Dendreon’s New Operations Man, Hans Bishop, Aims to Keep Provenge Trains Running on Time

1/19/10Follow @xconomy

Dendreon has a new man on the spot, and his name is Hans Bishop. The Seattle biotech company (NASDAQ: DNDN) settled the raging debate last year about whether its immune booster can help men with prostate cancer live longer without serious side effects. Now the company has graduated to a less glamorous, but equally important phase in which it must show that it can effectively manufacture and market its first-of-a-kind drug, sipuleucel-T (Provenge).

That responsibility falls to Bishop, its new chief operating officer. Bishop, 45, is a native of the U.K. who most recently worked as president of the specialty medicine business at Bayer Healthcare. He officially started at Dendreon on Jan. 4. He and his wife—who oversees communications at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—have already moved into a new place in downtown Seattle which is about a 15 to 20-minute walk from Dendreon’s Belltown office.

I met Bishop and Dendreon’s vice president of communications, Katherine Stueland, while they were attending the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference last week at San Francisco’s Union Square. Before diving too deep, it’s worth noting that Bishop’s first name is correctly pronounced as “Hahnce,” not the Germanic-sounding “Hahnz.” He’s heard it both ways, and told me he doesn’t care when people get it wrong, but there you have it.

Like most of our interviews, I sought to get to know the person as well as the situation he is stepping into at an important local biotech company. Here are the highlights of the conversation.

Xconomy: Where are you from, and how did you get started in the pharmaceutical business?

Hans Bishop: I’m from New York, in the sense that’s where I was living last. My last job was as president of specialty medicine at Bayer. That was a 3 billion Euro business comprised of oncology, hemostasis, urology, and ophthalmology. It’s all of the specialty medicine parts of the Bayer business.

Hans Bishop

Hans Bishop

But I was born and raised in the U.K., trained as an organic chemist. I’ve spent pretty much all of my career, not all, but pretty much all, in healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

X: How did you find out about the Dendreon position?

HB: I met [CEO] Mitch [Gold] and the team during a business development discussion. I’m embarrassed to tell you that I wasn’t that aware of Dendreon in my prior job. I met them through business development talks, and I was really amazed. I learned about the product for the first time when I met with them, and the clinical data they had generated. I was really impressed with the product, all the technology they had built around the product, and the management team. So I came away really impressed. I was really delighted two weeks later when the phone rang and I was asked if I was interested in meeting with them about this position.

X: So Mitch Gold recruited you, after he met you when you were on the other side of the bargaining table?

HB: You should get the quote from Mitch, but Mitch clearly came away impressed with me. While it was unclear if he wanted Bayer as a partner, it was clear that he wanted … Next Page »

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