Biotechnology Heritage Award

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) selected Moshe Alafi and William Bowes as the winners of the 2015 Biotechnology Heritage Award. The award was presented during BIO’s annual international convention, held in Philadelphia, June 15–18, 2015.

Video Credit: Biotechnology Industry Organization

Moshe Alafi

Moshe Alafi.

Moshe Alafi has been called one of the founders of biotechnology. He was one of the first venture capitalists to see the exciting potential in biotechnology, as a founder of Cetus Corporation 1971 and then as its chairman. Cetus revolutionized DNA amplification techniques, laying the foundation for the biotechnology industry. Alafi has been an active investor for over 45 years.

Alafi’s career began in 1968 at Murray Hill Scientific Investment Company, and over the years he founded or cofounded more than 60 companies, including Chromatronics, Novacor Corporation, Andros Incorporated, Berkeley Scientific Laboratories, Cetus Corporation, Biogen (another pioneer of the biotechnology industry), Molecular Dynamics, Applied Biosystems, Amgen, Tanox Biosystems, Molecular Devices, Qiagen, Lumisys, and Intra-Cellular Therapies. Alafi Capital Company, an investor in Natera, AssureRx Health, and Invuity, was formed in 1984. In 1985 he founded A/W Company, a technology transfer and development partnership with Washington University. 

Alafi received his BA in biology and MS in physiology and biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Haas School’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley.

William Bowes

William Bowes.

A venture capitalist in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 40 years, William Bowes has fostered significant innovation and growth through strategic investments. He began his career with Blyth and Company, predecessor to Blyth Eastman Paine Webber, serving as senior vice president and director before cofounding U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) in 1981. Before founding USVP, Bowes had success funding a number of companies, including Cetus, Raychem, and Dymo Industries. He has led USVP investments in Advanced Cardiovascular Systems, Applied Biosystems, Sun Microsystems, Glycomed, Ventritex, and others. He currently serves on the board of Xoma Corporation. Bowes was a founding investor in Amgen and served as its first chairman and treasurer.

Beyond his significant business accomplishments Bowes is recognized for his philanthropy. He is president of the William K. Bowes Foundation, which has supported the San Francisco Opera, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco. Bowes is chairman emeritus of the Exploratorium, and also serves on the boards of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Asian Art Museum, Grace Cathedral, Hoover Institution, Institute for Systems Biology, United Religions Initiative, and Environmental Defense Fund. At UCSF, in addition to his role on the UCSF Foundation Board of Directors, Bowes served as chairman of the Mission Bay Capital Campaign. A native of San Francisco, Bowes is the son of a physician. He graduated with a BA in economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard University. He served in the U.S. Army Infantry in the South Pacific and Japan during and after World War II.

About the Biotechnology Heritage Award

The Biotechnology Heritage Award is presented yearly at a special ceremony during the BIO Annual International Convention to honor individuals who have contributed significantly to the growth of biotechnology through discovery, innovation, commercialization, and/or public understanding. In honoring these individuals the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Biotechnology Industry Organization seek to encourage emulation, inspire achievement, and promote public understanding of modern science, industry, and economics in this rapid-growth area.

The cosponsorship of the award complements the mission of both organizations by advancing their mutual goals of educating the public, nourishing a sense of pride and community within the industry, and developing the record of the remarkable contributions the molecular sciences make to our lives.

About the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products.

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF)

CHF fosters dialogue on science and technology in society. Our staff and fellows study the past in order to understand the present and inform the future. We focus on matter and materials and their effects on our modern world in territory ranging from the physical sciences and industries, through the chemical sciences and engineering, to the life sciences and technologies. We collect, preserve, and exhibit historical artifacts; engage communities of scientists and engineers; and tell the stories of the people behind breakthroughs and innovations.


The 2015 Biotechnology Heritage Award dinner is made possible with generous support from Alexandria Real Estate Equities and QR Pharma.

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