Dr. Robert Nowinski: He joined The Hutch at age 30 to make "magic bullets" - antibodies that might zero in on cancer cells. He had high hopes and $500,000 in public funding.
After five years, recruited by entrepreneur David Blech, Nowinski left to co-found Genetic Systems Corp. His Hutch connections were central: He negotiated the exclusive licensing rights to 37 antibodies from the center, sublicensing many to another company for $3.7 million.
Nowinski appointed Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, head of the clinical oncology program at The Hutch, to Genetic Systems' scientific advisory board, giving him 100,000 shares of stock at a penny a share. Dr. John Hansen of The Hutch was appointed the company's medical director and given 250,000 shares. Those shares were worth millions almost overnight.
Nowinski's own stock and options were worth $10 million when Bristol-Myers bought Genetic Systems for $294 million in 1986.
Nowinski moved on to co-found Icos Corp., turning back to The Hutch for a dozen hires. Icos, of Bothell, is conducting human tests on four drugs that may offer relief from multiple sclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, asthma and - perhaps most exciting for investors - impotence.
Nowinski also founded PathoGenesis Corp. of Seattle, which sold a treatment for cystic fibrosis. He paid $22,500 for stock now worth millions.
Next, he founded VaxGen Inc., in Brisbane, Calif., with Dr. Donald Francis, longtime director of the AIDS laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control. Nowinski owns $5.8 million in VaxGen stock. Now age 56, he resigned as chief executive three months ago, citing unspecified health concerns.
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Drs. Christopher Henney and Steven Gillis: Henney was 40 years old and Gillis 28 when they founded Immunex in 1981. Within six years, they held personal stock worth $13 million.
Today their company is worth$12.8 billion, employs 1,200, and recently started construction on a $750 million waterfront complex. Immunex sells Enbrel, an arthritis fighter, and other products to stimulate white-blood-cell production and treat pain in cancer patients.
In 1989, Henney and Gillis formed a subsidiary, Targeted Genetics, to focus on AIDS while Immunex worked on cancer. "T-Gen" signed up prominent Hutch researchers as board members, including Drs. A.G. "Dusty" Miller and Philip Greenberg. The company signed contracts with The Hutch and the University of Washington between 1991 and 1993 to buy patent rights and conduct clinical trials.
In the last year, Targeted Genetics lost $27 million but saw its stock break the $1 billion mark. The company says its research is "moving closer to attaining the holy grail of gene therapy."
Meanwhile, Henney, who is British, moved on to co-found Icos with Nowinski in 1989. He left Icos in 1995 for Activated Cell Therapy of Mountain View, Calif., which soon changed its name to Dendreon and moved to Seattle offices formerly occupied by Genetic Systems. Dendreon is working on products using the body's immune system to fight cancer. It has final-stage trials under way on a prostate-cancer vaccine.
Gillis stayed at Immunex 13 years, then co-founded Corixa, which works on immune-system treatments for cancers and infectious diseases.
The total value of Henney's and Gillis' biotech holdings is unknown but obviously enormous.
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Dr. Ronald Berenson: Berenson was a founder of CellPro, a company that quickly rang up millions in sales. It sold hospitals across the country on a new technology to separate tumor cells from healthy cells. CellPro got the licensing rights from The Hutch.
But in 1997, a federal court ruled the technology had been lifted from Johns Hopkins University. Judge Roderick McKelvie said: "Behind the science, medicine, and the potential for treating cancer patients are investors who have demonstrated that their primary motivation is not humanitarianism, nor even responsible capitalism. The record in this case demonstrates that CellPro's motivation, as expressed by the words, conduct, and testimony of its founders, is greed."
CellPro paid $15.6 million to settle the lawsuit with Johns Hopkins and two companies. CellPro stock dropped to 6 cents a share. Shareholders sued, and CellPro filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Berenson moved on. He heads Xcyte Therapies, Inc., of Seattle, a privately held company developing "Xcellerate," a process to activate white blood "T-cells" outside of a patient's body to treat cancer and infectious diseases.
Berenson said he completed a private round of financing for $28 million in August and started clinical trials at UCLA and the UW.
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Drs. James Bianco, Jack Singer and George Todaro: Drawing heavily on their Hutch connections, these three co-founded Cell Therapeutics Inc. in 1991. The company got exclusive worldwide rights to five patent applications from The Hutch. Its scientific board included Thomas, Hutch clinical-research director Dr. Fred Appelbaum and Dr. C. Dean Buckner. Dr. Fred Appelbaum: The doctor who reviews conflicts of interest by other doctors at The Hutch does plenty of work for private industry himself:
Todaro didn't stay long, jumping to become scientific director of another start-up, PathoGenesis, in 1992, then co-founding Cytokine Networks in 1996.
Bianco took Cell Therapeutics public in 1997. The stock opened at $10 a share, but the company struggled, and the stock bottomed at $1.31 a share in late 1999. First one, then a second, product failed to work.
Last year, though, the company began working on a third great hope, an arsenic-based cancer treatment. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought into a private placement in February at $12 a share. The stock soared to $77.25 a share.
Though it recently fell and is now at $16.75 a share, Bianco was named "CEO of the Year" by Washington CEO magazine in January. Today, Bianco owns $5.1 million in shares and Singer more than $3.3 million.
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Cell Therapeutics, Genentech, Hoffman-LaRoche, IDEC, Immunex, NeoRx, Systemix, Zymogenetics - Appelbaum, clinical-research director at The Hutch, spent time advising them all in recent years. He said he owns no biotech stock except through mutual funds. However, there are areas in which his industry ties cross with research.
Last year, The Hutch conducted experiments with a radioactive drug that was to be the first product at NeoRx. And in a consulting agreement with Cell Therapeutics, Appelbaum promised he would not compete with the company for three years and would assign all ideas and inventions conceived during consulting to the company. He got an annual fee and stock options.
Appelbaum is responsible for reviewing or managing conflicts of interest by all the scientists who conduct clinical trials at The Hutch. He said there have been only about a half-dozen cases warranting careful review.
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The Hutch and Targeted Genetics signed an exclusive agreement effective Jan. 1, 1994, giving the company rights to research and inventions by Greenberg and Riddell and anyone working under their direct supervision. The deal gave the company commerical rights to Hutch inventions.
T-Gen is working on treatment for HIV-infected bone-marrow-transplant patients. As the leading bone-marrow transplant center in the world, The Hutch is a valuable source of patients to test.
Five months after The Hutch announced FDA approval of clinical trials, the value of T-Gen stock shot up from less than $2 a share to $23 a share.
Miller, Greenberg and Riddell face decisions about whether to stay at The Hutch, go to industry, or continue to straddle the fence. By Hutch policy, federally financed physicians are not supposed to spend more than 10 percent of their time in paid consulting for private companies. Riddell maxed out: He was paid for 20 days a year consulting for Targeted Genetics in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998, a disclosure report shows. Greenberg said he has cut back his work for Targeted Genetics from 24 days a year in 1992 to about six days a year.
Dr. John Hansen: He took 250,000 shares of Genetic Systems stock for a penny a share in early 1981. Within a few months, thanks to a contract with The Hutch, the stock was worth $875,000.
The center gave Genetic Systems the exclusive commercial rights to 37 new drugs called monoclonal antibodies. At the same time, Hansen was principal investigator on a federally funded study of the effect of three of those drugs and five others.
As Hanson became more and more involved with Genetic Systems, he gave up the title of principal investigator on the study to Hutch Dr. Paul Martin.
In 1983, Hansen was named vice president of research at Genetic Systems. He straddled jobs for seven months and then took a one-year leave from The Hutch to be medical director of Genetic Systems. At some time between 1981 and 1986, Hansen sold 72,000 of his 250,000 original shares. When Bristol-Myers bought Genetic Systems in 1986, Hansen reported owning 178,000 shares, worth $1.8 million.
Hansen confirmed he kept the Bristol-Myers buyout shares, worth more than $9 million today.
But he said he was happy to return to The Hutch. Last year, Hansen was named to lead a $20 million federal project involving tissue-typing laboratories in more than 70 countries.
Dr. E. Donnall Thomas: Called "Saint Thomas" by some, he is the most revered figure at The Hutch, a recipient of the 1990 Nobel Prize in medicine.
He rejects out of hand the notion that his personal financial holdings in biotech companies could cause any conflict of interest with work or leadership at The Hutch. The extent of those holdings is hard to determine. He won't give an interview on the subject and is exempt from public reporting as a University of Washington professor emeritus.
Records show, however, that if he held onto the 100,000 shares he bought for a penny apiece in 1981 as an adviser to Genetic Systems, the stock would be worth about $5 million today.
Thomas has also served on the advisory boards of CellPro and Cell Therapeutics. His holdings in those companies, if any, are unknown.
Thomas is semi-retired at The Hutch.