Avirmax Biopharma

Founding and Management Team

Shengjiang Shawn Liu, Ph.D., DVM


Dr. Liu is an experienced biotechnologist, virologist, biochemist and serial entrepreneur. Prior to Avirmax, Dr. Liu held an executive position, chief scientist and global head of Pathogen Safety of Bayer Pharmaceuticals for 15 years. Dr. Liu was a founder and the president of Abmaxis, Inc. which was acquired by Merck in 2006. Dr. Liu was the group leader of Genentech BSL-3 Virology Research Lab (1996-2000). In his scientific career, he developed bioprocess technologies to prevent commercial scale bioreactors from virus contamination and secured virus safety for biotherapeutics. He discovered and characterized a new virus, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), the rabbit calicivirus in 1984. During his past 25 years of biotechnological career, he played key roles in innovation, development, tech transfer and manufacturing support and regulatory submission for approvals at various development stages of 33 biologics including AAV mediated GT products, out of which 10 are widely used biologics in the market. Now he is focusing primarily on AAV & GOI engineering, innovation, development and production for ocular disorders. Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. from Biochemistry from Kansas State University (1990-93) and his post-doctoral training with Dr. Arthur Kornberg, Stanford University (1994-1996). Dr. Liu is a member of ASGCT, ARVO and an advisor of Bioengineering Department of Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, CA).


Harald Dinter, Ph.D.,
Chief Business Advisor (CBA)

Dr. Dinter obtained broad experience in research and development of pharmaceutical agents while working in biotech and large pharma companies in Germany and the USA. During 2014-2018, Dr. Dinter served as the Sr. Vice President (SVP) and Head of Biologics, Drug Discovery, Bayer Pharma AG. He was responsible for global research and development of biologics at Bayer. From 2007 to 2011, Dr. Dinter was the Sr. Vice President and Head of Operation of Global Drug Discovery (GDD) of Bayer HealthCare and Vice President of Berlex Biosciences (2006). Development of strategies and their successful implementation as well as evaluation of projects and making clear decisions on these are among Harald’s core competencies. Since 2018, Dr. Dinter has advised companies and research institutes on the definition and focusing of their strategy, during acquisitions and licensing of technologies. Dr. Dinter holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Business Management Program from Harvard Business School (2001) and Management of Technology and Innovation from Caltech (2000) and led throughout his career various research groups and departments in pharma and biotech companies.

Wendy Murahashi, MD,
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Ophthalmology

Dr. Murahashi began her industry career at Genentech where she managed the LUCENTIS Phase 3 clinical programs in Retinal Vein Occlusion to FDA approval and managed the LUCENTIS high-dose study. After Genentech, Dr. Murahashi was the VP of Clinical Development at Icon Bioscience where she was responsible for the pivotal study of DEXYCU for the treatment of post-operative inflammation. Currently Dr. Murahashi is a consultant to companies and specializes in ophthalmic drug development. Dr. Murahashi received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago. She completed her residency in ophthalmology at the University of Missouri at Columbia and retinal fellowship training at the Retina Institute of Hawaii.


Li Ou, PhD
Vice President of Research

Dr. Li Ou is currently Vice President of Research at Avirmax, a Bay area-based biotech company focused on AAV gene therapy. Previously, Li worked as Vice President of AAV Engineering at Genemagic Bio, Associate Director at Capsida Biotherapeutics, and Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. Li received his Ph.D. in Genetics (minor in Biostatistics) from the University of Minnesota in 2015. Li has over 10 years of experience in gene therapy development for neurological and metabolic diseases, resulting in 2 IND approvals, 6 pending patents on novel AAV capsids and gene editing tools, 33 manuscripts, and numerous oral presentations/invited talks at international conferences. Li’s work on gene therapy for lysosomal storage disorders at the University of Minnesota led to the first-ever in human gene editing clinical trial (NCT02702115). As an internationally recognized expert, Li also serves as a committee member of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), a Board member of the Rosenau Family Research Foundation (formerly The Legacy of Angels Foundation), and editor for multiple journals, including Frontiers in Immunology, Genes, and Frontiers in Genome Editing. In addition, Li has received awards from ASGCT, NIH, University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, WORLD Symposium, and UCLA.