Roger Tsien, 1952-2016: “I’ve al­ways been at­tract­ed to col­ors”

Roger Tsien, 1952-2016. Cred­it: UCSD

The No­bel Prize-win­ning chemist Roger Tsien died at the age of 64 yes­ter­day, trig­ger­ing a stream of glow­ing eu­lo­gies from the peo­ple who knew him or fol­lowed his work.

Best known for his ground­break­ing work on flu­o­res­cent pro­teins, the UC San Diego pro­fes­sor was al­so the in­spi­ra­tion for a string of biotechs set up in the San Diego area. Ave­las Bio­sciences just land­ed a $20 mil­lion round to pur­sue the de­vel­op­ment of a can­cer ‘il­lu­mi­na­tor’ dubbed AVB-620. That was the third start­up Aval­on Ven­tures had found­ed with Tsien’s help.

I’ve al­ways been at­tract­ed to col­ors,” Dr. Tsien told the Union-Tri­bune at one point. “Col­or helps make the work more in­ter­est­ing and en­durable. It helps when things aren’t go­ing well. If I had been born col­or­blind, I prob­a­bly nev­er would have gone in­to this.”

There’s still no word on just what killed him on a bike trail in Eu­gene, OR. But what­ev­er the cause, his death spurred con­sid­er­able sad­ness at the sud­den and un­ex­pect­ed loss. Here are a few of those eu­lo­gies:

Derek Lowe, who blogs at In The Pipeline, had this to say:

Tsien’s dis­cov­er­ies have been cru­cial for vi­su­al­iz­ing mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­o­gy tech­niques as ap­plied to liv­ing cells and in vit­ro pro­tein sys­tems, and every­one do­ing bio­phar­ma dis­cov­ery re­search will con­stant­ly en­counter pro­teins, as­says, and cell lines based on them.

It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that he changed the course of the field; he gave it spec­tac­u­lar­ly use­ful tools it had nev­er had be­fore. Tsien’s loss is a sud­den blow, and I’m sure I can speak for many oth­ers when I say that it’s news that we all could have done with­out just now.

 

https://twit­ter.com/robin­l­loyd99/sta­tus/771366177952194560

Eliz­a­beth Black­burn, a No­bel lau­re­ate and pres­i­dent of the Salk In­sti­tute for Bi­o­log­i­cal Stud­ies in La Jol­la, told the San Diego Union-Tri­bune:

“Roger Tsien was tru­ly one of the most re­mark­able and in­spir­ing sci­en­tists of our time. He will be sore­ly missed as a col­league for his rev­o­lu­tion­ary work and keen mind, and al­so as a won­der­ful per­son. I felt priv­i­leged to get to know him over the years.”

Pradeep Khosla, chan­cel­lor of UC San Diego:

Every hon­or was just­ly de­served, and al­ways re­ceived with hu­mil­i­ty. Roger was an ex­tra­or­di­nary man: kind, gen­er­ous, gra­cious, and al­ways the con­sum­mate sci­en­tist push­ing the lim­its of his work to ex­pand the pos­si­bil­i­ties of sci­ence. He was a rare tal­ent we can­not re­place.”

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The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

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Look­ing to move past an R&D fi­as­co, Ipsen poach­es their new CEO from Sanofi

Ipsen has turned to another Paris-based biopharma company for its next CEO.

Sanofi Pasteur chief David Loew — who’s been leading one of the most advanced efforts to develop vaccines for Covid-19 — is making the journey to Ipsen, 5 months after David Meek jumped ship to run a startup in late-stage development.

Loew arrives as Ipsen works to get back on track with their rare bone disease drug palovarotene, picked up in the $1.3 billion Clementia buyout, which was slammed with a partial hold after researchers observed cases of “early growth plate closure” in patients under the age of 14. But they are pushing ahead with the over-14 crowd after writing down slightly more than half of its initial development.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

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After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

UP­DAT­ED: Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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