Board of Directors

DAVID KIRN, MD
Co-Founder, President & CEO, Chairman

Dr. David Kirn is a physician-scientist, experienced biotech business executive and entrepreneur, and global leader in the design and clinical R&D of viral vector genetic therapies. Dr. Kirn is an Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. He was a founder at three successful genetic therapy-viral vector companies, led the development of three novel viral vector-based product platforms resulting in over 10 different products, and he designed and led roughly 30 clinical trials (Phase 1-3) involving over 800 patients treated with viral vector gene therapies.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN GENETIC THERAPY: At Onyx Pharmaceuticals he was VP, Clinical R&D and a founding management team member. During his tenure leading product development, the company executed three pharmaceutical partnerships and a successful IPO (eventually sold for ~$10 Billion to Amgen). He led over 15 clinical trials involving over 400 patients in Phase 1-3 with an ad- enovirus-based genetic therapy for cancer. He was then Founder & CEO of Jennerex, the pioneer in oncolytic immunotherapy for cancer with vaccine virus vectors. He successfully raised over $50 Million dollars and executed three biotech partnership deals, while leading over 10 clinical trials involving over 250 patients in Phase 1-2b. He sold the company for ~$150 Million dollars with earn-out payments. Finally, he co-founded 4D with David Schaffer in 2013.

 

In 2013 he was the inaugural recipient of the Johnson & Johnson Entrepreneur-Innovator Award.

BIOTHERAPEUTIC PRODUCT CLINICAL DEVELOPMENT: Dr. Kirn has led product translation and clinical R&D with over 10 biotherapeutic agents involving over 800 patients in Phase 1-3 trials. He served as SVP Clinical R&D at Celgene, VP Clinical R&D at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and consulting clinical project leader for biological therapies at Biogen Idec, Novartis-Cell Genesys, and Intermune.

ACADEMIC POSITIONS: Dr. Kirn is an Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. Dr. Kirn held academic faculty positions at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); Imperial College (London); and the University of Oxford. He co-authored over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotech, Nature Reviews Cancer, Science & Science Translational Medicine. He completed oncology fellowship at UCSF, internal medicine residency at Harvard Medical School (Brigham and Women’s Hospital), and was chief medical resident at a Harvard teaching hospital. He received his MD from UCSF (AOA Honors) and BA in Physiology from UC Berkeley (Departmental Citation, Phi Beta Kappa).

 

DAVID SCHAFFER, PHD
Co-Founder, Acting CSO, Co-Chairman

David Schaffer is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as the Director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering, and from Massachusetts In- stitute of Technology with a PhD in Chemical Engineering. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Fred Gage at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA. At UC Berkeley, Dr. Schaffer applies engineering principles to enhance stem cell and gene therapy approaches for neuroregeneration, work that includes novel approaches for molecular engineering and evolution of new viral vectors as well as new technologies to investigate and control stem cell fate decisions.

 

 

AWARDS: David Schaffer has received an NSF CAREER Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Whitaker Foundation Young Investigator Award, and was named a Technology Review Top 100 Innovator. He was also awarded the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Shaffer Young Investigator Award in 2000, the American Chemical Society BIOT Division Young Investigator Award in 2006, the American Chemical Society Marvin John- son Award in 2016, and was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2010.

PUBLICATIONS, EDITORIAL & SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARDS: Dr. Schaffer has over 180 scientific publications, has served on 7 journal editorial boards and 7 industrial scientific advisory boards, and is currently the Secretary and a Board of Directors member of the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy (the premiere gene therapy society). He serves on the Board of Directors for UniQure (QURE, NASDAQ).

 

CHARLES P. THEUER, MD, PHD
Board Member

Dr. Theuer has been CEO and President of TRACON, and a Director of TRACON Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TCON) since 2006. Prior thereto, from October 2004 to July 2006, Dr. Theuer was Chief Medical Officer at TargeGen Inc., where he led the development of small molecule kinase inhibitors in oncology (including fedratinib, a jak2 inhibitor), ophthalmology and cardiovascular disease. From October 2003 to October 2004, Dr. Theuer was the Director, Clinical Oncology at Pfizer, where he led the clinical development of Sutent® (sunitinib maleate) in kidney cancer; Sutent® was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2006 for treating advanced kidney cancer.

 

 

Prior thereto, Dr. Theuer held senior positions at IDEC Pharmaceuticals, from June 2002 to October 2003, and the National Cancer Institute developing other agents, including small molecules and monoclonal antibody therapies.

Dr. Theuer holds a B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MD degree from the University of California, San Francisco and a PhD degree from the University of California, Irvine. He completed a residency in general surgery at Harbor-UC- LA Medical Center and was Board Certified in general surgery in 1997. Dr. Theuer held academic positions at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and at the University of California, Irvine, where he was a member of the Division of Surgical Oncology. His previous research involved immunotoxin and cancer vaccine development, translational work in cancer patients, as well as gastrointestinal cancer epidemiology.

 

JACOB CHACKO, MD
Board Member

Dr. Chacko is the CEO of ORIC Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage oncology company focused on discovery and development of novel therapies against treatment-resistant cancers. He was previously chief financial officer of Ignyta, a NASDAQ-listed precision oncology company acquired by Roche for $1.7 billion. Prior to Ignyta, Dr. Chacko was an investor at TPG Capital where he helped lead teams that completed acquisitions having an aggregate value of over $10 billion.

He has served on the board of directors of Bonti, RentPath and EnvisionRx and was a board observer to Par Pharmaceutical, IMS Health and Quintiles Transnational. In addition, he previously served on the board of the Packard Children’s Health Alliance at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. He currently serves on the board of directors of Turning Point Therapeutics and chairs the Western Regional Selection Committee for the Marshall Scholarship.

 

 

Dr. Chacko concurrently received his M.D. with AOA honors from UCLA and his M.B.A. with Distinction from Harvard Business School. Prior to that, he was a consultant serving healthcare clients at McKinsey & Company. He received a M.Sc. from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar and undergraduate degrees from the University of Southern California, where he graduated as the University Valedictorian.

 

TONY YAO MD, PHD 
Board Member

Tony Yao is a Portfolio Manager of Life Science Strategy at ArrowMark Partners. Prior to joining ArrowMark Partners, he was an equity analyst at Janus Capital Group, focusing on healthcare investments and covering biotechnology/pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and specialty pharmaceuticals of all capitalization sizes. At Janus, Dr. Yao was also the Assistant Portfolio Manager of the Janus Worldwide Fund.

 

 

 

Tony graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and earned both an MD and PhD in Immunology from Stanford University.

 

BILL BURKOTH
Board Member

Bill is currently an Executive Director of Pfizer Ventures, the venture capital arm of Pfizer Inc. Since joining Pfizer in early 2004, Bill has played an instrumental role in numerous new venture capital investments, including Avid Radiopharmaceuticals (acquired by Eli Lilly), Clovis Oncology (Nasdaq: CLVS), DVS Sciences (acquired by Fluidigm), Evolution Benefits (acquired by Genstar Capital), HandyLab (acquired by Becton Dickinson), HD Biosciences (acquired by Wuxi AppTec), and Novocure (Nasdaq: NVCR).  Bill currently serves on the board of directors of AMRA Medical, Biodesy, G-Con Manufacturing, NeuMoDx Molecular, Palleon Pharmaceuticals, RefleXion Medical, and Strata Oncology.  He is also a member of the investment committee of the Investment Fund for Health in Africa (IFHA). 

 

 

Prior to joining Pfizer, Bill worked in Business Development at Galileo Pharmaceuticals and at IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals. Prior to his roles in business development, Bill was an analyst at Bay City Capital. Mr. Burkoth received a BA in chemistry from Whitman College and an MBA from Columbia Business School.