Amgen Leaders Hail Southern California’s Emergence as Biotech Innovation Hub

Three of Amgen’s top leaders hailed southern California’s growing reputation for biotech innovation and noted our company’s own contributions to it in remarks at the Los Angeles Bioscience Ecosystem Summit Twenty24, also known as LABEST 2024, which took place at the University of California Los Angeles on May 23, 2024.

Now in its sixth year, LABEST brings together hundreds of Los Angeles-area academics, biotech industry representatives, and investors to share cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs and forge new partnerships aimed at developing tomorrow’s critical therapies for patients.

In remarks opening the meeting, Amgen SVP of Global Research Ray Deshaies observed that Amgen’s founders and early scientists worked closely with faculty from Los Angeles-area universities such as Caltech, UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara to explore the potential of recombinant DNA for developing new therapeutics. Amgen’s ties with these institutions remain “numerous, extensive, [and] abundant,” he noted. “We are all here,” Deshaies said, “because we believe in future of the L.A. biotech ecosystem. We’ll see it on display today and I hope it knocks your socks off.”

Amgen SVP of Global Research Ray Deshaies

In his keynote address, Amgen CEO Bob Bradway remarked that collaboration with and support for educational institutions at all levels – from high school to post-doc – “is at the heart of the Amgen story.” While these partnerships have made possible a wide range of important medicines, the need for more innovation remains huge.

Bradway noted that “our ability to innovate has never been better” but also warned that Amgen’s innovation can achieve its purpose only if our medicines reach the patients who need them, and only if we can “sustain the policy ecosystem that has made the United States a leader in biotech innovation.” Bradway noted a disturbing trend of declining political support for our industry in the U.S., even though most new medicines are developed by U.S.-based companies.

“If you share my conviction that our society needs more innovation, not less,” Bradway concluded, “I hope you will agree that we must find a way to persuade our public officials – especially those who represent the communities where our innovation is taking place – to sustain the policy ecosystem that makes our innovation possible. Society must decide whether it is willing to make the investments needed to ensure that patients can obtain treatments that can prevent disease and preserve health and quality of life.”

Speaking on a panel entitled “Meet the Experts in Drug Development,” Amgen EVP of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer Jay Bradner noted a growing convergence between academic and company-based research in the life sciences, as academics focus more on translating their research into products that can help patients while private-sector scientists are becoming more scholarly and truth-seeking. He analogized this to industry being good at running to the end of the street, and academia excelling at looking around the next corner.

Asked what most attracted him to Amgen, Bradner cited the company’s “breathtaking innovation, its creativity in therapeutic science, its strong and thriving business, and its really decent people trying to do something really hard.” Asked what most excites him about Amgen’s drug pipeline, he responded that Amgen gives priority to medicines that are “elegantly and even brilliantly designed, and that are aimed at the most difficult, even intractable clinical challenges.”

Amgen EVP of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer Jay Bradner

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