- Emil D. Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and President
- Thomas Kassberg, Chief Business Officer and Senior Vice President
- Shalini Sharp, Chief Financial
Officer and Senior Vice President, Finance
- Eric Yuen, M.D., Chief Medical
Officer and Senior Vice President
- Steven Jungles, Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
- John Ditton, Vice President, Commercial Planning
- Cordelia Leonard, RAC, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance
- Vimal Srivastava, Vice President, Program Development
- Alison Skrinar, Senior Director, Clinical Sciences,
- Spencer Guthrie, Senior Director, Clinical Operations
Dr. Kakkis is best known for his work over the last 18 years to develop novel treatments for rare disorders. He began his work developing an enzyme replacement therapy (Aldurazyme®) for the rare disorder MPS I, with minimal funding and support. The struggle to get the therapy translated from a successful canine model to patients succeeded due to the critical financial support of the Ryan Foundation, a patient organization formed by Mark and Jeanne Dant for their son Ryan.
Aldurazyme development was later supported by BioMarin Pharmaceutical and eventually their partner Genzyme leading to FDA approval in 2003. During his tenure at BioMarin, Dr. Kakkis guided the development and approval of two more treatments for rare disorders, MPS VI and PKU, and has contributed to the initiation of 7 other treatment programs for rare disorders, three of which are now in clinical development.
After 11 years at BioMarin, Dr. Kakkis left industry to initiate an effort to improve the regulatory and clinical development process for rare diseases. In early 2009, Dr. Kakkis launched and funded the Kakkis EveryLife Foundation to accelerate biotech innovation for rare diseases. The Foundation initiated a campaign to improve the regulatory and clinical development process for rare diseases. In just over a year, 160 patient organizations and physician society partners have endorsed the Campaign.
Dr. Kakkis has founded Ultragenyx™ to return to development of drugs for rare diseases. For many rare diseases, reasonable science exists that needs to get translated to patients. He will build on his previous experiences and will assemble an experienced team to efficiently develop treatments for rare diseases.
Dr. Kakkis is board certified in both Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. He graduated from Pomona College, magna cum laude and received combined M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the UCLA Medical Scientist Program and received the Bogen prize for his research. He completed a Pediatrics residency and Medical Genetics Training Fellowship at Harbor- UCLA Medical Center. He became an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center from 1993 to 1998 where he initiated the enzyme therapy program for MPS I. In 1998, he joined BioMarin where he remained for 11 years in various titles eventually as Chief Medical Officer, before leaving in 2009.
Mr. Kassberg joined Ultragenyx in November 2011. He is responsible for leading the company’s business development and corporate strategic planning activities, as well as the human resources and legal affairs functions. Mr. Kassberg brings more than twenty years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Prior to joining Ultragenyx, Mr. Kassberg worked as an independent consultant in Corporate Development and Business Strategy and consulted with a number of companies, including Corium International, Inc. and Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Before becoming a consultant, Mr. Kassberg worked at Proteolix, Inc., where he served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, overseeing business development, corporate strategic planning and legal affairs. Prior to Proteolix, Mr. Kassberg served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Commercial Operations at InterMune, Inc. At InterMune, he oversaw the commercial team responsible for in-line sales of Actimmune® and pre-launch planning for late-stage products. Mr. Kassberg was also a co-founder of Plexxikon, where he served as Vice President, Business and Corporate Development. In this role, he helped to establish the company's initial operations in addition to leading the company's corporate development activities. Prior to Plexxikon, Mr. Kassberg served as the Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Licensing at SUGEN until the company's acquisition by Pharmacia.
Mr. Kassberg began his career at Bristol-Myers Squibb where he held a variety of positions in strategic planning, managed care sales, and financial and product analysis. He holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Economics and Management from Gustavus Adolphus College.
Ms. Sharp joined Ultragenyx in May 2012 as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, Finance. She is a member of the Senior Management Team and is responsible for leading the corporate finance function, including strategic financial planning, accounting, budgeting and forecasting, financial analysis, general risk analysis, and financing activities.
Ms. Sharp is a member of the Board of Directors of Agenus Inc. (formerly Antigenics Inc.), a publicly traded biotechnology firm, where she served as Chief Financial Officer from 2006 to 2012. She joined Agenus in 2003 and held increasing roles of responsibility spanning strategic planning, corporate development, investor relations, corporate finance and business development. Prior to Agenus, Ms. Sharp held similar roles at Elan Pharmaceuticals from 1998 to 2003, including serving as chief of staff to the Chairman of the Board of Directors during that company's restructing. With 16 years of industry experience, Ms. Sharp has spearheaded numerous financing and business development transactions that have been critical to the success of Agenus and Elan. Prior to Elan, Ms. Sharp was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company as well as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, specializing in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Ms. Sharp holds both a BA, magna cum laude, and MBA, from Harvard University.
Dr. Yuen joined Ultragenyx in April 2013 as Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President. In this new role, Dr. Yuen will provide leadership and direction to Clinical Operations, Clinical Affairs, Clinical Sciences, Data Management/Biometrics, and Drug Safety. Prior to joining Ultragenyx, Dr. Yuen was the Vice President, Head of Clinical Development at the Johnson & Johnson affiliate Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy R&D, LLC since the formation of the company in 2009.
Dr. Yuen is a board-certified neurologist with over 19 years of clinical development experience in academia and industry. He joined Johnson & Johnson in 2004, initially as Senior Director and Neurology Franchise Medical Leader, before becoming VP, Therapeutic Area Head, CNS in 2006, with responsibilities for the physicians leading the Phase II-IV programs in a variety of CNS disorders. From 2008-2009, Dr. Yuen was VP, Scientific Licensing, with responsibilities for scientific evaluation and due diligence of CNS/Pain opportunities Prior to joining J&J, he was Director of Clinical Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the Merck Research Laboratories.
Dr. Yuen received his undergraduate training at Stanford University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Academic Distinction in biology and physics. He received his M.D. from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. Dr. Yuen completed his residency in Neurology and post-doctoral fellowships studying neurotrophic factor signaling as well as clinical neuromuscular diseases and electromyography, at the University of California, San Francisco. Before joining industry in 2000, Dr. Yuen was a faculty member at the University of Washington. During that time, he was very active as a clinical investigator, studying treatments for ALS, neuropathy and multiple sclerosis.
Steven Jungles brings more than 18 years of experience in supply chain and contract manufacturing. He joined Ultragenyx in August 2011 as Senior Vice President, Technical Operations, responsible for supply chain, manufacturing and quality control. Mr. Jungles worked at Somatix Therapy Corporation from 1993 to 1997, then was Associate Director of Operations at Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative in Boston, MA. In 1999, he met Dr. Emil Kakkis and began his career at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, where he held management and leadership roles of increasing responsibility, last holding the position of Vice President, Supply Chain and Contract Manufacturing. Mr. Jungles has a proven track record of successfully bringing four commercial products to market, including Aldurazyme, Naglazyme, Kuvan and Firdapse, and the development of multiple clinical products.
Mr. Jungles received his B.S. from the University of Iowa.
Mr. Ditton brings over 15 years of senior management background in strategic marketing and new product planning, with strong operational and sales knowledge developed as a leader of commercial teams in healthcare, rare diseases, pharmaceutical and medical device marketing. He has led successful U.S. and R.O.W. orphan product launches, in addition to serving in leadership roles with respect to marketing campaigns for large-market pharmaceutical products.
Mr. Ditton joined Ultragenyx in April 2011 and is responsible for commercial planning for pipeline products at the company. Mr. Ditton was most recently the Chief Operating Officer at EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, a position he held from 2008 to 2011. Prior to Everylife Foundation, he served as the Vice President of Marketing at Diamics from 2006 to 2008, Director of Global Marketing at BioMarin Pharmaceutical from 2004 to 2006, Senior Product Manager at Merck/Dey from 2001 to 2004 and Business Development Manager at Health Plan of the Redwoods from 1994 to 2000.
Ms. Leonard heads up the company’s Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance departments, whose members collectively have over 30 years of regulatory experience working with the FDA, EMA, PMDA, and other worldwide Regulatory Agencies. Approximately twenty of those 30 years she and her team spent working to develop drugs for Orphan indications at BioMarin Pharmaceutical. During her 8 year tenure at BioMarin, Ms. Leonard started up and led the CMC Regulatory group, then transferred to the Clinical/Nonclinical Regulatory group, where she advanced to lead that group as well. She was involved in securing various global approvals for Aldurazyme, Naglazyme, Kuvan and Orapred OPT. Prior to BioMarin, Ms. Leonard worked in Regulatory for 5 years at Cerus Corporation on drug/device combination products, in protein purification and analytical chemistry at Boehringer Mannheim, and in carbohydrate chemistry at Genentech.
Ms. Leonard received bachelor degrees in Chemistry and Biological Science from the University of California, Irvine and holds both US and EU Regulatory Affairs Certifications.
With more than 10 years of project and portfolio management experience from research to commercialization stage programs, Mr. Srivastava joined Ultragenyx in August 2011 and serves as Vice President, Program Development, overseeing the program development activities for the company. Mr. Srivastava’s experience and background includes over 20 years in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, specifically focused on drug development in neurosciences and metabolic disorders including rare genetic disorders.
Before joining Ultragenyx, Mr. Srivastava was Senior Director, Portfolio and Project Management at Elan/Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, a position he held from 2008 until 2011. He was also Director, Global Program Manager, Diabetes at Amgen from 2005 to 2008 and Director, Program Management at BioMarin Pharmaceutical from 2003 to 2005.
Mr. Srivastava holds a B.S. in Pharmacy from Banaras Hindu University, a M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry from St. Johns University and a M.A.S. in Management from Johns Hopkins University.
Spencer Guthrie brings over 15 years of clinical development experience in Biotech, in addition to several years of experience in Research, Project Management and Market Development Experience. Mr. Guthrie joined Ultragenyx In June 2012, and heads the Clinical Operations and Data Management department. Mr Guthrie’s experience include 8 years at Genentech with increasing responsibility culminating in overseeing many programs as a Sr. Clinical Program Manager. At Genentech, he worked on several innovative clinical programs, INDs and filings with Rituxan, Avastin and Lucentis, including work on orphan indications. Mr. Guthrie spent 5 years leading projects at Elan followed by Janssen Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy, working as Director of Clinical Operations, overseeing 6 compounds and a large group of employees, primarily in Neuroscience. He also served as the Project Management Lead for Tysabri and the Compound Core Team Leader for an early stage development project at Elan.
Mr. Guthrie has a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of California and is PMP certified.