San Diego Innovation and the Top 10 Stories of 2014

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page views than the story published four months earlier about the founding of Human Longevity itself (See No. 9 below).

A testament to the importance of genome-related technologies in San Diego is that a 2013 story about Illumina’s acquisition of Redwood City, CA-based Verinata Health continued to rank among Xconomy San Diego’s most-widely viewed stories of 2014.

6) It was big news when San Diego-based Celladon (NASDAQ: CLDN) announced that the FDA had granted its “breakthrough therapy” designation for a gene therapy treatment it has been developing for advanced heart failure. Celladon is at the vanguard of a resurgence in gene therapy technologies.

7) On another front in life sciences innovation, scientists from San Diego-based ViaCyte and UC San Diego began the first-ever clinical trial of a stem cell-derived therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes. The early stage trial is intended to test the safety of technology that ViaCyte has spent the past 12 years developing.

8) We also saw tangible advances across a broad front in RNA-related therapeutics, and one of the most dramatic stories has been unfolding at San Diego-based Solstice Biologics. Against a background of bitter lawsuits and an attempted murder, Lou Tartaglia left Boston’s Third Rock Ventures in June to step in as the CEO at Solstice. In November, Xconomy’s Alex Lash explained just how much is at stake in the breakthrough technology developed by Solstice co-founder Steve Dowdy.

9) In a Q&A that became one of the most widely read stories of the year, ServiceNow CEO Frank Slootman explained why he moved the company’s headquarters from San Diego to Santa Clara, CA. It amounted to one more ding against the capabilities of the local software sector.

10) When Human genome pioneer Craig Venter announced the founding of San Diego-based Human Longevity Inc. in March, he said the company would sequence every cancer patient who comes into the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. But Razelle Kurzrock, who is senior deputy director for clinical science at the Moores Cancer Center, tells me that regulatory issues have become a bottleneck for actually applying such genomic information.

Many more highlights of San Diego innovation could be included in this list. There is the story, for example, about a little San Diego biotech named Mapp Bio that was unexpectedly thrust to the front lines of the worst Ebola outbreak in history. There also was the extraordinary tale of how Seragon Pharmaceuticals CEO Rich Heyman made lightning strike twice by selling Seragon for $1.7 billion in July—just 12 months after selling its predecessor, Aragon Pharmaceuticals, for $1 billion.

But a New Year approaches, and my spotlight dims. Best wishes to all in 2015.

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One response to “San Diego Innovation and the Top 10 Stories of 2014”

  1. kazam says:

    Great coverage Bruce, thanks for sharing!