As Kernal progresses toward the clinic, Yusuf Erkul thinks often of his days as a practicing physician in Turkey because the germ of Kernal starts there. Profoundly moved by the tenacity and strength of his patients as they cycled through various tortuous treatments to reach remission from their cancer — Yusuf was inspired to help them and motivated to find another, better way. Before co-founding Kernal, and co-inventing Kernal’s onco-selective mRNA platform, Yusuf was a director at Sentegen’s R&D division. Previously, he worked in Merck’s oncology department, where his group provided exploratory pharmacology and biomarker support for various siRNA and small molecule therapeutic programs, including a PARP inhibitor (MK-4827), which later received FDA approval for ovarian cancer (niraparib, ZEJULA®). His group also established and validated state-of-the-art immunocompetent mouse models, which helped the company develop the largest immuno-oncology pipeline. Yusuf obtained his M.D. degree from Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, and his B.S. degree in Biology from MIT.