Denali Therapeutics Launches with Initial Investment to Discover and Develop Treatments for Neurodegenerative Diseases

14 May, 2015, 08:00 ET from Denali Therapeutics Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO, May 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Denali Therapeutics Inc. ("Denali"), a new biotechnology company focused on developing effective therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, announced today that it 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.

Commenting on the launch of Denali, Dr. Ryan Watts, Denali Co-Founder, Acting CEO and CSO, 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. The time is right and Denali has the right team and resources."

Robert Nelsen, Denali Board Member and Managing Director and Co-Founder of ARCH Venture Partners, said, "Denali brings together independent experts in the industry, united in our dedication to successfully tackling this critical need. We recognize that the time is right for a serious, joint effort to effectively develop new therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases."

Dr. Stacie Weninger, Denali Board Member and Executive Director of the Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative, said, "Recent technological and scientific advances have positioned us to develop truly transformational therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. Denali is founded by some of the most talented scientific innovators in the world who bring extensive experience in translating novel discoveries into potential therapeutics. The Denali team will collaborate broadly to identify and pursue the most promising ideas to fight these devastating diseases. As the sense of urgency for developing game-changing therapeutics for these diseases has intensified, I am confident that Denali will have the talent, resources and collaborative spirit to execute its bold vision to make a significant impact in the lives of many."

Dr. Douglas Cole, Denali Board Member, a Managing Partner of Flagship Ventures and a trained neurologist, said, "Flagship has sought an opportunity in this field for many years. We believe that neurology has now reached a turning point in understanding disease mechanism and translational medicine that, for the first time, creates real opportunities to develop disease-modifying drugs. The founding Denali team comprises indisputable world leaders in the field. The time is right to take on the challenge of neurodegenerative diseases, and Denali has the people, science and resources for success."

Denali's co-founders are:

  • Ryan Watts, Acting CEO, CSO and Board Member of Denali, former Director of the Department of Neuroscience at Genentech
  • Alexander Schuth, COO of Denali, former Director and Head of Neuroscience Partnering at Genentech
  • Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Chairman of the Board of Denali, President of The 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, Inc.
  • Vicki Sato, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School
  • David Schenkein, CEO of Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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. 

About Denali Therapeutics Inc.
Denali Therapeutics Inc. ("Denali") is a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of therapies for patients with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS and others. Denali was founded by scientists, industry experts and investors who share the vision that 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. Denali is rigorously pursuing a science-driven approach to translational medicine and clinical development. Founding investors include Fidelity Biosciences, ARCH Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures and the Alaska Permanent Fund (represented by Crestline Investors). To learn more, visit www.denalitherapeutics.com

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SOURCE Denali Therapeutics Inc.



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