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 Genome 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.

Management Team

Daniel Gray, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Genomic Engineering and Discovery

Chris Lindblom, CPA, MBA

Vice President, Finance & Operations

Roy Pollock, Ph.D.

Vice President, Biology

Laurence Reid, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Sharon Townson, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Physical Biochemistry

Board of Directors

Julian Adams, Ph.D.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gamida Cell

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.

Kevin Gillis

Partner and Chief Financial Officer, Third Rock Ventures

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

Scientific Advisory Board

Julian Adams, Ph.D.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gamida Cell

Richard Baltz, Ph.D.

President, and Chief Scientific Officer, CognoGen Scientific Consulting

George Church, Ph.D.

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Robert Copeland, Ph.D.

President and Chief Scientific Officer, Accent Therapeutics

Jennifer Petter, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Arrakis Therapeutics

Barbara Weber, M.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Tango Therapeutics

James Wells, Ph.D.

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

Partners

Roche

Warp Drive Bio formed a strategic collaboration with Roche to advance novel classes of antibiotics to combat multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections.  The collaboration deploys Warp Drive Bio's proprietary Genome Mining™ Platform to discover multiple novel classes of antibiotics.  Roche will gain worldwide rights to advance certain antibiotic classes while Warp Drive Bio retains worldwide rights to advance all other antibiotic classes.  Warp Drive Bio is eligible to receive up to $387 million in upfront fees and milestone payments.

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GSK

Warp Drive Bio has formed a strategic collaboration with GSK to combine Warp Drive Bio's SMART™ platform with GSK's expertise in Encoded Library Technology to discover drugs that address high-value intractable targets.  Warp Drive Bio and GSK will each independently develop and commercialize products against their respective targets.

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Investors

Daniel Gray, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Genomic Engineering and Discovery

Dr. Daniel Gray has more than 8 years of biotech experience in molecular biology, protein engineering, and natural product discovery. During his tenure at Warp Drive Bio., Dr. Gray contributed to the foundational development of Warp Drive’s natural product overexpression technology and led a research team responsible for creating the company’s Evolvalog platform. Dr. Gray is our Senior Director of Genomic Engineering and Discovery, in which role he leads activities for the Genomes-to-Molecules platform.

Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, Dr. Gray was a post-doctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Todd Golub, at the Broad Institute where he applied next-generation sequencing and DNA editing technology to cancer biology. Prior to joining the Broad Institute, Dr. Gray was a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Wells, in the Departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). While at UCSF, Dr. Gray was the recipient of the 2011 Julius R. and Patricia A. Krevans Distinguished Dissertation Award. At USCF, Dr. Gray studied caspase regulation in apoptosis by utilizing multiple chemical and protein engineering approaches.  Dan began his career at Genentech in the Department of Molecular Biology. He is an author of more than 10 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on more than 5 patents (published or pending).  

Dr. Gray holds a B.A. in Biology from Lafayette College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from the University of California San Francisco.

Chris Lindblom, CPA, MBA

Vice President, Finance & Operations

Chris Lindblom brings to Warp Drive Bio more than 20 years of experience in Finance & Operational leadership.  Prior to joining Warp Drive Bio, he was the Vice President of Finance and Treasurer for Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  In this role, Mr. Lindblom was responsible for accounting / SEC reporting, financial planning, tax compliance and corporate insurance.  Mr. Lindblom held senior finance roles at BIND Therapeutics and OvaScience and began his career in biotechnology working for Millennium Pharmaceuticals during the VELCADE product launch.

Mr. Lindblom is responsible for executing the financial strategies for the company.  Mr. Lindblom oversees strategic finance, accounting, financial planning, facilities and IT.

Mr. Lindblom received an M.B.A from Boston College and his B.S. in Accounting from Syracuse University.  Mr. Lindblom is also a certified public accountant.

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.

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.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gamida Cell

Dr. Adams has more than 30 years of experience in drug discovery and development with a strong focus on cancer research. Dr. Adams joined Gamida Cell’s board of directors in 2016. Prior to being appointed CEO in November 2017, Dr. Adams served as chief scientific officer and president of Clal Biotechnology Industries. He was previously president of research and development at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Infinity in 2003, Dr. Adams was the senior vice president of drug discovery and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he headed multiple global drug discovery and development programs, including the successful Velcade® (bortezomib) program. Dr. Adams also held senior positions in research and development at LeukoSite (acquired by Millennium) and at ProScript, as well as in medicinal chemistry at Boehringer Ingelheim, where he is credited with discovering Viramune® (nevirapine) for HIV. Dr. Adams has won several awards for his drug development efforts throughout his career, holds more than 40 patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Adams received a B.S. from McGill University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also earned a 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.

Kevin Gillis

Partner and Chief Financial Officer, Third Rock Ventures

Kevin Gillis joined Third Rock Ventures in 2008 and is a successful financial leader with more than 25 years of financial leadership and management experience. Kevin is partner and CFO at Third Rock, leading the firm’s non-investment activities, which include running internal operations, overseeing the firm’s finance, legal, communications and administrative functions. He also leads fundraising activities and manages the firm’s limited partner relationships.

Before joining Third Rock, Kevin was vice president of finance at Coley Pharmaceutical Group, where he managed the company’s successful initial public offering and oversaw the company’s finances during its acquisition by Pfizer in 2008. Prior to Coley, Kevin served in a number of senior finance roles of increasing responsibility at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and The Coca-Cola Company. Kevin holds an MBA in finance from Bentley University and a B.A. in history from Brandeis University.

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 in 2003. 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.

Julian Adams, Ph.D.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gamida Cell

Dr. Adams has more than 30 years of experience in drug discovery and development with a strong focus on cancer research. Dr. Adams joined Gamida Cell’s board of directors in 2016. Prior to being appointed CEO in November 2017, Dr. Adams served as chief scientific officer and president of Clal Biotechnology Industries. He was previously president of research and development at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Infinity in 2003, Dr. Adams was the senior vice president of drug discovery and development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he headed multiple global drug discovery and development programs, including the successful Velcade® (bortezomib) program. Dr. Adams also held senior positions in research and development at LeukoSite (acquired by Millennium) and at ProScript, as well as in medicinal chemistry at Boehringer Ingelheim, where he is credited with discovering Viramune® (nevirapine) for HIV. Dr. Adams has won several awards for his drug development efforts throughout his career, holds more than 40 patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and has authored more than 100 papers and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Adams received a B.S. from McGill University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also earned a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from McGill University in 2012.

Richard Baltz, Ph.D.

President, and Chief Scientific Officer, CognoGen Scientific Consulting

Dr. Richard Baltz serves is the Chief Scientific Officer and President of CognoGen Biotechnology Consulting, a consulting firm to the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical and agrichemical industries, that Baltz founded in 1998 and reactivated in 2009. He currently focuses on consulting on actinomycete discovery and process development projects for industry and academia. In 2001, Dr. Baltz joined Cubist Pharmaceuticals, where he assisted in launching Cubicin (daptomycin), and led the Natural Products Discovery group. Dr. Baltz began his career in the life sciences at Eli Lilly and Company, where he focused on genetic manipulation of antibiotic production in Streptomyces and other actinomycetes for yield improvement. While at Eli Lilly, Dr. Baltz built and led the Molecular Genetics Department, helping to establish Lilly as a world leader in genetic engineering of industrial actinomycetes and in the expression of human proteins in Escherichia coli.

Dr. Baltz also serves as Editor for Reviews and Special Issues for the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, and as Section Editor for the Journal of Antibiotics. He is past president and a fellow of Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. He has presented his work in over 150 primary publications, reviews, and book chapters, and has 38 issued US patents. Dr. Baltz received a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he completed his postdoctoral research.

George Church, Ph.D.

Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Dr. George Church is a pioneer of genome engineering, systems and synthetic biology. He has co-founded more than 14 biotech companies, has authored over 400 papers, and holds 60 patents in his name. Dr. Church is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, a Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute. He is the Principal Investigator of the Center for Genomically Engineered Organs (CGEO), the Harvard/MIT DOE Genomes-to-Life Center, the Lipper Center for Computational Genetics, and is a founding core member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Dr. Church was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2011) and Engineering (2012), and the Franklin Institute’s Bower Award for Achievement in Science (2011). He holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University.

Robert Copeland, Ph.D.

President and Chief Scientific Officer, Accent Therapeutics

Robert A. Copeland, Ph.D. is President, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Accent Therapeutics and President of the independent consulting firm, Ki Consultant, LLC. He was formerly President of Research and Chief Scientific Officer of Epizyme, Inc. and before that, Vice President of Cancer Biology, Oncology Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Copeland received his doctorate in chemistry from Princeton University and did postdoctoral studies as the Chaim Weizmann Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He has contributed to drug discovery and development efforts leading to 18 investigational new drugs entering human clinical trials. These include the cancer drugs foretinib, afuresertib, pinometostat, tazemetostat, Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib) and the antibiotic Altabax (retapamulin). Dr. Copeland has contributed more than 200 publications to the scientific literature, holds 14 issued U.S. patents and has authored 5 books in the areas of protein science and enzymology. His most recent book, Evaluation of Enzyme Inhibitors in Drug Discovery: A Guide for Medicinal Chemists and Pharmacologists, 2nd Edition (Wiley, Hoboken, NJ), published in March 2013. In 2016 Dr. Copeland was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Jennifer Petter, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Arrakis Therapeutics

Dr. Petter is the founding CEO and current CSO of Arrakis Therapeutics. Previously, Jennifer was Vice President of Drug Discovery at Avila Therapeutics and, upon the acquisition of Avila by Celgene in 2012, she became Celgene’s Vice President of Chemistry, a position she held until leaving to found Arrakis in 2015. Prior to Avila, Jennifer served as Vice President of Research at Mersana Therapeutics, Director of Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Biogen and as Section Head in Oncology Chemistry at Sandoz/Novartis. Prior to her career in industry, Jennifer was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. Jennifer holds an A.B. in chemistry from Dartmouth College and earned her PhD in organic chemistry at Duke University with Ned Porter. She was a post-doctoral fellow in Ron Breslow’s group at Columbia University.

Barbara Weber, M.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Tango Therapeutics

Barbara Weber is Chief Executive Officer at Tango Therapeutics and a Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures and brings more than 25 years of experience in oncology R&D in senior leadership roles. Barbara focuses on the formation, development and strategy of Third Rock’s oncology portfolio companies. She was a senior member of the team that launched Relay Therapeutics in September 2016 and served as Interim CMO for Neon Therapeutics from launch to December 2016.

Prior to joining Third Rock, Barbara held the position of Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology Translational Medicine at Novartis from 2009 to 2015. Prior to joining Novartis, Barbara served as Vice President Oncology Discovery and Translational Medicine at GlaxoSmithKline from 2005 to 2009. Until 2005, Barbara was a Professor of Medicine and Genetics at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, leading a clinical and translational research program in cancer genetics and the UPenn Cancer Center Breast Cancer program.

Barbara is a member of the honorary societies American Association of Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, of which she served as President in 2005. Barbara also has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and on the Board of Directors of both the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research. Barbara is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and her fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

James Wells, Ph.D.

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

James A. Wells, PhD, an internationally recognized biochemist and leader in the development of new technologies for engineering proteins and for identifying small molecules to aid in drug discovery, is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. He joined UCSF in 2005 as the first holder of the Harry Wm. and Diana V. Hind Distinguished Professorship in Pharmaceutical Sciences, and has been the chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the UCSF School of Pharmacy since July 1, 2008.

Wells is a professor in his home Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and holds a joint appointment as professor in the UCSF School of Medicine’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology. At UCSF, Wells’ research group focuses on the discovery and design of small molecules that trigger or modulate cellular processes in inflammation and cancer. Using small molecules and engineered proteins, the Wells lab is studying how enzymes known as proteases are turned on to cleave particular proteins in cells. The lab is focusing on one set of proteases, known as caspases, that kill virally infected or precancerous cells. These enzymes act as demolition experts and help us understand the essential protein struts that support life. Wells’ research spans the multiple disciplines of biophysics, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and chemistry.

Wells also directs the Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC), which he founded. The SMDC is located at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus in the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), where Wells is a faculty affiliate. Center activities focus on helping UCSF and QB3 researchers identify small molecules that modulate biochemical or cellular processes and have the potential to alter disease states. The ultimate goal of SMDC research is to help pave the way for the development of new small molecule therapeutics.

Before joining UCSF, Wells was a founding scientist in Genentech’s Protein Engineering Department. He then founded Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, where he served as president and chief scientific officer and co-invented a novel drug discovery process, called Tethering, to efficiently screen molecules in search of the most potent compounds to block specific protein action.

In addition to his membership in the National Academy of Sciences, Wells is a recipient of many honors, including the Hans Neurath Award by the Protein Society, the Pfizer Award given by the American Chemical Society, the du Vigneaud Award given by the American Peptide Society and the 2006 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award. He earned a PhD degree in biochemistry from Washington State University and completed postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Gregory Verdine, Ph.D.

Founder, 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.