Listening is in our DNA.
Ακούω in Greek translates to Listen in English. At Akouos (ah KOO ohs), we strive to be a team that listens to one another, to healthcare providers, and to the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) community. Our partnerships and collaborations are focused on common goals and predicated on respect, trust, and transparency.
Common Goal Partnerships
In partnering with the D/HH community, we will use the principles outlined here as our guide.
"Hearing loss is one of the greatest challenges in medicine today, and with no FDA-approved pharmacologic therapies available, an area of severe unmet need."
Manny Simons, PhD | Founder and CEO of Akouos
We Are Akouos
CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER & CO-FOUNDER
CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER & CO-FOUNDERMichael J. McKenna, M.D., is Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of Akouos. He is a world-renowned neurotologist with expertise in translational inner ear drug delivery research. For the past 15 years, Dr. McKenna led efforts to establish inner ear drug delivery systems to enable the development of hearing restoration therapies. Prior to founding Akouos, he held the Joseph B. Nadol, Jr. Chair and was the director of the Division of Otology and Neurotology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and a professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. McKenna’s laboratory shaped the field’s understanding of the molecular pathophysiology of otosclerosis through over three decades of pioneering research. He and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate an association between the COL1A1 gene and clinical otosclerosis. Dr. McKenna holds an M.D. from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, completed his otolaryngology residency at Harvard Medical School, and his fellowship in neurotology and skull base surgery at the House Ear Clinic.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICERSachiyo Minegishi, M.B.A., is Chief Financial Officer of Akouos. She is a strategic cross-functional leader with twenty years of diverse biotechnology industry experience in roles across finance, business development, commercial and program leadership. Most recently, Ms. Minegishi led the gene therapy program for Sickle Cell Disease at bluebird bio to initiation of Phase 3 studies and regulatory alignment on clinical path to registration. Earlier, Ms. Minegishi held leadership roles at Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, Human Genome Sciences, Genzyme, and Amgen. She began her career in investment banking at Merrill Lynch with a focus on execution of equity financing and mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology industry. Ms. Minegishi earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER
CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICERDr. Kathy Reape is the Chief Development Officer at Akouos. She brings over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including significant gene therapy translational and development expertise, to Akouos. Most recently, Dr. Reape served as the Chief Medical Officer at Spark Therapeutics, where she was responsible for global clinical programs utilizing gene therapy in rare diseases and was a key member of the team responsible for the U.S. FDA approval and EMA marketing authorization of LUXTURNA®, the first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease. Earlier, she was senior vice president of clinical development focusing on global brands research and development at Allergan and Actavis. Dr. Reape holds both her undergraduate and M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and completed her internship and residency at the University of Florida and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER & CORPORATE SECRETARY
CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER & CORPORATE SECRETARYKaroline Shair, Ph.D., J.D., is Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at Akouos. She brings to Akouos more than 20 years of senior leadership and global legal expertise in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Most recently, Dr. Shair was the vice president, head counsel intellectual property (IP) program portfolio at Biogen, where she led the company’s global IP portfolio strategy, IP diligence and transactions for business development and M&A opportunities. Prior to Biogen, she was vice president legal, chief intellectual property counsel and corporate secretary at FORMA Therapeutics, where she was responsible for building the legal department and providing strategic counsel on all legal matters. Dr. Shair also held leadership roles at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Takeda Pharmaceuticals, including vice president, IP region head, where she led IP strategy, litigation and transactions for the global oncology therapeutic area and business unit. Dr. Shair has also practiced law at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Choate, Hall & Stewart. Dr. Shair received a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Bryn Mawr College, a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar and a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
CEO, PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER
CEO, PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDEREmmanuel J. (Manny) Simons, Ph.D., M.B.A., is CEO, President, and Co-Founder of Akouos. Dr. Simons is a scientist and entrepreneur with over fifteen years of experience in hearing science research and new venture formation. Prior to founding Akouos, Dr. Simons held leadership roles in business and corporate development at Voyager Therapeutics and Warp Drive Bio, where he was instrumental in leading strategic partnerships with aggregate value exceeding $1 billion. Earlier in his career, Dr. Simons was an Entrepreneurial Fellow at Flagship Ventures, where he was a member of the founding team of Seres Therapeutics. Dr. Simons earned an A.B. magna cum laude in Neuroscience and Music from Harvard College; a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from MIT under Professor Robert Langer; and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER
CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICERAaron Tward M.D. Ph.D is Chief Scientific Officer at Akouos. He brings to Akouos more than fifteen years of experience in Otology. He is a surgeon-scientist and pioneer in the application of high-throughput sequencing technologies to critical problems in biomedicine. Dr. Tward serves as an Associate Professor at UCSF, and is a co-founder of Affinia Therapeutics Dr. Tward has authored more than 30 publications spanning the fields of genomics, cancer biology, stem cell biology, and skull base surgery. He received both a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and an M.D. from UCSF and completed his residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and fellowship in otology, neurotology, and skull base surgery at Harvard Medical School. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICERJennifer A. Wellman is Chief Operating Officer at Akouos. She has twenty years of dedicated experience in adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector gene therapy research and development. Prior to joining Akouos in early 2018, Ms. Wellman was Head of Product Development Strategy at Spark Therapeutics, Inc., of which she is a co-founder. While at Spark, and in her prior role as the Director of Regulatory for the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she led the regulatory and clinical development for several AAV gene therapies, including Luxturna®, the first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease. Prior to CHOP, Ms. Wellman served as Associate Scientist at Avigen, Inc., an early clinical-stage AAV gene therapy company. Ms. Wellman holds an Honours B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology from Queen’s University (Canada) and an M.S. from University of New Haven.
Join us in the pursuit of healthy hearing for all.
What’s at our core
We Work to Change Lives
Akouos listens: to each other, to the individuals and families we work to serve, to our collective conscience.
Akouos engages: Honestly, transparently, respectfully.
Akouos leads: Authentically, boldly, bravely, with purpose and passion.
Akouos creates: High standards, opportunities to excel, better medicines.
Akouos trusts: Ourselves, each other, our science.