Patricia Beckmann, Co-Inventor of Enbrel, to Join “The Immunex Impact” Dec. 1

10/13/11Follow @xconomy

Patricia Beckmann has covered lots of bases in biotech—science, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and state officialdom. But once an Immunoid, always an Immunoid. So I’m excited to have her join Xconomy as one of the speakers at our next big Seattle life sciences event, “The Immunex Impact,” on Dec. 1.

For those who may have lost track, Beckmann is now the executive director of the Oregon Translational Research and Drug Development Institute (OTRADI) in Portland. Like the name suggests, its goal is to help researchers in Oregon translate their biological ideas into valuable new medical products. You can read more about Beckmann’s career and the Oregon initiative in this Science profile from earlier this year.

Beckmann’s enduring claim to fame comes from her scientific contributions at Immunex to the blockbuster autoimmune disease drug etanercept (Enbrel). That product, first approved in 1998, is on track to be the world’s third-best selling drug with $8 billion in worldwide sales in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters. But Beckmann has done a lot of interesting things since then. She managed life sciences investments for Paul Allen’s Vulcan for a while in the 2000s, followed by a stint at the Seattle-based Accelerator. There, she was the founding chief scientist of Homestead Clinical, a Leroy Hood project that was shut down for a while but has since been reborn as Integrated Diagnostics.

We have a great lineup of Immunex vets who have agreed to tell a short story about one of their best memories from their Immunex days. We’ll start things off with a keynote chat between co-founders Steve Gillis and Chris Henney, and then Beckmann will join Stewart Parker, Dave Urdal, Janis Wignall, Steve Graham, and Doug Williams in the “short stories” part of the program.

Patricia Beckmann

Beckmann admits to having once received the fabled “Pons and Fleischmann” award for dubious achievement in science, and she hinted that she might have something to say about that during the event. The award was just one symbol of Immunex’s famously irreverent scientific culture, which encouraged people to try risky things that might fail in the lab. Pons and Fleischmann inspired the award after they were celebrated for discovering cold fusion in the 1980s, at least until other scientists learned that wasn’t really true.

Anyway, this event will be held from 6 pm to 8:30 pm on Dec. 1 at the Institute for Systems Biology’s new headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Tickets have been going fast, and it’s possible at this rate that it will sell out a week or two in advance. So get your tickets now, and get ready for a fun evening of networking and reminiscing with the people who built Seattle’s signature biotech company, and who are continuing to make things happen in the Northwest life sciences community. See you there Dec. 1.

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