Start-up adds Genentech's Levinson to the board

A little more than a week after resigning from the board of directors at Google, former Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson (photo) has taken a similar position at a somewhat smaller venture. Levinson, now chairman of Genentech following the Roche buyout, has agreed to sit on the board of NGM Biopharmaceuticals, a start-up developer targeting new therapies for diabetes and metabolic ailments.

In what has to be one of the most valuable endorsements of a fledgling biotech this year, Levinson pronounced himself impressed with NGM. "NGM has the attributes and values that I believe are fundamental to building an innovative and sustainable biotechnology company," said Dr. Levinson. "The company's creative approach to scientific research should provide new insights into disease processes, and support the discovery of differentiated, clinically important medicines."

Levinson's arrival at NGM may have a lot to do with the company's CEO, David Goeddel. Goeddel was the first scientist hired at Genentech and wound up as director of molecular biology before leaving the biotech giant and eventually running Tularik from 1996 to 2004.

Levinson bid Google's board goodbye on October 12, after the FTC began an antitrust probe into the ties that bind the company to Apple. Levinson had sat on the boards of both companies, which raised questions about the potential for limiting competition between rival outfits.

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