Design Therapeutics Appoints Industry Veteran, Dr. João Siffert, as Chief Executive Officer

Oct 20, 2020 at 8:00 AM EDT

SAN DIEGO--Design Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing a platform of gene targeted chimera (GeneTAC™) small molecules for the treatment of serious degenerative disorders caused by nucleotide repeat expansions, today announced that João Siffert, M.D., has been appointed as chief executive officer and will also join the Board of Directors. Dr. Siffert joins the founding Design Therapeutics team, including Pratik Shah, Ph.D., co-founder and executive chairman; Aseem Ansari, Ph.D., co-founder and director; and Sean Jeffries, Ph.D., chief business officer. Dr. Siffert brings extensive industry knowledge to Design, with 30 years combined experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, clinical practice and academia.

“There are few industry executives that possess the breadth of experience that João has, spanning industry and academia, across numerous therapeutic areas and modalities. We are thrilled to welcome him to the Design Therapeutics team as the company’s chief executive officer,” said Dr. Shah. “Since our launch, we have been singularly focused on defining the clinical and research and development strategies for our pipeline of programs focused on treating debilitating degenerative diseases. With significant funding from top-tier investors, combined with João as CEO and our exceptional team, Design Therapeutics is well positioned to execute those strategies and ultimately bring GeneTAC™ therapies to patients in need.”

“Design Therapeutics has an opportunity to address a set of disorders that have devastating consequences on those affected and for which effective treatments are lacking,” said Dr. Siffert. “The scientific data and the development work that has been conducted by the founding team are impressive. I am incredibly motivated to partner with this team, and to lead the translation of this novel science into important medicines for people in need.”

Dr. Siffert has successfully led organizations responsible for multiple drug development programs in biotech and pharma from pre-clinical to regulatory approvals and commercial launches in the U.S. and Europe. He joins Design Therapeutics from Abeona Therapeutics where he was the chief executive officer and a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to Abeona, Dr. Siffert held a number of medical and scientific roles, including as chief medical officer and chief scientific officer, at biopharmaceutical companies including Nestle Health Science, Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Ceregene Inc., Avera Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. Dr. Siffert also served as an independent director for Avexis, Inc. and Alcobra Pharma (now Arcturus Therapeutics). Before joining industry, Dr. Siffert spent seven years in academic practice as a neuro-oncologist at Beth Israel Hospital and as an assistant professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Siffert earned his M.D. from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and his MBA from Columbia University. He completed medical residencies in pediatrics at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and in neurology at Harvard Medical School, followed by a fellowship training in neuro-oncology at NYU. The American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry certified Dr. Siffert in 1996.

About Design Therapeutics

Design Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing a new class of therapies based on a platform of gene targeted chimera (GeneTAC™) small molecules. The company’s lead program is focused on the treatment of Friedreich ataxia and discovery efforts are ongoing in other for serious degenerative disorders caused by nucleotide repeat expansions. For more information, please visit

Alicia Davis, THRUST Strategic Communications
(910) 620-3302