Meet Stephane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, a company developing a coronavirus vaccine in record time, who just became a billionaire
- Stéphane Bancel is the CEO of Moderna, the company that translated the genetic code of the coronavirus into a vaccine in a record-breaking 42 days.
- It typically takes about ten times longer to develop an experimental vaccine. Human trials began in March.
- The vaccine uses messenger RNA, a new technology that delivers the virus's DNA code to cells so the body can fight off the virus itself.
- Moderna hopes to have the vaccine ready by fall 2020 for emergency use, which could include use for health professionals, Bancel has said.
- Forbes estimates that Bancel is now worth around $1 billion since he owns about 9% of Moderna, and the company isvalued at more than $11 billion.
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Stéphane Bancel is the CEO of Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotech company that is working on a coronavirus vaccine.
Forbes estimates that Bancel's net worth grew to around $1 billion after Moderna stocks jumped by 12% in the first week of April. This closely followed the news that they expect to start a mid-stage study of its coronavirus vaccine in a few months. Bancel owns about 9% of the company.
While vaccines typically work by giving a patient a tiny bit of the virus they're trying to kill, Moderna's coronavirus vaccine uses just the ribonucleic acid (RNA) genetic material from the virus. The RNA gives the body the genetic information of the virus so it can create the proteins it needs to heal itself.
The method of using just the genetic material of a virus for a vaccine is part of Bancel's vision for Moderna, which he says can be applied to vaccines for viruses other than the coronavirus.
The method allows for quicker and lower-cost vaccine development, according to Bancel. Moderna translated the genetic code of the novel coronavirus into a vaccine in 42 days. Comparatively, after the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, it took 20 months to begin testing a vaccine.
The technology is called messenger RNA, and it's still is an unproven technology. There are no FDA-approved drugs or vaccines coming from it yet, and Moderna has no approved drugs or vaccines.
Moderna was founded in 2010 to make messenger-RNA-based drugs. The company has 21 messenger-RNA-based drugs in the works, and 10 of them are in clinical trials.
Bancel joined Moderna in 2011. Before that, he was the CEO of a French diagnostics company called BioMérieux.
At BioMérieux, Bancel developed a reputation as a strict manager. An equities analyst who covered the company during Bancel's tenure told STAT, "I think if you're underperforming, you'll probably find yourself looking for another job."
Bancel grew up in France. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and two master's degrees in engineering from École Centrale Paris and the University of Minnesota.
The vaccine, which Moderna hopes to have ready for emergency use in the fall, is now being tested by healthy volunteers in clinical trials in Seattle and Atlanta. The first volunteer received a dose of the vaccine on March 16.
Bancel told Business Insider he expects to get data about the safety of the vaccine in the spring, and he expects to get data showing how well the vaccine triggers an immune response, known as immunogenicity, in the late spring or early summer.
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