Past Winners of the Biotechnology Heritage Award

Moshe Alafi and William Bowes, 2015

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 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.

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.

Robert Langer, 2014

Robert S. Langer is the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has written over 1,240 articles and is the most cited engineer in history. He holds 1,026 patents (512 issued) worldwide, which have been licensed or sublicensed to over 250 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, and medical-device companies. He served as a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Science Board from 1995 to 2002 and as its chairman from 1999 to 2002. 

Langer has been honored with over 220 major awards. He is one of seven individuals to have received both the U.S. National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. He has also received the Charles Stark Draper Prize, the Millennium Prize, the Priestley Medal, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He is the only engineer to have been given the Gairdner Foundation International Award. In 1998 he received the Lemelson-MIT Prize for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.” Langer has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Forbes (1999) and BioWorld (1990) named Langer one of the 25 most important individuals in biotechnology in the world. Time and CNN (2001) named him one of the 100 most important people in America and one of the 18 top people in science or medicine in America. Langer has received 22 honorary doctorates from institutions, including Harvard University, the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Yale University, and the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. He received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1970 and an ScD from MIT in 1974, both in chemical engineering.

George Rosenkranz, 2013

Video provided courtesy of BIO.

George Rosenkranz joined Syntex Corporation in 1945, retiring as CEO and board chairman in 1981. During his years with Syntex, Rosenkranz created and guided an academic research group of star-studded brilliance, which included Alex Zaffaroni and Carl Djerassi, first as his junior collaborators, then as his lifelong friends. Revolutionary advances in the intellectual understanding of and production techniques for steroid drugs were developed under his direction, using native Mexican plant sources as raw materials. Syntex became the leading supplier of the oral contraceptive pill and other corticoids.

Rosenkranz’s accomplishments have encompassed every aspect of the steroid hormone industry, and he holds over 150 patents and has published more than 300 research articles on steroid hormones.

The National Academy of Medicine of Mexico made Rosenkranz an honorary member in recognition of his dedication to scientific work and to training Mexican colleagues at Syntex. Rosenkranz is a member of the New York Academy of Science and the Board of Governors of the University of Tel Aviv and of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovoth, Israel. He holds the Mexican National Prize in Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Leadership Award of the Mexican Health Federation, and Mexico’s Eduardo Liceaga Award, as well as the Winthrop-Sears Award of the Chemical Heritage Foundation and The Chemists’ Club.

In addition to leadership in science Rosenkranz is a world-class bridge player. He has authored 14 books on contract bridge, several with Phillip Alder of the New York Times, and has won 11 U. S. National Bridge Championships. In 2000 Rosenkranz was the recipient of the American Contract Bridge League’s Blackwood Award and was entered into the ACBL’s Hall of Fame for his contributions as theorist, writer, and player.

Nancy Chang, 2012

Nancy Chang is currently president of Apex Enterprises. Previously, she served as chairman and senior managing director for Asia at OrbiMed Advisors, a health-care investment firm since 2007, as well as president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Tanox, Inc., until it was sold in 2007. Chang cofounded Tanox, a public company created to address asthma, allergy, inflammation, and diseases affecting the human immune system. From 1986 to 1992 Chang was an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine in the Division of Molecular Virology. Between 1981 and 1986 Chang was employed by Centocor, Inc., serving as the director of research, Molecular Biology Group. Chang serves on the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank in Houston, of BioHouston, of Project Hope, and of the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Chang has been honored with numerous awards, including the 2010 Woman of the Year in Medicine and Healthcare from the American Biographical Institute, the BayHelix Lifetime Achievement Award, the Harvard University Crimson Award for Leadership and Community Service, and the Global Business Achievement Hall of Fame Governor’s Award. She has been named one of Forbes’s 25 Notable Chinese Americans and is included in the GoldSea 100: America’s 100 Top Asian Entrepreneurs.

She served on the board of Charles River Laboratories until January 2011, and she currently serves on the boards of a number of private biotechnology companies.

Chang received a PhD in biological chemistry from Harvard University.

Watch Chang share how overcoming hardships, staying true to yourself, and a copy of James Watson’s Double Helix can make all the difference, in CHF’s The Catalyst Series: Women in Chemistry.

Joshua S. Boger, 2011

Joshua Boger is the founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He retired as Vertex’s CEO in 2009, but he continues to serve on the Vertex board. Before founding Vertex in 1989, Boger was senior director of basic chemistry at Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, where he headed the departments of Biophysical Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry of Immunology and Inflammation. During his 10 years at Merck, Boger developed an international reputation as a leader in the application of computer modeling to the chemistry of drug design and was a pioneer in the use of structure-based rational drug design as the basis for drug-discovery programs.

Boger is also chair of the board of trustees of Wesleyan University, immediate past-chairman of the Biopharmaceutical Industry Trade Association, a founding director and chairman of the New England Healthcare Institute, a founding director and  cochairman of the Progressive Business Leaders Network, chair of the board of fellows of the Harvard Medical School, and chair of the board of Boston’s Celebrity Series. 

Boger is the author of more than 50 scientific publications, holds 32 issued U.S. patents in pharmaceutical discovery and development, and has lectured widely in the United States, Europe, and Asia on various aspects of drug discovery and development. He was named one of forty Technology Pioneers worldwide for the 2003 World Economic Forum.

Boger holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and philosophy from Wesleyan University and both a master’s and a doctorate degree in chemistry from Harvard University. His postdoctoral research in molecular recognition was performed in the laboratories of the Nobel laureate chemist Jean-Marie Lehn. 

To hear Joshua Boger and other biotech leaders discuss the current state of the industry, click here for clips from CHF’s session at the 2011 BIO International Convention.

Arthur D. Levinson, 2010

Arthur D. Levinson is chairman of Genentech. He joined the company in 1980 as a senior scientist and became vice president in 1990. He was named a senior vice president in 1993. Levinson served as CEO of Genentech from 1995 to 2009, and he has been chairman since 1999.

Levinson is also a director of Apple and of NGM Biopharmaceuticals. He serves on the Board of Scientific Consultants of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Industrial Advisory Board of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, the Advisory Council for the Princeton University Department of Molecular Biology, the Advisory Council for the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Geonomics, and the Executive Council of TechNet.

Author or coauthor of more than 80 scientific articles, Levinson has also been named inventor on 11 U.S. patents. He has received numerous awards, including the Irving Institute’s Corporate Leadership Award in Science, the Corporate Leadership Award from the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and Princeton University’s James Madison Medal for a distinguished career in scientific research and in biotechnology.

Business Week named Levinson one of the Best Managers of the Year in 2004 and 2005, and Institutional Investor named him America’s Best CEO in the biotech category four years in a row (2004–2007). In 2008 Levinson was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Robert T. Fraley, 2009

Robert T. Fraley is executive vice president and chief technology officer of Monsanto Company. Involved in agricultural biotechnology since the early 1980s, Fraley has held several positions at Monsanto over the last 25 years, ranging from senior research specialist in the Monsanto Biological Sciences Program to copresident of the company’s Agricultural Sector. He currently oversees integrated crop and seed agribusiness technology and research with facilities in almost every area of the world.

Fraley has authored more than 100 publications and patent applications relating to technical advances in agricultural biotechnology, and he serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a past member of the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Advisory Committee and the National Institutes of Health’s Molecular Cytology Study Section. Fraley also advises numerous government and public agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2008 Fraley received the National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science for his work on the improvement of crops through biotechnology. His many other honors include the National Medal of Technology, the National Award for Agricultural Excellence in Science, and the Kenneth A. Spencer Award for Outstanding Achievement in Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Fraley earned a PhD in microbiology and biochemistry and a bachelor’s degree, both from the University of Illinois, and was a fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

Henri A. Termeer, 2008

Henri A. Termeer is chairman, president, and CEO of Genzyme Corporation. Under his leadership over the last two decades, Genzyme has grown from a modest entrepreneurial venture to one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies. Termeer is recognized as a pioneer in developing and delivering treatments to patients with rare genetic diseases. This work has provided the foundation for Genzyme’s success, and today the company serves patients in nearly 90 countries and is diversified across a broad spectrum of medical areas.

Active in the areas of humanitarian assistance, policy, and innovation in providing access to health care, Termeer serves on the board of directors of both the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. He is a director of Massachusetts General Hospital, a member of the board of fellows of Harvard Medical School, and a member of the board of directors of Project HOPE, an international nonprofit health-education and humanitarian-assistance organization. Through a partnership with Project HOPE, Genzyme provides life-saving treatment at no cost to patients in developing countries.

Termeer has received many honors, including Ernst and Young’s Master Entrepreneur Award, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Humanitarian Award from the March of Dimes, and the Torch of Liberty Award from the New England Office of the Anti-Defamation League. In 1999 Termeer, a native of the Netherlands, received the International Institute of Boston’s Golden Door Award, which recognizes the positive influence that immigrants have had on America.

Ronald E. Cape, 2007

Ronald E. Cape has worked in the biotechnology industry for more than 30 years. He is currently a partner at PureTech Ventures in Boston. Cape cofounded Cetus Corporation in 1971 and served as its chairman for 20 years and its CEO for 13 years. A pioneer in genetic engineering, Cetus developed a technology that was ultimately awarded a Nobel Prize; in 1991 the company merged with Chiron Corporation. Cape was also the founding chairman of Darwin Molecular Corporation, which was later sold to Chiroscience.

Cape serves on the boards of EntreMed and Neurobiological Technologies. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has also served on the boards of Princeton University, Rockefeller University, the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Board of Regents at the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Alejandro Zaffaroni, 2006

A native of Montevideo, Uruguay, Alejandro Zaffaroni received a B.Sc. from the University of Montevideo in 1941 and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Rochester in 1949. In 1951 Zaffaroni joined Syntex Corporation, a small chemical company in Mexico that was prominent in steroid research. He played a key role in transforming Syntex into a major pharmaceutical company that pioneered the development of the birth-control pill. Eventually he became president of Syntex Laboratories and president of Syntex Research Institute.

In 1968 Zaffaroni resigned from Syntex and established ALZA Corporation to pursue the concept of improving medical treatment through controlled drug delivery. ALZA is now the acknowledged leader worldwide in this important field; the company was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2001. Zaffaroni also founded DNAX, Symyx, Maxygen, and SurroMed.

In 1995 Zaffaroni was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bill Clinton in recognition of contributions to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. This medal is the highest award that the United States bestows for individual achievement in science and technology.

Paul Berg, 2005

Paul Berg is Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, Emeritus, at Stanford University School of Medicine and director emeritus of Stanford’s Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. Berg joined the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1959 and was chairman of the Department of Biochemistry from 1969 to 1974. A Nobel laureate, he is one of the principal pioneers in “gene splicing.” Berg, along with his colleagues Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger, was honored with the 1980 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing methods that make it possible to map the structure and function of DNA.

Berg initiated a voluntary moratorium on recombinant-DNA research in 1974 and was the principal organizer of the now-famous 1975 Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA, where scientists discussed the potential safety issues arising from this new technology. The Asilomar conference was a milestone in the history of science, marking the beginning of attempts to study the social implications of scientific progress and to mitigate against negative social impact. Berg is also perhaps the leading public advocate for the continued use of stem cells in medical research, strongly opposing existing federal restrictions and lobbying and testifying before Congress about the potential for precipitating medical advances using stem-cell technology.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he also is a past president of the American Society of Biological Chemists and a Fellow of the French Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London. He is a former chairman of the National Advisory Committee of the Human Genome Project.

Leroy Hood, 2004

Leroy Hood is president and cofounder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, a nonprofit research institute established to pioneer systems approaches to biology and medicine. He has also cofounded numerous biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Systemix, Darwin, Rosetta, and MacroGenics.

Hood earned an MD from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in biochemistry from the California Institute of Technology. He has published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and coauthored several textbooks. He also coedited Code of Codes, a book about scientific, social, and ethical issues raised by genetic research.

At Caltech, Hood and colleagues pioneered the DNA and protein synthesizers and sequencers that constitute the technological foundation for contemporary molecular biology and have revolutionized genomics by allowing the rapid automated sequencing of DNA.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Association of Arts and Sciences, Hood’s many awards and honors include the Lasker Award, the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology, and the Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation.

William J. Rutter, 2003

William Rutter is cofounder of Chiron Corporation and former director of the Hormone Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Rutter joined the faculty of UCSF in 1969 as Herzstein Professor and served as chair of the department of biochemistry and biophysics until 1982. As chair he spearheaded the drive to turn the department and the School of Medicine into leading research organizations, with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary molecular approach. From 1983 through 1989 he was director of UCSF’s Hormone Research Institute. He became professor emeritus in 1991.

In 1981 Rutter cofounded Chiron, a leading biotechnology company dedicated to preventing and treating disease worldwide. He served as chairman of its board from its inception until 1999. He has also served on the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and several private company boards. He has received many honors, including the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment.

Walter Gilbert, 2002

Walter Gilbert, a molecular biologist, shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1980 for his development of a method for determining the sequence of nucleotide links in the chainlike molecules of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). He developed the technique of using gel electrophoresis to read the nucleotide sequences of DNA segments. In 1979 he joined a group of other scientists and businessmen, including Phillip A. Sharp, to form Biogen, a commercial genetic-engineering research corporation. Gilbert resigned from Biogen in 1984 and, while continuing to teach at Harvard, became a chief proponent of the Human Genome Project.

Phillip Sharp, 2002

A world leader of research in molecular biology and biochemistry, Dr. Phillip A. Sharp is Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Much of Dr. Sharp's scientific work has been conducted at MIT's Center for Cancer Research (now the Koch Institute), which he joined in 1974 and directed from 1985 to 1991.  He subsequently led the Department of Biology from 1991 to 1999 before assuming the directorship of the McGovern Institute from 2000-2004.  His landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977.  This work provided one of the first indications of the startling phenomenon of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells. The discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information is important in understanding the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases. This discovery, which fundamentally changed scientists' understanding of the structure of genes, earned Dr. Sharp the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. 

Dr. Sharp has authored over 385 scientific papers.  He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and has served on many advisory boards for the government, academic institutions, scientific societies, and companies.  His awards include the Gairdner Foundation International Award, General Motors Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. Prize for Cancer Research, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the National Medal of Science and the inaugural Double Helix Medal from CSHL.  He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and is a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society, UK. 

In 1978 Dr. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec) and in 2002 he co-founded Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage therapeutics company.

Francis S. Collins and J. Craig Venter, 2001

Francis S. Collins and J. Craig Venter are honored for their key roles in the sequencing of the human genome. In June 2000 the National Human Genome Research Institute and Celera Genomics, led by Collins and Venter, respectively, published the precise sequence of the four chemical bases of DNA along human chromosomes, marking a milestone for biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, and the pharmaceutical sciences.

Collins is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and chief of Genetic and Molecular Biology at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1992 he assumed leadership of the Human Genome Project. Previously, Collins was professor of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics and chief of Medical Genetics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Medical School. Collins’s research on “positional cloning” allowed for the identification of genes responsible for diseases, including those for cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease.

Venter is president of Celera Genomics, senior vice president of Applera (Celera’s parent company), and a trustee of the Institute of Genomic Research, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1992. Venter led the effort to sequence the human genome using the whole-genome shotgun-sequencing approach. Previously he served on the pharmacology and biochemistry faculties of the State University of New York, Buffalo, and he was a section chief with the NIH’s Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke.

Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson, 2000

With the public launch of Genentech in 1976, Herbert W. Boyer and Robert A. Swanson, the company’s cofounders, created the biotechnology revolution of the late 1970s.

Herbert W. Boyer earned his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania, and a master's and doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  Since 1976, Boyer has served as a director of Genentech, Inc.  He is professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco as well as chairman of the board, Allergan, Inc., a technology-driven global healthcare company.

Among his many achievements, Boyer is well known for his work in developing recombinant DNA technology, and has been the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Swiss Helmut Horten Research Award in 1993, the Industrial Research Institute Achievement Award in 1982, the Golden Plate Award in 1981, and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 1980.  He has served on several editorial boards for scientific publications and has been either author or co-author of over 100 scientific articles.

In 1976, at the age of twenty-nine, Robert A. Swanson cofounded Genentech, Inc. serving as CEO and chairman of the board of directors until 1996.  Swanson, a venture capitalist, recognized the importance of the commercialization of genetic engineering in the early 1970s.  His foresight and vision helped create the biotechnology industry, which has subsequently affected millions of people worldwide.

In 1996, Swanson joined Tularik, Inc. as chairman of the board until Swanson’s untimely death on December 6, 1999.

George B. Rathmann, 1999

George B. Rathmann served as chairman, president, and CEO at Amgen from its inception in 1980 until 1988, and as chairman from 1988 to 1990. Rathmann is known for his contributions to the development of Epogen, a red-blood-cell stimulant and billion-dollar drug that has provided huge benefits to dialysis patients; the development of numerous tests to detect pregnancy and certain diseases in early stages; and the development of Scotchgard, one of 3M’s most successful products. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and serves on the boards of the National Science and Technology Medal Foundation, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Keystone Center, PhRMA, Somatogen, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Rathmann was named by Business Week as “one of the biotech industry’s visionary entrepreneurs” and has received numerous awards and honors, including the Bower Award, the Seaborg Medal, and the BioPharm Achievement Award.

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