Soon-Shiong Makes Case for “Cancer Breakthroughs” at Biocom Conference

Xconomy San Diego — Bruce V. Bigelow

The billionaire scientist Patrick Soon-Shiong came to San Diego yesterday to lay out his plans for "Cancer Breakthroughs 2020.”

Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and serial life sciences entrepreneur, has emerged in recent weeks as the driving force behind an ambitious quest to create a next-generation cancer immunotherapy platform over the next four years. To support the effort, Soon-Shiong helped bring together scientific leaders from Celgene, Amgen, Altor Bioscience, and other companies, major academic cancer centers, and thousands of oncologists to form the National Immunotherapy Coalition.

In a mesmerizing presentation at a biotech-pharmaceutical conference hosted by Biocom, a nonprofit industry group, Soon-Shiong said he had spent hours explaining his vision to Vice President Joe Biden, who first called in October for a “moon shot” effort to cure cancer. Biden’s son Beau died from brain cancer last May, and the vice president has made the disease a personal mission for his remaining time in the Obama administration.

The vision Soon-Shiong described in San Diego takes a comprehensive, system-of-systems approach. To conquer cancer, he wants to integrate a host of molecular diagnostic tests with real-time bioinformatics, electronic medical records, analytics, machine learning, predictive modeling, clinical trials, and patient care, to develop a unique immunotherapy treatment for each individual cancer patient.

Afterward, Biocom CEO Joe Panetta said, “In the 17 years I’ve been at Biocom, this has been the most impactful talk I’ve ever heard.”

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