Chris Henney was born and educated in Birmingham, England. He attended Birmingham University and initially read Medical Biochemistry. After graduation, he pursued postgraduate studies in immunochemistry, leading to a Ph.D in 1965. A year later, he traveled to the U.S.A, where he has spent his working career.
He initially followed a conventional academic path, publishing widely and winning several national honors for research in the field of Immunology, including a D.Sc from his alma mater in 1972. He held professorships at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, Baltimore and the University of Washington, Seattle. He was appointed to the first Chair in Immunology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in 1978.
In 1980, intrigued by the prospects afforded by recent advances in recombinant DNA technology, he left academia to join what was then a fledgling biotechnology industry. The company he co-founded at that time, Immunex Corporation, became one of the first from the new industry to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical company; discovering, developing ,manufacturing and selling a new class of gene-derived pharmaceuticals. Immunex's leading drug, Enbrel, acquired in 2002 by Amgen Corp., is a best selling drug worldwide for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Henney later cofounded two other biotechnology companies: Icos and Dendreon Corporation, both of which developed important new drugs, including, Cialis [Icos] and Provenge [Dendreon]. The latter, in 2010, became the first immunotherapeutic vaccine approved by the FDA for the treatment of cancer.
Henney remains deeply involved in all entrepreneurial aspects of the biotechnology industry and serves as Chairman, or board member, of several companies, both public and private. He has been married to his England- born wife, Janet,for 47 years, has two children and 4 grandchildren.