Skip to main content

Rick Klausner, MD

Founder and Chief Scientist Altos Labs, Inc.

Rick Klausner is currently founder and chief scientist of Altos Labs, and founder and chairman of Lyell Immunopharma, Inc. He is president of the Milky Way Research Foundation and founder and managing partner of Milky Way Investments. Rick was founder and director of Juno Therapeutics and founder and director of GRAIL. He is also chairman of Sonoma Biotherapeutics, and co-founder and chairman of Lifemine Therapeutics. He is the former senior vice president, chief medical officer and chief opportunity officer of Illumina Corporation.

Previously, Rick was executive director for Global Health of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He was appointed by Presidents Clinton and Bush as the eleventh Director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute between 1995 and 2001. Rick served as chief of the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as well as a past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He has served in senior advisory roles to the U.S., Norwegian, Qatari and Indian governments.

More specific to his own research accomplishments, Rick has provided valuable mechanistic insights into cellular processes such as intracellular trafficking, translation and protein assembly. He has also contributed to the understanding of posttranslational gene regulation mechanisms through his study of iron metabolism. Furthermore, his investigations into the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) protein have led to further classification of the protein’s tumor suppressive function in the context of renal cell carcinoma. His discovery of the T Cell Zeta chain and how T cells are activated was the basic science breakthrough that led to successful cell-based CAR-T cancer therapy. Throughout his career, Dr. Klausner has consistently worked to apply the principles of science and technology to address the global cancer burden.

Rick is well known for his work in cell and molecular biology, immunology and human genetics, and has been the author of more than 300 scientific articles and several books, in addition to receiving numerous awards, honorary degrees and other honors. He has served as an advisor to the presidents of the academies for counterterrorism, and liaison to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. He oversaw the writing of The National Science Education Standards, the first such standards for U.S. Science Education. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.