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The Dendreon Alumni: Where Are They Now?

Xconomy Seattle — 

[Updated: 3:12 pm, 9/27/10] Dendreon CEO Mitchell Gold has said for years he wants his company to morph into the anchor for Seattle’s biotech community, the prominent role once filled by Immunex in the 1990s. The notion is that Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) could become profitable, stable, and exciting enough to be a magnet that draws top scientists and businesspeople from around the world.

It’s still very much an open question whether Dendreon will have staying power as an independent company, or whether it will get taken over like Seattle’s other major biotechs of the past. Right now at least, the company is on a hiring binge, on pace to triple in size from 200 employees a year ago to about 600 this year. The frenzy is happening in the anticipation that Dendreon will soon win FDA approval to start selling the first drug of its kind that actively stimulates the immune system to fight prostate cancer, sipuleucel-T (Provenge).

But even if Dendreon gets bought out tomorrow, before it starts selling its first product, it will have already left a mark on Seattle. It has been a formative experience for a long list of employees who have moved on to other biotech companies in Seattle and elsewhere. Many were shaped by the perseverance it took to be part of an organization that faced intense skepticism and endured some agonizing ups and downs since its founding in 1992. When conclusive data arrived in April 2009 to prove that Dendreon’s drug extends lives, the company took pride in announcing it had shocked the cancer research world. It unfurled a giant banner on its headquarters that proclaimed “global impact starts here.”

“Anybody who can sustain through what Dendreon has sustained—it’s a good sign of who they are,” says Martin Simonetti, the former chief financial officer at Dendreon who is now CEO of Seattle-based VLST. “You really had a lot of entrepreneurial risk-takers there. There were a lot of good people that made good things happen.”

To get a handle on the Dendreon diaspora, I’ve assembled a directory with updated links to help people connect and re-connect with them. I have made sure this list includes not just mover-shaker types that I’ve interviewed over the years, but also the rank-and-file who have moved on to other organizations. The list includes 83 names at last count, but I expect it to grow over time. Thanks go out to a few Dendreon alumni who have helped get this list started: Simonetti, Julie Rathbun, and Deborah Elvins.

Now here’s the part where you can help. If you see any information below that’s out of date or incorrect, please let me know and I’ll fix it. If you or someone you know is a Dendreon alumnus who would like to be included, please send me a note. Feel free to send any comments, questions, or new information to ltimmerman@xconomy.com or editors@xconomy.com.

Over time, I hope this story can become a richer and more valuable resource for Dendreon alumni. Here’s the list I’ve put together in alphabetical order, with the most updated titles and affiliations I found online.

Guy Barbaro, senior vice president of finance and accounting, Current TV

David Bienvenue, associate director of protein sciences, VLST

Brian Blackman, director of business operations, BN ImmunoTherapeutics

Mara Gia Boykin, senior quality assurance associate, Light Sciences Oncology

Danielle Brown, oncology account manager, Amgen

Jamal Brown, director of quality, The Medicines Company

Michelle Burris, chief operating officer, Trubion Pharmaceuticals

Jim Caggiano, vice president of sales and marketing, Allergan

Liz Cardwell, quality assurance/regulatory consultant

Feng Chen, senior associate scientist, MDRNA

Nathan Christensen, senior purchasing agent, Trubion Pharmaceuticals

Douglas Clark, technical consultant, Scherer & Associates

Matthew Croughan, George B. and Joy Rathmann professor, director of the Amgen Bioprocessing Center, Keck Graduate Institute [Added: 5:40 pm, 5/10/10]

Rick Dejong, senior systems and reporting analyst, Marchex

Justine Dell’Aringa, senior associate scientist, Amgen

Nancy Deroux, regulatory operations manager, Novartis Vaccines

Michael Diegel, scientist, Revalesio [Added: 3:12 pm, 9/27/10]

Petra Duterrow, senior buyer, F5

Julie Eastland, chief financial officer, VLST

Deborah Elvins, managing member, Adkins, Plant, Elvins & Black

John Emswiler, scientist, Micronics

Ken Farah, managing director, BiologicResponse [Added: 8:50 pm, 4/1/10]

Richard Gaeto, vice President, CMC operations, ZymoGenetics [Added: 3:20 pm, 3/31/10]

Pete Garcia, chief financial officer, MDRNA

Dennis George, arbitrator

Monique Greer, vice president corporate communications/investor relations, Allos Therapeutics

Helen Halloran, IP and contract paralegal, office support

Lori Hansen, director of project management, Seattle Genetics

Wes Hargraves, chief financial officer-Americas, Intec Telecom

Christopher Henney, chairman of the board, Oncothyreon, director, AVI Biopharma

Rob Hershberg, co-founder, executive vice president of R&D, VentiRx Pharmaceuticals

Rob Hill, senior medical writing specialist, Gilead Sciences

Lisa Johnson, graduate research assistant, microbiology, immunology and cancer biology Ph.D. program, University of Minnesota

Lori Jones, biotechnology professional

Jelle Kylstra, independent biotechnology professional

Reiner Laus, CEO, BN ImmunoTherapeutics

Gilles Lefebvre, associate director, upstream process development, Trubion Pharmaceuticals

Therese Leggiere, quality assurance manager, Olympic Medical

Pocheng Liu, senior scientist, SAFC Pharma/Sigma Aldrich

Paul Lundy, senior director, facilities, Seattle Genetics [Added: 5 pm, 4/2/10]

Jerome Lyons, office manager, HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals

Ed Madison, chief scientific officer, Catalyst Biosciences

Kristi Manjarrez, senior director of clinical affairs, VentiRx Pharmaceuticals

Donna Matuizek, senior regulatory/quality assurance consultant/contractor, Harris Group

Cathy McMahan, associate director, cell sciences, Trubion Pharmaceuticals

Jenny Miller, biotech and medical device manufacturing training professional

Shirley Miller, software quality validation engineering consultant

Bryan Monroe, process science fellow, Life Technologies [Added: 8:15 pm, 4/1/10]

Gregg Monten, manager, quality control, Seattle Genetics

Ofir Moreno, managing director, Vivex International

Amy Myers, medical writing, PPD

Nancy Norton, senior commercial attorney, Avanade

Maria Ochoa, project manager, U.S. store services, Starbucks Coffee

Madhusudan Peshwa, executive vice president, cell therapies, MaxCyte

Grant Pickering, CEO, Juvaris BioTherapeutics

Abraham Polk, senior CMC project manager, Seattle Genetics

Aaron Posey, senior research associate, preclinical pharmacology, VLST [Updated: 2:10 pm, 3/31/10]

Julie Rathbun, owner, Rathbun Communications

Ellen Reimer, teacher, Seattle Public Schools

Rich Rieger, senior engagement manager, LEK Consulting [Updated: 11:15 pm, 3/31/10]

Israel Rios, chief medical officer, SciClone Pharmaceuticals

Andy Scherer, president, Scherer & Associates

Kathleen Schneider, research associate III, CMC Icos Biologics

Deborah Siegel, research scientist, genome sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine

Martin Simonetti, CEO, VLST

Paul Slagle, senior research associate, Allozyne

Julie Ann Slyfield, IT, senior security analyst, Mutual of Enumclaw

Gary Smith, process development engineer, ALK-Abello

Bouwien Smits-Sana, associate director, quality assurance, Gilead Sciences

Linda Staley, retired

Hartmut Stecher, senior director, head of medical affairs, Seattle Genetics

George Strang, manager, clinical data management, Genentech

Ryan Thurston, senior associate, Amgen

Carrie Trujillo, scientific project coordinator II, scientific development, HIV Vaccine Trials Network, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center [Added: 8:50 pm, 4/1/10]

Frank Valone, chief medical officer, Fibrogen

Peter Van Vlasselaer, CEO, Arresto Biosciences

Suleman Verjee, founder and CEO, Versante International

Joanna Ward, senior director, Seattle Genetics

Jami Wollan, clinical immunology group leader

Sue Woyshnis, independent IT and services professional

Susan Wyrick, controller, Trubion Pharmaceuticals

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  • Rich Gaeto
  • Bryan Monroe

    Hi Luke. I was missing from the list. My group was responsible for all of the fermentation scaleup and clinical manufacturing for Provenge. I was employee #36. My first hire into the group was Mara Boykin, who had worked for me previously at ZymoGenetics in a similar role. I have been at Life Technologies since 2002.

    Bryan D. Monroe
    Process Science Fellow
    Life Technologies