GENET archive


9-Misc: Who's who in biotech

   "All technology needs development," says Beyer. "The first airplane
    didn't go very far. All we are asking is for the same right to
    develop the technology."

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Who's who in biotech
SOURCE: Nature Biotechnology, by K S Jayaraman1, Sabine LouŽt2,
        Kendall Powell3, John Ransom4, Cormac Sheridan5, Brian Vastag6 &
        Emily Waltz7
DATE:   01 Mar 2006

------------------ archive: ------------------

Who's who in biotech

Nature Biotechnology's readers select some of biotech's most remarkable
and influential personalities from the past 10 years.

As part of its 10th anniversary celebration, Nature Biotechnology has
gathered here a gallery of portraits of the most notable personalities
in biotech in the past 10 years. Rather than focusing on personalities
that have commonly featured in the mainstream press, our intention was
to identify thought leaders and technology pioneers known within the
industry to have made significant contributions to the science and
business of biotech. To accomplish this task, we turned to those who
know best: our readers.

During the month of January, Nature Biotechnology's e-mail registrant
list and website visitors were asked to vote for the people they viewed
as most influential in eight categories of biotech. These categories
were: society and ethics; policy and regulations; biopharmaceuticals;
agricultural, environmental and industrial biotech; technology; US
biobusiness; European biobusiness; and biobusiness in the rest of the
world. The poll, posted online from January 12 to 31, 2006, included 291
nominees, shortlisted by the editors of Nature Biotechnology (Box 1). In
some cases, multiple individuals were grouped for a particular
scientific contribution or business activity. Readers also had the
opportunity to suggest additional nominees for inclusion in the poll.

Including people in the nominee's list was a question of definition and
judgment. And because it bears a certain level of subjectivity, the
final list should not be scrutinized with the rigorous mind that our
readers apply to peer-reviewed papers. Instead, it should be considered
more like a very informal who's who of biotech.

Hence this list bears several caveats. Clearly, the shortlist was not
definitive and the number of people suggested for each category is far
from complete. Second, the shortlist highlights only those individuals
considered by the editors to have made a 'positive' contribution to
progress in the field (prominent opponents of biotech were not included,
although their contribution to the debate about the use and uptake of
new technology is a given). Many of the personalities were selected
because they had been highlighted in Nature Biotechnology's pages over
the past 10 years. What's more, because we considered only personalities
who have made a contribution to the industry in the past 10 years, many
of the founders--(e.g., Herb Boyer, Stanley Cohen, Concepcion Campa
Huergo, Arthur Kornberg or Kary Mullis) of the field are not included.
Lastly, the poll results themselves were influenced by the geographic
location of our readers--the majority being located in the United States,
Canada and Europe. Nevertheless personalities appear on the list from
territories, such as Japan, Israel, India, Australia and China.
Curiously, the winner of the 'Biobusiness in the rest of the world"
category, Biocon's CEO Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, seems to be more popular on
the global scene than she actually is at home.

Below, we profile those individuals voted by our readers the most
influential in a particular biotech category; we also highlight those
individuals who came close (in some cases very close) to winning a
particular category. At the end of the article, we present a list of
individuals nominated for their contribution to shape the world of
biotech as we know it today (Box 1).
[to see the Nature Biotechnology shortlist of 291 nominees go to:

We hope that in the next 10 years, the individuals highlighted here will
inspire many of our readers to follow in their footsteps.

The diversity of personalities listed reflects what is unique about this
industry: the mix of individuals across a wide range of expertise, and
the importance of the interface between business and science. Indeed,
biotech is a sector where it is not unusual for venture capitalist to
discuss business models with a Nobel laureate over coffee.

Finally, you may feel that we omitted some people from the initial
shortlist. Our readers already made some interesting suggestions for
other nominees. Among them were Garth Cooper, discoverer of the recently
commercialized synthetic analog of human amylin (pramlintide acetate)
and a leading industry figure in New Zealand. Hiroshi Masumoto from
Nagoya University in Japan was also nominated for his work on human
artificial chromosomes. In the category 'US biobusiness,' we received
several votes for Una Ryan, who is the longtime CEO of AVANT
Immunotherapeutics and a central figure in Massachusetts biotech circles.

Nature Biotechnology would welcome further suggestions for additions to
the list. We hope that in the next 10 years, the individuals highlighted
here will inspire many of our readers to follow in their footsteps.

Sabine LouŽt, News Editor

To find out about the winners of the Nature Biotechnology poll, please
click onto the following links:

Category 1: Society and ethics: Bill and Melinda Gates

Society and ethics

Through their foundation, the Gates promote biotech by funding research
on neglected diseases and diseases affecting poorer countries and they
have been nominated for their contributions to biotech's public image or
to the advancement of ethical debates about biotech applications.
Emily Waltz

Individuals nominated for their contributions to biotech's public image
or to the advancement of ethical debates about biotech applications

- Bill and Melinda Gates. Through their foundation, they promote biotech
by funding research on neglected diseases and diseases affecting poorer

Honorable mentions:
- Christopher Reeve. The now-deceased actor who turned patient advocate
and proselytizer for the use of stem cell research in biomedicine.
- Michael Fernandez. Executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food
and Biotechnology, which has sought to stimulate and showcase diverse
viewpoints on the application of agbiotech.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill Gates is the kind of person who, when attending the World Economic
Forum, will pass up a dinner with foreign dignitaries to sit down with a
bunch of scientists. Although he sometimes contends that science
research is only a hobby, the founder of Microsoft (Seattle, WA) is
fascinated with biotech. And he has decided to spend some of the wealth
he accumulated through his company to finance research for neglected
diseases--an initiative that has inspired biotech companies to latch on
to some of those development projects.

Since the creation of their eponymous foundation in 1995, Bill and his
wife, Melinda, have strived to cure the maladies plaguing developing
countries. But they realized their calling at different moments. For
Melinda, it was during a vacation to Zaire, where she was struck by the
extreme poverty of the women she met. For Bill, it was reading that
millions of children die every year from preventable diseases.

"When we started to look at where the largest inequities are, global
health really stood out, because by every measure, if you can improve
people's lives through health, you improve all measures of society,"
Melinda told Time magazine in November 2005.

The couple used their knowledge and compassion to endow their foundation
with $29 billion. The Gateses specifically intended that the types of
drug developed by the foundation would not be the typical blockbuster
produced by the pharmaceutical industry. Large disease markets like
obesity and heart disease don't particularly interest them. "The world
is failing billions of people," Bill said in a speech to the World
Health Assembly in Geneva in 2005. "Rich governments are not fighting
some of the world's most deadly diseases because rich countries don't
have them."

For this reason, their money targets neglected diseases such as malaria,
HIV and tuberculosis. In fact, the Gateses will only sponsor research
for diseases that meet three criteria: widespread, neglected and
representative of the public health disparities between developed and
developing countries. Over the past decade, their Seattle-based
foundation has given more than $6 billion in public health grants. So
far, research programs for new vaccines, clinical drug studies and
programs that try to prevent the spread of infectious diseases have
benefited from the Gates' monies.

The world is failing billions of people. Rich governments are not
fighting some of the world's most deadly diseases because rich countries
don't have them.
Bill Gates, in a speech to the World Health Assembly in Geneva in 2005.

The couple often delves into the science behind projects and they
personally approve every grant over a million dollars. Bill also taught
himself some basic biology by talking with researchers and devouring
books on science. Some of his light reading includes AIDS in the Twenty-
First Century by Tony Barnett, and Molecular Biology of the Gene by
James Watson.

Although Bill and Melinda are trying to tackle some of the world's most
intractable public health issues, they take a business approach to their
philanthropy. They know that third-world afflictions aren't the most
attractive arenas for biotech. They also know that companies aren't
exactly eager to roll out medicines for people who can't afford to buy
them. So their idea is to use funding dollars to create leverage. Their
money helps mitigate risk so that governments or biotech and
pharmaceutical companies will take over development of drugs at later
stages (Nat. Biotechnol.  21, 1254, 2003).

"[The Gates Foundation] has energized research into global health, made
that work a credible career choice and attracted politicians to the
cause," wrote former president Jimmy Carter in a profile of Bill Gates
in the Smithsonian. "Perhaps most important, the confidence Bill has
brought to the field has stimulated much more funding."

Category 2: Policy and regulations: Rita Colwell

The former president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology
Institute and former director of the US National Science Foundation has
been nominated for her contributions to legislation promoting biotech
innovation/industry growth or to the debate about the regulation of
biotech products.
Brian Vastag

Individuals nominated for their contributions to legislation promoting
biotech innovation/industry growth or to the debate about the regulation
of biotech products

- Rita Colwell. Former president of the University of Maryland
Biotechnology Institute and former director of the US National Science
Foundation, who has long campaigned for the benefits of biotech,
especially in environmental applications.

Honorable mentions:
- Janet Woodcock. The US Food and Drug Administration's deputy
commissioner for operations, and the brains behind the FDA's 'Critical
Path' initiative to modernize tools and methods for evaluating biotech drugs.
- Mark McClellan. FDA commissioner for a short stint between 2002 and
2004, who introduced an efficient risk-management approach to reduce
delays and costs of product approvals.
- Robert Klein. Instrumental in the introduction of Proposition 71 by
which California was able to use its own taxes to finance stem cell
research that is not allowed at the federal level.

Rita Colwell

As the US National Science Foundation's (NSF) first director with a life
sciences background--as well as its first female head--Rita Colwell
immediately set to work integrating far-flung fields. During her stint
at the NSF in Washington, DC from 1998 to 2004, she wanted biologists to
work with computer scientists, engineers with ecologists, and
mathematicians with psychologists. Early in her tenure, she used the
term 'biocomplexity' to push scientists to break out of their boxes and
view the world more holistically. "The intersection of all of these
fields is what I found most exciting," says Colwell. "I would go so far
as to call it bio-nano-info-cogno-geo-technology."

A mouthful, to be sure, but Colwell backed it with action honed by
experience as a founder of the University of Maryland Biotechnology
Institute in 1991. On her watch, the NSF's budget grew nearly 70%, to
$5.3 billion per year.

She championed international collaboration, doubled the math budget,
established infotechnology, cyber infrastructure, and social and
psychological science programs, and placed renewed emphasis on science
education, where the US had been slipping for decades.

Further initiatives, such as an NSF bioengineering program she launched,
aim to turn microorganisms into industrial recycling machines,
generating fertilizer from toxic waste or hydrogen from sewage--a
tantalizing solution for powering the next generation of clean vehicles.

Other high-profile projects advocated by Colwell sample DNA directly
from seawater and other environments, skipping time and labor-intensive
laboratory culturing to quickly produce a complete picture of the
genetics of an entire ecosystem. This new field, which Colwell calls
metagenomics, has led to discoveries of whole new classes of genes.

The intersection of all of these fields is what I found most exciting. I
would go so far as to call it bio-nano-info-cogno-geo-technology.
Rita Colwell

Colwell is also behind programs aimed at providing a clearer picture of
how the health of the planet affects the health of its people. "This is
a whole new area, the integration of environmental data, such as ocean
circulation and seasonal patterns, with data on ecosystems and human
health," she says. "You could call it cosmobiology."

One project in this realm, which Colwell works on now, as a
distinguished professor of microbiology and biotechnology at the
University of Maryland, tracks outbreaks of cholera--a disease she has
been studying for 40 years. "We're using satellites to correlate sea
height and sea temperature with cholera epidemics. It's proven to be
uncannily effective because outbreaks are associated with plankton blooms.

"What we need to do now is model other infectious diseases and
incorporate biological data into climate models," Colwell says. To that
end, she recently secured computer time on the Japanese Earth Simulator,
a project whose stated goals neatly parallel Colwell's, namely "to build
a harmonious relationship between the Earth and human beings."

Despite all of her high-tech successes, Colwell is proudest of perhaps
her simplest idea: using folded sari cloth to filter cholera from
drinking water. She proposed the method 10 years ago, and a field trial
published in 2003 proved the method effective, reducing the incidence of
the disease 48% across 65 villages in Bangladesh. Colwell says, "That's
the work that I feel best about, because it saves lives."

Category 3: Biopharmaceuticals: James Shapiro and Ray Rajotte


The pioneers in islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes have been
nominated for their contribution to biopharmaceutical research and
Brian Vastag

Individuals nominated for their contribution to biopharmaceutical
research and development

-James Shapiro and Ray Rajotte. Pioneers in islet transplantation for
type 1 diabetes.

Honorable mentions:
- Alain Fischer and Maria Cavazzana-Calvo. Pioneers in gene therapy for
immunodeficiency disease.
- Rudolf Jaenisch and George Daley. Pioneered the concept of therapeutic

James Shapiro and Ray Rajotte

In 1921, Canadian researcher Frederick Banting and colleagues discovered
insulin, providing the first treatment for people with type I diabetes--a
discovery that earned him a Nobel Prize. It's only fitting, then, that
nearly 80 years later the next leap forward in diabetes treatment also
originated in Canada; transplanting pancreatic islet cells has given the
field of adult cell therapy one of its first tantalizing successes. In
fact, much of the work was conducted in the same University of Alberta
basement laboratory where Banting's colleagues pioneered insulin therapy.

The latest Canadian advance is also transforming the field of diabetes
treatment. Called the Edmonton Protocol, the technique infuses purified
donor pancreatic islet cells into the liver portal vein. There, the
cells graft and function as a mini-pancreas, responding moment to moment
to the patient's insulin needs.

Two Alberta clinical scientists, Ray Rajotte, professor of surgery and
medicine and director of the Islet Transplantation Group, and James
Shapiro, director of the Clinical Islet Transplantation Program,
developed much of the protocol, which they published in the New England
Journal of Medicine (NEMJ) in 2000 (  343: 230-238). The article
detailed the first seven Edmonton Protocol patients, who all became
insulin independent after each receiving roughly 800,000 islet cells
previously isolated from cadavers.

Before that landmark publication, researchers for years had tried, and
failed, to implant islet cells in diabetes patients, filling a database
with data from nearly 500 rejected or otherwise useless transplants. "I
told myself I was going to give it one last try," Shapiro said in 2000,
after the NEJM paper appeared. "At first, the researchers were quite
resistant, and I managed to convince everybody to give it one more
chance. That moment for me stands out."

Several innovations led to success. Instead of using steroids to try to
ward off graft rejection, the team used the antibiotics Prograf
(tacrolimus) and Rapamune (sirolimus), and the monoclonal antibody
Zenapax (daclizumab), a combination never tried before. They harvested
and infused more islet cells than had been done in previous attempts.
And they infused the cells as quickly as possible, instead of incubating
them for several days.

I told myself I was going to give it one last try. At first, the
researchers were quite resistant, and I managed to convince everybody to
give it one more chance. That moment for me stands out.
Shapiro, in 2000, after the NEJM paper appeared.

Rajotte, who had been working on islet-cell transplantation since 1972,
said that the response from the diabetes community was overwhelming--
calls jammed the university switchboard for days. At least 75 hospitals
have adopted the Edmonton Protocol and a long-term clinical trial is underway.

But the technique is arduous, taking four technicians up to eight hours
to extract and prepare the cells. Each patient requires cells extracted
from two cadaveric organs, which makes the acute donor shortage even
more severe. Thus, only a tiny percentage of type I diabetes patients
have undergone the procedure; patients usually only need a day trip to
hospital. And the latest report on the technique, a follow-up of the
first 65 patients treated at Edmonton (Diabetes,  54, 2060-2069, 2005)
proved somewhat disappointing. Forty-four of the patients achieved
insulin independence--but not permanently.

However, the Edmonton Protocol proved the viability of cell therapy for
diabetes and has spurred a large effort to improve and expand the
protocol. Several teams are working on transforming embryonic stem (ES)
cells into islet cells--a step that, if achieved, could render moot the
organ shortage. And in industry, Menlo Park, California-based Geron
Corporation, among others, is currently developing methods to
differentiate islet cells from human ES cells for transplant purposes.
Other approaches under study include living donor and xenotransplants.

Although Shapiro has written that injected insulin will be the 'mainstay
therapy' for years to come, if any of the alternative islet cell sources
pan out, expect a whole new biotech sector to spring up.

Category 4: Agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology:
Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer

Agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology

The coinventors of Golden Rice and founders of the Golden Rice
Humanitarian Projects have been nominated for their contributions to
agricultural, environmental or industrial biotech research and development.
Kendall Powell

Individuals nominated for their contributions to agricultural,
environmental or industrial biotech research and development

- Ingo Potrykus, Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, Basel and Peter Beyer,
University of Freiburg, Germany. Coinventors of Golden Rice and founders
of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Project.

Honorable mentions:
- Asis Datta. Pioneered the technique for nutritional enhancement of
cereal crops using genes isolated from amaranth (Amaranthus
hypochondriacus). His work led to India's first field trial of a GM crop
- Frances Arnold. For application of directed evolution to proteins for
use in industry.

Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer

Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer met on a trans-Atlantic flight as they
both headed to New York in the early 1990s for a rice biotech
brainstorming meeting of the Rockefeller Foundation. The meeting would
discuss the possibility of genetically engineering rice to include beta-
carotene, or pro-vitamin A, to target malnutrition in developing countries.

A doctoral student working with Potrykus on rice genetics introduced
them after he had sought out Beyer as an advisor on the beta-carotene
biosynthetic pathway. Beyer's and Potrykus' matching expertise turned
into a decade-long collaboration--resulting in the creation of Golden
Rice in 1999 and the first genetically engineered product created
specifically for humanitarian purposes.

"If, as a basic scientist, you find out that you could make a
contribution to the real world, that you have some tools in hand that
might make a change, you go for it," Beyer recalls thinking after the
meeting. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) results in about 6,000 deaths per
day worldwide and 500,000 cases of blindness per year. It predominantly
affects young children in poor areas of Asia with rice-based diets.

In 1999, the duo finished the first proof-of-concept Golden Rice strain
(Science  287, 301-305, 2000). The spotlight on Golden Rice as a cure
for VAD made it both the champion genetically modified (GM) product and
the chief target of anti-GM critics. The media attention and the nearly
universal adoption of precautionary European agricultural biotech
regulations made the trip from bench to field much tougher than either
Potrykus or Beyer anticipated.

The invention also signaled a move into a product development phase--a
phase not supported by traditional public research funding. "We would
have quickly run into a dead end road if we had not been able to create
an alliance with the private sector," notes Potrykus. The team brokered
a unique agreement with Zeneca (now Basel-based Syngenta) in 2000. The
company would shepherd the development of a second generation Golden
Rice containing higher levels of beta-carotene as well as provide know-
how on advancing through regulatory hurdles.

If, as a basic scientist, you find out that you could make a
contribution to the real world, that you have some tools in hand that
might make a change, you go for it.
Peter Beyer

The key to the agreement, Potrykus says, was drawing the line between
the company's commercial interests and the humanitarian efforts--farmers
with an annual income of $10,000 or less would be given the seed for free.

With Syngenta's help, a new strain, dubbed Golden Rice 2, was created
that could provide the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A with a
70-gram portion of rice (Nat. Biotechnol.  23, 482-487, 2005). Potrykus
and Beyer also oversaw the first field trial in Louisiana in 2004 to
show that Golden Rice grows like conventional rice.

Although that was a major milestone, Beyer and Potrykus both express
frustration that Golden Rice seeds are not already in farmers' hands.
Both say current regulation is unreasonably cautious and not
scientifically based. Potrykus' view goes even further and he notes that
even if the deregulation process goes smoothly, Golden Rice won't reach
the fields until 2010, representing a six-year delay of the technology.

"By an extremely conservative calculation, this delay is responsible for
67,500 deaths. If our society does not change GM [organism] regulation,
then our society is responsible for crimes against humanity," Potrykus
argues. But Potrykus remains both optimistic and obstinate--two qualities
he says carried him through the past 16 years of the project.

In five years, Potrykus expects the first Golden bananas, Golden sorghum
and Golden cassava to be produced. Genetically engineered crop varieties
to address drought, poor soil, pests and other nutritional deficits are
in laboratory pipelines all over the world. In 2005, Beyer headed up a
consortium funded by $11.2 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation to develop rice that, in addition to high beta-carotene, also
includes vitamin E, zinc and iron. These products will take the
dedication and ingenuity of researchers like Beyer and Potrykus. But,
the duo points out, these products will also need changes in the
regulation of GM organisms to become realities.

"All technology needs development," says Beyer. "The first airplane
didn't go very far. All we are asking is for the same right to develop
the technology."

Category 5: Technology:Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell


The pioneers of somatic cell nuclear transfer, creators of Dolly in
1997, have been nominated for their contributions to the development of
key biotechnologies.
Cormac Sheridan

Individuals nominated for their contributions to the development of key

- Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell. Pioneers of somatic cell nuclear
transfer, creators of Dolly in 1997. Wilmut is a founder of PPL Therapeutics.

Honorable mentions:
- Leroy Hood. Long-time inventor of automated sequencing but lately a
pioneer of systems approaches in biology; cofounded the Institute for
Systems Biology in Seattle in 2000. Founder of numerous biotechs.
- Andrew Fire, Craig Mello and Tom Tuschl. For invention and application
of RNAi in mammalian cells.

Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell

The birth of Dolly, the sheep cloned from the DNA of an adult cell,
triggered an extraordinary worldwide reaction. This global frenzy
overshadowed the fact that this work was part of a continuum of
experiments in animal reproduction that had stretched back to the
beginning of the 1990s. In the rush to speculate about where the
pioneering work of Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell would go next, the
media circus largely ignored where it had come from.

Far from being a singular event, their report from the Roslin Institute
in February 1997 of the birth of a viable cloned lamb, whose genetic
material was obtained from a mature, differentiated somatic cell derived
as described in Nature (  385, 810-813, 1997), had followed several
significant studies.

The previous year, Wilmut and Campbell had reported on the birth of two
other cloned lambs, Megan and Morag, baptized with Celtic names in honor
of their Scottish birthplace. Both lambs were derived from DNA obtained
from cultured lines of quiescent, embryo-derived cells that had already
differentiated into epithelial cells (Nature  380, 64-66, 1996). This
work was noteworthy as previous nuclear transfer procedures could only
employ either early embryos or embryo-derived cells as donors. Campbell
and Wilmut were able to demonstrate successful nuclear transfer of
genetic material obtained from cells that had been in culture for up to
13 passages.

This held out the prospect of genetically engineering the DNA contained
in those cells, before transferring it to an enucleated immature egg or
oocyte. Previously, engineering transgenic animals relied on random
insertion of DNA into the pronuclei of fertilized eggs (at a stage
before the parents' genetic material has fused)--a haphazard procedure,
rife with failures and inconsistencies.

The nascent technique that Wilmut and Campbell developed offered the
prospect of far greater precision and predictability, with immediate
application in the production of biopharmaceutical proteins and in the
engineering of farm animals with improved traits. This work also
supported a key insight of Campbell's: that cellular differentiation did
not involve irreversible genetic modification. The birth of Dolly on
July 5, 1996, confirmed this hypothesis. She had been cloned from DNA
isolated from a cell taken from the udder of a six-year-old ewe.

Wilmut's and Campbell's success in the laboratory has not, however, been
replicated in the commercial marketplace.

In the following year, the arrival of the transgenic clones Polly and
Molly during the lambing season demonstrated that the techniques of
somatic cell nuclear transfer and genetic engineering could be combined,
confirming the feasibility of the scheme Wilmut and Campbell had
outlined just two years previously. The two lambs were engineered to
express the human blood clotting protein Factor IX in their milk
(Science  278, 2130-2133, 1997).

Wilmut's and Campbell's success in the laboratory has not, however, been
replicated in the commercial marketplace. PPL Therapeutics, an Edinburgh-
based biotech company that had rights to the Roslin Institute's
intellectual property (IP) burned through around £85 ($148) million of
investors' cash before it closed business. The decision was made after a
move by its strategic partner Bayer, of Leverkusen, Germany, not to
proceed with development of its lead product candidate recombinant a-1-

Its assets were put up for sale at the end of 2003, the same year in
which Dolly was put down; she had developed ovine pulmonary
adenocarcinoma. Longstanding Dutch rival Pharming of Leiden, the
Netherlands, which had itself narrowly avoided collapse a couple of
years previously, picked up the last of the Roslin Institute's IP
portfolio in August 2004.

Neither Wilmut nor Campbell is now based at the Roslin Institute, but
each continues to make important contributions to academic research. As
head of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of
Edinburgh, Wilmut is back in the headlines, following his receipt in
February 2005 of the second-ever license to undertake human therapeutic
cloning experiments in the United Kingdom. Wilmut and colleagues aim to
study the mechanisms underlying motor neuron disease by examining the
differentiation into neurons of embryonic stem cells derived from
disease patients. Meanwhile, Keith Campbell, now based at the University
of Nottingham, remains focused on teasing out the key steps in embryonic
development and improving nuclear transfer techniques.

A decade on from Dolly, the whole field of cloning research has been
clouded by recent revelations of scientific fraud and ethical misconduct
on the part of Woo-Suk Hwang, the Korean scientist who falsely claimed
to have developed a technique for generating patient-specific stem
cells. Perhaps, this episode highlights even more the scrupulous
attention that the Roslin Institute duo paid to the ethical dimensions
of their work.

Category 6: US biobusiness : Arthur Levinson

US biobusiness

The CEO Genentech has been nominated for his business activities related
to biotech in the United States.
John Ransom

Individuals who have distinguished themselves in business activities
related to biotech in the United States

- Arthur Levinson. CEO Genentech.

Honorable mentions:
- Stanley Crooke. Founder, chairman and CEO of antisense company Isis
Pharmaceuticals, which shepherded the first antisense product, Vitravene
to FDA approval.
- Alejandro Zaffaroni. Serial entrepreneur and founder of ALZA, DNAX,
Affymax, who was still going strong in the nineties founding Affymetrix,
Symyx, Maxygen, SurroMed and Alexza.

Arthur Levinson

Genentech CEO, Arthur Levinson, has not cured cancer. Yet. But under the
leadership of the research-driven CEO, Genentech has fundamentally
changed the treatment of some types of cancer through the use of
targeted drugs that offer to better control tumors; with the hope that
these drugs will also change some cancers from a sometimes death
sentence to a manageable chronic disease.

Although Levinson thinks of himself as a scientist first and foremost,
his rare ability to make a success of scientist-as-chief-executive, and
balance the roles appropriately, makes the Genentech story compelling.
Levinson hopes that balance serves as a roadmap for biotech success well
into the future. "Our goal at Genentech is to discover and develop drugs
that dramatically improve the treatment options for patients with life-
threatening and serious diseases," says Levinson, adding, "We are not
looking for an incremental change in existing therapies. We aim to
develop genuine breakthroughs."

Levinson's accomplishments as a scientist often obscure the fact that
he's a charismatic CEO that sits astride a $92-billion biotech powerhouse
--a phrase once considered oxymoronic--who started as a research scientist
for the company back in 1980.

His background in science has given Levinson an often unique insight
into biotech research. Hence, his bet on the theory of angiogenesis in
controlling tumors, and his commitment to building a company that
produces long-term results, make Genentech is different from
competitors. Those companies often have small product pipelines and hope
that success with one product will produce a buy-out by a large
pharmaceutical company. Thus, since its creation in 1976, Genentech has
stood out among scores of rival companies that have been shuttered on
account of failed research, poor financing and flawed business models.

We believe that strong basic research is the key for identifying
breakthrough drug candidates for development in the clinic," Levinson
points out.

We believe that strong basic research is the key for identifying
breakthrough drug candidates for development in the clinic.
Arthur Levinson

As fruit of this vision, Genentech now markets several products with
revenues of over $6.5 billion that treat a variety of medical
conditions, such as heart attack, allergic asthma, psoriasis, stroke,
growth hormone deficiency and cystic fibrosis. These products represent
a pipeline that was created, in part, under Levinson when he took over
as research chief for the South San Francisco-based company in 1990.

Levinson has since made quite a mark on the company. Consider this: when
he joined in 1980, fresh from a postdoctoral fellowship with the
University of California's microbiology department, Genentech offered
$35 million in stock to the public and had 166 employees. Today, the
company has net annual income of $1.4 billion and 9,500 employees.

In 1995, when Levinson took over as CEO from Kirk Raab, the company
produced revenues of around a billion dollars with a stock price of
about $6.00 on a split-adjusted basis. On January 10, 2006, the company
released results for the full year of 2005 with $6.63 billion in
operating revenue, a 44% increase over 2004, whereas its stock traded at
over $85 per share. In a mature biotech industry where the 'D' in R&D
can often stand for 'dollars,' numbers like these garner respect from
scientists and financial analysts alike.

To date, Levinson and his company have received quite a bit of positive
attention. Disparate publications, such as Fortune, Science Magazine and
The Scientist, recently named Genentech the top company to work for in
the United States. The company has also received recent awards from
Working Mother for making it into its top 100 companies. Wired voted the
company number 7 for innovation, technology and strategic vision.

Category 7: European biobusiness: Dan Vassella

European biobusiness

The CEO of Novartis has been nominated for his business activities
related to biotech in Europe.
Cormac Sheridan

Individuals who have distinguished themselves in business activities
related to biotech in Europe

- Dan Vassella. CEO Novartis, a company which has been very proactive in
partnering with biotech companies over the last decade and made big
plays in gene therapy.

Honorable mentions:
- Josť MarŪa FernŠndez Sousa-Faro. Chairman of PharmaMar, the first
large Spanish biotech company focusing on active compounds extracted
from the sea.
- Ernesto Bertarelli. CEO of Europe's largest biotech, Serono,
succeeding his father and grandfather Fabio and Pietro.

Dan Vassella

Novartis chairman and CEO Dan Vasella is unusual among his big pharma
peers in having spent several years as a practicing physician before
entering the business world. Still only 52, Vasella seems like a fixture
atop Europe's drug industry. He is now credited for his active deal
making with the biotech industry, after a decade at the helm of
Novartis, the Basel-based company formed in 1996 via a $41-billion stock
merger between Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy.

His progress from the bedside to the boardroom was swift. He quit
medicine in 1988 and moved to New Jersey, where he initially took up a
trainee post in the US headquarters of Sandoz, before becoming product
manager for a newly approved pancreatic cancer drug, a somatostatin
analog called Sandostatin (octreotide).

By 1993, Vasella was back in Switzerland, as head of corporate marketing
at Sandoz, and, less than a decade after entering the pharmaceutical
industry, he presided over one of the biggest mergers in that sector's
history. It took several years for the company to prosper under its new
identity, but under Vasella's leadership Novartis has succeeded in
breaking away from the rigid, conservative ethos that had prevailed at
both Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy. Instead, Vasella introduced a more
aggressive and less risk-averse culture with performance-based, American-
style remuneration packages and bonus schemes.

For Vasella, the company's biggest achievement over the past decade has
been the successful transformation of Novartis' culture. "We have
succeeded in creating a climate where it was possible to be successful
in the sense of discovering and developing new compounds and marketing
new compounds," he says.

We have succeeded in creating a climate where it was possible to be
successful in the sense of discovering and developing new compounds and
marketing new compounds.
Dan Vasella

Novartis established its credentials for innovation--and for speed--by its
rapid, in-house development of the breakthrough chronic myeloid leukemia
drug (CML) Gleevec (imatinib mesylate). The compound clocked up almost
$2.2 billion in sales during 2005.

Vasella has also transformed the company's research infrastructure into
a global network of institutes led from Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the
United States, rather than from the company's headquarter in Basel.

Under the leadership of Vasella, Novartis partnered with 200 biotech
companies last year, thus spreading its wings across many therapeutic
areas. These include the rapidly growing vaccines market, following the
acquisition of Chiron, of Emeryville, California. And although its
extensive investments in genomics and gene therapy, like those of many
other big pharma companies, have so far failed to bear fruit, Novartis
has over the past year entered major alliances in emerging areas, such
as RNAi and toll-like receptors.

Alone among its top 10 big pharma peers, Novartis is also building a
large presence in the generics market by an aggressive acquisition
strategy. And its generics unit Sandoz is on track to gain approval for
the first ever biosimilar drug to be approved in Europe--a version of
human growth hormone called Omnitrope--already launched in Australia. "I
don't think the financial advantage for one industry player is what
matters," Vasella says. The fact that biotech cannot have a "lifelong
monopoly" on certain products is more significant.

As president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical
Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), a Geneva-based global lobby,
Vasella is now a senior--if not an elder--statesman within the
pharmaceutical industry. Although admitting that the industry has long
been "reactive" in dealing with criticisms of its poor record in making
medicines available to patients in less developed countries, he claims
that industry has improved its performance, while political corruption
and poor governance within developing countries remain real obstacles to
progress. "The primary responsibility lies with governments, and the
primary failing parties are local governments."

Category 8: Biobusiness in the rest of the world: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw


Biobusiness in the rest of the world

The CEO of the Indian company Biocon has been nominated for her business
activities related to biotech in the rest of the world
K.S. Jayaraman

Individuals who have distinguished themselves in business activities
related to biotech in the rest of the world

- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. CEO of biopharmaceutical company Biocon, the
first Indian biotech to go public.

Honorable mentions:
- Philip Yeo. Chair of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and
Research (A*STAR) and one of the key players in the development of
Singapore into a hub for biomedical and biotech research that includes
- Eli Hurvitz. Chairman of Israeli generics company Teva since 2002.
Previously, he was Teva's President and CEO for over 25 years.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, India's icon of woman entrepreneurship, entered
biotechnology quite by accident. When she could not break into the male-
dominated brewing industry--in spite of an Australian degree in malting
and brewing--she decided to launch her own company on "an impulse."

Like in all good biotech stories, she started her company by renting a
garage in Bangalore. And with just $10,000 in hand and a staff of two
she started using her knowledge of fermentation to produce enzymes for
the food and beverage industry. It was 1978 and she was 25.

Today, the company of which she is chairman and managing director,
Biocon, is one of India's premier biotech companies with 2,000
employees. In 2004, Mazumdar-Shaw became India's richest self-made
business woman when Biocon went public--the first Indian biotech company
to do so. She owns 39% of the stock and her Scottish husband John Shaw
has 26%. Overall, she is worth about $440 million.

And last year she made it to Fortune's list of the 50 most powerful
women in international business. Although titles like 'biotech queen'
and 'India's richest woman' make her feel uncomfortable she cherishes
the civilian 'Padmabhushan' award bestowed on her by India's president
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2005. She has also been inducted into the Prime
Minister's business advisory council--a vast difference from the initial
Biocon days when banks would not give her a loan because of her gender.

The honors and wealth have only made Mazumdar-Shaw more humble. "I was
just lucky to have arrived at the biotech scene at the right time," she
explains. But even her rivals admit that her unique vision and ability
to seize opportunities had steered Biocon's transition from an enzymes
company to an integrated biotech enterprise specializing in
biopharmaceuticals, custom research and clinical research focused on
health care.

I was just lucky to have arrived at the biotech scene at the right time.

Biocon and its two subsidiaries--Syngene International Pvt and Clinigene
International Pvt--had $160 million in revenues in the year ending March
2005, a big jump from $13 million in 1997. The challenges for the Biocon
chief are not over, however. With about two-thirds of its revenue coming
from exports, Biocon is facing tough competition, especially from
anticholesterol statins made in China.

Her latest venture is in the diabetes segment. She is hoping that the
first blockbuster drug--an oral insulin pill--will come from her company.
In October 2004, she partnered with Nobex, a North Carolina company, to
develop such a pill. Confirming her optimism, the product is about to
start human trials in India, despite a recent bankruptcy filling by
Nobex. And she is multiplying collaborations to diversify her pipeline.
In June 2004, she established a joint venture with Cimab, a Cuban
biotech research institute that develops monoclonal antibodies and
vaccines against certain cancers.

Mazumdar-Shaw is also excited about the future of the biotech industry
in India as a whole. "The stage is certainly set for exponential growth
in the biotech sector," she writes. "India already ranks among the top
10 biotech hubs in the world. The aim is to be amongst the top five by
2010 and the top three by 2015."

1 K S Jayaraman is Nature's India correspondent and is based in Hyderabad.
2 Sabine LouŽt is the news editor at Nature Biotechnology and is based
in Dublin, Ireland.
3 Kendall Powell is a regular contributor to Nature based in Broomfield,
4 John Ransom is a freelance writer based in Lone Tree, Colorado.
5 Cormac Sheridan is a regular contributor to Nature Biotechnology based
in Dublin, Ireland.
6 Brian Vastag is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
7 Emily Waltz is an intern within Nature Biotechnology's news section.

European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
news & information

phone....... +49-531-5168746
fax......... +49-531-5168747
email....... news(*)
skype....... hartmut_meyer

   GENET-news mailing list