Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech
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Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  36 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In the fall of 1980, Genentech, Inc., a little-known California genetic engineering company, became the overnight darling of Wall Street, raising over $38 million in its initial public stock offering. Lacking marketed products or substantial profit, the firm nonetheless saw its share price escalate from $35 to $89 in the first few minutes of trading, at that point the larg...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published October 19th 2011 by University Of Chicago Press (first published September 21st 2011)
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"Boyer and Swanson had utilized existing scientific teams and academic laboratories because in them resided the rare and requisite body of knowledge and technical expertise. But as they and Perkins recognized, the strategy had the additional advantage of paying off handsomely in money and time saved." (63)

"Swanson soon came to appreciate Boyer's publication policy, not because he had an impulse to instill academic values at Genentech or a driving wish to contribute to the progress of science. Ra...more
Here I proudly wave my science nerd flag.

A tersely written history of the beginning of an epic biotechnology company, the first in the world, written by a highly esteemed science historian with expertise on Bay area scientists earned by interviewing them. Hughes probably knows more about Bay area life scientists than anyone and is presumably objective reporting her knowledge of these egoists. [To read some of the comprehensive interviews conducted by Hughes, see
Evan Snyder
I had hoped to learn more about Genentech's founding and how the company set many of the corporate, academic, and legal expectations of other biotech companies today; however, this book mostly made me want to go to sleep. If you are interested in learning more about Genentech, but don't necessarily need to be privy to every step of every negotiation along the way, then I would recommend reading the Epilogue of this book and then moving on to something else.

One tidbit I took from Hughes' renditi...more
I had heard about this book being a great synopsis of the founding of the biotech industry through the eyes of Genentech. It did not disappoint. While a bit longwinded in places, the story was riveting if you have ever worked in biotech or are interested in the subject. For me, it had the added advantage of giving me some perspective on working with Genentech employees, which continues to challenge me from a cultural perspective.
A great history of biotech beginnings, following the story of a scientist, Boyer, and an entrepreneur, Swanson, and how they created an industry. Along the way, there are groundbreaking patents, cultural changes, molding of public perception, corporate acceptance.. Any student of the sciences would benefit from this book - no matter if one were to pursue an academic life, corporate life, or other. The fact that biotech has completely changed an academic biologist's life in that she must now cons...more
This is an inspriation book for an entrepreneur in any discipline, and for anyone who has big dreams and believes in the taking the 'off the beaten" path to get there. Sarah Hughes writes a beautiful piece where you really get to understand the founders of Genentech, there background and what drove them to put everything at stake in the name of recombinant DNA. A must read!
Vladimir Chupakhin
Really interesting history about begging of biotech business. Not very big, but full of facts, science and bright characters that made the company profitable and famous. Must read for everyone interested in biotech and pharma history.
There was sometimes too much details for things that I didn't care about; the later years of Genentech's history was rushed through.
Divya Nag
Great read for anyone who wants to go into, or is interested in, the world of biotechnology
Very interesting, a perfect read to learn how the biotech industry started
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