Prof. Jiahai Shi
Dr. Jiahai Shi received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Xiamen University in 2002. After graduation, he was awarded a full PhD scholarship to join Dr. Jianxing Song’s lab at the National University of Singapore. To explore new areas of research, and to broaden his expertise during his post-doctoral training, Dr. Shi joined the laboratory of Dr. Harvey Lodish (MIT/Whitehead Institute).
Dr. Shi has 20 years’ experience in the development of bio-therapeutics . He participated in vaccine development against hepatitis E virus (HEV), causing a type of viral hepatitis. The vaccine was commercialized under the trade name 益可宁 Hecolin in 2012. During his PhD studies, Dr. Shi developed novel strategies for drug development against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus (SARS-CoV), by targeting its main protease (SARS-CoV Mpro). He demonstrated that the dimerization interface at the extra helical domain of SARS-CoV Mpro is an attractive drug targeting pocket. As this pocket is far from the active site of Mpro, drugs targeting this pocket will have minimum off-target effects to other human proteases. Given the similarity between SARS-CoV Mpro and COVID-19-CoV Mpro, such an approach might also be attractive for COVID-19.
When he was at the Lodish lab, Dr. Shi co-invented a new technology for engineering red blood cells as carriers for a wide range of therapeutic cargoes, particularly for therapeutic proteins. This invention led to the establishment of Rubius Therapeutics, which went public in 2018 and reached a market capitalization of almost 2 billion USD.
After setting up his own lab, Dr. Shi is focused on the development of novel therapeutics, including gene therapy, genome editing and antibody therapy. Working with his collaborators, Dr. Shi engineers red blood cell extracellular vesicles (RBCEV) as a non-viral gene delivery vehicle. Again, this innovation has led to the establishment of another biotech company, now based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Carmine Therapeutics, co-founded with Harvey Lodish, Minh Le and EVX Ventures.
Dr. Shi aims to develop more novel therapies against unmet clinical needs. He is presently an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore.