UC helps drive California biotech; don’t disinvest

On June 5, 2018, The East Bay Times published an op-ed from a group of Bay Area biotech company executives titled, “UC helps drive California biotech; don’t disinvest.” Here’s an excerpt:

University of California research innovations have helped Bay Area biotech companies usher in breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy, disease prevention, vaccines, precision medicine and prosthetics while generating high-paying jobs and tax revenues for the Golden State.

And so it’s little wonder that Bay Area biotech leaders – especially those of us who graduated from UC campuses – are closely watching how Gov. Jerry Brown funds California’s top-ranking research university system in the 2018-19 state budget. A lot is at stake.

While we applaud the allocation for UC’s deferred maintenance, the governor’s proposed 3 percent increase falls significantly below what is needed to keep the University of California competitive and, in turn, California’s biotech industry on the cutting edge.

Across UC campuses from Berkeley to San Francisco and from San Diego to Davis, five new inventions, on average, are developed each day. Moreover, research by UC graduate students produce a new startup every two weeks.  At UC Berkeley, our alma mater, hundreds of life sciences majors take up research positions in our firms on the outskirts of the campus. …

For the sake of future generations of UC students and the health of California’s economy, it is critical that Gov. Brown and state legislators support full funding for UC’s 2018 budget request. A 4 percent increase versus the governor’s proposed 3 percent would signal a step towards returning to the level of state support needed to sustain UC’s excellence and affordability.

As CEOs of companies on the frontline of science and medicine, we need the state to continue partnering with the University of California to produce the expert labor force that drives the biotechnology industry in our state.
We urge those who care about the state’s economic growth, and health and social mobility, to call on the governor and legislators to safeguard the University of California’s critical role in the state’s life sciences business ecosystem.

Wendye Robbins, president & CEO of Blade Therapeutics in South San Francisco, co-wrote the op-ed with fellow UC Berkeley graduates Stephen Cary, president and CEO of Omniox; Nathaniel David, co-founder and president of Unity Biotechnology; Stephen Isaacs, chairman, president and CEO of Aduro Biotech; David Kirn, CEO, co-founder and chairman of 4D Molecular Therapeutics; Gail Maderis, president and CEO of Antiva Biosciences; Adam Mendelsohn, president of Nano Precision Medical; and Terry Rosen, CEO of Arcus Biosciences.  Read the complete op-ed on The East Bay Times’ website.