Name: Susan Desmond-Hellmann
Current Company: UCSF
Profile: Desmond-Hellmann's spent five storied years orchestrating Genentech's development strategy. During that time the big biotech would be recognized as a world-leader in advancing new biologics for cancer, and the company's stellar R&D track record made it an essential part of Roche's future. But it's important to remember that Desmond-Hellmann came up through the ranks, starting with Genentech as a clinical scientist before beginning her ascendancy in the company.
After the Roche buyout, Desmond-Hellmann could have written her ticket for virtually any biotech destination she would have liked. But she went on to become chancellor of UC San Francisco. She hasn't forgotten her biotech roots, though. Earlier this year UCSF researchers agreed to pursue new research on small molecule drugs, with funding from Genentech. That kind of academic/industry partnership may well serve as a model for many more such ventures in the future.
1. What do you think has contributed to your success in this industry?
I think two things have contributed to my success in biotech: a strong drive to make life better for patients and being unafraid to try something new.
2. What advice would you give to women just starting out in biotech?
Focus most on what you will learn in the role you have and be willing to make a change to ensure you keep learning.