San Francisco, California

Overall Rank: 71
Category: Biotechnology
Category Rank: 33


  • Top HealthTech Company of 2023


Denali Therapeutics is a biotechnology company headquartered in San Francisco, California, focused on developing innovative therapies for neurodegenerative diseases by breaking through historical barriers in scientific research and clinical development. It was founded in 2013 with a mission to defeat these devastating disorders. Denali pioneers breakthrough approaches to target the underlying causes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and others. It delivers safe and effective medicines to patients and families with its scientific approach, which is based on three core principles: rigorous assessment of genetic targets, engineering brain delivery, and using biomarkers to guide development.

As a leading biotechnology company, Denali Therapeutics maintains strategic partnerships and collaborations with academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and other industry leaders. It has raised $275,000,000 post IPO. By harnessing the power of precision medicine and advanced scientific techniques, Denali is dedicated to transforming the treatment landscape and improving the lives of patients. Through cutting-edge research and development efforts, Denali Therapeutics leverages its expertise in genetics, biology, and neurology to identify and develop novel therapeutic candidates.

With a focus on translational medicine, Denali’s team of 450+ people bridges the gap between preclinical research and clinical trials, expediting the development of potential breakthrough treatments. The company’s comprehensive pipeline encompasses small molecules, antibodies, and other modalities designed to selectively target disease-causing proteins and restore cellular functions. Denali’s multidisciplinary team of world-class scientists, clinicians, and industry experts collaborate closely to advance their innovative therapies.

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Key Products


Denali Therapeutics’ ATV (Antibody Transport Vehicle) platform is a unique technology designed to enable the effective delivery of therapeutic antibodies across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). By utilizing natural receptor-mediated transport mechanisms, ATV enhances the brain penetration of antibodies, allowing for targeted treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

RIPK1 Inhibitor Program

Denali’s RIPK1 (Receptor-Interacting Protein Kinase 1) inhibitor program focuses on developing small molecule inhibitors to target RIPK1, an enzyme implicated in neuro-inflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions. By modulating RIPK1 activity, Denali aims to mitigate disease progression and provide potential therapeutic options for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

LRRK2 Inhibitor Program

Denali Therapeutics’ LRRK2 (Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2) inhibitor program is centered on developing small molecule inhibitors that target LRRK2, a protein kinase associated with Parkinson’s disease. By inhibiting LRRK2 activity, Denali aims to modify disease progression and potentially halt or slow down the neurodegenerative process.

TREM2 Program

Denali’s TREM2 (Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid Cells 2) program focuses on developing antibody therapeutics that target TREM2, a receptor involved in the immune response in the brain. Dysfunctional TREM2 signaling has been linked to neurodegenerative disorders, and Denali aims to modulate TREM2 activity to potentially provide therapeutic benefits in diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS.

Heat Shock Protein (Hsp90) Program

Denali Therapeutics’ Heat Shock Protein (Hsp90) program aims to develop small molecule inhibitors that target Hsp90, a chaperone protein involved in regulating protein folding and cellular stress responses. By modulating Hsp90 activity, Denali seeks to address the underlying cellular dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases and potentially offer therapeutic interventions.

Enzyme Transport Vehicle (ETV) Program

Denali’s Enzyme Transport Vehicle (ETV) platform utilizes proprietary technology to enable targeted delivery of therapeutic enzymes to the brain. This platform holds potential for the treatment of lysosomal storage disorders and other neurodegenerative diseases by facilitating efficient enzyme transport across the blood-brain barrier and enhancing their activity within the brain.

Customer Insights

Denali Therapeutics Inc. receives heartfelt appreciation and positive feedback from patients, clients, and partners for their remarkable work in the field of neurological and neurodegenerative disease therapies. The company’s unwavering commitment to developing innovative treatments has garnered immense support and gratitude from individuals and their families, fueling their determination to continue making a significant impact.

Patients who have benefited from Denali’s therapies express gratitude for the life-changing improvements they have experienced. Through relentless research and development efforts, Denali strives to instill hope and provide transformative solutions to those living with conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and ALS. The testimonials and personal stories of patients highlight the benefits of solutions and services. 

The company’s collaborative approach and dedication to delivering exceptional solutions are highly valued by their clients, which include healthcare professionals and organizations. The comprehensive support provided by them, encompassing clinical trial programs, post-market surveillance, and educational initiatives, is greatly appreciated. Their partnerships with clients enable the development of therapies that effectively address patient needs while advancing the field of neurodegenerative disease treatment.

The recognition and support Denali receives from academic institutions, research organizations, and pharmaceutical industry partners validate their commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and therapeutic development. 


  • Founded: 2013

  • Number of employees: 450+

  • Location: 1 (California, USA)

  • Current Clinical Trials: 3  

  • Strategic partnerships: 3 (Biogen, Sanofi and Takeda)

  • Collaboration revenue: $35.1 million for first three months ended March 31, 2023

  • 10 years of experience in developing innovative solutions for neurodegenerative diseases 

Rating and Commentary

Due to its dedication to developing cutting-edge treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, Denali Therapeutics is in a strong position for the future. Along with a group of accomplished and seasoned leaders who bring deep knowledge of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, Ryan Watts serves as the company’s CEO. With a shared commitment to advancing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, the leadership team guides the company’s strategic vision and fosters a culture of innovation and scientific excellence.

Furthermore, the company has a diverse group of stakeholders, including renowned entities such as Biogen Inc., Baillie Gifford & Co., and The Vanguard Group, Inc. These institutional investors bring diverse perspectives, expertise, and resources to Denali, contributing to the company’s growth and success. Additionally, Denali’s collaborations with academic institutions, research organizations, and pharmaceutical companies further expand its stakeholder network. This diverse group of stakeholders underscores Denali’s commitment to engaging with a wide range of partners to drive innovation and advance research. 

In the highly competitive landscape of biotechnology and neurodegenerative disease treatments, Denali Therapeutics faces competition from various companies focused on similar therapeutic areas. These competitors include established pharmaceutical companies, biotech startups, and academic institutions such as Biogen, PTC Therapeutics, UniQure, and Intellia Therapeutics. While each competitor brings its own unique strengths and approaches, Denali differentiates itself through its innovative technologies, comprehensive pipeline, and scientific expertise.

The growth projections for Denali are promising, with advancements in scientific research, strategic partnerships, and investor support contributing to its potential success in improving the lives of patients and making a lasting impact in the healthcare industry.

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Key Executives

Ryan Watts, CEO

Ryan Watts is a prominent figure in the field of biotechnology. As a co-founder, President, and member of the Board of Directors, he has played a pivotal role in driving the company’s success and innovation. Under his leadership, Denali has achieved significant milestones, including the advancement of multiple therapeutic candidates into clinical testing for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS. Mr. Watt’s visionary approach has led to the development of a proprietary blood-brain barrier platform, enabling the targeted delivery of therapeutic proteins to the brain.

Alexander Schuth, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Alexander is a key leader at Denali Therapeutics. As a co-founder of the company, he has played an integral role in its growth and success. Since 2015, Mr. Schuth has served as the COO and Secretary, taking on additional responsibility for the Finance Group in 2022. In his role, Alex and his team are focused on building, advancing, and managing a diverse portfolio of therapeutic drug candidates. They have forged over 30 collaborations with partners in industry and academia to accelerate the discovery, development, and eventual commercialization of medicines for neurodegenerative diseases. Furthermore, he has been instrumental in overseeing all financing and investor relations activities, ensuring a strong financial foundation for Denali.

Carole Ho, Chief Medical Officer

Carole Ho holds the position of Head of Development at Denali Therapeutics. In her role, she has successfully established and leads an integrated Development organization responsible for advancing therapeutic candidates through the various stages of clinical trials, from pre-IND enabling studies to Phase 3. Under her guidance, Denali’s biomarker-driven development strategy has enabled early target and pathway engagement in clinical trials for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS.

Cindy Dunkle, Chief People Officer

Dunkle plays a vital role in overseeing all aspects of human resources, facilities, and environmental health and safety. With her extensive experience, she has been instrumental in driving the successful growth of the company, with a focus on attracting top talent and prioritizing science and leadership. In her position, Ms. Dunkle spearheads the development and implementation of HR strategies that create value and contribute to the company’s overall success. She fosters a culture of learning and innovation, empowering each individual within the organization to reach their full potential. With 25 years of experience, she brings expertise in compensation, organizational development, and talent acquisition to her role.

Organizational Insights

Denali Therapeutics has a rating of 3.9 on Glassdoor, with 72% of people recommending the company to their friends. Further, a whopping 92% approve of the leadership of the CEO, Ryan Watts. The company nurtures a positive and collaborative organizational culture that resonates with its employees, as reflected in the Glassdoor reviews. It fosters a sense of teamwork, support, and inclusivity where employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. With a commitment to innovation and scientific excellence, Denali provides an empowering work environment that encourages creativity and exploration.

Here, the employees not only benefit from the stimulating and collaborative work atmosphere but also enjoy a range of perks and benefits. The company prioritizes the well-being and professional growth of its employees by offering competitive compensation packages and comprehensive health coverage. Employees have access to healthcare and dental plans, as well as life and disability insurance options. Denali also provides a 401(k) retirement savings plan to support long-term financial security.

Additionally, the company invests in its employees’ professional development through training programs, mentorship opportunities, and the chance to acquire new skills. It recognizes the importance of work-life balance and promotes employee wellness by offering flexible work arrangements and paid time off.

The inclusive and diverse work environment that Denali fosters further demonstrates its commitment to its employees. The company values individuals’ unique perspectives and experiences, fostering an inclusive culture where everyone feels respected and supported.

Overall, this company’s organizational culture promotes collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity, allowing employees to thrive and make meaningful contributions. Combined with the range of perks and benefits offered, Denali provides an environment where employees are empowered to excel both personally and professionally.

Board Members

Vicki L. Sato

Vicki is an esteemed leader in the field of biotechnology and serves as the Chairman of the board of directors at Denali. Prior to her current position, Vicki held significant academic roles at Harvard University. Apart from her academic contributions, Vicki has been actively involved in advising businesses in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. In addition to her role at Denali, Vicki serves on the boards of directors of publicly held companies Bristol Myers Squibb Company and Borg Warner Corporation. Vicki’s contributions extend beyond the business world, as she remains a member of the board of Advisors of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, having previously served as Chair of the Advisors for several years. 

Douglas Cole

Cole joined Flagship Pioneering in 2001, focusing on life sciences. During his tenure at Flagship, he has played a significant role in co-founding several successful ventures, including Ensemble Therapeutics, Permeon Biologics, Moderna Therapeutics, Syros Pharmaceuticals, Sigilon Therapeutics, and Foghorn Therapeutics. Additionally, he has led investments in prominent companies such as Agios Pharmaceuticals, Alvine Pharmaceuticals, Avedro, CombinatoRx, Concert Pharmaceuticals, Denali Therapeutics, Editas, Quanterix Corporation, Receptos, Seventh Sense Biosystems, Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, and Torque. Currently, he serves on the board of directors for Denali, Editas, Foghorn, Quanterix, Sigilon, Taris, and Torque, contributing his expertise and strategic guidance. 

Jennifer Cook

Jennifer brings a wealth of experience to her role, having held significant positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Previously, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of GRAIL, where she made notable contributions to the organization’s success. Jennifer’s career also includes tenure at Roche Pharmaceuticals/Genentech, where she held various senior management positions spanning the entire product development and commercialization lifecycle. Jennifer’s diverse educational background and extensive industry experience contribute to her leadership and success in driving innovation and advancements within the pharmaceutical sector.

Jay Flatley

Jay has been an instrumental figure in the success of Illumina, having held various key positions within the company. He served as CEO from 1999 until 2016 and then assumed the role of Executive Chairman until December 2019. Currently, Jay serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, guiding the strategic direction of the organization. In addition to his work at Illumina, Jay serves on the Boards of Directors of companies such as Coherent, Denali, and Iridia. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for The Salk Institute and an Advisory Board member for UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center. Jay’s extensive industry experience includes serving as President and CEO of Molecular Dynamics, a company that went public in 1993 and was later acquired by Amersham Pharmacia Biotech (now part of GE Healthcare).


Denali Lifesciences Corporation is a publicly listed company.

Key Milestones

  • Denali Therapeutics announces robust reduction in Neurofilament Light (NfL) with DNL310 (ETV:IDS) Treatment in MPS II (Hunter Syndrome) on June 20, 2023 

  • Denali Therapeutics announces New DNL343 (eIF2B Agonist) Phase 1b Data in ALS to be presented at the upcoming AAN Annual Meeting on April 10, 2023 

  • Denali Therapeutics patents new NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors on February 9, 2023

  • Denali Therapeutics announces achievement of RIPK1 milestone for Phase 2 Clinical Trial Initiation in multiple sclerosis by Sanofi on January 25, 2023

  • Denali Therapeutics raised $275,000,000 post-IPO on October 19, 2022  

  • Denali Therapeutics appoints Alexander Schuth as Chief Operating and Financial Officer as Steve Krognes Transitions to Denali Board of Directors on March 15, 2022

News and Press Releases

  • April 12, 2023: Biogen Exercises Option with Denali to develop and commercialize Antibody Transport Vehicle Program Targeting Amyloid Beta (Read)

  • January 9, 2023: Denali Therapeutics announces Key Anticipated 2023 Milestones for its Therapeutic Portfolio for Neurodegeneration and Lysosomal Storage Diseases (Read)

  • October 3, 2022: Biogen and Denali Therapeutics announce initiation of the Phase 3 LIGHTHOUSE Study in Parkinson’s Disease associated with LRRK2 Pathogenic Mutations (Read)

  • October 24, 2022: Denali Therapeutics announces closing of a $316 Million Public Offering, including Full exercise of underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares (Read)

  • February 10, 2022: Denali Therapeutics Announces Continued Progress in DNL310 (ETV:IDS) Program for MPS II (Hunter Syndrome) Supporting Planned Initiation of Phase 2/3 Clinical Trial (Read)

  • November 4, 2021: Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ:DNLI) shareholder returns have been impressive, earning 206% in 3 years (Read)



Biogen is a pioneering biotechnology company established in 1978 that is dedicated to leveraging cutting-edge science and medicine to develop and provide innovative therapies for individuals suffering from serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases worldwide. Renowned for its scientific excellence, Biogen boasts the industry’s leading portfolio of medications for multiple sclerosis, including the first and only approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy. Additionally, the company remains at the forefront of neurology research, actively exploring treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Biogen’s commitment to advancing healthcare extends to the manufacturing and commercialization of biosimilars of advanced biologics.

PTC Therapeutics

PTC Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering, developing, and commercializing transformative medicines for patients with rare disorders. Founded in 1998, PTC Therapeutics has emerged as a leader in the field of RNA biology and post-transcriptional control processes. With a focus on precision medicine, the company leverages its proprietary technologies and expertise to target genetic disorders caused by specific mutations. The company’s mission is to meet unmet medical needs and enhance patient lives all over the world. By combining innovative science, rigorous research, and strategic collaborations, PTC Therapeutics strives to make a meaningful impact on rare diseases and advance the frontier of treatment options for patients and their families.


uniQure is a leading gene therapy company that is committed to transforming the lives of patients with severe genetic diseases. Established in 1998, it focuses on developing innovative treatments by utilizing its proprietary gene therapy platform. With a dedication to precision medicine, the company designs therapies tailored to target specific genetic mutations responsible for debilitating conditions. The company’s groundbreaking approach involves delivering functional genes directly to the patient’s cells, offering the potential for long-term and potentially curative solutions. Through cutting-edge research, clinical development, and strategic partnerships, uniQure aims to make a significant impact in the field of gene therapy and provide hope for patients and their families worldwide.

Intellia Therapeutics

Intellia Therapeutics is a leading biotechnology company focused on developing revolutionary CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing therapies. Founded in 2014, Intellia harnesses the power of CRISPR technology to precisely and efficiently edit genes within living cells, offering potential treatments for a wide range of genetic diseases. With a commitment to scientific excellence and patient-centric innovation, the company is dedicated to advancing the field of gene editing and bringing transformative therapies to those in need. Through strategic partnerships, rigorous research, and a talented team of scientists and experts, the company strives to redefine the future of medicine and improve the lives of patients worldwide.

Corporate Responsibility

At Denali Therapeutics Inc., corporate responsibility is a core value that guides all actions and decisions. The company is committed to making a positive impact on society through various initiatives. First and foremost, their focus is on developing innovative therapies and treatments for serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. By investing in research and development, they aim to improve the lives of individuals living with these conditions and contribute to advancements in healthcare.

In addition to this, the company also prioritizes ethical business practices and integrity in all aspects of operations. They adhere to strict regulatory standards and promote transparency in interactions with stakeholders, including patients, healthcare professionals, and regulatory authorities. Denali Therapeutics prioritizes patient safety and privacy, ensuring that therapies and clinical trials meet the highest standards of quality and compliance. The company respects choices and rights regarding all information and data collected in the process of serving all clients and partners. Further, the Privacy Policy is updated periodically, and any significant changes are communicated to all relevant parties through the website and other means.

Through these initiatives, Denali Therapeutics Inc. is dedicated to fulfilling its corporate responsibility and making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and the healthcare industry.