Featured Faculty

One of the greatest Robinson Life Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship Program value-adds is the faculty involved in the program and the freshman introductory course and capstone. The faculty in the Haas School of Business and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology are not only successful academics running top-notch research labs but also entrepreneurs with extensive experience in the biotech industry. We practice what we teach in LSBE.

David Kirn, MD

David Kirn is a physician-scientist, entrepreneur, professor, translational and clinical therapeutics developer, and biopharmaceutical executive with over 25 years in the field. His research focuses on viral vector therapeutics at the intersection of product design, development, disease mechanisms (oncology, rare diseases), virology, translational and clinical R&D. As co-Founder & CEO of five companies focused on viral vector gene medicines, he’s helped to raise ~$350 million, executed over 10 business development partnerships internationally, and patient advocacy organizations. He was awarded the J&J Entrepreneur-Innovator Award in 2014. As an adjunct professor in Molecular & Cell Biology and BioEngineering at UC Berkeley, he teaches biotech entrepreneurship and therapeutics development. He was on the faculty of medicine at UCSF, Imperial College London, and Visiting Professor at Oxford University & Mayo Clinic. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley he was awarded the Departmental Citation (top graduate) and Phi Beta Kappa. He did his medical training at UCSF (AOA) and Harvard (Chief Medical Resident), and business training at Haas Business School. He is senior author on over 100 biomedical publications including in Nature & Nature Medicine, and he’s given over 100 presentations.

Michael Rape, PhD

Michael Rape is the Dr. K. Peter Hirth Chair of Cancer Biology and a Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at UC Berkeley. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Michael received his PhD at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry, and he performed his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School. Michael’s research is centered on understanding molecular mechanisms of cell fate decisions during human development and disease, with an emphasis on the role of a posttranslational modification referred to as ubiquitylation. For his work, Michael has received the Otto-Hahn Medal, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, the National Blavatnik Award, and an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Michael is also co-founder of the biotech company Nurix Therapeutics, which is based in San Francisco and develops a new class of small molecule drugs to treat cancer.

Julia Schaletzky, PhD

Julia Schaletzky joined The Center for Emerging & Neglected Diseases at UC Berkeley in fall 2017 and is currently the center’s Executive Director. Originally from Germany, Julia trained as a Biochemist at Bayreuth University and completed her studies in the laboratory of Prof. Francis Barr at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. She then went abroad to obtain her PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Tom Rapoport at Harvard Medical School/Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). While the main focus was on translocation of proteins across the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, she also volunteered as a mentor for the HHMI EXROP program, training and mentoring students from underrepresented communities over the summer. After completing her PhD, Julia joined Cytokinetics, a biotechnology company in South San Francisco. During her 11 years at Cytokinetics, Julia and her team focused on discovering and developing novel, first-in-class medicines against heart failure and neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS, which are currently in Phase III clinical trials. In addition, she took on several pro-bono projects stemming from academic collaborations, working after hours on successful screens against Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Malaria and Toxoplasmosis. Julia is passionate about treating neglected and emerging diseases, establishing effective collaboration between academia and industry and about translating basic science into new companies and ultimately cures. In her free time, Julia enjoys learning new skills, socializing with family and friends, and practicing the Arts.

Robert Tjian, PhD

Dr. Robert Tjian, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology since 1979, also served as President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2009-2016. Trained as a biochemist at Cal and Harvard, he was a pioneer in studying how genetic information in our DNA is decoded to produce mRNA and proteins. During nearly 4 decades on the faculty at Cal, he taught thousands of undergrads while doing biomedical discovery research. He has received many scientific awards including election to the National Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society, was California Scientist of the Year. Additionally, he has been an HHMI investigator since 1987.  He also founded Tularik, Inc. and launched several biotech companies as part of a venture capital firm called The Column Group.

Affiliated Lecturers

  • Dr. Michael Botchan, Dean, Division of Biological Sciences at UC Berkeley
  • Bob Dunkle, Founder and CEO of ABES Venture Partners
  • Dr. Larry Lasky, Partner, The Column Group
  • Kim MacPherson, Executive Director, Health Management – Haas School of Business; Program Director, Health Policy & Management – School of Public Health; Co-Director, Berkeley Center for Health Technology – UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Brian Staskawicz, Professor, Dept of Plant and Microbial Biology and the Innovative Genomics Institute, UC Berkeley
  • Dr. Fyodor Urnov, Deputy Director, Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences

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