VC-backed Insitro beefs up team with two new appointments

South San Francisco-based Insitro, a machine-learning driven drug discovery and development company, has appointed Dr. Matthew Rasmussen as vice president of data engineering and Duane Valz as general counsel. Rasmussen joins insitro from Myriad Genetics while Valz worked at Zymergen. Insitro’s backers include Alexandria Venture Investments, Bezos Expeditions, Mubadala Investment Company, Two Sigma Ventures and Verily.


SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–insitro, a machine-learning driven drug discovery and development company, today announced key appointments to the company’s leadership team. Matthew Rasmussen, Ph.D. has been appointed as vice president of data engineering, and Duane Valz, J.D. has joined as general counsel.

“At insitro, we are working to advance better therapies via predictive models, enabled by the convergence of cutting-edge machine learning and data generation at scale,” said Daphne Koller, founder and CEO of insitro. “To accomplish this goal, we will need to develop a multitude of innovative technologies in at-scale data production, processing and analysis. Matt brings a wealth of expertise in engineering at-scale, data-centric software systems in the life sciences, and will play a critical role in scaling up our efforts and enabling more efficient drug development. Duane’s unique legal and company-building experience – from Google through Zymergen – will help us to build a unique company that combines the best of high-throughput biology and data science, and guide us through insitro’s next phase of development. We are thrilled to welcome them both to the team.”

Mr. Rasmussen joins insitro from Myriad Genetics, where he served as vice president of software engineering and led the design and development of their data systems and pipelines, from lab equipment through the cloud. From 2013 to 2018, Mr. Rasmussen held engineering roles of increasing responsibility at Counsyl, most recently as senior director of software engineering, where he led an engineering team focused on medical genomics. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral researcher in biological statistics and computational biology, where he developed models in phylogenetics and population genetics. Mr. Rasmussen earned a Ph.D. in computer science and a M.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he also completed postdoctoral research.

“insitro’s approach of using high-throughput biology to build massive data sets that are then used to drive machine learning is unlike anything else I’ve seen in the industry,” said Mr. Rasmussen. “We have a real opportunity to create better models for drug discovery and development, and I’m excited to be a part of the team who will lead the way in creating a new approach to drug development.”

Mr. Valz joins insitro from Zymergen, a company applying laboratory automation and machine learning to engineer microbial strains for industrial fermentation applications and new product development, where he served as the company’s first in-house lawyer and general counsel. Among other accomplishments, Mr. Valz helped structure Zymergen’s Series B and Series C financings, designed the transactional frameworks for the company’s novel business arrangements, and architected the company’s industry leading IP strategy. Prior to Zymergen, Duane was a senior member of the Patent Team at Google, where he led strategic IP initiatives bearing on mobile, cloud, web and open source technologies, and architected innovative IP strategies relating to key open-source initiatives. Before that, he served as associate general counsel in charge of patent development at Yahoo! Mr. Valz began his career at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin (now combined with Arnold & Porter LLP). Over his career, Duane has been named multiple times to the IAM Strategy 300 list, recognizing the world’s leading IP strategists. He holds B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and serves on the boards of directors for the Level Playing Field Institute and the Berkeley Law Alumni Association.

“The process of drug discovery and development is notoriously challenging and prone to failure,” said Mr. Valz. “Building useful predictive models to tackle key questions in that process will require generation of experimental data at unprecedented scale, consistency and quality, and the development of cutting edge machine learning methods. The outstanding team at insitro is well-positioned to drive the necessary innovation on both the experimental and computational sides, as well as at the intersection, and to effectively utilize the results towards making better drugs and helping patients.”

About insitro
insitro is a data-driven drug discovery and development company using machine learning and high-throughput biology to transform the way that drugs are discovered and delivered to patients. The company is applying state-of-the-art technologies from bioengineering to create massive data sets that enable the power of modern machine learning methods to be brought to bear on key bottlenecks in pharmaceutical R&D. The resulting predictive models will be used to accelerate target selection, to design and develop effective therapeutics, and to inform clinical strategy. insitro was launched in 2018 with a Series A of over $100M funded by a16z, Arch Venture Partners, Foresite Capital, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Third Rock Ventures, as well as additional investments from Alexandria Venture Investments, Bezos Expeditions, Mubadala Investment Company, Two Sigma Ventures, Verily, and other undisclosed investors. The company is located in South San Francisco, CA. For more information on insitro, please visit the company’s website at