Scientific Founder and SAB Chair

Clodagh O’Shea, Ph.D.

Clodagh O’Shea is the Scientific Founder of IconOVir Bio and Chair of IconOVir’s Scientific Advisory Board. She is also the Wicklow Capital Chair and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the Salk Institute, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Scholar, Allen Distinguished Investigator, Adjunct Professor at UCSD and Director of the Redesigning Biology and Medicine Initiative.

Dr. O’Shea did her BSc in Biochemistry at University College Cork and her PhD in Immunology at the I.C.R.F. (Crick Center) and Imperial College London. Her interest in cancer and viral engineering was seeded during her postdoctoral training as a Human Frontiers Fellow at UCSF where she revealed the underlying molecular mechanisms of action of the first generation of oncolytic virus therapies and novel tumor/viral targets.

Dr. O’Shea joined the faculty at the Salk Institute in 2007 where she established a highly interdisciplinary and innovative research program. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013, and Full Professor in 2018. She has made foundational discoveries that have impacted multiple fields, invented disruptive and enabling technologies, and translated these advances to develop transformative therapies. Her research has revealed the overlapping logic and molecular networks of interactions that are targeted by both tumor mutations and viral proteins to elicit pathological replication. Her lab solved the multi-scale structures of a viral oncoprotein and polymer that assembles into a multivalent matrix to inactivate disparate cellular tumor suppressor pathways. Her team also developed ChromEMT, which enables the 3D folding of genomic DNA to be visualized in the cell nucleus, revealing the chromatin structures that determine gene activation and cell fate. Recently, she has pioneered a new research frontier, Systems to Synthesis Virology, creating novel modular virus genome design, assembly, and screening platforms that have led to a pipeline of powerful next generation virus vectors, vaccines, diagnostic drones, and cancer therapies.

Dr. O’Shea has published many groundbreaking papers, is a serial inventor and author of dozens of national and international patents. Her research has been recognized by numerous awards, including the Beckman Young Investigator Award, the Sontag Distinguished Scientist Award, American Cancer & Gene Therapy Young Investigator Award, Rose Hills Fellow, American Cancer Society Award, Kavli Frontiers Fellow (National Academy of Sciences), W.M. Keck Medical Research Award, HHMI Faculty Scholar Award and most recently the Allen Distinguished Investigator Award.

Dr. O’Shea serves as an advisor and leader for multiple national, government, academic, non-profit and biotech/pharma groups. She has forged partnerships with visionary philanthropists to establish new academic models for successfully translating basic research into game-changing therapies that are poised for commercial and clinical development. She is also the Director of a new first of a kind initiative at the Salk Institute, called Redesigning Biology and Medicine, that is combining chemical and synthetic biology to redesign nature’s machines as precision medicines that detect, reprogram and destroy formerly intractable diseases.