Scientific Co-founders

Scientific Co-Founders

Vik Khurana is a Scientific Co-Founder of Yumanity, currently serving as Senior Advisor (Discovery Technologies) to the company. He is also Chief of the Division of Movement Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he leads the multidisciplinary P+A+MSA Clinic for patients with parkinsonism, cerebellar ataxias and multiple system atrophy (MSA). He is a Principal Faculty member within the Ann Romney Center of Neurologic diseases and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the MSA Coalition.

Vik is a medical graduate of the University of Sydney, Australia, and came to Boston as a Fulbright Scholar in 2001, obtaining his Ph.D. in neurobiology from Harvard University in 2006. He completed his neurology residency at Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals, and fellowship in movement disorders and ataxia at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was on the faculty from 2012 to 2016. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Susan Lindquist and Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute, where he co-led a study that succeeded in identifying and reversing pathologies in stem-cell models of Parkinson’s disease (Chung, Khurana et al., Science 2013). His recent work showed that genome-scale screening combined with computational network approaches and stem-cell models offer promising approaches for stratifying patients according to disease mechanism (Khurana, Peng, Chung et al., Cell Systems, 2017a, b; Jarosz and Khurana, Cell, 2017).

The translational goal of Vik’s lab is now to develop stem-cell technologies and personalized therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders. This research is supported by the NIH and the Department of Defense, and a Director’s Transformative award from the Brigham Research Institute. In 2018, Vik was named a Robertson Investigator of the New York Stem Cell Foundation. In 2019, he became the founding director of the Dr. B.R. and Dr. C.R. Shetty Initiative for Parkinsonian Disorders, co-investigator of the Australian Parkinson Mission, and was named a Cotzias Fellow of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association.

Dr. Chung is a member of Yumanity’s core research team and is a scientific co-founder who made seminal contributions to both the company’s neuronal and yeast discovery platforms. Dr. Chung is a graduate of Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea, where she earned a bachelor of pharmacy degree. She then obtained her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining Yumanity, she was an instructor at Harvard Medical School, subsequently joining the Lindquist lab at the Whitehead Institute as a senior research scientist in 2009. She developed assays that have identified abnormalities in rat and human iPSc-based cortical neuron culture system, revealing critical mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Tardiff is a member of Yumanity’s core research team and is a scientific co-founder who enhanced the company’s yeast biology platform and spearheaded its use in target identification. Prior to joining Yumanity, Dr. Tardiff was a member of the Lindquist lab at the Whitehead Institute since 2007. His work there was instrumental in the analysis of the toxicity resulting from alpha-synuclein expression. His genetic and chemical screens of yeast expressing alpha-synuclein have delineated basic cellular processes disrupted by alpha-synuclein as well as compounds that alleviate alpha-synuclein toxicity. Dr. Tardiff obtained his B.S. in biochemistry from Stonehill College in Massachusetts and his Ph.D. at Brandeis University.