Nathaniel David

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Nathaniel David
Nathaniel David at the Hello Tomorrow Summit in Paris, 2016
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma materHarvard University, University of California, Berkeley
Known forStructural biology, Crystallography, Sustainable Energy
AwardsMIT Technology Review Young Innovators Under 35
Scientific career
FieldsBiotechnology, Sustainable Energy
InstitutionsKythera Biopharmaceuticals, Sapphire Energy, Unity Biotechnology

Nathaniel David is an American scientist and entrepreneur who co-founded a series of technology companies in the biotechnology and sustainable energy sectors, including Syrrx (acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company), Achaogen (NASDAQ: AKAO), Kythera Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: KYTH, acquired by Allergan), Sapphire Energy and Unity Biotechnology.[1][2][3] These companies have collectively raised more than $1.5 billion in financing.[2]


David earned an A.B. in Biology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from University of California, Berkeley.[4] He co-founded his first company, Syrrx, during the final year of his doctoral work at UC Berkeley.[4] Syrrx was the first company in the world to build a high-throughput structural biology ‘factory,’ using automation, nano-scale experiments, and crystallography to make the determination of atomic structures of proteins easier, faster, and cheaper.[5][6]

In 2002, while at Syrrx, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[7]

In 2005, Syrrx was acquired by Takeda, and the FDA-approved drug Nesina arose from Syrrx discovery efforts.[8][9]

David left Syrrx to co-found Achaogen (NASDAQ: AKAO), an antibiotic company, and Kythera Biopharmaceticals (NASDAQ: KYTH).[1][10] He served as Chief Science Officer of Kythera while the company created a now-FDA-approved injectable drug Kybella that triggers the selective destruction of fat cells.[11][12] Kythera went public in October 2012 on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol KYTH, and was acquired by Allergan in 2015 for $2.1 billion.[13][14]

Achaogen's antibiotic plazomicin is effective against multidrug-resistant infections of Enterobacteriaceae.[15] In 2016, plazomicin demonstrated noninferiority for urinary tract infections (UTIs) in a pivotal phase III trial against colistin, and against meropenem for complicated UTIs and acute pyelonephritis.[16][15] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved plazomicin for adults with complicated UTIs and limited or no alternative treatment options in 2018; it is now sold under the brand name Zemdri.[17] In April 2019, Achaogen declared bankrupt.[18]

In 2007, while still serving as Chief Science Officer at Kythera, David co-founded Sapphire Energy, a company with a mission to develop renewable, algae-derived transportation fuels that are 100% compliant with the existing energy infrastructure.[19] In 2010, the company began construction of the world's first commercial algal bio-refinery, a project that was awarded more than $100 million in federal funding.[20][21]

In 2011, David co-founded Unity Biotechnology (NASDAQ: UBX),[22] a company dedicated to lengthening human healthspan by selectively clearing senescent cells from the body.[1][23][24][25] UNITY is creating medicines that target multiple diseases of aging.[1] David is currently the President of Unity Biotechnology.[22][26]


  1. ^ a b c d "Unity Bio Wants To "Lengthen Health Span," But 1st Goals More Modest | Xconomy". Xconomy. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  2. ^ a b "Buck Institute launches Unity Biotechnology startup". The North Bay Business Journal. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  3. ^ Runge, Wolfgang (2014). Technology Entrepreneurship : A Treatise on Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship for and in Technology Ventures. Vol 2. KIT Scientific Publishing. p. 1032. ISBN 978-3-7315-0107-7.
  4. ^ a b "Biotech on brink of breakthroughs". SFGate. 22 February 2004. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  5. ^ Pollack, Andrew (2000-07-04). "Analyzing Proteins With X-Rays, Crystals and Some Luck". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  6. ^ Pollack, Andrew (2000-07-04). "The Next Chapter in the Book of Life Is Written in the Proteins". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  7. ^ "Innovator Under 35: Nathaniel David, 33". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  8. ^ Pollack, Andrew (2005-04-20). "Some in Biotech Prefer an Acquisition to an I.P.O." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  9. ^ Parsa, Kishore Vl; Pal, Manojit (2011-08-01). "Preclinical development of dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitor alogliptin: a brief overview". Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery. 6 (8): 855–869. doi:10.1517/17460441.2011.588695. ISSN 1746-045X. PMID 22651127. S2CID 24271265.
  10. ^ "Emerging from Stealth Mode to Prevent Diseases of Aging Unity Biotechnology to Double Hiring in Bay Area". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  11. ^ "Backed by a lineup of marquee VCs, Unity Biotechnology tackles the hard science of aging". FierceBiotech. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  12. ^ "FDA approves treatment for fat below the chin" (Press release). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. April 29, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-05-01. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  13. ^ Sachetta, Ryan. "Allergan to Buy Kythera Biopharmaceuticals for $2.1 Billion". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  14. ^ "Top 10 biotech IPOs of 2012". FierceBiotech. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  15. ^ a b Wagenlehner FME, Cloutier DJ, Komirenko AS, Cebrik DS, Krause KM, Keepers TR, Connolly LE, Miller LG, Friedland I, Dwyer JP, et al. (EPIC Study Group) (February 21, 2019). "Once-Daily Plazomicin for Complicated Urinary Tract Infections". New England Journal of Medicine. 380 (8): 729–740. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1801467. PMID 30786187.
  16. ^ "Plazomicin Succeeds in Two Pivotal Phase 3 Studies". P&T Community. MediMedia. December 12, 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  17. ^ "ZEMDRI™ (plazomicin) Approved by FDA for the Treatment of Adults with Complicated Urinary Tract Infections (cUTI)". Achaogen. June 26, 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  18. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (25 December 2019). "Crisis Looms in Antibiotics as Drug Makers Go Bankrupt". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  19. ^ Hsu, Tiffany (2009-10-04). "Using algae to make fuels, he's thinking beyond pond scum". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  20. ^ "Sapphire Energy: Biofuels Digest's 2014 5-Minute Guide : Biofuels Digest". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  21. ^ Pollack, Andrew (2010-07-26). "Exploring Algae as Fuel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  22. ^ a b "Unity SEC S-1 Form". April 5, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-14 – via
  23. ^ "Mayo Clinic Taps Silicon Valley to Help People Age Gracefully". Fortune. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  24. ^ Yong, Ed (3 February 2016). "Clearing the Body's Retired Cells Slows Aging and Extends Life". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  25. ^ "Boosting Life Span By Clearing Out Cellular Clutter". Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  26. ^ "New Anti-Aging Startup Hopes To Clear Out The Body's Retired Cells". Fast Company. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-09.