, has announced a key appointment to its founding executive team. Ash Jayagopal has joined the company as Chief Scientific Officer.

Ash Jayagopal

Jayagopal, BE’03, MS’05, PhD’08, is a biomedical engineering graduate who also served as an assistant professor in the departments of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, and the departments of molecular physiology and biophysics of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Jayagopal also earned an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

“We were thrilled to launch Opus last month to advance an adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapy portfolio to treat neglected, orphan inherited retinal diseases, and we welcome Ash’s leadership at this important and foundational time for the company,” said Ben Yerxa, CEO of the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the Retinal Degeneration Fund, and acting CEO of Opus.

“Opus was formed to bring an unprecedented combination of resources, elite science and the expertise of pioneers in ocular gene therapy to bear and drive transformative treatments to patients,” said Jayagopal. “With its advanced pipeline—unique for a company at this stage—Opus has the potential to be clinical-stage in the near-term, and I look forward to working with the team to break new scientific ground in the pursuit of better treatments for inherited retinal diseases.”

“Ash’s career discovering and developing therapies for ocular diseases makes him well-suited for the role of Opus CSO, where he will be instrumental in the advancement of our initial programs for Leber congenital amaurosis,” Yerxa said.

Jayagopal has more than 13 years of experience in drug development, drug delivery platforms and biomarker development for retinal diseases. Prior to joining Opus, Jayagopal served as the executive director of discovery medicine at Kodiak Sciences, where he led the drug discovery team and shaped the strategy for leveraging Kodiak’s biopolymer technology for delivery of large and small molecules in retinal diseases.

Previously, Jayagopal was head of molecular pharmacology and biomarkers in ophthalmology at Roche, where he built and led a team of more than 25 scientists focused on the discovery and validation of biologics, small molecules, and gene therapies for ocular diseases, including inherited retinal diseases.

Opus Genetics is a gene therapy company for inherited retinal diseases backed by Foundation Fighting Blindness’s venture arm, the RD Fund, and is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314
brenda.ellis@vanderbilt.edu