hybritech_logoIt was September 14, 1978, when untenured UCSD assistant professor, Dr. Ivor Royston, and his research assistant, Howard Birndorf, incorporated Hybritech to explore monoclonal antibodies. A month later, they received their first VC funding and hung a makeshift sign outside an office subleased from a local research institute.

Howard “Ted” Greene, a former executive with Baxter Travenol Laboratories, was recruited to provide business strategy for the fledgling company. Instead of producing low-margin research reagents, Greene proposed using monoclonal antibodies to develop a new generation of ultra-sensitive diagnostic tests. Revenue from those tests would then be used to develop potentially more lucrative antibody cancer therapies.

In 1981, Hybritech went public and the next few years were an unqualified success. The company brought out diagnostic kits for allergy, pregnancy, anemia and certain forms of cancer. In 1986, Hybritech was acquired by Eli Lilly and subsequently by Beckman Coulter. Brent Jacobs, a founding member of the C&W GLSP in San Diego, met all Hybritech’s real estate needs from 1981, right through their acquisition by Lilly. He continues to represent Lilly in San Diego to this day.

Hybritech alumni subsequently launched a number of successful San Diego biotech companies. These executives—who include biotech veterans Royston, Birndorf, Greene plus Cam Garner, David Hale, Tom Adams, Dennis Carlo and David Kabakoff—went on to form or nurture scores of companies, including San Diego’s biggest biotech drug success story, Idec Pharmaceuticals. Other companies include Ligand, Dura, Gensia, Neurocrine Biosciences, Immune Response Corp., Viagene, Gen-Probe, Nanogen and Genoptix.

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