Members Push Merger of 2 California Life Sciences Industry Groups

Xconomy San Diego — 

The move to combine two nonprofits that are dedicated to advancing California’s life sciences interests was set in motion 11 months ago, when CEO David Gollaher resigned from the San Diego-based California Healthcare Institute (CHI).

Gollaher’s departure from the public policy group he co-founded in 1993 created an opening to assess whether it made sense to merge CHI with BayBio, the life sciences industry group based in South San Francisco, according to OncoMed Pharmaceuticals chairman and CEO Paul Hastings, who is on the boards of both CHI and BayBio.

“We’ve been hearing from our members for some time that in order for us to be competitive that we need to speak with one voice,” Hastings said. “The way one should run a trade organization is to understand what its membership needs are.”

In a statement yesterday, BayBio and CHI said they have signed a letter of intent to combine their operations into a newly created organization, the California Biomedical Innovation Alliance (CBI), in a merger to be completed by the end of March.

Sara Radcliffe

Sara Radcliffe

In addition to a new identity, the consolidated group will be headed by a new CEO—Sara Radcliffe, the executive vice president for health at the Washington, D.C.-based Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). She will begin her new job in January.

In the statement, CHI chairman and Theravance BioPharma chairman and CEO Rick Winningham, says, “The merger of CHI and BayBio will create the strongest possible organization, capable of advocating for policies that support innovation and enable the success of our member organizations, as well as the growth of the life sciences sector within California.”

After CHI’s Gollaher resigned to join Foster City, CA-based Gilead Sciences, Hastings said BayBio and CHI formed a joint committee to evaluate a merger, with three members appointed from each group’s board. BayBio and CHI both wield considerable klout in California’s life sciences industry and beyond. Both boards include prominent industry CEOs and high-ranking pharmaceutical executives, venture capital partners, lawyers, and accounting firm partners.

Todd Gillenwater, a public policy expert who was serving as CHI’s interim president and CEO, will move to … Next Page »

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