At Decibel, we are exclusively focused on discovering and developing transformative treatments to restore and improve hearing and balance. We have assembled a highly experienced scientific team and built a unique platform to achieve this goal.
Entrepreneurs who have raised more than $5.5 billion in capital and successfully executed 4 IPOs
Scientists working at the cutting edge of inner ear biology, genetics and genomics, bioinformatics, gene therapy, and drug delivery
Drug developers with deep expertise in pharmacology, translational medicine, and manufacturing, who have filed more than 45 INDs and launched 17 therapies
Clinicians who have spent years treating hearing and balance disorders and are applying their expertise to clinical development
Entrepreneurs who have raised more than $5.5 billion in capital and successfully executed 4 IPOs
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Discovery
Joe Burns joined Decibel in January 2016. He is an expert in development and regeneration of the inner ear, having worked for 10 years on the topic in academia prior to Decibel. He received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia, where he performed his thesis work in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Corwin, one of the founders of the hair cell regeneration field. After receiving his Ph.D., Joe pioneered single-cell genomics techniques for the cochlea and vestibular organs, as well as methods for viral-mediated reprogramming of supporting cells and hair cells while at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine as well as at the National Institutes of Health.
Bridget Cleff, MBA
Vice President, New Product Planning and Corporate Strategy
Bridget Cleff joined Decibel in April 2021 and brings over 20 years of expertise in strategy, new product planning, business development, marketing, and commercial operations in the life sciences industry. Bridget’s experience has focused on collaborating with R&D on pipeline programs and leading cross-functional strategies to bring innovative treatments to market to address patients’ unmet needs. She has a proven record of commercial pipeline planning from pre-clinical through launch across multiple therapeutic areas, including genetic diseases. Prior to Decibel, Bridget was Commercial Development Leader for the CNS gene therapy portfolio at Spark Therapeutics (acquired by Roche). Before Spark, Bridget was Vice President, New Products Commercial Strategy at Aevi Genomic Medicine, overseeing global commercial plans for the portfolio. Prior to Aevi, Bridget spent nine years at Takeda/Shire Pharmaceuticals, where she held roles of increasing responsibility, including commercial assessment for business development, marketing, and global market research.
In earlier roles, Bridget worked in strategic product development and operations management at Takeda Oncology/Millenium Pharmaceuticals, strategy consulting at The Wilkerson Group and as a health economics researcher at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
Bridget earned an MBA in entrepreneurial management and health care management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in economics from Bucknell University.
Elaine Cope, MBA
Vice President, Operations
Elaine Cope joined Decibel in September 2017 and has over 20 years of experience in life sciences, including space planning, operations management and compliance. Her role at Decibel includes program management, real estate and facilities operations, business continuity, security, daily facilities and lab operations management, and all EH&S activity and initiatives.
Prior to Decibel, Elaine worked at Infinity Pharmaceuticals for over fifteen years, where she held multiple roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of lab operations, facilities and real estate. Elaine holds a Master of Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Manchester, England and a Bachelor’s degree in natural sciences from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Elaine Kernbauer, MS
Vice President Development Operations
Elaine’s career in research has been focused primarily on rare pediatric drug development. Prior to joining Decibel in 2022, Elaine held operational leadership roles at multiple biotech organizations involving early & late-stage assets, most recently at Taysha Gene Therapies and Novartis Gene Therapies (formerly AveXis). Elaine has been involved in multiple product approvals for rare, pediatric indications, including the global approvals of Zolgensma®, a gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy. Elaine received her BS degree from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and her MS degree from Northwestern University.
Chief Development Officer
John Lee joined Decibel in September 2016 as senior vice president of pharmaceutical development and brings over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology industry. Prior to Decibel, he served as senior vice president of pharmaceutical development at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. Throughout his 15 years at Infinity, John held roles of increasing responsibility and leadership. Most recently, he was responsible for chemistry manufacturing and control (CMC), analytical sciences, formulation sciences and clinical supply and distribution for the company’s drug candidates across all phases of global clinical development. He was also co-chair of Infinity’s operational leadership team. Previously, John was a new product manager at Corning Life Sciences, where he was responsible for developing new life science products. Before Corning, John was an early member of Millennium Pharmaceuticals and played a key role in the successful positional cloning of the mouse obesity gene tubby, before becoming project lead for an ovarian cancer diagnostic program. Prior to Millennium, John worked in the developmental chronobiology lab of Steven Reppert at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he focused on cloning G-protein coupled receptors and circadian biology. John received his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Adam Palermo, Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Genomics and Computational Biology
Adam Palermo joined Decibel in January 2016 and has over 20 years of computational biology experience. Adam’s team applies computational and genomic tools to target discovery, vector design and population segmentation. Prior to coming to Decibel, Adam was director of functional genomics at Sanofi-Genzyme, where his team specialized in gene therapy, disease modeling and biomanufacturing for rare disease. Adam received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his Ph.D. from Stanford Medical School.
Laurence Reid, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Laurence joined Decibel in January 2020. He previously served as an entrepreneur in residence at Third Rock Ventures, where he focused on novel drug discovery and development opportunities. Before that, Laurence was CEO of Warp Drive Bio, a small molecule company focused on novel oncology and antibiotic drug discovery based on natural products, until its merger with Revolution Medicines in 2018. Prior to that, he was the senior vice president and chief business officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for the company’s business development, finance and legal functions. Before coming to Alnylam, Laurence was the chief business officer at Ensemble Discovery, where he led the company’s strategic planning and corporate development efforts. Laurence previously spent ten years at Millennium Pharmaceuticals in a range of general management and business development positions. In addition to his professional interests, Laurence is a board member of the Possible Project, a board member of Garuda Therapeutics and board advisor to Life Science Cares. He earned his Ph.D. from King’s College London and his B.A. from Cambridge University.
Vice President, Program Management, Strategy and Operations
Courtney brings 20+ years of experience in the biotechnology setting and has devoted much of her professional life to developing therapies for rare genetic diseases. Courtney’s breadth of portfolio support includes novel small molecules, antisense oligonucleotides and biologic programs, across many therapeutic areas and at all stages of development.
Previously, she was Senior Director of research and development for Solid Biosciences and held a leadership role in advancing gene therapy candidates into clinical development for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, led the development of primary clinical biomarkers, and was responsible for overseeing development strategies for all nonclinical programs.
Prior to Solid, Courtney spent five years at Sarepta Therapeutics, co-leading a team whose innovative work was paramount to EXONDYS 51 regulatory filing that gained an unprecedented, accelerated approval and paved the way for subsequent approvals for VYONDYS53 and AMONDYS45 in patients with high unmet medical needs. Prior to Sarepta, Courtney held positions of increasing responsibility at Infinity Pharmaceuticals. While at Infinity, Courtney was a recognized leader in nonclinical development of novel small molecules targeting chronic and neuropathic pain and became highly skilled at building and managing external collaborations with diverse stakeholders.
Anna Trask, MA
Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer
Anna Trask joined Decibel as chief people, community and culture officer in January 2018, bringing with her nearly 30 years of experience in the field of human resources. Prior to Decibel, Anna served as senior director, human resources at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as chief human resource officer at Boston Medical Center Healthnet Plan and in leadership positions at Neighborhood Health Plan, Pine Manor College and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care/Harvard Community Health Plan. Across these roles, she was responsible for creating and implementing innovative organizational design and development programs to improve critical areas such as transparency, efficiency and effectiveness; professional development and organizational diversity. Anna graduated with a B.A. in politics from Mount Holyoke College and has a master’s degree in psychology from Boston University.
Vassili Valayannopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., MBA
Vice President, Clinical Development
Dr. Valayannopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, is a Rare Disease expert and an experienced pharma industry executive. He has previously served in Clinical Development and Medical Affairs leadership roles at Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals and at Sanofi Genzyme supporting Rare Disease drug development and medical lifecycle management. With training in pediatric metabolic medicine, clinical genetics and pediatric neurology and prior to joining the pharma industry, he served as Senior Faculty and Principal Investigator at the Department of Pediatric Metabolic Disorders and Pediatric Neurology at Necker-Enfants Malades University Hospital, Paris, France. Dr. Valayannopoulos conducted clinical research in collaboration with Institut IMAGINE at Necker with a special focus on neurodegenerative metabolic diseases, gene therapy and lysosomal storage disorders, and worked with expert networks for inherited Metabolic disorders (E-IMD, CETL). He has served as Principal Investigator and coordinator in several clinical trials (academic and industry sponsored) and is an author or co-author on numerous peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Valayannopoulos earned his medical degree and completed his pediatric residency program at Paul Sabatier University Medical School in Toulouse, France and has received a Master’s degree in Genetics, a PhD in Molecular Biology, both from Paris Descartes University and his MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.
Jonathon Whitton, Au.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Clinical Research and Development
Jonathon Whitton is a clinician-scientist and the senior vice president of clinical research and development at Decibel Therapeutics. Prior to joining Decibel in 2016, Jonathon conducted clinical research with people living with hearing loss at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Jonathon is active in the American Academy of Audiology where he is a member of the Scientific Advisory and Research Council and chairs the annual translational research meeting in conjunction with the national conference. Jonathon received his Au.D. from the University of Louisville and his Ph.D. in Health Sciences and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Board of Directors
Scientific Advisory Board
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