Ashlesha Odak, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Immune Cell Engineering

Ashlesha is a cell and molecular biologist passionate about developing the next generation of cell and gene therapies. Her research expertise involves cell and gene engineering using systems such as viral vectors and gene editing platforms like CRISPR/Cas9 to deliver therapeutic cargo for translational applications in primary cells. As a Senior Scientist for Immune cell engineering at Strand, she is aiding the development of Strand’s unique mRNA-based cell therapy platform for applications such as CAR-T cells as cancer therapeutics. Before joining Strand, Ashlesha was working as a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Michel Sadelain at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, focusing on developing novel synthetic biology approaches to improve CAR-T cell therapy particularly for solid tumors. Her work also involved developing novel constructs for optimized, cell-type specific expression of beta globin in erythroid cells for application in gene therapy for beta thalassemia. She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology from Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University where she worked on identifying novel genomic locations for targeted CAR-T cell therapy using CRISPR/Cas9. She also holds a Master’s in Biotechnology from the University at Buffalo and a Bachelors in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Mumbai. She has authored and co-authored peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Nature and Nature Medicine and also has patents to her name based on her work.