We harness the power of NK cells to fight disease
Our mission is to revolutionize cancer treatment by inventing therapies that harness the body's immune system for vastly improved patient outcomes.
Dragonfly's therapies are designed to counterbalance immune suppressive factors present in the tumor microenvironment and mobilize anti-cancer immune responses, and are expected to be potent as single agents as well as in treatment combinations with existing cancer immunotherapies – such as T cell treatments.
Our founders and Scientific Advisory Board are major figures in cancer biology and immunology, and launched Dragonfly to harness the power of the immune system to provide breakthrough cancer treatments for patients. Founding Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Dr. Tyler Jacks has spent the last three decades carrying out cutting-edge studies in cancer genetics and cancer immunology. Dr. Jacks' research on the potential of NK cells to enhance and direct other immunotherapies led him to team up with Dr. David Raulet, one of the world's leading experts in Natural Killer cells, whose internationally recognized discoveries on the role of NK cell inhibitory and activating receptors in destroying tumors provide a critical foundation for Dragonfly's approach to cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Raulet directs a major research laboratory at UC, Berkeley focused on breakthrough research on NK cells and T cells, and how they can be used for therapy or prevention of disease.
Dragonfly was formed in late 2015 by Tyler Jacks, founding Director of MIT's Koch Institute, together with longtime friend and tech entrepreneur Bill Haney, and UC Berkeley immunologist and leading Natural Killer cell expert, David Raulet. As cancer research pioneers, entrepreneurs, and family members, their shared goal is harnessing the power of the immune system to provide breakthrough cancer treatments for patients
OUR FOUNDERS & ADVISORY BOARDS
Our Scientific and Medical Advisory Boards include Nobel Prize winners, world-class protein scientists, international leaders in cancer immunology and immunotherapy, and experts in Natural Killer cell biology, all dedicated to fighting cancer. Learn more below.
Tyler Jacks, Ph.D.
Dragonfly Co-founder | Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research | Professor
of Biology at MIT | HHMI Investigator | Chair of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Prof. Tyler Jacks is the founding Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT – a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center. His lab focuses on cutting-edge studies in cancer genetics and cancer immunology, including discoveries that led to the founding of Dragonfly. Prof. Jacks has pioneered the use of gene targeting technology to study cancer-associated genes and to construct mouse models of many human cancer types, closely recapitulating human disease and yielding novel insights into tumor development as well as new strategies for cancer detection and treatment. Jacks has served as Chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board of the NCI, was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and is a past President of the AACR. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the inaugural class of Fellows of the AACR Academy. Prof. Jacks was co-chair of the White House's Cancer "Moonshot" Blue Ribbon Panel. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard, and a Ph.D. from UC San Francisco.
Dragonfly Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer
An inventor and entrepreneur, Bill Haney started his first company as a college freshman, inventing and building air pollution control systems for power plants. Since then he has started or helped start more than a dozen technology companies.
Bill was a founding member of the national environmental advisory board for the US Environmental Protection Agency, the President's Circle for the National Academy of Sciences, has won a Humanitarian Award from Harvard Medical School, an Achievement Award from the ACLU and serves or has served on boards for Harvard, MIT, State and Federal Government agencies, the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, and the NRDC.
Bill holds a BA from Harvard College and was a Kennedy School Fellow from 1997-2001.
David Raulet, Ph.D.
Dragonfly Co-founder | Schekman Chair of Cancer Biology at UC Berkeley |
Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. David Raulet is the Esther and Wendy Schekman Chair in Cancer Biology at UC,Berkeley, and one of the world's leading researchers on Natural Killer cells.
Dr. Raulet directs a major research laboratory at UC, Berkeley, focused on breakthrough research on how Natural Killer cells and T cells recognize and destroy cancer cells, and how this information can be used for therapy or prevention of disease. Dr. Raulet received his Ph.D. in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jim Allison, Ph.D.
Nobel Laureate | Professor & Chair of the Department of Immunology | Executive Director of the Immunotherapy Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Jim Allison, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2018 for his groundbreaking work in cancer immunotherapy. Allison's research focuses on the mechanisms that govern T cell responses and applying that basic understanding to overcome cancer's evasion of attack by the immune system. His fundamental discoveries led him to pioneer immune checkpoint blockade as a cancer treatment, working with pharmaceutical companies to develop Yervoy. Dr. Allison's work has led to new treatments that have revolutionized cancer care for hundreds of thousands of patients, worldwide. He currently explores combinations of immunological therapies and targeted drugs to more effectively treat a variety of cancers, and continues basic research on immune stimulatory and inhibiting molecules.
Heidi Cerwenka, Ph.D.
Professor, Heidelberg University | Head of the Innate Immunity Group, DKFZ - German Cancer Research Center | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Adelheid (Heidi) Cerwenka, Ph.D., is a world leading scientist in NK cell biology and the innate immune system. After postdoctoral research at the Trudeau Institute New York, and UCSF, she became group-leader at the Novartis Research Institute before being appointed as group-leader at the DKFZ. Dr. Cerwenka is author of more than 50 publications. She serves as reviewer for several journals (e.g. Nature Immunology, JEM, Cancer Research) and national and international grant agencies. In 2008 she was awarded with the Georges Koehler Award of the DGfI. Her research was funded by a Marie Curie Excellence Grant and by several grant agencies (e.g. Dt. Krebshilfe and Carreras foundation). She received a doctorate from the University of Vienna, Austria, and the Venia Legendi from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Heidelberg.
Chris Garcia, Ph.D.
Professor, Stanford University | Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. K. Christopher Garcia, Ph.D., an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, studies the structural, mechanistic, and functional aspects of receptor-ligand interactions that play important roles in mammalian biology and human disease. To do this, he blends traditional structural approaches with ligand engineering and discovery. His goal is to paint a detailed mechanistic picture – from the outside to the inside of a cell – of how ligand binding is structurally coupled to receptor activation, and to exploit this information to manipulate signaling with engineered ligands, potentially resulting in therapeutics. Dr. Garcia is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.
Rob Hershberg, M.D.-Ph.D.
Venture Partner, Frazier Life Sciences Team | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Rob Hershberg M.D.-Ph.D. began his career as an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Later, Dr. Hershberg co-founded VentiRx Pharmaceuticals and, as President and Chief Executive Officer, led the company through its transformational partnership with Celgene. Dr. Hershberg joined Celgene in 2014 to lead their efforts in Immuno-Oncology, was promoted to Chief Scientific Officer in 2016, and was subsequently Executive Vice President and Head of Business Development & Global Alliances and served as a member of the Executive Committee until the acquisition of Celgene by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2019. Rob is currently a Venture Partner on the Frazier Life Sciences team. He completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles and received his Ph.D. at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Patrick Hwu, M.D.
Chair, Department of Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Patrick Hwu, M.D., is one of the leading tumor immunologists in the country, and a primary force in the development of novel vaccine and adoptive T-cell therapies. His laboratory and clinical work have led to insights and advances in the understanding of the interactions between tumors and the immune system, and the development of cellular immunotherapies. Dr. Hwu is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Immunotherapy. He is the recipient of the George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research in 2004, as well as many other awards. He received his M.D. degree from The Medical College of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D.
Deputy Director, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center | Prof. of Oncology and Pathology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine | Deputy Director Institute of Clinical & Translational Research | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Jaffee is the Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Dana and Albert "Cubby" Broccoli Professor of Oncology and Professor of Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is a past President of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Dr. Jaffe has received numerous awards and accolades as an international leader in the development of immune based therapies for pancreatic and breast cancers. Dr. Jaffee graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University and received her medical degree from New York Medical College. Jaffee is the chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and co-chair of the NCI "Blue Ribbon Panel" for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. She was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
Alan Korman, Ph.D.
SVP, Human Immunology at Vir Biotechnology, Inc. |
Member of Dragonfly Advisory Board
Dr. Alan Korman is a world-leading pioneer in developing cancer immunotherapies. As Vice President for Immuno-Oncology Discovery at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), he led the development of biologics for tumor immunotherapy. Prior to BMS, Dr. Korman held various positions at Medarex. His tenure at BMS and Medarex led to the development of two approved drugs for oncology, ipilimumab (anti-CTLA-4) and nivolumab (anti-PD-1) and their combination, which initiated the approach of checkpoint blockade. Dr. Korman received his PhD in Cellular and Developmental Biology from Harvard University and was a Whitehead Fellow at the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also a staff scientist at the Institut Pasteur prior to moving to the biotechnology sector.
Lewis L. Lanier, Ph.D.
American Cancer Society Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UCSF | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Lanier is the American Cancer Society Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UCSF, and Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also the J. Michael Bishop, MD,Distinguished Professor in Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF. Dr. Lanier is an internationally-recognized expert in natural killer (NK) cells and has received numerous awards for his pioneering work in this area. Since the early 1980s, his lab has investigated how NK cells distinguish between normal healthy cells and cells that are transformed or infected with viruses. Dr. Lanier earned his BS from Virginia Tech and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ron Levy, M.D.
Professor, Stanford University | Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Ronald Levy M.D., is a scientist at Stanford University, where he specializes in lymphoma, including Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Burkitt's Lymphoma and Hodgkin's Disease. His research investigates how the immune system can be harnessed to fight lymphoma. His work has led to the concept that antibodies can be used as personalized anticancer drugs and to the development of an antibody-based drug, Rituxan, that is widely used to treat lymphoma. Dr. Levy's work has been recognized with the American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor, the Karnofsky Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and others. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the Institute of Medicine.
Padmanee Sharma, M.D.
Professor, Departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology | Scientific Director, Immunotherapy Platform | Chair, Dragonfly Medical Advisory Board
Dr. Pam Sharma is Professor in the Departments of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology, Scientific Director of the Immunotherapy Platform and holds the T.C. and Jeanette D. Hsu Endowed Chair in Cell Biology at MD Anderson. Dr. Sharma is an internationally renowned physician-scientist, with expertise in both medical oncology and immunology. She designed and conducted the first pre-surgical trial, also known as a window-of-opportunity trial, with immune checkpoint therapy (anti-CTLA-4) in 2004, which allowed her to study the impact of immune checkpoint therapy on human tumors, with subsequent identification of the ICOS/ICOSL pathway as a novel target for cancer immunotherapy strategies. Her translational research work laid the foundation for the Immunotherapy Platform to be established at MD Anderson. Dr. Sharma is also the Co-Director of Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MD Anderson. Recent awards include the 2016 Emil Frei III Award for Excellence in Translational Research and the 2018 Coley Award for Distinguished Research for Tumor Immunology.
Suzanne Louise Topalian, M.D.
Associate Director, Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy | Prof. of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University | Member Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Topalian is Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As the Director of the Melanoma Program, Dr. Topalian's current work focuses on modulating immune checkpoints such as PD-1 in cancer therapy, and discovering biomarkers predicting clinical outcomes following treatment. Her pioneering efforts have opened new avenues of scientific interest and clinical investigation in cancer immunology, and have helped to establish immunotherapy as a treatment modality for cancer. Dr. Topalian received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine.
Harold Varmus, M.D.
Nobel Laureate | Physiology/Medicine | Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine | Member Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Harold Eliot Varmus, M.D. is an American Nobel Prize-winning scientist and was the 14th Director of the National Cancer Institute, a post to which he was appointed by President Barack Obama. Dr. Varmus was a co-recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes. He is currently the Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a Senior Associate at the New York Genome Center. He serves as a member of the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board, the Global Health Advisory Board at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lasker Foundation Prize Jury, and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT.
K. Dane Wittrup, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering, Koch Institute, MIT Member of Dragonfly Scientific Advisory Board
Professor K. Dane Wittrup, Ph.D. is a pioneer in protein engineering technologies and an expert in the science of targeting cancer with antibodies. Dr. Wittrup is the C.P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT and Associate Director of MIT's Koch Institute. Dr. Wittrup is co-founder and acting Chief Scientific Officer at Adimab and is a fellow of the American Institute of Biomedical Engineers. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, Prof. Wittrup is is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011.