… Sam’s and Cyriac’s Saturday morning breakfast in their local 4,000 people town in Silicon Valley turned into a 3-hour conversation, and not long after, Cyriac found himself at Sam’s house every other Saturday morning for the next three months, where Sam told the entrepreneur about biology and oncology insights. Sam shared with him his idea of Synthetic Biomarkers, forcing the cancer to produce a non-human substance to help reveal, then localize and ultimate destroy itself. Cyriac was immediately fascinated and could not forget about the idea (“I tried to forget it, it didn’t work,” he says). For the next nine months, they went through hundreds of people to find the right third co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer. That became David Suhy, a gene therapy and bio startup expert with experience taking a gene therapy product all the way from inception to Phase 2 clinical trials. Earli was born in June 2018 and moved into its first lab space in South San Francisco a month later. David has been leading the science ever since.
Since then, Earli has been assembling the world’s best team to bring the science to humans as soon as possible and fulfill Sam’s deep purpose. ‘As soon as possible’ at Earli means much sooner than commonly thinkable. Earli set itself a goal to go from foundation of the company to clinical stage within three years or less.
Earli feels a deep urgency to carry Sam’s torch. In July 2020, Sam himself passed away from cancer, a day after he was honored with Stanford’s Dean’s Medal, its highest recognition of scientific, humanitarian and medical contributions. The disease was brutal on Sam’s and Aruna’s lives.
Only really different and unique ideas will get us all the way to the goal of conquering cancer. Like Sam’s. At Earli, we must turn into a reality for patients what Sam dreamed about.
Cyriac is an entrepreneur and investor who builds companies on the intersection of the physical, engineering and digital worlds. At Earli, he is inspired by connecting the physical living world (the human body) and solve a massive challenge through a bioengineering approach, combining the bio and engineering and software worlds. He has previously built three companies. He incubated shopkick in the basement of Kleiner Perkins during the financial crisis, an app that rewards consumers just for walking into stores without having to buy anything. With 20M users, it was acquired five years later for $250M by SK Telecom (SK Planet). Before that, he created CBS Television’s mobile division in LA, and co-founded 12snap in Europe, one of the first mobile marketing firms, working with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Sony and others. Cyriac sold his first computer program in Germany at age 15, attended high school in Texas where he proudly ran the school flag at Friday night football games, studied Japanese Management in Tokyo, and at 25, co-authored the Harvard Business School Secrets of Software Success while at McKinsey. He was named a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer and a Fortune 40 Under 40 Mobilizer. Today, he has three beloved micro children who push him and his startup-loving wife Angel to the outermost frontier in multitasking.
David is that unique combination of gene therapy expert, experienced in bio ventures both private and public, having brought gene therapy ideas from inception all the way through to Phase 2 clinical trials, and being great leader that science teams love to work with. Before Earli, he was the CSO at Benitec Biopharma with expertise in combining multiple therapeutic modalities (RNAi, antisense RNA, proteins) with gene therapy delivery, and oversaw development path for multiple products in or near term clinical studies including Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC), and Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD). He developed the first non-withdrawable, systemic RNAi compound used clinically in human subjects. He held previous scientific leadership roles at Tacere Therapeutics, Takara Bio, Anatara and PPD. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Cell Biology from Northwestern University and completed his post doctoral training at Stanford. He is a great dad to three teenage children and loves making pizza in his large wood-fired oven in his backyard. His wife Joyce is a neuroscientist who knows the risks of science, and is yet fully convinced that with David’s passion, Earli will accomplish its purpose.
Sam spent his life on coming up with fundamentally new ways to detect serious diseases much earlier, when they can be treated much more successfully. He combined this scientific creativity with a deep compassion for patients needing help. He directed a team of 800 people at Stanford, from foundational research as Director of the Canary Center for Early Cancer Detection and Molecular Imaging, to new integrative approaches as Head of the Precision Health & Integrated Diagnostics Center, all the way to the patients’ bedside as Chair of Radiology at the Stanford Hospital & Clinics. He was the author of over 600 publications and 40 patents, and served as scientific advisor to 30 companies and investment firms, including Google Verily, Grail, GE Medical, Third Rock and PureTech. His award list include the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Inventors, Tesla Medal, Hounsfield Medal, American Association for the Advancement of Science. With his entrepreneurial wife Aruna he loved to see any distant part of the world. And rather curiously, given his gentle and compassionate heart, Sam really loved heavy metal music. Sam passed away in July 2020, from a cancer of unknown primary. He was that rare combination of exceptional brilliance and humanity in one. Earli is now carrying his torch to help find a way to detect and treat cancer earlier, and bring it to patients as soon as possible. We are deeply enrolled in his mission.