Dendreon’s New Operations Man, Acucela Enters Fast Growth Phase, JP Morgan Recap, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Seattle — 

News flow was light on the biotech beat this week, partly because of the MLK Day holiday, and everybody needed a little rest after the networking frenzy at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

—One of the more interesting interviews I had last week at the JP Morgan conference was with Hans Bishop, the new chief operating officer for Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN). He talked about manufacturing capacity, the need to hire a marketing ace, and even how to correctly pronounce his name.

—Bothell, WA-based Acucela has quietly embarked on an ambitious growth plan this year. CEO Ryo Kubota told me in an exclusive interview that the company is planning to expand its staff from 40 to about 100 this year as it advances its novel drug for age-related macular degeneration further along in clinical trials.

—Instead of doing the usual recap on the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference like every other news outlet which said the mood was upbeat, I ruminated on the value of all the impromptu meetings that happen when so many people gather and pool their energy in one place.

—We are getting close to the end of the amazing series of editorials we’ve been been running daily from Xconomists and other technology leaders who are offering their views on the big innovations of the coming decade. This past week, we ran a piece on innovations in genomics from Eric Schadt, the chief scientific officer of Pacific Biosciences and a co-founder of Sage Bionetworks, as well as a great editorial about the future of molecular medicine from Matt O’Donnell, the dean of the University of Washington College of Engineering.