About Us: Board of Directors
Perry Karsen, Board Chair
Perry Karsen brings decades of proven executive leadership and board experience to the Board of Directors at Graphite Bio. Mr. Karsen served as the chief executive officer of the Celgene Cellular Therapeutics division of Celgene Corporation and as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of Celgene Corporation. Previously, he was president and CEO of Pearl Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company subsequently acquired by AstraZeneca plc. He also has held executive positions at Human Genome Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company subsequently acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Genentech, Inc., and Abbott Laboratories. Currently, Mr. Karsen is board chair of Jounce Therapeutics, executive chair of Nitrome Biosciences and on the board of ESCAPE Bio. Mr. Karsen has also served on the Board of Intellia Therapeutics through 2020. He also serves on the Gladstone Foundation Board. In 2019, Mr. Karsen was appointed as a fellow in the Stanford University Distinguished Careers Institute.
Abe Bassan has extensive experience in the gene therapy arena as an operator and investor. He currently is a Vice President at Samsara BioCapital. Mr. Bassan previously served as director of program biology at Revolution Medicines, where he co-led the initial stages of the company’s 4EBP1/mTORC1 cancer program. Prior to that, he was associate director of program development at bluebird bio, where he was the project manager for the company’s β-Thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anemia, and ALD gene therapy programs. Earlier in his career, Mr. Bassan was an associate at Third Rock Ventures, where he played a leading role in the firm’s investment in bluebird bio, as well as the ideation of Blueprint Medicines, a precision medicine oncology company. Mr. Bassan was also the founder of Aurora Medical, a molecular diagnostics testing services company.
Jerel Davis, Ph.D.
Dr. Jerel Davis brings a distinguished track record as an investor and advisor to his role as a board member of Graphite Bio, with proven expertise in company creation, R&D alliances, and corporate partnerships. He currently serves as managing director of Versant Ventures. During his nine year tenure at Versant, Dr. Davis has helped propel the growth strategies of a multitude of the firm’s portfolio companies including BlueRock Therapeutics, Crispr Therapeutics, Repare Therapeutics, Chinook Therapeutics, Tentarix Biotherapeutics, Turnstone Biologics, Ventus Therapeutics, and several others. Prior to joining Versant, Dr. Davis was an associate principal at McKinsey & Company, where he advised a broad range of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, and molecular diagnostics companies. He has worked in a number of healthcare markets globally including the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, Russia, and India.
Joe Jimenez is the former chief executive officer of Novartis, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Jimenez joined Novartis in 2007 to lead the pharmaceuticals division and was named CEO in 2010. He navigated the company through a period of change following patent expirations of its two largest products. Under his stewardship, Novartis developed one of the largest pipelines of self-originated drugs in the industry, driven by a strong commitment to research and development.Currently, Mr. Jimenez is co-founder and managing director of Aditum Bio, an investment firm focused on developing biotechnology assets that will benefit patients. He also serves as a board member of General Motors Company and The Proctor & Gamble Company.
Josh Lehrer, M.Phil., M.D., FACC
Dr. Josh Lehrer is the chief executive officer at Graphite Bio. In this role, Dr. Lehrer bridges his clinical background as a practicing physician with decades of experience at global biopharmaceutical companies leading businesses and high-functioning teams across all stages of drug development. Previously, Dr. Lehrer served as chief medical officer at Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) where he led the innovative clinical development strategy for sickle cell disease treatment Voxelotor from pre-IND stages through approval and commercial launch, including playing an integral role in raising over $1 billion to fund the product’s development and launch.Dr. Lehrer has also served in leadership roles at Genentech in clinical development and business development, as well as attending physician roles at Stanford University Medical Center and the Palo Alto Veteran’s Affairs Health System.
Matthew Porteus, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Matthew Porteus is an academic founder of Graphite Bio and a pioneer in the field of gene editing. Currently, he is a Professor of Pediatrics and Stem Cell Transplantation and the Co-Director of Center for Definitive and Curative Medicine at Stanford University. His work in gene editing spans more than two decades, during which he was an academic founder of CRISPR Therapeutics, and an advisor to several other gene editing companies, as well as the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on Sickle Cell Disease. As a trained Pediatric Hematologist, Dr. Porteus now cares for children who are on the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant service.
Carlo Rizzuto, Ph.D.
Dr. Carlo Rizzuto is a seasoned biopharmaceutical business executive and investor with over two decades of diverse leadership experience. He currently is a partner at Versant Ventures based in New York, and has played an instrumental role in launching and growing multiple companies including Pandion Therapeutics, Repare Therapeutics, Century Therapeutics, and Jnana Therapeutics, among others. Earlier in his career, he led global product development teams at Novartis AG and was an associate principal with McKinsey & Company, advising U.S. and European clients in the pharmaceutical, payor and provider sectors.
Maria Grazia Roncarolo, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Maria Grazia Roncarolo is an academic founder of Graphite Bio and a world-renowned innovator in gene therapy. Currently, she is the George D. Smith Professor in Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics and of Medicine, Director of the Center for Definitive and Curative Medicine, and Co-Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University. Earlier, Dr. Grazia Roncarolo served as the director of the Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy, where she advanced multiple gene therapy products into the clinic. Her work at the Institute led to the discovery of ex vivo gene therapies for genetic diseases of the immune system as ADA-SCID and WASP and metabolic diseases as Metachromatic Leukodystrophy. The milestone stem cell gene therapy treatment for ADA-SCID was the world’s first approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) under the brand name of Strimvelis in May 2016.
Srini Akkaraju, M.D., Ph.D. (Board Observer)
Dr. Srinivas Akkaraju is the founder and managing general partner at Samsara BioCapital. Throughout his career, he has been an investment partner and trusted advisor to a diverse range of companies in the biotechnology sector. Prior to founding Samsara, he served as a general partner of Sofinnova Ventures. Before that, he was managing director of New Leaf Venture Partners, as well as Panorama Capital, LLC, a private equity firm that he also co-founded. Earlier in his career, Dr. Akkaraju was a partner with J.P. Morgan Partners. He began his career at Genentech, Inc. . Dr. Akkaraju also serves as a board member of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Chinook Therapeutics, and Syros Pharmaceuticals, and was previously on the boards of Seattle Genetics, Principia, ZS Pharma, Versartis, Synageva, and several other public and private biotech companies.