Targeted Genetics’ Legacy: No Cures, But a Generation of Seattle Biotechies

Xconomy Seattle — 

[Updated: 10 am, 3/24/10] Targeted Genetics never cured anything. The Seattle biotech company (NASDAQ: TGEN) didn’t prove the concept that gene therapy could usher in a new era of more effective medicines. It was never profitable. It burned through more than $315 million in investor capital during its 17-year history.

Those are cold facts that can’t be ignored as Targeted Genetics takes in what appear to be its dying breaths, as it says it needs new capital to operate beyond this month. But what will its legacy be on the Seattle biotech landscape? One of the clear answers is this: people.

It all started with H. Stewart Parker, the founder and longtime CEO, whose roots in biotech go back to her days as the first employee at Seattle-based Immunex in 1981. She learned the industry ropes there, climbed the ladder, and spun off that company’s gene therapy research into Targeted Genetics in 1992. She recruited, inspired, and mentored a generation of biotechies who have moved on to make important contributions at other organizations across the Northwest. It’s not going out on a limb to say these people, and others they will train in the future, will continue to make an impact on the local industry for years.

“People literally slept on the floor sometimes, I can remember, in the middle of manufacturing campaigns,” says David Schubert, president of Seattle-based Accelerator, who worked at Targeted Genetics from 1997 to 2000. “People there were incredibly committed and felt a great sense of camaraderie. It was an amazing training ground for talented people.”

Some Targeted Genetics alumni have left for jobs in other parts of the country, but here is a list of notable names in alphabetical order who remain active in Seattle biotech, which I’ve put together with help from Parker and Schubert, and from other readers. This list certainly isn’t comprehensive, so if you can think of former Targeted people who are making an impact in Seattle biotech who I’ve overlooked, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] Or feel free to post a comment at the bottom of the story:

Tara Allen, clinical research associate, Dendreon

Todd Allen, Technical Operations at ZymoGenetics

Kevin Anderson, scientist, Seattle Genetics

Rema Assaf, senior project manager, Seattle Genetics

Emma Austin, document control specialist, ZymoGenetics

Susan Bell, research associate, MDRNA

Emily Bradeen-Duncan, manufacturing quality assurance associate, Seattle Genetics

Stacie Byars, director of marketing and membership, WBBA

Barrie Carter, consultant, president-elect of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy

Victoria Cleator, biotech facilities expert, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Holly Craven, quality control analyst, ZymoGenetics

Richard Daifuku, consultant, founder of Redmond, WA-based Koronis Pharmaceuticals

Daryn Debelak, Northwest account manager for Invitrogen

Devon DeHaas, Seattle account manager, VWR International
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5 responses to “Targeted Genetics’ Legacy: No Cures, But a Generation of Seattle Biotechies”

  1. Tony says:


    Thanks for touching upon this undeniable and rarely mentioned aspect of the Targeted Genetics story. Throughout its 17 year roller coaster ride TGC has not only been a major career stepping stone for many, but also a source of enduring friendships (as well as a number number of marriages;). Although the company’s contribution to the bruised local biotech economy is sadly waning its DNA is very much woven in the current landscape as evidenced by the following Linked0n list of former TGC employees that are still active and contributing in the local scene:

    Tara Allen, Clinical Research Associate at Dendreon

    Deborah Garrard, Senior Project Manager at Seattle Genetics

    Edward Kelly, Research Assistant Professor at University of Washington

    Daryn Debelak, Seattle Account Manager Invitrogen Life Tech

    Perry Wilkins, Seattle Account Manager Invirtogen Life Tech
    Tsering Sangmo, Sr. Lab Tech, Seattle

    Peter Olagunju, Compliance Manager, ZymoGenetics Inc.

    Ian Aranha, Associate Scientist – Bayer
    HealthCare Pharmaceuticals – Seattle

    Alison Grady, QC Supervisor/Project Manager

    Simon Grainger, Seattle Account Manager at VWR International

    Devon DeHaas, Seattle Account Manager at VWR International

    Kari Hale, Associate Scientist at Amgen

    Pierrot Harvie, Research Scientist at MDRNA

    Haim Burstein, Scientist

    Aimee Roy, QA Supervisor at Dendreon Corporation

    Ave-teel Connie, Lab Support, Manager at ICOS Corporation

    Damon Jacobson, Clinical Research Associate in Hematology/Oncology

    Tony Stepan – Seattle Applications Specialist at Promega

    Justine Dell’Aringa- Associate Scientist at Amgen

    Eric Eith, ZymoGenetics

    Christine Moore,QA Associate – Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

    Paul Engelbrecht,Quality Control Supervisor Dendreon

    Keith Munson,Senior CMC Project Manager at CMC ICOS Biologics

    Charles Wallsmith, Biotech IT Consultant

    Gina Nichols, Staff Scientist

    Leah Zielinski Yount , QA Associate at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute

    Rema Assaf, Senior Project Manager at Seattle Genetics

    Brad Miller – QC Supervisor at Bio-Rad Laboratories

    Paul Hara, Senior Director, Program Management at MDS Pharma Services

    Ben Dutzar , Research Scientist at Alder Biopharmaceuticals

    Eric Keeler , Sales and Business Development
    Alison Grady, QC Supervisor/Project Manager

    Holly Craven, QC Analyst ZymoGenetics

    Tina Quinton, Patent Attorney at Christensen O’Connor Johnson Kindness

    Lara Stepan, Scientist Amgen

    Lawrence Evans, Scientist Amgen
    Linda Wilson, Scientist Amgen

    Eden Zasloff, Clinical Research Associate

    Lori Jones, Cellular Immunologist Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

    Teresa Johnston Manager Quality Control at CMC ICOS Corporation
    Chuck Smith, Sr. Director of Quality at Seattle Genetics

    Kevin Anderson, Principal Scientist at Seattle Genetics

    Susan Bell, Research Associate at MDRNA Inc

    Andrew Feldhaus, Principal Scientist at ZymoGenetics

    Todd Allen, Technical Operations at ZymoGenetics

    Emily Bradeen-Duncan, Manufacturing QA Associate II at Seattle Genetics

    Jason Orthel, Pharmacist Seattle

  2. Tony—thanks very much for this very informative comment. I actually thought about using LinkedIn for this story, but hesitated because I’ve noticed some people letting their profiles get out of date. If anybody here on the list has a new title or employer, you can update it here in the comment stream.


  3. Justine Dell'Aringa says:

    What a pleasant surprise it is to come across this article, indeed TGC was an excellent training ground and inspirational place to work. I always felt fortunate that I was hired at TGC right out of collage. I was trained by top notch scientists and surround by innovation and wonderful people excited about the work they were doing, what a great first introduction to the biotech industry! …and not doubt, Stewart Parker is a wonderful leader and an excellent example of a talented and successful woman in science. It’s nice to think of all that hard work infiltrating and energizing the local biotech industry. I most definitely have applied the skills I acquired while working at TGC at other companies and still am today. Thanks for pointing out the positive, and thanks to everyone who made TGC such a great place to work.

  4. Kari Hale says:

    Thank you for acknowledging this wonderful biotech as I am one that benefited from its existence. TGC was a mentoring ground that provided many just out of college a place to understand the industry but still base decisions and projects on research not just the bottom line. The management led by Stewart and Barrie surrounded us with enthusiasm and support if you were cleaning the glassware or leading pre-clinical trials your input was essential. A disease might not have been cured(YET-technology lives on) yet TGC pushed the science bar and produced leading edge biotech-ers. THANK YOU TGC & I miss happy hour intercom calls!