New Company Focused on Discovering and Developing Next-Generation Immunotherapies for Cancer and Other Complex Diseases

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. June 2, 2016
– Cell Design Labs, Inc. today announced it has executed a staged series of investor and strategic partner financings totaling $34.4 million to fund the company’s start-up operations. The investors, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, also includes Kite Pharma, Osage Ventures, Mission Bay Ventures and a group of private investors. In a separate announcement, Cell Design Labs also reported today on its first strategic partnership with Kite, which was an integral component of the company’s financing structure.

“At Cell Design Labs we are building on a sophisticated understanding of cell-to-cell interactions to discover and develop the next generation of more targeted, powerful, and controllable immunotherapies,” said Brian Atwood, co-founder, president and chief executive officer. “This is a tremendously compelling area of scientific and clinical investigation, and we are proud to have the support of such a diverse and experienced group of investors and board members.”

Cell Design Labs has assembled a team of scientists, clinicians, innovators and advisors recognized for their pioneering work in discovering, developing and delivering new treatments to patients. The company’s scientific platform is based on the human cell engineering technology from the laboratory of Wendell Lim, Ph.D. and licensed from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) through its Office of Innovation Technology and Alliances.

“We believe this disruptive and versatile technology can be customized to defeat many complex diseases — diseases that currently have no, or limited, therapeutic options,” said Wendell Lim, Ph.D., scientific founder of Cell Design Labs. “Using our proprietary cell control modules to create the next- generation of novel therapies is intellectually compelling and deeply satisfying in its potential to change the way medicine is practiced.”

“At its core we are programming a living cell to identify a specific threat and neutralize it without harming adjacent tissues,” said Dr. Fred Cohen, co-founder and chairman of the board. “Utilizing the innovative research of Dr. Wendell Lim we are harnessing the natural power of the immune system using modular cellular programming to create living therapies, initially for cancer, but ultimately for a range of diseases.”

Company Leadership 
Wendell Lim is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Most recently he has been a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology, exploring how molecular circuits can be harnessed to engineer cells with customized therapeutic response programs. Dr. Lim received his A.B. in Chemistry from Harvard College, his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and completed his postdoctoral training at Yale University.

Brian Atwood, a co-founder of Cell Design Labs, serves as its President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of its Board of Directors. Mr. Atwood is also a co-founder and Managing Director at Versant Ventures, a leading healthcare-focused venture capital firm. Prior to Versant, he spent 15 years in operating roles within the healthcare sector. Mr. Atwood received a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, an M.S. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Fred Cohen, also a co-founder of Cell Design Labs, is Chairman of its Board of Directors. He is also a Partner at TPG and co-founder of TPG Biotechnology, a life science focused investment effort. Previously, Dr. Cohen was a Professor of Medicine, Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, and Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. Dr. Cohen received his B.S. degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University, his D.Phil. in Molecular Biophysics from the University of Oxford, his M.D. from Stanford University and his postdoctoral training and postgraduate medical training at UCSF. Dr. Cohen is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Board also includes the following members:

  • Dr. Andrew Allen, a co-founder of Gritstone Oncology
  • Brook Byers, a founding member of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • Dr. Beth Seidenberg, a member of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers
  • Dr. Arie Belldegrun, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Kite Pharma

In addition, there are two non-voting observers:

  • Wendell Lim, Ph.D.
  • David Chang, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President, R&D and Chief Medical Officer of Kite


About Cell Design Labs, Inc.
Cell Design Labs is a biotherapeutics company pioneering breakthrough science to develop disruptive cell-based therapies for cancer and other devastating diseases. Based on innovative research from Dr. Wendell Lim’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco, Cell Design Labs leverages the power of the body’s immune system to develop smart, living therapies with the capability to treat our most challenging diseases with unprecedented power, precision, safety and durability. Using its proprietary technology platform for custom cell engineering, Cell Design Labs will develop its own portfolio of anti- cancer therapies as well as create partnerships with leading oncology companies. Initially focused on cancer, including both hematologic and solid tumors, this broad technology may also have applications in other complex diseases such as autoimmune and degenerative disorders. To learn more about Cell Design Labs, please visit our web site at:

Brian Atwood