Targeted Genetics’ Legacy: No Cures, But a Generation of Seattle Biotechies
[Updated: 10 am, 3/24/10] Targeted Genetics never cured anything. The Seattle biotech company (NASDAQ: TGEN) didn’t prove the concept that gene therapy could usher in a new era of more effective medicines. It was never profitable. It burned through more than $315 million in investor capital during its 17-year history.
Those are cold facts that can’t be ignored as Targeted Genetics takes in what appear to be its dying breaths, as it says it needs new capital to operate beyond this month. But what will its legacy be on the Seattle biotech landscape? One of the clear answers is this: people.
It all started with H. Stewart Parker, the founder and longtime CEO, whose roots in biotech go back to her days as the first employee at Seattle-based Immunex in 1981. She learned the industry ropes there, climbed the ladder, and spun off that company’s gene therapy research into Targeted Genetics in 1992. She recruited, inspired, and mentored a generation of biotechies who have moved on to make important contributions at other organizations across the Northwest. It’s not going out on a limb to say these people, and others they will train in the future, will continue to make an impact on the local industry for years.
“People literally slept on the floor sometimes, I can remember, in the middle of manufacturing campaigns,” says David Schubert, president of Seattle-based Accelerator, who worked at Targeted Genetics from 1997 to 2000. “People there were incredibly committed and felt a great sense of camaraderie. It was an amazing training ground for talented people.”
Some Targeted Genetics alumni have left for jobs in other parts of the country, but here is a list of notable names in alphabetical order who remain active in Seattle biotech, which I’ve put together with help from Parker and Schubert, and from other readers. This list certainly isn’t comprehensive, so if you can think of former Targeted people who are making an impact in Seattle biotech who I’ve overlooked, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Or feel free to post a comment at the bottom of the story:
—Tara Allen, clinical research associate, Dendreon
—Todd Allen, Technical Operations at ZymoGenetics
—Kevin Anderson, scientist, Seattle Genetics
—Rema Assaf, senior project manager, Seattle Genetics
—Emma Austin, document control specialist, ZymoGenetics
—Susan Bell, research associate, MDRNA
—Emily Bradeen-Duncan, manufacturing quality assurance associate, Seattle Genetics
—Stacie Byars, director of marketing and membership, WBBA
—Barrie Carter, consultant, president-elect of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
—Victoria Cleator, biotech facilities expert, Seattle Children’s Hospital
—Holly Craven, quality control analyst, ZymoGenetics
—Richard Daifuku, consultant, founder of Redmond, WA-based Koronis Pharmaceuticals
—Daryn Debelak, Northwest account manager for Invitrogen