Graphite Bio CEO Josh Lehrer leaves

  • After less than three and a half years in the position
  • Thanks for Lehrer
  • Kim Drapkin taking over

(exechange) — South San Francisco, California, August 23, 2023 — Josh Lehrer, chief executive of Graphite Bio, leaves his position. As announced by Graphite Bio Inc. in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, Josh Lehrer has left his post as chief executive officer at the gene editing company, after less than three and a half years in the role, effective August 21, 2023.

Generally speaking, it raises questions when a CEO leaves his post abruptly.

Josh Lehrer’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Kimberlee C. (Kim) Drapkin, most recently Chief Financial Officer at Jounce Therapeutics, Inc.

Already a director

Drapkin has already been a member of the board of directors of Graphite Bio. Generally speaking, most director-turned-CEO appointments occur following a sudden resignation of the outgoing CEO and signal a lack of preparedness on the company’s part to groom internal talent. Directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Drapkin understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Graphite Bio’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“Ongoing exploration of strategic alternatives”

Graphite Bio did not give an explicit reason for Josh Lehrer’s departure from the CEO post. Graphite Bio stated: “Ms. Drapkin was appointed to lead the Company’s ongoing exploration of strategic alternatives as part of its corporate restructuring, as announced in February 2023.”

Precise information regarding Josh Lehrer’s future plans was not immediately available.


Graphite Bio said: “In connection with Ms. Drapkin’s appointments, Josh Lehrer, M.D., the Company’s former President, Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board, separated from his employment and all officer and director positions with the Company, effective as of August 21, 2023.”

Share price decline since August 2021

The announcement follows a decline in Graphite Bio Inc.’s share price of 89% since August 2021.

In the position of CEO since 2020

Josh Lehrer became CEO of the Company in 2020.

Josh Lehrer, M.D., M.Phil., FACC has served as the Company’s President, Chief Executive Officer and on the Company’s board of directors since April 2020.

From October 2013 to April 2020, Lehrer held various leadership roles at Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: GBT) (acquired by Pfizer, Inc. in October 2022), including Chief Medical Officer where he oversaw the development and approval of Oxbryta® (voxelotor) for the treatment of sickle cell disease.

From September 2009 to October 2013, Lehrer served in leadership roles at Genentech, Inc. in clinical development and business development.

Lehrer has also held attending physician roles at Stanford University Medical Center and the Palo Alto Veteran’s Affairs Health System.

He holds an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University and a Master of Philosophy in Biological Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

Lehrer earned his Doctor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), School of Medicine and completed his residency at UCSF in Internal Medicine.

Lehrer served as a Clinical and Postdoctoral Fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University and attended the Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

No statement by Josh Lehrer

In the release announcing his departure as CEO of Graphite Bio Inc., Josh Lehrer received thanks.

The announcement of his departure as CEO does not include a statement by Josh Lehrer.

Push-out Score for Josh Lehrer’s move determined

The Push-out Score indicates on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely it is that Josh Lehrer was pushed out or felt pressure to leave his position.

Read the full story in the exechange report 35.2023 ($).