Ryo Kubota

Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
Acucela Inc.


Ryo Kubota

Ryo Kubota is Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Acucela Inc. He is also Representative Executive Officer, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) and Visiting Professor in the School of Medicine at Keio University (Tokyo, Japan).

Dr. Kubota is an ophthalmologist by training who has performed more than one thousand eye surgeries. Dr. Kubota spent his early career performing ocular research at Keio University, where he earned his MD and PhD. There, he discovered the glaucoma gene, myocilin, a discovery that earned him the Suda Award for his contribution to the field of neurodegenerative retinal disease. Dr. Kubota continued his research at the University of Washington and later licensed his findings from the university as the core technology on which he founded Acucela in 2002 in Seattle to develop novel therapeutics for patients with blinding eye diseases. During the formative years of the company, Dr. Kubota raised more than $40 million over three rounds of private financing, including a $25 million Series C in March 2007. Pre-IPO investors include SBI Holdings (lead investor), Olympus, Fuji Film, and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance. In 2008, Dr. Kubota brought in research collaboration revenue from Otsuka Pharmaceuticals totaling $269 million. Then in 2014, Acucela made a successful IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers Board and raised $149 million. Dr. Kubota has raised over $450 million in total for Acucela.

In December 2016, following a redomicile transaction, Acucela Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings Co., Ltd. of Japan and Kubota Pharma listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers Board (Tokyo 4596). The company is committed to translating innovation into a diverse portfolio of drugs and devices to preserve and restore vision for millions of people worldwide. Acucela’s development pipeline includes drug candidates for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, Stargardt disease, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and presbyopia, and optogenetics-based gene therapy for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa. The company is also developing a handheld optical coherence tomography device for the monitoring of neovascular retinal diseases, to be used directly by patients at their homes.

Dr. Kubota has completed the Harvard Business School Executive Education leadership and Strategy in Pharmaceutical and Biotech Program. He served as a faculty member at Keio University and at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He was board certified in ophthalmology by the Japanese Ophthalmological Society in 1996 and is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Japanese Ophthalmology Society, Keio Medical Society, the American Chamber of Commerce Japan, and the America-Japan Society, Inc. Since 2008, Dr. Kubota has been a director of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington. He is an official columnist for Forbes Japan and the Japan Times, as well as an editorial member of newspaper for Keio University, School of Medicine. He is also a NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) Investigator.

Dr. Kubota was selected as one of the Nikkei Business 100, Nikkei Business Magazine’s inaugural list of the most influential people in Japan’s future. He was also selected as one of the most inspiring people in the life-science industry by PharmaVOICE.