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AVI BioPharma Names Peter S. Linsley, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer

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AVI BioPharma, Inc., has announced the appointment of Peter S. Linsley, Ph.D., as Chief Scientific Officer effective May 1, 2011. The addition of Dr. Linsley, who is recognized industry-wide for his groundbreaking RNA- and microRNA-focused research as well as his work in advancing scientific discoveries into clinical development, is a continuation of AVI's strategy to assemble a world-class executive leadership team.

Prior to joining AVI, Dr. Linsley, 59, was Chief Scientific Officer of Regulus Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company created as a joint venture of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to focus on the discovery and development of drug candidates that target microRNAs.

While at Regulus, Dr. Linsley led the company's research and development efforts and built a scientific base for some of the first strategic transactions in the microRNA therapeutic arena. Before this, he was Executive Director of Cancer Biology at Merck Research Laboratories, where he led efforts to implement RNA interference technologies that culminated in Merck's 2007 acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics, Inc.

Dr. Linsley originally joined Merck when the company acquired Rosetta Inpharmatics, LLC, where he held a variety of positions, including Vice President of Research and Development. Earlier in his career, Dr. Linsley was Director of Immunology at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). At BMS he co-discovered the co-stimulatory pathway, a discovery that yielded the immunomodulatory drugs abatacept (Orencia) and belatacept and, most recently, the anticancer drug ipilimumab (Yervoy).

"Peter's rare combination of RNA-specific thought-leadership and drug discovery expertise positions him to play an integral role in establishing AVI's PMO-based chemistry as a leading medical technology," said Garabedian. "We welcome Peter to our team as we look to expand and advance our pipeline of morpholino drug candidates to target a variety of disease areas."

Dr. Linsley commented, "I believe that AVI is well-positioned to turn good science and unique technology into a portfolio of RNA-based drugs that are safe, effective and easy to administer. I believe AVI's morpholino oligonucleotide technology, known as PMO, is at the forefront of the development of what are potentially transformative RNA-based therapeutics and presents a number of exciting and significant opportunities that would not be open to other technologies. I look forward to helping harness the potential of the PMO chemistry across a range of therapeutic opportunities."

Dr. Linsley conducted postdoctoral research in the department of Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He earned his Ph.D. at the Molecular Biology Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles, and a bachelor's degree in Biology from Auburn University, where he graduated magna cum laude.

In addition to participating on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including the Journal of Immunology, Dr. Linsley has published more than 200 scientific articles and has led discoveries that are protected by more than 35 issued U.S. patents.