Wellcome Leap Bolsters Leadership Team, Announces Former President & CEO of Draper Ken Gabriel as Chief Operating Officer

July 23rd, 2020

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Former CEO of Draper and Acting Director of DARPA to Lead Operations for ‘DARPA for Global Health’. 

Leap Establishes First Field Office in Boston.

LOS ANGELES, CA – July 23rd, 2020 – Wellcome Leap (“Leap”), an advanced projects non-profit founded by the Wellcome Trust to accelerate innovations that benefit global human health, today announced that former U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) acting director Kaigham ‘Ken’ Gabriel has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the organization.

Ken will lead operations at Leap as the organization undertakes bold, unconventional programs and funds them at scale.With initial funding of $300 million, Leap’s programs will target complex human health challenges with the goal of achieving breakthrough scientific and technological solutions within a decade.

“Ken’s rare blend of experience across disciplines and sectors will be key to building Leap globally and delivering on our mission,” said Regina E. Dugan, CEO of Wellcome Leap. “He’s devoted to breakthrough innovation and I’m stoked to work with him.”

The team at Leap will work on accelerated timelines and optimize for agility. The strategy of building a “Special Forces” team with diverse capabilities was pioneered at DARPA and has led to a virtually uninterrupted 60-year track record of breakthroughs ranging from GPS and the internet to foundational technologies enabling mRNA vaccines. Leap will build no permanent labs, and program directors will be appointed for specific, discrete, time-bound projects.

“Leap is a unique opportunity to work at the intersection of engineering and life sciences and deliver critical medical and health innovations at a time when the world needs it most,” said Ken Gabriel. “I look forward to scaling Leap’s capacity and working on the frontlines of an organization that is poised to change the future of human health.” 

Ken was most recently President and CEO of The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, a non-profit engineering research and development laboratory dedicated to serving the national interest in applied research, engineering development, advanced technical education, and technology transfer. Prior to that, he served as deputy director of the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group at Google. From 2009 to 2012, he was deputy director, and then acting director, of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Department of Defense.

Ken will begin at Leap immediately and stand up Leap’s first field office in Boston, Massachusetts. To learn more, visit www.wellcomeleap.org and follow Leap on Twitter at @WellcomeLeap.

About Wellcome Leap

Wellcome Leap (“Leap”) is an advanced projects non-profit founded by the Wellcome Trust to accelerate innovations that benefit global health.With initial funding of $300 million, Leap will undertake bold, unconventional programs and fund them at scale. Programs will target complex human health challenges with the goal of achieving breakthrough scientific and technological solutions within a decade. Leap will assemble and fund teams comprised of scientists and engineers drawn from universities, nonprofits, and the commercial sector. Leap was conceived by the Wellcome Trust with the ambition of exploring the boundaries of science for the benefit of human health.

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