David Kirn is a biotechnology entrepreneur, physician-scientist and leader in therapeutic viral vector R&D. He is co-Founder, CEO & Chairman of 4D Molecular Therapeutics, and adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. He has co-founded and led four companies in the field. He is currently also Executive Chairman of Ignite Immunotherapy Inc, an oncolytic virus cancer vaccine company that he co-founded with Pfizer. In 2013 he was awarded the Johnson & Johnson Entrepreneur Innovator Award from the J&J Innovation Center.
Over the last 20 years, Dr. Kirn has been a leader in therapeutic viral vector and oncolytic virus cancer vaccine R&D. He led the design and development of over 10 therapeutic virus products for cancer oncolysis and/or immunotherapy, involving over 750 patients, including leading clinical trials from first-in-human studies to Phase 3 randomized trials. He was Founder & CEO of Jennerex, a pioneer in oncolytic immunotherapy for cancer, where he led the development of JX-594 (Pexa-Vec; engineered vaccinia virus) from concept into Phase 3. Pexa-Vec was the first armed oncolytic virus to demonstrate 1) intravenous (IV) tumor targeting and efficacy (Nature, 2011), and 2) a significant overall survival benefit in a randomized clinical trial (Nature Medicine 2013).
Through the consulting business that he founded, he led clinical development programs on therapeutic virus cancer immunotherapy products for Biogen and Novartis/Cell Genesys, and consulted in the field for Bayer, Novartis and Pfizer. At Onyx Pharmaceuticals, he was on the founding R&D team and he led the Onyx-015 oncolytic adenovirus program from concept to Phase 3. He co-authored papers reporting firsts for oncolytic viruses including 1) targeting of tumor suppressor-deficient cells (Science 1996, Nature Medicine 1997 and Nature Medicine 2000), 2) the first Phase 1-3 clinical trials with an engineered oncolytic virus, and 3) the first clinical trial demonstrating combination therapy efficacy (Nature Medicine 2000).
Dr. Kirn has held faculty positions at UCSF Medical School, the University of Oxford & UC Berkeley. He has co-authored over 100 publications, including publications in Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, Science, Science Translational Medicine and others. He earned degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (BA; Departmental Citation as top graduate within the major; Phi Beta Kappa honor society); UCSF Medical School (Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society); Harvard Medical School (Internal Medicine resident at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Chief Medical Resident at WR-VA Hospital). He completed hematology-oncology and clinical research fellowships at UCSF, and a degree from Haas Business School at UC Berkeley.