Thursday, Apr 13, 1989

Genentech Scientists Share 1989 Investor of the Year Award

South San Francisco, Calif. -- April 13, 1989 --

The following is an excerpt from a press release issued by the Intellectual Property Owners Foundation, Thursday, April 13, 1989.

Four California scientists today were named co-winners of the 1989 Inventor of the Year Award for their development of a drug product containing human tissue plasminogen activator, better known as t-PA. The drug is used in dissolving blood clots in heart attack victims. The four, members of a research team at Genentech, Inc., are David V. Goeddel, William J. Kohr, Diane Pennica and Gordon A. Vehar. They will share a $4,000 cash award from the Intellectual Property Owners Foundation, the education arm of a Washington, D.C. association, Intellectual Property Owners, Inc., concerned with patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

The inventors were introduced at a National Press Club news conference Thursday morning, along with seven others who are being honored by the IPO Foundation as "Distinguished Inventors of 1989." They are: Two medical doctors -- Charles A. Chidsey of Boulder, Wyo., and Guinter Kahn, North Miami Beach, FL -- inventors of "Rogaine" (minoxidil), a product marketed by the Upjohn Co. as a treatment for baldness. Four computer experts -- three of whom are former 3M employees and the fourth is still with the Minnesota corporation -- who invented an erasable, rewritable optical disk capable of storing 1,000 times as much information as conventional floppy diskettes used with personal computers. They are: Richard N. Gardner, Robert P. Freeso and Thomas A. Rinehart of Alphatronix, Inc., Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Leslie H. Johnson of 3M, St. Paul, MN. One entrepreneur-physicist-inventor, James L. Fergason of Menlo Park, CA, who invented a device utilizing liquid crystal technology to protect the eyes from laser beams and other high energy electromagnetic radiation.

Rep. Robert Kastenmeier (D-WI) will present the awards Thursday evening at a reception in the House Caucus Room, Cannon Office Building, on Capitol Hill. IPO Foundation President Donald W. Banner called the honorees "front- line fighters in the battle to keep American innovation number one in the world. "These inventors represent the best in the great American tradition of invention," he said. "They had the vision to see a need, the ingenuity to figure out a way to fill that need, and the patience to refine the solutions until they are practical and workable."

The awards are based on inventions either patented during 1988 or previously patented but first commercially available during 1988.

The Genentech team received a basic patent during 1988 for a DNA sequence encoding human t-PA. Genentech's product, which is sold under the trademark Activase, can, with timely administration during a heart attack, actually prevent damage to the heart muscle and may reduce the need for subsequent costly and invasive medical procedures. Almost immediately after its approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), t-PA became the leading clot-dissolving drug for treatment of heart attack patients.

Goeddel has published 108 papers and holds 12 patents. A Ph.D. graduate of the University of Colorado, with a bachelor's from the University of California, San Diego, he has contributed to the development of four major biotechnology products: human insulin, alpha interferon, human growth hormone, and t-PA.

Kohr has published 32 papers and holds degrees from Purdue and Drexel Universities. He has worked on the development of a protein sequencer and instrumentation related to protein sequencing and on the characterization of biologically important proteins.

Pennica has been involved in developing several potential products now undergoing clinical trials at Genentech. Among them is gamma interferon. She has published 31 papers and holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor's from State University of New York at Fredonia.

Vehar, Genentech's director of cardiovascular research, has studied coagulation and fibrinolytic enzymes and has published 33 papers. He also holds a patent for anti-thrombin III. He is a Ph.D. graduate of the University of Cincinnati, with a bachelor's from Bowling Green State University (Ohio).

# # #