We’re one month away from our annual San Francisco Bay Area biotech forum on December 10, and we’re excited to share the lineup with you. This year, we’re focusing on the most disruptive biotechnologies to explore their future implications, not to mention the profound effects they’re triggering already in healthcare, business, and society.
One highlight will be gene editing, which has taken the world by storm for its ease of use—in the form of CRISPR-Cas9—its medical potential, and its ethical and environmental cautions. No company has brought gene editing closer to treating human disease than Sangamo Biosciences, so it’s apt that Sangamo CEO Edward Lanphier will kick off our event with an update on Sangamo and an overview of the field. Lanphier and colleagues wrote one of the two commentaries earlier this year that helped galvanize a huge public conversation about gene editing. At our Dec. 10 event, Lanphier and others will be just back from an international summit on the topic. We look forward to getting a report from the front.
To discuss the latest in CRISPR-Cas9, Andy May of Caribou Biosciences and Jenny Rooke, an early investor in Caribou, will discuss the evolution of the technology from Jennifer Doudna’s Berkeley lab to Caribou, which Doudna cofounded, to Intellia Therapeutics, which has exclusive use of Caribou’s platform for certain human therapeutics.
The human microbiome is another fast-moving field, with new revelations arriving seemingly every day about the connections between our health and the trillions of microbes in and on our bodies. How to harness that progress into a viable company is a tough nut to crack; only a few startups have emerged in the human therapeutics space. We’ll have two Bay Area CEOs, Peter DiLaura of Second Genome and Colleen Cutcliffe of Whole Biome, talk about their breakthroughs, insights, and frustrations.
To explain the pace of innovation and disruption, look no farther than digital technology, which is now intertwined with practically every aspect of the life sciences. Bioinformatics is changing healthcare, or threatening to change it, everywhere we look. Sequencing our DNA grows cheaper by the year, and researchers have just scratched the surface when it comes to sharing and analyzing it.
If it is indeed inevitable that we’ll all be sequenced and analyzed in the future, how can we ensure that we benefit from it? And it is OK that, along the way, companies and organizations profit from our data, as well? We’ll discuss those questions and more with Atul Butte, who leads UCSF’s new Institute for Computational Health Sciences as well as the University of California’s statewide precision medicine initiative; Randy Scott, CEO of San Francisco gene-testing company Invitae, which has ambitions to collect huge pools of genomic data for better health and new businesses; and veteran healthcare VC Nina Kjellson of Canaan Partners.
With the life sciences moving so fast, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important goal: our well-being. We’ll wrap up the Dec. 10 forum with a discussion dedicated to the ethical and social implications of all this disruption, which we hope spills over into more conversation at the post-event reception. If you want to be part of that conversation, we hope you can join us next month (register here), and stay tuned for news about a few more speakers to round out the agenda.
Atul Butte, Director, Institute of Computational Health Sciences, UCSF
Colleen Cutcliffe, CEO, Whole Biome
Peter DiLaura, CEO, Second Genome
Nina Kjellson, General Partner, Canaan Partners
Edward Lanphier, CEO, Sangamo Biosciences
Andy May, CSO, Caribou Biosciences
Jenny Rooke, Managing Director, Five Prime Ventures
Randy Scott, CEO, Invitae