Leadership TEAM

João Siffert, MD

PRESIDENT, Chief Executive Officer, & Director

João Siffert, M.D., is the chief executive officer of Design Therapeutics. Dr. Siffert brings more than 30 years of experience to Design Therapeutics, having successfully led organizations responsible for multiple drug development programs in biotech and pharma from pre-clinical to regulatory approvals and commercial launches in the U.S. and Europe. He joined Design Therapeutics from Abeona Therapeutics where he was the chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. Prior to Abeona, Dr. Siffert held a number of medical and scientific roles, including as chief medical officer and chief scientific officer, at biopharmaceutical companies including Nestle Health Science, Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Ceregene Inc., Avera Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. Dr. Siffert also served as an independent director for Avexis, Inc. and Alcobra Pharma (now Arcturus Therapeutics). Before joining industry, Dr. Siffert spent seven years in academic practice as a neuro-oncologist at Beth Israel Hospital and as an assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Siffert earned his M.D. from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and his MBA from Columbia University. He completed medical residencies in pediatrics at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and in neurology at Harvard Medical School, followed by a fellowship training in neuro-oncology at NYU. The American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry certified Dr. Siffert in 1996.

Pratik Shah, PhD

Co-founder &
Executive Chairman

Pratik Shah, Ph.D., is a co-founder and executive chairman of Design Therapeutics. In addition, Dr. Shah serves as chairman of the board at ARS Pharmaceuticals. Until February of 2020, he served as chairman of Synthorx, Inc., a biotechnology company developing innovative protein therapeutics for cancer and autoimmune disorders that was acquired by Sanofi for $2.5 billion. Before that, Dr. Shah was president and chief executive officer of Auspex Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel medicines for people with movement disorders, including AUSTEDO® (deutetrabenazine). He became involved in Auspex as an investor in 2007 and served as its chairman until he took over as its chief executive officer in 2013, after which he took the company public and oversaw its growth until its acquisition by Teva Pharmaceuticals for $3.5 billion in 2015. Before that, Dr. Shah was a partner in the healthcare venture capital firm Thomas, McNerney & Partners for nearly a decade, and prior to that, he co-founded two biotechnology companies and was also a consultant at McKinsey & Company in San Francisco. Dr. Shah obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology as well as his MBA in finance from the University of Chicago.

Sean Jeffries, PhD

Chief Operating Officer

Sean Jeffries, Ph.D., is the chief operating officer at Design Therapeutics. Dr. Jeffries brings over twenty years of experience in biopharma with extensive experience in strategy and R&D. Prior to Design, Dr. Jeffries led projects to develop R&D and therapeutic strategies for biopharma at the Boston Consulting Group. He co-invented the miniPCR, which performed the first PCR on the international space station. Prior to that, Dr. Jeffries established and led the informatics group at Kalypsys. Dr. Jeffries completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in Physiology, Development and Neuroscience as an NIH-Cambridge scholar.

Aseem Ansari, PhD

Co-founder

Aseem Z. Ansari, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Design Therapeutics. Dr. Ansari is an internationally recognized scientist who has effectively blended rigorous training in chemistry with deep experience in experimental biology. Dr. Ansari is the chair of the Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. From 2002 to 2019, Dr. Ansari was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin and during this time he performed the foundational research that led to Design Therapeutics. Dr. Ansari is also a founder of Winstep Forward, a US education non-profit organization. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and chemistry from Northwestern University and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard. Dr. Ansari’s research has produced important new insights into the cellular processes that govern gene expression and has developed novel small molecules that can influence gene regulatory networks and cell fate.

Board of Directors

Pratik Shah, PhD

Co-founder &
Executive Chairman

Pratik Shah, Ph.D., is a co-founder and executive chairman of Design Therapeutics. In addition, Dr. Shah serves as chairman of the board at ARS Pharmaceuticals. Until February of 2020, he served as chairman of Synthorx, Inc., a biotechnology company developing innovative protein therapeutics for cancer and autoimmune disorders that was acquired by Sanofi for $2.5 billion. Before that, Dr. Shah was president and chief executive officer of Auspex Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel medicines for people with movement disorders, including AUSTEDO® (deutetrabenazine). He became involved in Auspex as an investor in 2007 and served as its chairman until he took over as its chief executive officer in 2013, after which he took the company public and oversaw its growth until its acquisition by Teva Pharmaceuticals for $3.5 billion in 2015. Before that, Dr. Shah was a partner in the healthcare venture capital firm Thomas, McNerney & Partners for nearly a decade, and prior to that, he co-founded two biotechnology companies and was also a consultant at McKinsey & Company in San Francisco. Dr. Shah obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology as well as his MBA in finance from the University of Chicago.

Simeon George, MD

Director

Simeon George, M.D., MBA, joined SR One in 2007 and is CEO of the fund. Simeon earned his M.D. and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine / Wharton and B.A. from Johns Hopkins University. Previously, he worked in management consulting (Bain & Co.) and investment banking (Goldman Sachs). Simeon led SR One’s investments in several deals including CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP), Principia Biopharma (PRNB, recently acquired by Sanofi for $3.7 billion), Turning Point Therapeutics (TPTX), Progyny (PGNY) and Nkarta Therapeutics (NKTX), which he cofounded.

Stella Xu, PhD

Director

Dr. Stella Xu is managing director of Quan Capital, a life science venture fund with deep expertise and broad experiences in cross-border value creation and global investments. Prior to Quan, Stella was corporate vice president/site head of Roche R&D Center China and a core member of the global management team of Roche’s Immunology, Inflammation & Infectious Diseases Division. From 2012 to 2017, she led the fully integrated team of approximately 200 scientists to deliver an innovative pipeline from discovery to global clinical development. She also had extensive global business development experience with Roche Partnering. Stella joined Roche from McKinsey US and worked in biotech R&D earlier in her career. Stella received her Ph.D. in immunology from Northwestern University and B.S. in biophysics from Peking University. Stella currently serves on the board of NextCure (Nasdaq: NXTC), Centrexion Therapeutics, Tempest Therapeutics, Walking Fish Therapeutics and Zidan Medical. She was also previously a board member of ARMO BioSciences (Nasdaq: ARMO).

João Siffert, MD

PRESIDENT, Chief Executive Officer, & Director

João Siffert, M.D., is the chief executive officer of Design Therapeutics. Dr. Siffert brings more than 30 years of experience to Design Therapeutics, having successfully led organizations responsible for multiple drug development programs in biotech and pharma from pre-clinical to regulatory approvals and commercial launches in the U.S. and Europe. He joined Design Therapeutics from Abeona Therapeutics where he was the chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. Prior to Abeona, Dr. Siffert held a number of medical and scientific roles, including as chief medical officer and chief scientific officer, at biopharmaceutical companies including Nestle Health Science, Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Ceregene Inc., Avera Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. Dr. Siffert also served as an independent director for Avexis, Inc. and Alcobra Pharma (now Arcturus Therapeutics). Before joining industry, Dr. Siffert spent seven years in academic practice as a neuro-oncologist at Beth Israel Hospital and as an assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Siffert earned his M.D. from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and his MBA from Columbia University. He completed medical residencies in pediatrics at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and in neurology at Harvard Medical School, followed by a fellowship training in neuro-oncology at NYU. The American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry certified Dr. Siffert in 1996.

Rodney Lappe, PhD

Director

Rodney Lappe, Ph.D., has had a distinguished career as a biopharmaceutical scientist and executive. Most recently, Dr. Lappe served as executive chairman of the board of directors for Mirati Therapeutics, a role he had served as June 2016 (after becoming a member of the board in June 2012 and chairman of the board in July 2013). During this time, Dr. Lappe also served as the senior vice president of Tavistock Life Sciences, a private investment firm. Previously, Dr. Lappe was group senior vice president, Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development and chief scientific officer for CovX in San Diego. Dr. Lappe has also served as vice president for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases at Pharmacia where he was also site leader for Pharmacia in St. Louis. Prior to joining Pharmacia, he held positions with Wyeth, Rorer Central Research, CIBA Geigy and Searle Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Lappe received his B.A. from Blackburn College and his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Indiana University.

John Schmid

Director

John Schmid has served as a member of our board of directors since November 2020. Mr. Schmid has served as a member of the boards of directors of AnaptysBio, Inc. since June 2015, Neos Therapeutics since June 2015, Forge Therapeutics, Inc. since May 2017, Poseida Therapeutics Inc. since July 2018, Xeris Pharmaceuticals since September 2017, and Helix Acquisition Corporation since October 2020.  In addition, Mr. Schmid serves as chairman of the board of directors of Speak, Inc., a speakers bureau, which he helped found in 1989. From May 2016 to August 2018, Mr. Schmid served as a member of the board of directors of Patara Pharma, Inc. From September 2013 to June 2015, Mr. Schmid served as Chief Financial Officer of Auspex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. until its sale to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. From June 2004 to September 2013, Mr. Schmid co-founded Trius Therapeutics where he served as the Chief Financial Officer until its merger with Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Schmid served as the Chief Financial Officer of GeneFormatics, Inc. From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Schmid served as the Chief Financial Officer of Endonetics Inc. Mr. Schmid received a B.A. in Economics from Wesleyan University and an M.B.A. from the University of San Diego.

Arsani William, MD

Director

Arsani William, M.D. has served as a member of our board of directors since January 2021. Dr. William has served as Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Logos Capital since its founding in 2019. Prior to founding Logos, Dr. Williams served as an investment professional at Farallon Capital Management. Dr. Williams holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School where he was a Gerald S. Foster Scholar, an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and a BS with Honors in Biology from Stanford University.

Pratik Shah, PhD

executive chairman & co-founder

Aseem Ansari, PhD

Board Member, co-founder, & director