Monthly BioScience Forum Slated for May 22 Holiday Inn South San Francisco

“Building a Research-Based Discovery Engine in Biotech, and Why it Matters”

Speaker: Austin Gurney, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Molecular and Cellular Biology
 OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Biotechnology has revolutionized drug discovery in the nearly four decades since its founding. However the premise of discovery-driven research and development in the biotech industry remains fundamentally challenging, due in part to the high costs of research and clinical development, the inherent difficulty in making meaningful medical advances against seemingly intractable diseases, and the uncertain nature of funding during the long road to commercial success. Given these present-day realities, and despite the fact that small biotech companies continue to develop, it is legitimate to question whether this is an efficient model for discovery-based research and development.

The challenges of drug discovery and development in a relatively small biotech setting have been addressed first-hand at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals since its founding in 2004. With a commitment to building a pipeline of novel therapeutics discovered internally, OncoMed is focused on developing therapeutics that target cancer stem cells, a subset of tumor cells that seed the growth of cancers and underlie cancer’s ability to metastasize. This approach has yielded five first-in-class drugs that target previously intractable key stem cell pathways in cancer being currently evaluated in the clinic. The story of this R&D approach provides lessons in the challenges, but also some of the unique strengths, that a nimble biotech research environment can bring to the quest for new therapeutics.

Austin Gurney, Ph.D. will be the speaker at the May 22nd BioScience Forum

Austin Gurney, Ph.D. will be the speaker at the May 22nd BioScience Forum


Dr. Gurney is Senior Vice President of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a founding scientist at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company focused on developing therapeutics that target cancer stem cells. At OncoMed his team has discovered and entered into clinical testing five first-in-class therapeutic agents targeting several key stem cell pathways including Notch and Wnt. Prior to OncoMed, Dr. Gurney worked at Genentech where his research led to the discovery of several growth factors and cytokines.

Austin earned his Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University studying hormonal control of gene regulation. He is an inventor on over six hundred issued US patents.

Registration Policy and Registration Information HERE

Location: The Holiday Inn
275 S Airport Blvd
South San Francisco, CA 94080
650-873-3550 | Map
Next door to the SSF Conference Center
Directions at
Price: $45 before 9PM, Monday, May 20th
$55 on-site
$35 full-time students pre-registration
$45 full-time students on-site
$3 service fees will be added to the pre-registration prices
6:00 PM – networking
7:00 PM – dinner
8:00 PM – presentation

The BioScience Forum (BioSF) conducts educational activities relating to the life sciences, including biotechnology, chemistry, pharmacology, biology, genetics and bioinformatics. BioScience Forum’s primary activities are to organize monthly educational events on life science topics. Generally, our monthly meetings involve a no-host gathering, a dinner, and an evening lecture by a distinguished person, followed by a question and answer period.

All events are open to the public and attendees are charged to cover event costs. We occasionally organize special meetings with multiple presentations on important topics in the life sciences.

The BioScience Forum is a charitable, state and federally tax-exempt organization incorporated in California.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.