David Schaffer has been appointed the next executive director of QB3, the institute announced today. A professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, bioengineering, and molecular and cell biology, Schaffer holds over 50 patents; his lab’s research has spawned eight companies to commercialize stem cell and gene therapies.
The appointment was made jointly by the chancellors of the UC campuses at Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. QB3 comprises research divisions at those three campuses, plus a central office that supports entrepreneurship; Schaffer previously served as director of the QB3-Berkeley group.
Schaffer, who also directs the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, which includes the new 50-company Bakar Labs incubator, strongly supports student and faculty entrepreneurship and the development of a skilled workforce to bolster the California economy. In his new role he will leverage his scientific and commercial expertise to sustain and grow QB3’s existing programs, as well as continually explore new avenues to support entrepreneurs.
“This appointment is a tremendous honor and opportunity,” Schaffer said. “I’m excited to be in a position where I can help UC and California founders launch companies to commercialize new therapies and solutions for the good of society, as well as develop the state workforce. I recognize that not everyone is ready to incorporate; my team and I will also be developing programs to interface with campus and introduce undergraduate and graduate students to the business and joy of biotech.”
Schaffer serves as Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, and holds appointments in the Departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Neuroscience. He also holds an adjunct professorship in biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF. His laboratory’s research employs molecular and cellular engineering approaches to investigate biomedical problems, with particular focus in areas of gene therapy and stem cell biology and their application to therapies for diseases of the nervous system. To date, he has co-founded eight companies, including 4D Molecular Therapeutics (NASDAQ FDMT), Axent Biosciences, Ignite Immunotherapy (acquired by Pfizer), Rewrite Therapeutics (acquired by Intellia), and Valitor. In 2021 he was named to the National Academy of Inventors.
Schaffer replaces outgoing director Regis Kelly, PhD, OBE, who led QB3 for 18 years and oversaw pioneering initiatives including the first incubator and venture fund in the University of California system.
“I congratulate Dave on his appointment,” Kelly said. “He’s an academic superstar and serial entrepreneur and terrific to work with. I can’t think of anyone better suited to the role.”