SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Altos Labs™ (Altos™) launched today as a new biotechnology company dedicated to unraveling the deep biology of cellular rejuvenation programming. Altos' mission is to restore cell health and resilience to reverse disease, injury, and the disabilities that can occur throughout life. The company launches with a community of leading scientists, clinicians, and leaders from both academia and industry working together towards this common mission.
The Altos executive team will be composed of Hal Barron, MD (incoming CEO), Rick Klausner, MD (Chief Scientist and Founder), Hans Bishop (President and Founder), and Ann Lee-Karlon, PhD (Chief Operating Officer). Hal Barron is currently President of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer at GSK and will join Altos as CEO and Board co-chair effective August 1, 2022. Klausner was former director of the National Cancer Institute and entrepreneur, Bishop was former CEO of GRAIL and Juno Therapeutics, and Lee-Karlon was former Senior Vice President at Genentech.
Altos will be initially based in the US in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, and in the UK in Cambridge. The company will also have significant collaborations in Japan. Set within these geographies, activity will be organized across the Institutes of Science and the Institute of Medicine. The Altos Institutes of Science will pursue deep scientific questions and integrate their findings into one collaborative research effort. The Altos Institute of Medicine will capture knowledge generated about cell health and programming to develop transformative medicines.
The three Altos Institutes of Science will be led by Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, PhD, Wolf Reik, MD, and Peter Walter, PhD. Thore Graepel, PhD, will serve as global head of computational science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Prior to joining Altos, Izpisua Belmonte was professor and chair at the Salk Institute, Reik was director of the Babraham Institute and is an honorary professor at the University of Cambridge, and Walter was professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Graepel previously served as research lead at Google DeepMind and professor at University College London. Within the Institutes of Science, an extraordinary group of Principal Investigators (PIs) will collaboratively pursue the many aspects of cell health and programming. A full listing of PIs is found at altoslabs.com.
The Altos Board of Directors and advisors include Nobel Laureates and scientific leaders. The Board will be co-chaired by Rick Klausner, Hans Bishop, and Hal Barron (current director and incoming co-chair) and includes the following Board directors: Frances Arnold, PhD (Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology and Nobel Laureate), Hal Barron, MD (Chief Scientific Officer and President, R&D, of GSK), Jennifer Doudna (Li Ka Shing Chancellor's Chair and Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, President of the Innovative Genomics Institute, and Nobel Laureate), Maria Leptin, PhD (President of the European Research Council), Robert Nelsen (Co-founder and Managing Director of ARCH Venture Partners), Rajiv Shah, MD (President of the Rockefeller Foundation), and David Baltimore, PhD (President Emeritus and Judge Shirley Hufstedler Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology and Nobel Laureate), as lead independent director. Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD (Director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University and Nobel Laureate), will serve as senior scientific advisor to Altos without remuneration, overseeing research activities in Japan.
"I am deeply honored to have been offered this once in a lifetime opportunity to lead such a unique company with a transformative mission to reverse disease," said Hal Barron. "It's clear from work by Shinya Yamanaka, and many others since his initial discoveries, that cells have the ability to rejuvenate, resetting their epigenetic clocks and erasing damage from a myriad of stressors. These insights, combined with major advances in a number of transformative technologies, inspired Altos to reimagine medical treatments where reversing disease for patients of any age is possible."
Altos is designed to integrate the best features of academia and industry -- from academia the freedom to pursue the most challenging problems in biology, and from industry the focus on a shared mission, ability to foster deep collaborations, and the passion and commitment to transform science into medicines.
"Altos seeks to decipher the pathways of cellular rejuvenation programming to create a completely new approach to medicine, one based on the emerging concepts of cellular health," said Rick Klausner. "Remarkable work over the last few years beginning to quantify cellular health and the mechanisms behind that, coupled with the ability to effectively and safely reprogram cells and tissues via rejuvenation pathways, opens this new vista into the medicine of the future. Altos begins with many of the leading scientists who are creating this new science. Together, we are building a company where many of the world's best scientists can collaborate internally and externally and develop their research with the speed, mission, and focus of private enterprise. Our success will depend upon a culture of intense collaboration, enthusiasm, and openness."
"Building a company with extraordinary ambition requires extraordinary people," said Hans Bishop. "It will also require building an innovation culture that brings out the best in people from very diverse backgrounds. We aim to amplify the best attributes of academia and companies with the goal to accelerate problem solving. I'm excited to be joining a team with such an inspiring mission and the internal ambition of building a company where all of us can say that we are doing our very best work."
Frances Arnold, Board member and Nobel laureate, believes that "Altos offers a whole new research and development model targeted to the oldest of human problems, slowing and even ultimately reversing the effects of disease. This remarkable team is poised to discover secrets of cellular health and transform the way we think about disease. Now more than ever is the time to restructure our approach to health by understanding, slowing, and even reversing the processes that lead to illness and death."
"As a geneticist and developmental biologist, I find great promise in the emerging recognition that the metabolic control of cell health contributes decisively to the ability of an organism to tolerate major systemic insults from congenital and infectious disease to stress and aging," said Maria Leptin, Board member and ERC president. "As a committed believer in curiosity-driven research, I welcome a broad approach to trying to understand the fundamental cellular principles involved in returning the stressed organism to a healthy equilibrium state."
Shinya Yamanaka, senior scientific advisor and Nobel laureate, said, "I am delighted to be a part of Altos and believe it to be one of the most important and exciting new global scientific endeavors. The possibility of rejuvenation programming has only recently become a scientific reality and has the potential to enable us to approach human disease in an entirely new way. I am glad that I will help scientists in Japan to work in this exciting field."
"I am honored to serve as the lead independent Director of the newly formed Altos Labs," said David Baltimore, Board member and Nobel laureate. "Altos will build on the remarkable developing understanding of the alterations of cells as they participate in the myriad processes of the human body over its lifespan. The goal of Altos will be to reverse the ravages of disease and aging that lead to disability and death, reinvigorating and extending the quality of life. Altos will provide an unparalleled environment for collaborative discovery and has already attracted a most impressive group of investigators to the daunting task of reversing ill health and taking medicine in a new direction."
About Altos Scientific Leadership
The Altos Bay Area Institute of Science will be led by Peter Walter, PhD, whose research has focused on developing molecular understanding of how cells control the quality of their proteins and organelles during homeostasis and stress. Dr. Walter is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Shaw Prize, the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors. Prior to joining Altos, Dr. Walter was professor in the Department of Biochemistry/Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The Altos San Diego Institute of Science will be led by Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, PhD. Dr. Izpisua Belmonte is a pioneer in the field of regenerative medicine. He has developed numerous strategies to improve health, including tissue and organ regeneration and cellular and organismal rejuvenation. He was the recipient of a National Science Foundation Creativity Award, a National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award, the William Clinton Presidential Award, the Pew Scholar Award, the Gold Medal of Castilla-La Mancha, and the Roger Guillemin Endowed Nobel Chair. Prior to Altos, Dr. Izpisua Belmonte was professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory and the Roger Guillemin chair at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.
The Altos Cambridge (UK) Institute of Science will be led by Wolf Reik, MD. Dr. Reik is a leader in epigenetic reprogramming of mammalian cells, honorary professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge, and served most recently as director of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge. He is the recipient of the Wellcome Prize in Physiology and is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and the Academia Europaea, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and of the Royal Society.
Altos will also support activities in Japan, guided by Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, who will serve as Altos senior scientific advisor without remuneration. Dr. Yamanaka is among the world's leading authorities on stem cell science and is a recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells. He currently serves as the director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University and a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes.
Across all aspects of Altos will be a commitment to computational science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with activities led by Thore Graepel, PhD. Graepel was most recently research lead at Google DeepMind and chair of Machine Learning at University College London and is one of the foremost minds on how to build more intelligent systems and agents that learn from experience.
About Altos Labs
Altos Labs™ (Altos™) is a biotechnology company focused on cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience, with the goal of reversing disease to transform medicine. The company comprises a community of leading scientists, clinicians, and leaders from both academia and industry working together towards this common mission.
Altos has operations in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, and in Cambridge, UK, with significant collaborations in Japan.
Visit www.altoslabs.com to learn more about Altos, including a full list of our senior scientists and leaders.