Warp Drive Bio is…

Applying revolutionary science to drug the undruggable.

Warp Drive Bio operates on the core principle that nature is the most powerful inventor of new drugs, unconstrained by the boundaries of modern science. We are building a legendary company by deploying our innovative Genomic Mining and SMART™ platforms to discover new medicines that have the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of patients. Warp Drive Bio was launched in 2012 through a partnership with Sanofi and with financing from Third Rock Ventures and Greylock Partners.

"We have the potential to make a huge impact on patients because these undruggable targets represent the driver mutations in cancers that affect millions around the globe."

-Margit, Sr. Scientist

Management Team

Kim Hazen, M.B.A.

Vice President, Human Resources

Mark Mulvihill, Ph.D.

Vice President, Chemistry

James Nichols, Ph.D.

Chief Operating Officer

Ly Tam Phan, Ph.D.

Vice President, Medicinal Chemistry and Antibacterial Discovery

Roy Pollock, Ph.D.

Vice President, Biology

Laurence Reid, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Alan Rigby, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Sharon Townson, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Physical Biochemistry

Board of Directors

Julian Adams, Ph.D.

President, Infinity Pharmaceuticals

Alexis Borisy, Ph.D.

Chairman, Warp Drive Bio

Katherine Bowdish, Ph.D.

Vice President, Global Research and Development and Head of Sunrise, Sanofi U.S.

Steve Holtzman

President and Chief Executive Officer, Decibel Therapeutics

Rachel K. King, MBA

Chief Executive Officer, GlycoMimetics, Inc.

Laurence Reid, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Warp Drive Bio

Gregory Verdine, Ph.D.

Founder and Chair of Scientific Advisory Board, Warp Drive Bio

Elias Zerhouni, M.D.

President, Global Research and Development, Sanofi

"Our board represents an exceptional team of world-class experts to help Warp Drive Bio deliver on its vision."

-Laurence Reid

Founders

Gregory Verdine, Ph.D.

Chair of Scientific Advisory Board, Warp Drive Bio

George Church, Ph.D.

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

James Wells, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCSF School of Chemistry

"Everyone here is so driven and determined. It is exciting to come to work each day and know that what you do is truly making a difference."

Partners

Sanofi and Warp Drive Bio are collaborating on the development of novel oncology therapies and antibiotics. This colloboration provides Warp Drive Bio with potential milestones in excess of $750 million. Learn More »

Kim Hazen, M.B.A.

Vice President, Human Resources

Kim Hazen brings to Warp Drive Bio more than 25 years of experience in human resources leadership. Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, she was the Executive Director of Human Resources for Aegerion Pharmaceuticals. In this role, Ms. Hazen led a variety of initiatives focused on culture, core values and team recognition. Prior to Aegerion, Ms. Hazen was head of human resources for Broad Institute.

Ms. Hazen is responsible for executing the human resource strategies for the company. Ms. Hazen has oversight for all of the functional HR responsibilities: recruitment, compensation, benefits, employee relations, training, new hire orientation, policies and procedures.

Ms. Hazen received her M.B.A. from Boston University and her B.A. from State University of New York at Potsdam. Ms. Hazen has also earned her SPHR and SHRM-SCP Certification.

Mark Mulvihill, Ph.D.

Vice President, Chemistry

Mark Mulvihill brings more than 15 years of experience in small molecule drug discovery and development, having led numerous multi-disciplinary teams from concept to development candidates at both biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies across a broad range of therapeutic areas. Most recently, Dr. Mulvihill was senior vice president/head of chemistry/co-leader of drug discovery and early phase development at X-Rx., a virtual start-up company derived from a DNA-encoded library screening platform where proof of principle was achieved with the optimization and subsequent progression of two programs from off-DNA hits to successfully partnered development candidates. Prior to that, he held positions of increasing responsibility in oncology drug discovery with OSI Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Astellas Pharmaceuticals, where he ultimately served as the head of chemistry/global project leader and contributed to the progression of numerous anti-cancer agents into clinical development, most notably Linsitinib®. He began his career as a scientist with Rohm and Haas. He is an author of more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on more than 40 patents (published or pending). He has delivered more than 80 posters/invited speaker presentations at various conferences and universities.

Dr. Mulvihill received his A.C.S. accredited bachelor's degree in chemistry from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.

James Nichols, Ph.D.

Chief Operating Officer

James Nichols is a biopharmaceutical executive and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of life sciences experience. Throughout his career, he has held key leadership roles spanning corporate strategy, portfolio and product strategy, product development, business development, operations and research. Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Nichols was president and chief operating officer of Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., where he advanced two programs through early clinical development, led the company's financing and business development activities and closed a strategic partnership on the company's lead clinical ophthalmic program. Prior to joining Resolvyx, Dr. Nichols was vice president of therapeutics at CombinatoRx, Inc. (now Zalicus), where he led product and portfolio strategy, overseeing seven programs from discovery through Phase 2, and was instrumental in closing multiple strategic deals and financing rounds. Previously, Dr. Nichols was a management consultant at Braun Consulting, a health care-focused consulting firm (acquired by Fair Isaac).

Dr. Nichols graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in philosophy and holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. He was subsequently a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral at Stanford University Medical School.

Ly Tam Phan, Ph.D.

Vice President, Medicinal Chemistry and Antibacterial Discovery

Ly Tam Phan joined Warp Drive Bio in January of 2015. Dr. Phan has more than 19 years of biotech and large pharma experience in antibacterial research and development. Prior to Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Phan was senior director of medicinal chemistry at Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. where he and his team were responsible for the discovery and advancement of three antibacterial clinical candidates into early clinical developments. Prior to joining Enanta, Dr. Phan was at Abbott Laboratories working in antibacterial research and discovered two drug development candidates.

Dr. Phan holds a B.S. in chemistry from University of Texas in Austin and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University. He subsequently did his postdoctoral work at Columbia University.

Roy Pollock, Ph.D.

Vice President, Biology

Roy Pollock has more than 15 years of biotech and pharmaceutical company experience in small molecule oncology drug discovery, targeted therapeutics and cancer epigenetics. Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Pollock was senior director biological sciences at Epizyme, Inc. where he led a team engaged in cell-based and in vivo pharmacology studies, as well as clinical biomarker development for first-in-class drugs targeting histone methyltransferases. Dr. Pollock played a key role in successfully guiding the DOT1L inhibitor EPZ-5676 and EZH2 inhibitor EPZ-6438 from hit identification through to entry into Phase 1 clinical trials. Before joining Epizyme, Dr. Pollock worked in oncology drug discovery at Merck Research Laboratories, where he led projects targeting chromatin remodeling enzymes and at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, where he was involved in the development of small molecule inhibitors of oncogenic kinases.

Dr. Pollock holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry from St Andrews University in Scotland and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now Cancer Research UK) in London.

Laurence Reid, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Laurence Reid brings to Warp Drive Bio more than 25 years of experience within the global biotechnology industry, including the areas of general management, business development and strategic planning. Most recently, he served as chief business officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, where he led business development strategy and efforts, including forming the company's transformational agreement with Genzyme, a Sanofi company, plus alliances with Medicines Company, Monsanto and GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to Alnylam, Dr. Reid was chief business officer at Ensemble Therapeutics, where he led the development and implementation of key business strategies for the company's therapeutic and diagnostic portfolios, as well as executed major therapeutic discovery alliances with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer Inc. Dr. Reid's previous entrepreneurial experiences include the founding of startup companies in the fields of stem cell therapeutics and inflammation. He also spent 10 years at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he worked in a range of general management and business development positions. Roles included general manager of Millennium UK with responsibility for Millennium's European operations, vice president of business development for the company's predictive medicine efforts, as well as in pharmaceutical business development and technology acquisition. Before joining Millennium, he was an assistant editor of the premier journal Cell.

Dr. Reid received his Ph.D. from London University and his B.A. from Cambridge University. He is a member of the board of directors of The Possible Project, a youth entrepreneurship center that teaches high school students to start and run their own businesses.

Alan Rigby, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Alan Rigby has more than 20 years of academic and industry experience in the areas of structural and computational biology, drug discovery, and oncology translational research of both small and large molecules. Most recently, Dr. Rigby served as senior vice president and chief scientific officer at Synta Pharmaceuticals where he led research and development efforts for its HSP90 clinical candidate, ganetespib, as well as its preclinical small molecule drug conjugate platform to an IND. Prior to joining Synta, Dr. Rigby was vice president, global antibody drug conjugate biology, and head of external innovation for Eli Lilly and Company Oncology Research at its New York site. Before that, Dr. Rigby was an assistant professor and principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) -funded independent academic laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School. While at Harvard Medical School, he founded and directed the Drug Discovery and Target Validation Program within the Center for Vascular Biology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rigby is the North American editor for Current Computer Aided Drug Discovery and on the editorial advisory board for Future Medicinal Chemistry. He has published more than 50 scientific papers, a book chapter and has more than 10 patents that have published or are pending.

Dr. Rigby holds an Honors BSc. in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. He also continues to interface between academia and industry through his service on the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Genome Quebec’s PRIVAC initiative.

Sharon Townson, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Physical Biochemistry

Sharon Townson is a biophysicist and structural biologist with experience in both biologics and small molecule drug discovery. Since joining Warp Drive Bio in 2013, she has played an integral role in establishing the SMART™ technology platform, particularly the structural biology and screening components.

Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Townson led a group responsible for developing new protein engineering technologies at Eleven Biotherapeutics, Inc., and was responsible for the biophysical and structural characterization of their clinical lead molecule Isunakinra, a novel IL-1 receptor antagonist for treatment of ocular diseases. Previously, Dr. Townson played a role in establishing the structural biology group and integrating it within the discovery process at Acceleron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. During that time she determined structures of several candidate biologic therapeutics, including elucidating the structural mechanism for the angiogenesis inhibitor Dalantercept. Prior to her experience in biologics, Dr. Townson was a structural biologist at the Pfizer Research Technology Center, where she worked on several small molecule kinase inhibitor projects.

Dr. Townson received her B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Salford in Manchester, England and her Ph.D. in biochemistry and structural biology from the University of Manchester.

Julian Adams, Ph.D.

President, Infinity Pharmaceuticals

Julian Adams, Ph.D., is president, research and development, at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Adams is responsible for the full spectrum of Infinity's drug discovery, preclinical and clinical development strategy, and regulatory affairs activities. Prior to joining Infinity in 2003, Dr. Adams was the senior vice president, drug discovery and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals. In this capacity, he had global responsibility for multiple drug discovery programs, including the successful discovery and development of Velcade® (bortezomib), a proteasome inhibitor for cancer therapy. He joined Millennium through its acquisition of LeukoSite in 1999, where he was senior vice president, research and development. Dr. Adams joined LeukoSite as a result of its acquisition of ProScript, Inc., where he had served as a member of the founding management team, executive vice president of research and development, and a member of the board of directors. Earlier in his career, Dr. Adams served in various positions, including director, medicinal chemistry at Boehringer Ingelheim, where he successfully discovered the drug Viramune® (nevirapine) for HIV. Also, from 1982-1987, he was a medicinal chemist at Merck.

Dr. Adams has received many awards, including the 2012 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for his role in the discovery and development of bortezomib, the 2012 C. Chester Stock Award Lectureship from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the 2001 Ribbon of Hope Award for Velcade® from the International Myeloma Foundation. Dr. Adams is an inventor of more than 40 patents and has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals. He is the editor of Proteasome Inhibition in Cancer Therapy, published in July 2004. Dr. Adams is on the board of directors of Warp Drive Bio and the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and is on the scientific advisory boards of Cleave Biosciences and Stand Up to Cancer.

Dr. Adams received his B.S. from McGill University and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the field of synthetic organic chemistry. He also received the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from McGill University in 2012.

Alexis Borisy, Ph.D.

Chairman, Warp Drive Bio

Alexis Borisy is the founding CEO and chairman of Warp Drive Bio. He is a successful biotechnology entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience building and operating innovative science-based organizations. Dr. Borisy joined the life sciences venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures in 2009 to focus on the formation, development and strategy of new companies. He co-founded Foundation Medicine and served as the company's interim CEO and co-founded Blueprint Medicines.

Prior to joining Third Rock Ventures, Dr. Borisy founded CombinatoRx in 2000, serving as its CEO and bringing the company public on the NASDAQ. He has raised more than one billion in financing and business development deals, and has authored numerous scientific papers and patents. Trained in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard where he was a Howard Hughes predoctoral fellow, Dr. Borisy was honored as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Technology Review Innovator of the Year. He was also chosen as the New England Entrepreneur of the Year in life sciences and was honored as a Presidential Scholar.

Dr. Borisy holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago, and did his graduate work in the laboratory of Dr. Stuart Schreiber at Harvard University. Dr. Borisy serves on the board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, is an overseer at the Boston Museum of Science, is a co-founder and former Chairman of FORMA Therapeutics, and serves on the board of Blueprint Medicines.

Katherine Bowdish, Ph.D.

Vice President, Global Research and Development and Head of Sunrise, Sanofi U.S.

Katherine Bowdish is vice president of global research and development and head of Sunrise, at Sanofi. She joined Sanofi in February 2013 to launch the Sunrise initiative following extensive experience in co-founding and leading early-stage biotechnology companies including transactions involving financings, partnering and mergers and acquisitions.

Immediately prior to joining Sanofi, Dr. Bowdish led Cambridge-based Permeon Biologics, developing a novel approach to intracellular delivery of biological therapies as its President and CSO. Prior to taking the helm at Permeon, Dr. Bowdish co-founded and served as President and CEO of Anaphore (now RuiYi), a platform-based drug development company with a focus on trivalent biological therapies. Dr. Bowdish was previously president of Alexion Antibody Technologies, Inc., and senior vice president of Alexion Pharmaceuticals upon leading the acquisition of Prolifaron by Alexion. She was the founder, CEO and CSO of Prolifaron, a privately held antibody discovery company that grew through large pharma partnerships and ultimate acquisition. In earlier years, Dr. Bowdish worked with Richard A. Lerner, M.D., at The Scripps Research Institute on catalytic antibodies and related antibody technologies, and at Monsanto in agricultural biotechnology. She received her doctorate from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary.

Dr. Bowdish represents Sanofi on the boards of directors of three Sunrise investments including Warp Drive Bio, where she serves as vice chairman of the board, Portal Instruments, and MyoKardia.

Steve Holtzman

President and Chief Executive Officer, Decibel Therapeutics

Steven Holtzman is president and chief executive officer at Decibel Therapeutics. Steve brings more than 30 years of strategic, operational and leadership experience in the biotechnology industry. Prior to Decibel, he served as executive vice president, corporate development at Biogen, Inc., where he created and led the program leadership and management group through six new drug approvals. He also led the business development and M&A group through successful completion of numerous transactions.

Prior to Biogen, Steve served as the founder, chief executive officer and chair of the board of directors of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a cancer drug discovery and development company. He was also an early leader and the chief business officer of Millennium Pharmaceuticals (now Takeda Oncology), a pioneer in large scale genetics and genomics, and was a founder, member of the board and the executive vice president of DNX Corporation, the first transgenic animal company. Steve is a member of the boards of directors of PMV Pharma, Visterra, Humatics, The Sync Project and Molecular Partners. In the not-for-profit arena, Steve is currently a trustee of the Berklee College of Music and previously served as the vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Hastings Center for Ethics and the Life Sciences. From 1996 to 2001, he served as a Presidential appointee to the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

Steve received his B.A. in philosophy from Michigan State University and his B.Phil. graduate degree in philosophy from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

Rachel K. King, MBA

Chief Executive Officer, GlycoMimetics, Inc.

Rachel King is chief executive officer for GlycoMimetics, Inc., a clinical-stage hematology/oncology-focused biotechnology company she co-founded 13 years ago. Before that, she spent two years at New Enterprise Associates where she served as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Ms. King also held positions at Novartis Corporation, where she served as both the vice president of government relations and senior vice president of corporate communications and government relations. Previously, she held positions of increasing responsibility with Genetic Therapy Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Novartis, including as the company’s chief executive officer. Earlier in her career, she worked for the ALZA Corporation, a pharmaceutical and medical systems company acquired by Johnson & Johnson. Ms. King served as chair of the Maryland Life Sciences advisory board under Governor Martin O’Malley and is the immediate past board chair for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).  

Ms. King holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Laurence Reid, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Warp Drive Bio

Laurence Reid brings to Warp Drive Bio more than 25 years of experience within the global biotechnology industry, including the areas of general management, business development and strategic planning. Most recently, he served as chief business officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, where he led business development strategy and efforts, including forming the company's transformational agreement with Genzyme, a Sanofi company, plus alliances with Medicines Company, Monsanto and GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to Alnylam, Dr. Reid was chief business officer at Ensemble Therapeutics, where he led the development and implementation of key business strategies for the company's therapeutic and diagnostic portfolios, as well as executed major therapeutic discovery alliances with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer Inc. Dr. Reid's previous entrepreneurial experiences include the founding of startup companies in the fields of stem cell therapeutics and inflammation. He also spent 10 years at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he worked in a range of general management and business development positions. Roles included general manager of Millennium UK with responsibility for Millennium's European operations, vice president of business development for the company's predictive medicine efforts, as well as in pharmaceutical business development and technology acquisition. Before joining Millennium, he was an assistant editor of the premier journal Cell.

Dr. Reid received his Ph.D. from London University and his B.A. from Cambridge University. He is a member of the board of directors of The Possible Project, a youth entrepreneurship center that teaches high school students to start and run their own businesses.

Gregory Verdine, Ph.D.

Founder and Chair of Scientific Advisory Board, Warp Drive Bio

Gregory Verdine is a pioneer in the field of chemical biology, having served as the Erving Professor of Chemistry in the Harvard University Departments of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology for the past 25 years. He discovered the molecular mechanism of epigenetic DNA methylation and elucidated the pathway by which certain genotoxic forms of DNA damage are eradicated from the genome. He is also responsible for having developed a new class of therapeutics termed stapled peptides, which are currently in clinical development and have received much attention for their ability to drug "undruggable" targets.

In addition to Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Verdine has co-founded multiple biotechnology companies, including Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Aileron Therapeutics, Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Ontorii Pharmaceuticals and Eleven Biotherapeutics. For more than a decade, Dr. Verdine served as one of two global consultants for Hoffmann-La Roche, and was a founding scientific advisor to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Ariad Pharmaceuticals and Variagenics, Inc. In 2009, he joined Third Rock Ventures as a venture partner. Dr. Verdine serves as a scientific advisor to the board of directors of the Ibusuki Medipolis Research Institute; on the board of scientific consultants of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Research Institute; on the board of scientific advisors of the National Cancer Institute; and the scientific advisory board of the SMA Foundation.

Dr. Verdine holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University, a B.S. in chemistry from St. Joseph's University, and served as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at MIT and Harvard Medical School.

Elias Zerhouni, M.D.

President, Global Research and Development, Sanofi

Elias Zerhouni's academic career was spent at the renowned Johns Hopkins University and Hospital where he was professor of radiology and biomedical engineering and senior adviser for Johns Hopkins Medicine. He served as chair of the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, vice dean for research and executive vice dean of the School of Medicine from 1996 to 2002 before his appointment as director of the National Institutes of Health from 2002 to 2008. In that position he oversaw the NIH's 27 institutes and centers with more than 18,000 employees and a budget of $29.5 billion (2008).

In November 2009, President Obama appointed Dr. Zerhouni as one of the first presidential U.S. science envoys.

Dr. Zerhouni has founded or co-founded five start-up companies, authored more than 200 publications and holds eight patents and a number of prominent positions on several boards, including most recently, the board of the Lasker Foundation and of the Transcelerate BioPharma Inc. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, received the prestigious Legion of Honor medal from the French National Order in 2008, and was elected in 2010 as a member of the French Academy of Medicine and appointed as chair of innovation at the College de France in 2011.

Gregory Verdine, Ph.D.

Chair of Scientific Advisory Board, Warp Drive Bio

Gregory Verdine is a pioneer in the field of chemical biology, having served as the Erving Professor of Chemistry in the Harvard University Departments of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology for the past 25 years. He discovered the molecular mechanism of epigenetic DNA methylation and elucidated the pathway by which certain genotoxic forms of DNA damage are eradicated from the genome. He is also responsible for having developed a new class of therapeutics termed stapled peptides, which are currently in clinical development and have received much attention for their ability to drug "undruggable" targets.

In addition to Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Verdine has co-founded multiple biotechnology companies, including Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Aileron Therapeutics, Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Ontorii Pharmaceuticals and Eleven Biotherapeutics. For more than a decade, Dr. Verdine served as one of two global consultants for Hoffmann-La Roche, and was a founding scientific advisor to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Ariad Pharmaceuticals and Variagenics, Inc. In 2009, he joined Third Rock Ventures as a venture partner. Dr. Verdine serves as a scientific advisor to the board of directors of the Ibusuki Medipolis Research Institute; on the board of scientific consultants of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Research Institute; on the board of scientific advisors of the National Cancer Institute; and the scientific advisory board of the SMA Foundation.

Dr. Verdine holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University, a B.S. in chemistry from St. Joseph's University, and served as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at MIT and Harvard Medical School.

George Church, Ph.D.

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

George Church, Ph.D. is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of NIH-CEGS and DOE-GTL Genomics Centers. He has pioneered technology innovations early in the development of key fields in chemistry and biomedicine with 10 U.S. Patents granted and several pending. As part of technology transfer to the commercial sector, he has served on 22 scientific advisory boards. In 1976, his crystallographic software led to the first high-resolution folded-RNA structure (a decade before similar structures important for ribozymes, aptamers, and RNAi). That software is still in use 30 years later. He wrote the first automated DNA sequencing software (eight years ahead of other efforts); variations on that software figured into commercial efforts in 1980-1991. Between 1977 and 1984, working with Walter Gilbert (1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method. That technology helped inspire the Human Genome Project (HGP). Of a handful of advocates, he was the one who participated in all three meetings in 1984-5 that lead to the HGP start in 1987 at DOE and 1990 at NIH. He obtained the first HGP sequencing grant and three years later helped found the Stanford, MIT, and CRI Genome Centers. The CRI group (later GTC, then Agencourt) was (and still is) the only commercial production group of the seven U.S. centers. GTC completed the first genome sequence sold commercially (the human pathogen, H. pylori, in 1994, the year before the first published genome sequence).

From 1983 to 1988, Dr. Church invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, variations of which are present in many high-throughput assays today. A homologous-recombination method from his group is one of the most broadly used, distributed to more than 1000 research groups. He began development of oligonucleotide-array DNA synthesizers in 1990 and has co-developed technologies for innovative array assays with most of the major companies (Affymetrix, Nimblegen, and Xeotron). Recently these have been extended from analysis to synthesis, i.e. assembly and error-correction of genes from multimegabase-scale chips and hence initiating 'synthetic biology' as a new engineering discipline. His group is synthesizing bacterial genomes with new genetic codes, new protein types, and thereby immune to all existing viruses. Dr. Church helped develop and commercialize some of the first "single-molecule" and microfluidics technologies, most recently "Polony" DNA sequencing and has been championing its development for $1000 human genome sequences. This, together with the advances above for unprecedented manipulations of DNA in cells, brings practical personalized medicine considerably closer, along with applications to energy, the environment, and smart materials.

James Wells, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCSF School of Chemistry

James A. Wells, Ph.D. focuses on development of enabling technologies for engineering proteins and for identifying small molecules to aid in drug discovery for challenging targets such as allosteric regulation and protein-protein interactions. He is interested in the discovery and design of small molecules and enzymes that trigger or modulate cellular processes in inflammation and cancer. Using small molecules and engineered proteins, the Wells lab is studying how activation of particular signaling nodes involving protease, kinases, or ubiquitin ligases drives cell biology. The lab has focused much on a set of proteases, known as caspases, responsible for fate determining cellular decisions involved in apoptosis and innate inflammation among others. These enzymes act as cellular remodelers and help us understand the essential protein struts that support life. These targets also provide leads for developing new cancer therapeutics and biomarkers for cancer treatment.

Dr. Wells is a recipient of the Hans Neurath Award by the Protein Society, the Pfizer Award and Smissman Award given by the American Chemical Society, the Perlman Lecture Award given by the ACS Biotechnology Division, the du Vigneaud Award given by the American Peptide Society, the Merck Award from the ASBMB and in 1999 a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Wells is a professor and chair of the department of pharmaceutical chemistry in the UCSF School of Pharmacy. He holds a combined appointment as professor in the Department of Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology in the School of Medicine. He joined UCSF in 2005 as holder of the Harry Wm. and Diana V. Hind Distinguished Professorship in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr. Wells also founded and directs the Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC) located at UCSF's Mission Bay campus. He earned a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Washington State University with Professor Ralph Yount in 1979 and completed postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine with Professor George Stark in 1982. Before joining UCSF, Dr. Wells was a founding scientist in Genentech's Protein Engineering Department and in 1998 co-founded Sunesis Pharmaceuticals.