Mountain View, Calif. –March 12, 2015 – 23andMe today announced the creation of a new therapeutics group and appointment of Richard Scheller, Ph.D. as chief science officer and head of therapeutics to lead it. Dr. Scheller retired in December 2014 from a distinguished 14 year career as an executive at Genentech where he was the executive vice president of research and early development.
“With Dr. Scheller joining the team, we are putting significant resources into translating genetic information into the discovery and development of new therapies for our customers and the world,” said 23andMe CEO and Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki. “This is a major step forward to realizing our mission to help people benefit from the human genome.”
When Dr. Scheller assumes his post at the beginning of April 2015 as 23andMe’s chief science officer and head of therapeutics, he will help build a dedicated research and development team. The therapeutics group aims to use human genetic data as the starting point for identifying new therapies for both common and rare diseases. The creation of a therapeutics group in connection with 23andMe’s research platform, which is currently the world’s largest consented, re-contactable database, is a significant step forward to better understanding the biological mechanisms of disease and accelerating the discovery of novel treatments through human genetics.
“I have dedicated my life to research aimed at fulfilling unmet needs for very sick people,” said Dr. Scheller. “I believe that human genetics has a very important role to play in finding new treatments for disease. I am excited about the potential for what may be possible through 23andMe’s database. It is unlike any other.”
As the executive vice president of research and early development at Genentech, he led the company’s research strategy, drug discovery, business development, and early drug development activities (through proof of concept in the clinic). Dr. Scheller oversaw the company’s basic research around oncology, immunology, neuroscience, and infectious disease. Dr. Scheller served on the faculty of Stanford University for 19 years as a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and was an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Stanford University Medical Center. In 2013, Dr. Scheller received the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Awardfor discoveries concerning the molecular machinery and regulatory mechanism that underlie the rapid release of neurotransmitters. The Lasker Awards are among the most respected science prizes in the world and are often referred to as “America’s Nobels.1” Since 2004, Dr. Scheller also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Scheller has published more than 280 research studies.
“Dr. Scheller has an incredible reputation in the biotech industry as a leader who is both visionary and also capable of tremendous execution on the business side,” said Andy Page, president, 23andMe. “We are in the process of actively recruiting a world-class team of scientists and researchers. I’m excited for Dr. Scheller to lead the team and begin recruiting efforts starting next month.”
Dr. Scheller has received several additional awards for his work elucidating the molecular mechanisms governing neurotransmitter release, including the 2014 California Institute of Technology’s Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, the 2010 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, and the 1997 U.S. National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology.
Dr. Scheller is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He also currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the California Institute of Technology.
Dr. Scheller holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology and a postdoctoral fellow in Molecular Neurobiology at Columbia University at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.