Like many stories of hope, ours begins with struggle. In 2013, Grace Wilsey was diagnosed with NGLY1 Deficiency. Her parents, Matt and Kristen, quickly discovered the incredible challenges they faced. At the time, Grace was one of only six known patients worldwide. Funding for research was nonexistent. The world wasn’t set up to save Grace. So Matt and Kristen did what any good parents would do — they set out to change the world. In doing so, they uncovered rich biology that impacts millions of people. After 5 years of directing a global research network via the Grace Science Foundation, Matt co-founded Grace Science, LLC with Nobel Laureate Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi.
Drug development has been too narrowly focused on individual molecules, targets, and technologies. The Grace Science model has already begun unlocking opportunities across a spectrum of diseases in Oncology and Neurodegeneration. Rather than limiting ourselves to therapies and cures for one disease, we leverage a critical disease pathway. We are agnostic to therapeutic modality and disease area. This frees us to truly let the science guide us. Because we are leveraging a powerful pathway, we are able to share knowledge and tools between programs instead of these being in independent development silos.
Meet Our Leadership
The team is composed of brilliant minds with deep drug development expertise. Co-founder Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (the 4th Nobel on our extended team). We seek A+ people in addition to A+ talent. Individuals who see the bigger picture, are empathetic at the core, and are driven to develop cures that improve human life.
Carolyn Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical & Systems Biology and Radiology (by courtesy) at Stanford University, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Harvard University in 1988 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1993. After completing postdoctoral work at UCSF in the field of cellular immunology, she joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1996. In June 2015, she joined the faculty at Stanford University coincident with the launch of Stanford’s ChEM-H institute.
Dr. Bertozzi’s research interests span the disciplines of chemistry and biology with an emphasis on studies of cell surface glycosylation pertinent to disease states. Her lab focuses on profiling changes in cell surface glycosylation associated with cancer, inflammation and bacterial infection, and exploiting this information for development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, most recently in the area of immuno-oncology. She has been recognized with many honors and awards for her research accomplishments. She is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the Heinrich Wieland Prize, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, among many others.
Brett Crawford is a glycobiologist with over 15 years of experience in biomarker and therapeutic discovery for rare genetic diseases. As a co-founder of Zacharon Pharmaceuticals, he was the lead inventor and advocate for identifying the primary biochemical event in a disease as a critical tool to empower drug discovery and clinical development decision making. Currently, Brett is a Staff Scientist at BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. leading a team of scientist in the Research Department.
Yuhua Ji has over 25 years of broad experience in drug discovery and development. She has a track record of building and leading multi-disciplined teams and leading projects from inception to proof-of-concept. She led and made significant contributions to over ten development candidates and IND-filings across various therapeutic areas. She has deep expertise in small molecule drug discovery and is the inventor of YUPELRITM (revefenacin). She is named as the inventor on over 100 patents and the author of over 20 publications. She also has solid experience in leading collaborations, preclinical development and CMC.
Prior to Grace Science, Yuhua was the head of Medicinal Chemistry and cross-functional project leader at Zai Lab US. Before that, she was IND director at Virogin Biotech. From 2011 to 2017, she worked in various capacities at Path, leading discovery chemistry and CMC, and supported several clinical development programs. She previously worked 10 years at Theravance, where she discovered YUPELRITM and served as the project leader. She spent the first 10 years of her career in Medicinal Chemistry at Hoffmann La-Roche in Switzerland and was a visiting scientist at Genentech. Yuhua obtained Ph.D in organic chemistry and Biological Chemistry from Université de Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, France. She holds a B.Sc. degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Pharmaceutical University of China.
Dan has over twenty five years experience in research and development in academia and industry. He is currently a consultant to early-stage rare disease companies and foundations, focusing on research and clinical development, and pipeline strategy. Prior to being a consultant, Dan was Chief Operating Officer at Reset Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company focused on therapeutics targeting clock proteins. His previous position was Group Vice President, Product Development and Strategy at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, a company focused on rare genetic disease, overseeing research-stage and clinical-stage core teams. Over his 15 years at BioMarin, Dan served in a variety of roles in Business Development, Product Development, and Strategy. Prior to joining BioMarin, Dan was a strategy consultant at McKinsey and Co. Dan earned a Ph.D. in entomology from UC Berkeley and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
Len Post has over thirty years experience in R&D at pharmaceutical and biotech companies. He is currently Chief Scientific Officer at Vivace Therapeutics. His previous position was Chief Scientific Officer of BioMarin Pharmaceutical, a company focused on rare genetic disease, where he was responsible for programs that included small molecules, proteins, and gene therapy. Prior positions were Chief Scientific Officer of LEAD Therapeutics, Senior Vice President of R&D at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and positions at Parke-Davis and Upjohn. He is currently a member of the boards of directors of Vivace, Oxyrane, Orphagen, and Fedora Pharmaceuticals.
Mimi is a protein biochemist experienced in technical and site management, protein/DNA design, bioprocess development, analytics, and early to late-stage dru development from small molecules, proteins and nucleic acids to viral vectors. She is passionate about improving AAV vectors and leading CMC strategies to deliver safe and efficacious treatments to rare disease patients Mimi has held various positions in industry in start-ups and pharma. Most recently, Mimi was VP of R&D at National Resilience. She led a build of the division and laboratories and led the Process and Platform divisions, to develop new processes and analytical platforms for CAR-T cell and AAV gene therapy in San Diego, and to integrate a cell-free protein synthesis capability in Oakland into the CDMO business Mimi built Analytical Sciences at BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, overseeing CMC analytical development of more than 10 clinical and commercial products from small molecules, oligos, peptides to enzymes, pegylated proteins and several gene therapy vectors. Earlier, Mimi was Senior Director & US Site Head of Caprion Biosciences with scientific, business development and PnL responsibilities, helped build cell-free technology at Sutro Biopharma and developed a mass spec / proteomics / metabolomics / bioinformatics platform at SurroMed / PPD. She has also co-invented an IR sensor based electronic splint for carpal tunnel syndrome Mimi holds a B.Sc. from St. Stephens College, India and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry from Sydney University. She has a PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University in Protein Design and completed her post-doctoral studies in DNA incorporation of non natural bases with Peter Schultz, President of The Scripps Research institute.
Becky Schweighardt is an innovative drug developer with broad development experience across multiple global drug approvals in rare disease. Dr. Schweighardt is a trained immunologist and virologist who specializes in disease pathology. Her drug development experience reaches across all stages of development from discovery to post-marketing and across multiple drug modalities, including protein therapeutics, gene therapies, oligo nucleotides, and small molecules. She has 20+ years of academic and industry experience and spent the last 10 years developing therapeutics for rare disease at BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Dr. Schweighardt is proficient at building and leading high-performing drug development teams and guides with an inspirational leadership style focused on aspirational vision and shared purpose.
Mr. George L. Sing is Co-Founder, Chairman, CEO of GanD, Inc. He has been a venture capital investor in seed/early stage start-ups in healthcare and high technology with extensive operational and financial expertise and executive leadership experience. Mr. Sing was a co-founder of Merrill Lynch Venture Capital, Inc., Advanced Technology Ventures and Lancet Capital. He was co-founder, Executive Chairman of Stentor, Inc. (acquired by Philips) and co-founder, CEO of Stemnion, Inc. Mr. Sing has been a Director at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. since inception when he was the seed/start-up investor for Merrill Lynch Venture Capital. He received a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School and Bachelor of Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology.
Radhika Sivaramakrishna, PhD, PMP, CSSBB, CCRP has over 25 years of experience having served in roles of increasing responsibility on all sides of the business (academic site, sponsor, CRO, 3rd party vendor) in project management, clinical operations, operational excellence, outsourcing and other related areas. She has significant experience in multiple therapeutic areas including oncology, immunology and rare diseases. She is PMP-certified, is an ASQ-certified black belt as well as has a CCRP certification through SOCRA.
Most recently she was VP, Project Delivery at Strategikon where her team ensured project management and consultative services for successful clinical trial planning, budgeting and outsourcing. She also has worked in project management and clinical operational roles at Connect Biopharma, Astex and Jazz. Prior to this she was Executive Director, Clinical Operations and Project Management at Rainier Therapeutics where she not only served as the global lead on several studies, but also led project management across all functions. Prior to Rainier Therapeutics, she was Senior Director of Clinical Outsourcing, Operational Excellence and Project Management at Dynavax where she oversaw relationships with all clinical vendors as well as led multiple infrastructure process improvement initiatives. Prior to Dynavax, she spent several years at Covance, where her most recent position was Executive Director, Alliance Management. In this role, she was responsible for overall global program and portfolio management for several pharmaceutical/biotech sponsor clients holding ultimate accountability for successful delivery of clinical trials that Covance runs for these clients. Prior to this, at the Immune Tolerance Network, UCSF, she was Senior Director, Clinical Operations where her department oversaw 30+ clinical trials in the areas of transplantation, T1 diabetes, allergy, MS, and other autoimmune disorders. Dr Sivaramakrishna also served on the board of SOCRA for several years and is on the project and program management faculty for SOCRA’s conferences. She was invited by UC San Diego Extensions to develop a course on project management in clinical trials which has been running since 2017.
Sandra Tong s a clinical development innovator with over 20 years’ pharma experience across all phases of drug development and multiple therapeutic areas. Most recently she was Vice President of Clinical Sciences and Drug Safety at Rigel Pharmaceuticals, where she was integral in worldwide approvals of Tavalisse™ for a rare autoimmune disease. Prior to this, she was Vice President of Clinical Development at Plexxikon Inc. and led multiple early phase oncology trials for innovative targeted, oral small molecules, one leading to approval of Turalio™ for a rare soft tissue tumor. Dr. Tong has led clinical programs at Affymax (Omontys™), Johnson and Johnson, Scios Inc., and Roche, with a focus on aligning the science between potential treatments and unmet medical needs.
Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree at MIT and Doctor of Medicine degree at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She was on the faculty at UC-San Francisco as a physician-scientist rheumatologist before entering the pharmaceutical industry.
Mr. Wilsey is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, angel investor, and start-up advisor. In addition to consumer products and services, Matt invests in and advocates for biomedical research, drug development, and genetic sequencing technologies.
Before moving to the investment side, he spent many years as a front-line operator. Most recently, Matt was Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of CardSpring, a payment infrastructure company that was acquired by Twitter. Previously, Matt ran West coast sales and business development for Howcast.com. Before Howcast, Matt worked for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) on the Capital Markets team focused on new product development, capital raising, and investor relations. Prior to that, Matt spent five years as Co-founder and Vice President of Business Development at Zazzle.com. He started his career serving in various roles at the White House and the Department of Defense.
Matt became a “rare disease hunter” and advocate after his daughter, Grace, was born with NGLY1 Deficiency. He has since funded nearly 75 scientists at 20 medical centers in 5 countries with the sole purpose of treating the disease.
Matt holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a M.B.A. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In addition to the Grace Science Foundation, Matt is also a Board member at the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, Global Genes, and the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases.