Press Release

Tizona Appoints Joyson Karakunnel, MD, MSc, FACP as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., July 11, 2019 — Tizona Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical stage, privately held immunotherapy company, today announced the appointment ofJoyson Karakunnel, MD, MSc, FACP as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.

“Joyson brings drug development expertise that has been proven in both academia and industry,” said Scott Clarke, CEO of Tizona. “He has a great track record building teams, leading the clinical development of immunotherapy drug candidates, and managing important partnerships. We are thrilled to have him join the leadership team at Tizona.”

Dr. Karakunnel comes to Tizona from Arcus Biosciences, where he built the clinical organization, including clinical development and operations, drug safety, and regulatory affairs, which led to the successful execution of global clinical trials with four immunotherapy molecules. He also managed the company’s key collaborations.

Before joining Arcus, Dr. Karakunnel served as a medical director at Astrazeneca/Medimmune, leading important phase 1/1b immunomodulator clinical trials, including those with durvalumab (Imfinzi) and tremelimumab. In addition, he contributed to the collaborations with Celgene and Innate.

Dr. Karakunnel also served as a clinical trial investigator at the National Cancer Institute and as a team leader for the hematologic group at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Previously, he served as an associate professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and as a medical reviewer at the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Karakunnel completed his medical training at Annamalai University in India and his internal medicine residency at Overlook Hospital/UMDNJ, where he was chief resident, and completed fellowships in hematology, oncology, and pain and palliative care at the National Cancer Institute. In addition to his MD, Dr. Karakunnel holds a MSc in pharmacology from the University of Maryland. 

Dr. Karakunnel also serves as an advisor to the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

“This is an exciting time to join a company focused on first-in-class medicines and that is at the forefront of innovation in immunotherapy,” Dr. Karakunnel said. “I look forward to working with the world-class team at Tizona to advance the pipeline through development to commercialization.”

About Tizona Therapeutics, Inc. 

Tizona Therapeutics is a privately held, clinical-stage immunotherapy company that develops first-in-class medicines to deliver transformational benefits to people with cancer. Tizona addresses cancer progression and relapse by applying novel human biological insights to develop biotherapeutics that stimulate the immune system and counter immune suppression.


Tizona Corporate Communications
Cooper Communication Group 
Tim Hay