CABS K.Fong Award

Chinese-American Biopharmaceutical Society Announces Winners of Its Inaugural CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences


Chinese-American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) is pleased to announce the winners of its inaugural CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences, Drs. Peter Hirth and Jean Cui.

Dr. Peter Hirth is the winner of the inaugural CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences for his life-time achievements in drug discovery and therapeutic innovation and for his extraordinary leadership in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Hirth is one of the most prolific scientists in the biotech industry and has played a pivotal role in advancing 4 drugs to the market: Recormon from Boehringer; Sutent from Sugen / Pfizer; Xalkori from Pfizer (Xalkori is a close analogue of a compound discovered at Sugen), and Zelboraf from Plexxikon. As the CEO of Plexxikon, he’s led a small but incredibly efficient team to complete the discovery and development process of Zelboraf in 6 years. Prior to Plexxikon, he was the President of Sugen, which was acquired by Pharmacia Upjohn and eventually became part of Pfizer.

Dr. Hirth’s impressive achievement and good fortune in drug discovery and development centers around his strong belief that “It doesn’t take an army; it takes the right people. And that can be a very small group”. His philosophy and leadership in drug discovery and development has provided a stark contrast to the disastrous approaches taken by many of the pharmaceutical behemoths and a shining example of the biotech industry in innovation and efficiency.

Dr. Jingrong Jean Cui is the winner of CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences for her outstanding achievements in drug discovery and therapeutic innovation and for bringing treatment to a life-threatening disease. Dr. Cui is the lead inventor of Xalkori, an innovative targeted drug for lung cancer patients who harbor a particular genetic alternation involving a protein called ALK. The discovery of Xalkori is a perfect example of personalized medicine that requires a thorough understanding of disease biology and a highly productive and flexible approach of drug discovery and development team. Dr. Cui is currently an Associate Research Fellow at Pfizer. Dr. Cui is the winner of the 38th Annual National Inventor of the Year, IPO Education Foundation (2011), and winner of the 11th Women Worth Watching Awards for Class of 2013 women executives that “have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in their careers” by Diversity Journal (2013).

“It is absolutely amazing to have two outstanding scientists with recent breakthrough therapeutics as winners of our very first CABS K Fong Award in Life Sciences,” commented Dr. Wentao Zhang, President of CABS. “Both Dr. Hirth and Dr. Cui have demonstrated the power of precision medicine by targeting specific populations of cancer patients. CABS is proud to recognize their significant contributions to patient care. We are also grateful to Dr. Ken Fong for his generous support of this award and our other activities.”

About CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences:

CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences is presented annually to recognize those individuals who make significant contributions in life sciences and biopharmaceutical industry including outstanding scientific findings, recognized efforts in promoting life science education and initiatives in improving life science community, and those who bring therapeutic breakthroughs to the market and improve healthcare and quality of life. Candidates must be nominated by an active member of CABS. Selection criteria will be based on candidate’s accomplishments in life sciences and contribution to the life science community, including one or all of the following:

Winners will be selected by the CABS Award Selection Committee. The winner(s) will receive a $1,000 check award and a Plaque of Merit at the Annual CABS Conference (BioPacific Conference) on May 11, 2013.

About CABS:

Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) is a non-profit organization for professionals in the biopharmaceutical industry, headquartered in San Francisco, California with over 2,000 members and participants. While many of our members are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the largest biotechnology hub of the world and the birthplace of biotechnology, we also have members in other parts of the U.S. and in the Pacific Rim countries including China. Our missions include the following:

About Dr. Kenneth Fong:

Dr. Kenneth Fong is currently the founder and chairman of Kenson Ventures, LLC, a company that specializes in crafting development strategy for early-stage biotech companies. Under his leadership, companies that were acquired or went public between 2007 and 2012 are: SA Biosciences (to Qiagen), DHI (to Quidel), Fermenta (to ThermoFisher), Panomics (to Affymetrix), Epitomics (to Abcam), Bioform (IPO) and Optimer (IPO). Prior to Kenson, Ken founded and served as CEO of Clontech Laboratories (1984-1999), which was acquired by Becton Dickinson in 1999. Clontech, a leader in the life science market, was also the largest of its kind founded by an Asian American (400 people, including 65 PhD scientists). Ken served as president of Society of Chinese Bioscientists in North America (~2,000 members, 2007-09) and President of the Bay Area AAMA (1987). He was a member of the Board of Trustees of California State University (2006-2013), the Advisory Board of College of Science and Engineering at San Francisco State, Board of Associates at the Whitehead Biomedical Institute at MIT and a member of the Committee of 100 (US). Ken has many other philanthropic interests. He was one of the lead supporters for the San Jose Tech Museum, the Chinese Historical Society in San Francisco, the Bioengineering Auditorium at UC San Diego and the Indiana University graduate Seminar Programs. He has provided a number of scholarships to San Francisco State University, Peking University and the CSU students (Kenneth Fong –Hearst endowed Scholarships). In 2006, he was also involved in establishing the Fong Optometry and Medical Library at UC Berkeley and more recently an endowed professorship to Stanford University.

President of CABS, Wentao Zhang, Ph.D.