Denali Therapeutics launches to study neurodegenerative disease treatments
Denali Therapeutics, a new California-based biotechnology company focused on developing effective therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, has launched with an initial investment commitment of $217 million. Denali is based on the collaboration of world-class scientists, industry experts and investors. Recent scientific insights into the genetic causes and biological processes underlying neurodegenerative disease, together with new translational medicine tools, offer an unprecedented opportunity to discover and develop effective medicines for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Ryan Watts, Denali co-founder, acting CEO and chief scientific officer, said, "Our team will place an emphasis on rigorous translational medicine for targeted drug development, seeking evidence of drug activity in the brain and identifying biomarker-defined patient populations to increase the probability of clinical success. We are committed to collaborating with leading academic groups, companies and advocacy groups."
Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Denali co-founder and chairman of the board of directors, said, "Neurodegenerative diseases are an enormous burden for patients and challenge for society. Recent advances in science create new opportunities for the discovery and development of breakthrough treatments for patients."
Denali's co-founders are:
- Ryan Watts, acting CEO, chief scientific officer and board member of Denali, former director of the department of neuroscience at Genentech
- Alexander Schuth, chief operating officer of Denali, former director and head of neuroscience partnering at Genentech
- Marc Tessier-Lavigne, chairman of the board of Denali, president of Rockefeller University
Denali's other founding board members are:
- Robert Nelsen, managing director and co-founder of ARCH Venture Partners
- Stacie Weninger, executive director of Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative
- Douglas Cole, managing partner of Flagship Ventures
- Stephen Knight, managing partner of Fidelity Biosciences
- Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina
- Vicki Sato, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School
- David Schenkein, CEO of Agios Pharmaceuticals
The founding investors include Fidelity Biosciences, ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures and the Alaska Permanent Fund (represented by Crestline Investors). Additional investors include sovereign wealth funds, public mutual funds and private family offices, with significant reserves for additional future financing.