CZ Biohub Leadership

Joe DeRisi, Ph.D.

Dr. Joseph DeRisi is infusing biomedical research with an inventor’s flair. He led the development of a new diagnostic tool called the Virochip that contains DNA from every known virus that can quickly scan blood or spinal fluid for evidence of infection. A self-described “biologist who is also a serious computer nerd,” his lab at the University of California, San Francisco, is combining an innovative software tool with new genome sequencing technology to develop a prototype diagnostic test that could reveal any infectious disease with near certainty.

Dr. DeRisi employs an interdisciplinary approach to his work, combining genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry and bioengineering to study parasitic and viral infectious diseases in a wide range of organisms. He was one of the early pioneers of DNA microarray technology and whole genome expression profiling and is nationally recognized for his efforts to make this technology accessible and freely available. Today, he uses this approach to study the activity of the full range of malaria genes and has generated provocative insights in many emerging viral diseases.

Dr. DeRisi is a professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2004, he was chosen for a MacArthur Fellowship. In addition to being a Searle Scholar and a Packard Fellow, Dr. DeRisi has received the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment and was named an Eli Lilly and Company Research Award Laureate. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2016. He was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2005-2016. He received a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1992, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University in 1999.

Steve Quake, D.PHIL.

Dr. Stephen Quake’s research is at the nexus of biology, physics and technology development. He has invented many measurement tools for biology, including new DNA sequencing technologies that have enabled rapid analysis of the human genome and microfluidic automation that allows scientists to efficiently isolate individual cells and decipher their genetic code. Dr. Quake is also well known for his work inventing new diagnostic tools, including the first non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome and other aneuploidies. His test is rapidly replacing risky invasive approaches such as amniocentesis, and millions of women each year now benefit from this approach. His innovations have helped to radically accelerate the pace of biology and have made medicine safer by replacing invasive biopsies with simple blood tests.

Dr. Quake is the Lee Otterson Professor of Bioengineering and Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University. He has received numerous awards for his discoveries and has been elected to several scientific honorary societies, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, The National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors. He received a B.S. in Physics and M.S. in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1991 and a doctorate in Theoretical Physics from the University of Oxford in 1994. He began his faculty career at the California Institute of Technology in 1996, where he rose through the ranks to become Professor of Applied Physics and Physics. He joined Stanford in 2005 to help found and lead Stanford’s new Bioengineering department as it grew to nearly two dozen faculty members. He was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2006-2016.

Gajus Worthington

Chief Operating Officer
Gajus Worthington has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub since May of 2017. As COO he has worked with the Co-Presidents to set strategy and objectives for the CZ Biohub and has built and overseen much of the organization. This includes recruiting the finance, legal, IT and HR teams, executive leadership and the Chief Scientific Officer. Over the years Gajus has assisted in the formation of and advised dozens of start-ups, and has worked to foster an entrepreneurial spirit at the CZ Biohub.

From early 1999 to October 2016 he was the Chief Executive Officer of Fluidigm Corporation (NASDAQ: FLDM), a company he co-founded. During his tenure at Fluidigm, he led the development and commercialization of Fluidigm’s technology, resulting in revenues of approximately $120M from multiple product lines. Along the way Fluidigm became a recognized leader in microfluidics, pioneered the single cell genomics market, raised over $500M in private and public funding, acquired the CYTOF technology through the acquisition of DVS Sciences, and ultimately employed over 600 people globally with operations in the US, Paris, the UK, Japan, Singapore and China.

Gajus earned a BS in Physics and an MSEE from Stanford University. He served on the Advisory Board for Stanford’s Technology Ventures Program from 2001 to 2006. He is also an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

Sandra Schmid, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Sandy Schmid joins the Biohub in 2020, bringing her career-long focus in cell biology to guide and amplify the scientific research of the internal team and the investigator program.

She joins the staff from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, where she held the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology and served as chair of the Department of Cell Biology.

Dr. Schmid was born in Vancouver, Canada and received her B.Sc. Degree (Honours) in Cell Biology at the University of British Columbia. She moved to the U.S. in 1980 for graduate studies with Jim Rothman at Stanford University. She was a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow and Lucille P. Markey Scholar with Ira Mellman and Ari Helenius at Yale, and moved to The Scripps Research Institute as an Assistant Professor in 1988. She served as Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at TSRI from 2000-2012, before being recruited to UTSW.

She is a leader in the scientific community, whose research, published in over 150 papers, is directed towards elucidating the molecular mechanisms and regulation of clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME), characterizing the differential regulation of CME in normal and cancer cells, and analyzing the structure and function of the GTPase, dynamin. She has received numerous awards, including the American Society for Cell Biology’s Women in Cell Biology Junior and Senior Career Recognition Awards, an NIH MERIT Award and the Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences.

Schmid received a M.S. Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego and is committed to mentoring young scientists and future leaders. She gives frequent career development and time management seminars to postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty throughout the US.

Victor Colunga

Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer
Victor Colunga was appointed as Biohub’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer in January 2018. He joined the Biohub even earlier in its history, having served as the Interim CFO from June through December 2017.

Victor has been a CFO for 30 years. In 2004, he co-founded FLG Partners and, before retiring in 2017, helped grow this CFO advisory firm to be the largest on the West Coast. While at FLG, he served as the interim CFO for a broad variety of life science and technology companies.
In prior roles and while at FLG, Victor raised over a half billion dollars of equity in private and public financings. He also participated in nearly a dozen mergers and acquisitions. Though securing financing was a frequent need, his greatest satisfaction has been derived from success at building out initial finance and accounting teams.

Victor has served on the Boards and been the CFO of several non-profits. He started his career as a CPA and is a graduate of Santa Clara University.

Rosio Alvarez, PH.D.

Vice President for Data Security and IT
Dr. Rosío Alvarez is Vice President for Data Security and IT at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. Previously, Dr. Alvarez was CIO at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for 13 years. In that position, Dr. Alvarez served the computational needs of scientists carrying out $1B worth of energy research. The portfolio included business systems, high performance computing, cybersecurity, and networking. In 2010, Dr. Alvarez was appointed as the Senior IT Advisor to the Secretary of Energy and in this role provided policy development and risk analysis advice for cyber security and IT for a $20 billion department. Dr. Alvarez was also appointed in 2013 by the California Governor and Controller to Chair the State of California Task Force on Re-engineering IT Procurement for its $4.5B portfolio. Previously, Dr. Alvarez was Associate Chancellor for IT at the University of Massachusetts Amherst overseeing the computational services for 30,000 users. Dr. Alvarez also was faculty in the business schools at the University of Washington and University of Massachusetts and published in leading academic journals.

Sonya Zilka

Vice President of Human Resources
is Vice President of Human Resources for the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. An expert in organizational development and Human Resources, Sonya has held leadership positions in a variety of industries including entertainment, technology, biopharma, international development and philanthropy. She brings global and cultural awareness to her role having lived and worked internationally in Europe, Australia and Asia.

Sonya serves on the Board of Trustees for Biocom’s Beyond Benefits Trust and is an Ambassador for the Gates Foundation Alumni Network. Sonya has served as Co-Chair of the Seattle Women’s Commission and has served in both paid and volunteer positions in a variety of non-profit organizations, including Planned Parenthood, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Women’s Leadership Initiative. Sonya also currently advises two Bay Area arts institutions.

Sonya graduated from General Electric’s Human Resources Leadership Program in 1998 and has a Masters in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.

Russ B. Altman, M.D., Ph.D.

Presidents’ Advisory Group
Russ Biagio Altman is the Kenneth Fong Professor of Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine, and Biomedical Data Science (and of Computer Science, by courtesy) at Stanford University, and previously chaired its Department of Bioengineering. His primary research interest is the application of computing and informatics technologies to clinical medicine. He is particularly interested in developing methods for understanding drug action at molecular, cellular, organism and population levels and in determining how human genetic variation impacts drug response. Dr. Altman holds an A.B. from Harvard College, an M.D. from Stanford Medical School, and a Ph.D. in Medical Information Sciences from Stanford. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Clinical Informatics, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Medical Informatics, the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Altman is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine, IOM). He is a past-President, founding board member, and a Fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology, and a past-President of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. He chaired the Science Board advising the FDA Commissioner, and currently serves on the NIH Director’s Advisory Committee, and is Co-Chair of the IOM Drug Forum. As a member of the CZ Biohub Presidents’ Advisory Board, Dr. Altman assists the leadership in formulating and executing an exciting and effective data science and informatics program.

Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D.

Presidents’ Advisory Group
Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D. is a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where she holds the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She is widely recognized as an expert in RNA structural biology, RNA-mediated gene regulation and, most recently, a co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 technology that revolutionized gene editing. Her work has been honored by numerous awards including the NSF Waterman Award, the FNIH Lurie Prize, the Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Japan Prize in Life Sciences, the Massry Prize, the Heineken Award, the Gairdner Award, the Nakasone Award, and the L’Oreal UNESCO International Prize for Women in Science. Dr. Doudna is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Microbiology and the American Association for Cancer Research, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2015. As a member of the CZ Biohub Presidents’ Advisory Board, Dr. Doudna is focused on helping expand our knowledge of human health and accelerate the development of breakthrough scientific and medical advancements, technologies and therapeutics.

Jonathan Weissman, Ph.D.

Presidents’ Advisory Group
Jonathan Weissman received his undergraduate physics degree from Harvard College. After obtaining a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University School of Medicine. In 1996, Weissman joined the faculty of the University of California-San Francisco in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and was appointed an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2000. He has received the Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics and the National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery, and delivered the 2015 Porter Lecture for the American Society of Cell Biology. Weissman is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. His current services include membership on the Scientific Advisory Board for Amgen, the Stowers Institute of Medical Research and Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. He studies how cells ensure that proteins fold into their correct shape, as well as the role of protein misfolding in disease and normal physiology. He is also widely recognized for building innovative tools for broadly exploring organizational principles of biological systems. These include ribosome profiling, which globally monitors protein translation, and CRIPSRi/a for controlling the expression of human genes and rewiring the epigenome. At CZ Biohub, Weissman is a member of the Presidents’ Advisory Board with a particular focus on the Cell Atlas Initiative, which seeks to define the internal architecture of cells and contribute to the international effort to define every cell type in the human body.

Peter S. Kim, Ph.D.

Lead Investigator, Infectious Disease
Peter Kim carried out his Ph.D. thesis research on protein folding in Robert Baldwin’s laboratory at Stanford University and then became one of the early Whitehead Fellows at MIT’s Whitehead Institute. Subsequently he held appointments as Professor of Biology at MIT, Member of the Whitehead Institute and Investigator of HHMI. From 2003 to 2013, he was President of Merck Research Laboratories (MRL) with responsibility for Merck’s research and development activities. In 2014, he was appointed the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Professor of Biochemistry at Stanford, where he is also a member of Stanford ChEM-H. Dr. Kim is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine. His current service includes the Medical Advisory Board of HHMI and the Council of the National Academy of Sciences. He is known for discovering how proteins cause viral membranes to fuse with cells. He has designed novel compounds that stop membrane fusion by HIV and has pioneered efforts to develop an HIV vaccine based on similar principles. During his tenure at MRL, Merck gained approval for over 20 drugs and vaccines. At the CZ Biohub, Dr. Kim leads the Infectious Disease Initiative, which aims to explore new approaches and invent new tools for creating diagnostic tests, drugs, vaccines and rapid-response strategies to support the global fight against both existing and newly emerging infectious diseases.

Lubert Stryer, M.D.

Senior Advisor
Lubert Stryer is the Winzer Professor of Cell Biology, Emeritus, at Stanford University. His research over more than four decades has been centered on the interplay of light and life. Dr. Stryer’s laboratory discovered the primary stage of amplification in vision and elucidated the G-protein cascade that generates a neural signal in visual excitation. He has developed new fluorescence techniques, as exemplified by fluorescence resonance energy transfer as a spectroscopic ruler. He played a key role at Affymax and Affymetrix in devising novel optical techniques for generating high-density peptide and DNA arrays; he is a co-inventor of the DNA chip. Dr. Stryer authored four editions of Biochemistry, a textbook used widely throughout the world. His honors include the National Medal of Science, and election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As a Senior Adviser to CZ Biohub, Dr. Stryer is especially interested in stimulating interactions between CZ Biohub Investigators and major CZ Biohub programs such as the Cell Atlas Initiative and the Infectious Disease Initiative.

Don Ganem, M.D.

Senior Advisor
Don Ganem is a virologist and infectious diseases specialist who brings industry as well as academic experience to CZ Biohub. He is Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Medicine at UCSF, where for 30 years he led a research laboratory focused on the replication and pathogenesis of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). While at UCSF he also collaborated extensively with Joe DeRisi on the discovery and characterization of novel human and veterinary pathogens through their unique fusion of metagenomics, bioinformatics, virology and clinical investigation. In 2011, Don left UCSF to become Global Head of Infectious Diseases Research at Novartis, where he led programs that developed new antibiotics for multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria and novel antivirals for influenza, herpesviruses, picornaviruses and polyomaviruses. Don is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology, as well as a Past President of the American Society for Virology. He joined CZ Biohub in January 2019 as Senior Advisor to our Infectious Disease programs.

Rob Phillips, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor
Rob Phillips grew up in San Diego, California in a home filled with books, leading to a love affair with books and reading that has continued to this day. He is the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Phillips received his PhD in condensed matter physics at Washington University in 1989. Prior to the great fun of a life in science, he spent seven years traveling, engaging in self-study and working as an electrician. Research in the Phillips Laboratory focuses broadly on physical biology of the cell, an approach in which physical models are used to make predictions about how biological systems work and those ideas are tested using precision measurements. Some current research threads include trying to develop generic ways of understanding how bacterial genomes are regulated and how that regulation has evolved and exploring how energy consuming processes lead to the self-organization of active matter structures such as the mitotic spindle.

Christopher Walsh, Ph.D.

Senior Advisor
Christopher Walsh is a consulting professor to the Stanford University department of chemistry, a senior advisor to the Stanford ChEM-H institute, and a member of the board of directors of The Scripps Research Institute. He was the Hamilton Kuhn Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School from 1987 until 2013, when he took emeritus status. He has had extensive academic leadership experience, including Chairmanship of the MIT Chemistry Department (1982-1987) and of the Harvard Medical School Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology Department (1987-1995) as well as serving as President and CEO of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (1992-1995). His research has focused on enzymes and enzyme inhibitors, with specialization on antibiotics and biosynthesis of other biologically and medicinally active natural products. He and his group authored 825 research papers, and six monographs, from 1979-2018. At Harvard and MIT he taught biochemistry, chemical biology, and pharmacology to medical students and graduate students and organic chemistry to undergraduates. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a recipient of the Welch Prize in Chemistry, The Franklin Institute Medal in Chemistry, and the Robert Koch Gold Medal in Infectious Diseases. He has been involved in translating basic research into new medicines by way of two dozen biotechnology startup companies over four decades, beginning with Genzyme in 1981, and is currently a member or limited investor in a number of scientific advisory and investment firms.

Scientific Advisory Board

Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D.




Don Ganem, M.D.

Senior Advisor, CZ Biohub



Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.

President, Rockefeller University



Robert Tjian, Ph.D.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California, Berkeley