women in bio

Faces of Leadership in Diagnostics: Bonnie Anderson, Veracyte


Bonnie Anderson, CEO, Veracyte Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:58) What is the secret to your success?

Listen (4:30) Building the case for reimbursement

Listen (5:14) How did you go about finding a commercially viable pathway?

Listen (6:03) Challenges to adoption

Listen (2:27) What are you anticipating on the regulatory front?

Listen (6:41) A woman of influence

Today we’re pleased to launch a new series, Faces of Leadership in Diagnostics, underwritten by the executive recruitment firm, Slone Partners.

We begin with the leader of a company that has been going from one giant success to another. Bonnie Anderson is the CEO of Veracyte. She has been awarded the “Women of Influence” award by Silicon Valley Business Journal and named one of the best Bay Area Life Science CEO’s by the San Francisco Business Times.

In 2013, Bonnie led Veracyte through a successful IPO, and this year the company has won contracts with two major payers, United Healthcare and Cigna, for their breakthrough Afirma Thyroid Analysis test. This gene expression based test is saving thousands of patients from undergoing unnecessary thyroid surgeries.

In today’s interview, Bonnie explains the secret to her success at Veracyte. Rather than beginning as a company with a cool technology, Bonnie says they started by looking for a clinical area where there was a huge unmet need.

"What we realized early on, was that the science is so rich today, and the tools available just keep getting better,” she says. “The assumption we made was that we would be able to figure out the scientific answer. But the challenge was in finding the commercially viable pathway where we could start, and then have a runway of expanding that same strategy across many indications so we could build a scalable, viable company."


Easier said than done. We ask Bonnie just how she and her team went about finding that “commercially viable pathway.”

Bonnie is a co-founder of the company, coming out of retirement after an already successful career in diagnostics. She explains her leadership style and describes the unique company culture she has fostered at Veracyte that has made the company a shining beacon in the tough space of diagnostics.

Podcast brought to you by: Slone Partners - Premier talent. Delivered.

USF Engages Bay Area Life Science Community with Three Symposia at New Lo Schiavo Science Center

Interview with Chris Brooks, Associate Dean of Sciences, USF

We’re very happy to be partnering with University of San Francisco on the opening of their new John Lo Schiavo Center for Science and Innovation. The new building has been constructed to high environmental standards and is completely dedicated to classrooms and lab space. USF has recently launched a new masters program in biotechnology and are using the opening of the new building to reach out to the Bay Area life science community through three panel discussion/networking events this fall.

When we talk biotech education in SF, we are usually talking about the biomedical giant, UCSF, which caters mostly to graduate students. The smaller USF is actually the oldest university in San Francisco with 75% of its students being undergraduates. Attending a smaller liberal arts university gives USF students much more intimate class sizes with an attractive teacher to student ratio of 1:16. Now, with the new incredibly modern center built over the past 26 months, students will have state-of-the-art classrooms and labs.

The new center is a big deal for the university, which is located not far from Golden Gate Park and hasn't seen construction on this scale for many years. Limited from expanding outward due to real estate prices in San Francisco, and from going upward due to zoning restrictions, the designers of the new center went downward with a building that boasts a highly coveted LEED Gold designation, an impressive feat in keeping its environmental footprint to a minimum.

“The new Lo Schiavo Center itself is a teaching tool as well as a place to learn,” says Chris Brooks, the Associate Dean of Sciences at USF in our interview. (Listen to the full interview with Chris above.)

For example, the building collects rainwater and channels it for use in irrigation and steam to power the building. Floors are radiant and windows open and close automatically depending on the ambient temperature in the building. And, appropriately for a building in the high tech city of SF, all the building data, such as power usage, temperature, etc., are captured for student use.

“The building is really a lab for our students of environmental science,” says Chris, a computer science engineer by training who has been deeply involved in design, construction, and opening of the building.

Promotional video put out by USF on the new Lo Schiavo Center

Three Panel Discussions Welcome Bay Area Science Crowd

To show off the building and better engage with the Bay Area’s vibrant science community, USF is hosting three symposia this fall at the new center.

Sep. 19: Women Changing the World Through Science and Innovation

Oct. 17: Changing the World Through Life Science Innovation

Nov. 14: Big Data Symposium

The first panel set for 5 p.m. on Sept 19th will be moderated by Margaret Tempero, Director, UCSF Pancreas Cancer Center, USF Trustee.

Confirmed panelists include:

Divya Nag, Founder, StartX Med

Gini Deshpande, Founder/CEO, NuMedii

Nola Masterson, Managing Director, Science Futures

Ellen Daniell, Author, "Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies from Successful Women Scientists"

Juliet Spencer, Assoc. Prof., Biology, USF

Associate Dean Brooks says that USF has a high number of women faculty and bringing more equality to women and underserved minorities into STEM programs has been an important goal for the university. The Bay Area boasts some strong women in science, and the panel will bring them closer to the students. Attendees will also be invited to tour the new building at any of the three events. We're excited to see USF beef up their biotech and science programs. These panel discussions will bring more awareness to a place in the Bay Area which until now has been a well kept secret.

We’ll see you on Sept 19th to see the new building and enjoy listening to a star panel of women.

Register here for free.

"There's Nothing Like Helping Patients," Susan Molineaux, Calithera

Podcast Sponsor: Addgene - Today’s Podcast is sponsored by Addgene, a non-profit organization facilitating biomedical research by operating a library for published and useful plasmids. Find out more at www.addgene.org


Susan Molineaux, CEO, Calithera Bio and Contact Info

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

1:17 Is Calithera the ideal model for drug discovery and development?

2:09 With virtual model, "scientists have no skin in the game"

12:29 $40 million the right number

14:38 Success at Proteolix - "there's nothing like helping patients"

19:45 What is "negative persistence?"

23:27 "I grew up thinking math and science were great. There was no gender barrier."

29:16 "I didn't raise my hand and say I just need to manage."

33:40 When did you say I'm going to found a biotech company?

38:39 Why is mentorship important?

41:40 Thoughts on Affordable Care Act

Susan Molineaux thrives on the knowledge that what she does each day is making a difference in the lives of patients. CEO and founder of Calithera BioSciences, a start-up biotech housed in the same building with Crescendo Biosciences in South San Francisco, Molineaux knows the taste of success. Previously she led Proteolix in the development of cafilzomib, a therapeutic for multiple myeloma patients. Proteolix was bought out by Onyx Pharmaceuticals during late stage trials for a hefty sum. The purchase is paying off for Onyx as they just received FDA approval for the drug and saw their stock take a big jump.

Susan says her success comes from an early grounding in science that was free from gender barriers. She's a speaker at many conferences around the Bay Area and mentors for local entrepreneurs and students. Susan talks about what she's doing at Calithera and weighs in on what could be a better model for drug development.

Sharing Plasmids and Insights: Joanne Kamens, Addgene

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based marketplace for research services. With Assay Depot, you can easily find the perfect research service provider and manage your project from anywhere in the world.


Joanne Kamens, Executive Director, Addgene Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:53) Addgene- a central repository for plasmids

Listen (3:05) Why don't academics want to share plasmids with industry?

Listen (2:10) Advantages of using Addgene over DNA 2.0

Listen (5:46) Women in science

Listen (11:43) Improving work-life balance

Joanne Kamens earned her Ph D in genetics at Harvard and spent 15 years in the pharma industry. She founded the Massachussets chapter of the Association for Women in Science. And she was recently made Executive Director at Addgene, a non-profit with a central repository for sharing plasmids. Joanne discusses the problems that have existed with sharing plasmids--storage, material transfer agreements, etc.--and how Addgene overcomes them. She then talks about issues of gender equity in science and we finish the discussion talking about some of the 10 Commandments of Joanne's "Work/Life Balance" workshop.

Women in Bio with Debra Bowes

Podcast Sponsor: Ingenuity - iReport, the fastest and most accurate way to get biological meaning from your expression data. Upload your data and get a free iReport analysis summary at www.ingenuity.com/get iReport/


Debra Bowes, President Emeritus, Women in Bio Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:26) Mission of Women in Bio

Listen (5:50) Membership sharply up in 2011

Listen (5:49) Support for new chapters

Listen (2:51) Going international

Listen (3:23) Percentage of women scientists,entrepreneurs

Listen (5:53) Being a mom

Listen (6:56) Female behaviors that undermine a career

Listen (6:12) The story of Martine Rothblatt

Listen (2:40) Beyond gender

Listen (4:47) Leading WIB

Listen (3:49) Chevy Chase BioPartners

This week the international organization Women in Bio puts on their annual dinner and a new chapter of the organization holds their kick off event in San Francisco. We spoke with Debra Bowes, President Emeritus of Women in Bio about their mission to support women in life science careers. Ms. Bowes’ own career in bio extends back 30 years and includes stints at MedImmune, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Senecor-J & J, and Pfizer. In 2006 Debra started Chevy Chase BioPartners, a consulting firm specializing in planning and licensing for life-science start ups. We’re delighted to have her to mendelspod to talk about women in bio.

Gender and Science

Do women do science differently than men? Are women more intimate with their research subject, more personal, and therefore more intuitive? Is a man more rational and objective? Does a woman by nature choose projects that a man wouldn’t think of? The gender gap in science has narrowed. Science has a lot for women scientists. Do women have something special for science?