Una Ryan

Last updated
Una Ryan
Dr Una Ryan in 2021 06.jpg
Dr Una Ryan in 2021
Una Scully

(1941-12-18) 18 December 1941 (age 79)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Other namesUna S. Smith, Una Scully Ryan, Una Callow
Alma mater University of Bristol
University of Cambridge
Occupationvascular biology, biotechnology angel investing
Years active1964–
Employer University of Miami
Washington University School of Medicine/Monsanto
Boston University/AVANT Immunotherapeutics Inc
Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative
Spouse(s)Smith (ca. 1965)
Ryan (ca. 1975)
Allan Dana Callow (m. May 26, 1989)

Una Ryan (born December 18, 1941) is a British-American biologist who has conducted research on vascular biology, publishing over 300 papers. After an extended research and academic career she began a career in the biotech industry. She was Director for Health Sciences of Monsanto Company; CEO, president and director of AVANT Immunotherapeutics; and is currently the Chairman of The Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative, among many other associations. She is an angel investor and focuses her funds on women-led companies. She has won numerous awards and recognition during her career including the National Institute of Health's 10-year merit award, Order of the British Empire and the Albert Einstein Award.



Una Scully was born on December 18, 1941 [1] in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to a British father who was interned in a Japanese camp during World War II. Scully and her mother fled by boat from Singapore to England, where she completed her education, graduating with a degree in zoology from the University of Bristol in 1963. [2] In 1965, she began publishing under the name of Una Smith and did so until 1973. [1] [3] She went on to complete a PhD at the University of Cambridge in 1967 and that same year moved to the United States, taking up a Howard Hughes Fellowship at the University of Miami to study angiotensin-converting enzymes. [2] After completion of the fellowship, Smith taught as a professor of life sciences and medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine from 1972 to 1989. [4] In 1975, her professional publishing reflected her name as U. S. Ryan or Una Scully Ryan. [1] [5] Her work at Miami was recognized by a 10-year Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health. [2]

In 1989, Ryan married the surgeon, Allan Dana Callow [6] and then beginning in 1990, she worked as a Research Professor of Surgery, Medicine and Cell Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Simultaneously, she accepted a position at Monsanto as Director for Health Sciences. She left Monsanto in 1992 and joined AVANT Immunotherapeutics Inc. as a Vice-President and Chief Scientific Researcher in May 1993. [4] Around the same time, she left Washington University for a position as a Research Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and obtained US citizenship in 1994. [7] In 1996, Ryan was promoted to President at AVANT and also began serving as chief executive officer and President of Celldex Therapeutics Inc., [4] all the while continuing to research and publish papers on vaccines against viral and bacterial diseases and for cholesterol management. [7]

Ryan was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2002 for her contributions to research and development to biotechnology. [7] In 2007, she was honored with the Albert Einstein Award for her development of new vaccines to combat global infectious diseases [2] and then in 2008, she left the for-profit sector leaving her positions at AVANT and Celldex. [4] In 2009 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bristol. [2] In addition to vaccines, Ryan has worked on clean water solutions and in 2009 was awarded a Cartier Women's Initiative Awards for a wastewater cleaning program using blue-green algae and solar energy. [8] Unable to secure venture capital funds for the program, Ryan turned her focus toward a program called Diagnostics for All, in an attempt to provide inexpensive diagnostic tests to developing countries. The innovation used paper tests and a drop of blood which when chemicals were applied would change color to indicate different results, without lab work required and simple disposal, as the paper could be burned. [9] The company began with liver testing and then expanded their products to include pregnancy tests and a glucose monitoring test for diabetics. [10]

Deciding to relocate to the American west coast in 2013, Ryan accepted a position as the first woman to Chair the Bay Area BioEconomy Initiative. While she was in Boston, Ryan had served on the board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the BioEconomy Initiative had similar aims of increasing efficiency and decreasing the time it takes for products to begin clinical trials and ultimately get to medical professionals. She also turned her focus to angel investing in an attempt to help women-run businesses find venture capital funds. Ryan served as managing director of Golden Seeds, as a partner in Astia Angel and participated with The Angel Forum all aimed at investing in startups and mentoring businesses in the Silicon Valley. [11] She continues to serve on the boards of several biotechnology firms. [4]

In 2015, Ryan launched ULUX fine art based on her electron micrographs. Ryan has two daughters, Tamsin Smith, a poet and social impact innovator, who helped create and served as founding president of Bono's Product Red initiative. Daughter Amy Ryan Dowsett is an interior designer. Both daughters live in San Francisco, CA. Ryan has four grandchildren.

Selected works

Related Research Articles

Endothelium Cells that line the Inner surface of blood vessels

Endothelium is a single layer of squamous endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. The endothelium forms an interface between circulating blood or lymph in the lumen and the rest of the vessel wall. Endothelial cells form the barrier between vessels and tissue and control the flow of substances and fluid into and out of a tissue.

Elizabeth Blackburn Australian-born American biological researcher

Elizabeth Helen Blackburn, is an Australian-American Nobel laureate who is the former President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Previously she was a biological researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who studied the telomere, a structure at the end of chromosomes that protects the chromosome. In 1984, Blackburn co-discovered telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes the telomere, with Carol W. Greider. For this work, she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing it with Greider and Jack W. Szostak, becoming the first Australian woman Nobel laureate. She also worked in medical ethics, and was controversially dismissed from the Bush Administration's President's Council on Bioethics.

Janet Rowley American human geneticist

Janet Davison Rowley was an American human geneticist and the first scientist to identify a chromosomal translocation as the cause of leukemia and other cancers. This proved that cancer is a genetic disease. Rowley spent majority of her life working in Chicago and received many awards and honors throughout her life, recognizing her achievements and contributions in the area of genetics.

P-selectin Cell adhesion molecule (CAM) on the surfaces of activated endothelial cells, which line the inner surface of blood vessels, and activated platelets

P-selectin is a type-1 transmembrane protein that in humans is encoded by the SELP gene.


L-selectin, also known as CD62L, is a cell adhesion molecule found on leukocytes and the preimplantation embryo. It belongs to the selectin family of proteins, which recognize sialylated carbohydrate groups. It is cleaved by ADAM17.


E-selectin, also known as CD62 antigen-like family member E (CD62E), endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecule 1 (ELAM-1), or leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion molecule 2 (LECAM2), is a selectin cell adhesion molecule expressed only on endothelial cells activated by cytokines. Like other selectins, it plays an important part in inflammation. In humans, E-selectin is encoded by the SELE gene.

Carol W. Greider American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate

Carolyn Widney Greider is an American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate. She joined the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Distinguished Professor in the department of molecular, cell, and developmental biology in October 2020.

Sean J. Morrison

Sean J. Morrison is a Canadian-American stem cell biologist and cancer researcher. Morrison is the director of Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, a nonprofit research institute established in 2011 as a joint venture between Children’s Health System of Texas and UT Southwestern Medical Center. The CRI was established in 2011 by Morrison with the mission to perform transformative biomedical research at the interface of stem cell biology, cancer, and metabolism to better understand the biological basis of disease. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and member of the National Academy of Medicine. From 2015 to 2016 Morrison served as the president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.


Homeobox protein Hox-A5 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the HOXA5 gene.


Transcription factor SOX-18 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the SOX18 gene.

Valentín Fuster

Valentín Fuster Carulla, 1st Marquess of Fuster is a Spanish cardiologist.

Stefanie Dimmeler is a German biologist specializing in the pathophysiological processes underlying cardiovascular diseases. Her awards and honours include the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation for her work on the programmed cell death of endothelial cells. Since 2008 she has led the Institute for Cardiovascular Regeneration at the University of Frankfurt. Her current work is focusing to develop cellular and pharmacological strategies to improve cardiovascular repair and regeneration. Her work aims to establish non-coding RNAs as novel therapeutic targets.

David Gorski Science-based medicine advocate

David Henry Gorski is an American surgical oncologist, professor of surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, specializing in breast cancer surgery. He is an outspoken skeptic, and a critic of alternative medicine and the anti-vaccination movement. He is the author of a blog, Respectful Insolence, and the managing editor of the website Science-Based Medicine.

Una M. Ryan is a biochemist from Ireland, researching parasites and infectious agents in Australia, where she lives. She is an associate professor at the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences of Murdoch University. In 2000, she received the Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year from the Prime Minister of Australia for her work in isolating a method of diagnosing parasites.

Elisa Oricchio Italian cancer researcher

Elisa Oricchio is an Italian cancer researcher and tenure track assistant Professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. She discovered that EphA7 activates the tumor suppressor gene for patients with follicular lymphoma and was awarded the Lorini Foundation Award and Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists for her discovery.

Epiperipatus leuckarti is a species of velvet worm in the Peripatopsidae family. The type locality is in New South Wales, Australia.

Anne Ridley Professor of Cell Biology

Anne Jacqueline Ridley is professor of Cell Biology and Head of School for Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol. She was previously a professor at King's College London.

Michael J. Ryan (doctor) Irish doctor and Chief Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme

Michael Joseph Ryan is an Irish former trauma surgeon and epidemiologist specialising in infectious disease and public health. He is executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, leading the team responsible for the international containment and treatment of COVID-19. Ryan has held leadership positions and has worked on various outbreak response teams in the field to eradicate the spread of diseases including bacillary dysentery, cholera, Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, Marburg virus disease, measles, meningitis, relapsing fever, Rift Valley fever, SARS, and Shigellosis.

Georgette D. Kanmogne is a Cameroonian American geneticist and molecular virologist and a Full Professor and Vice Chair for Resource Allocation and Faculty Development within the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neurosciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Kanmogne's research program focuses on exploring the pathogenesis of neuroAIDS by deciphering the mechanisms underlying blood brain barrier dysfunction and viral entry into the central nervous system. Her research also addresses the lack of HIV therapies that cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) and has played a critical role in the development of nanoparticles encapsulating HIV-drugs that can cross the BBB to prevent viral-mediated neuron death in the brain. Kanmogne collaborates with clinical and basic researchers across America, Cameroon, and West Africa, spanning disciplines from hematology to psychiatry, to explore how viral genetic diversity is correlated with the neurological impact of HIV.


  1. 1 2 3 "Curriculum Vitae: Una Scully Ryan (formerly Smith)" (PDF). San Francisco, California: University of California, San Francisco. 1986. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Wraith, David (February 18, 2009). "Dr Una Scully Ryan". Bristol, England: University of Bristol. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  3. "Author: Una S. Smith". WorldCat. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Una S. Ryan O.B.E., PhD". New York City: Bloomburg Business. 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  5. "Author: Una S. Ryan". WordCat. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  6. Callow 2013, p. xiii.
  7. 1 2 3 "Queen of England Honors BOA Member Una S. Ryan". Cambridge, Massachusetts: Whitehead Institute. June 24, 2002. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  8. "Una Ryan". Cartier Women's Initiative Awards. 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  9. Kirsner, Scott (December 9, 2009). "Una Ryan joins non-profit Diagnostics for All as CEO". Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  10. Singer, Emily (April 19, 2011). "Una Ryan". Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Technology Review. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  11. Leuty, Ron (November 11, 2013). "'BioEconomy Initiative' lands biotech exec, investor Una Ryan as chairwoman". San Francisco Business Times. San Francisco, California. Retrieved November 13, 2015.