The Biotechnology Heritage Award honors extraordinary individuals whose work in biotechnology is helping to heal, fuel, and feed the world through discovery, innovation, commercialization, or public understanding.
First bestowed in 1999, the award is given annually during the BIO International Convention. The Science History Institute is proud to present this award alongside the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which represents more than 1,200 biotech companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations.
The Biotechnology Heritage Award was presented to Ivor Royston, president and CEO of Viracta Therapeutics, Inc., during the BIO International Convention, held June 13–16, 2022, in San Diego.
2022 Awardee: Ivor Royston
Courtesy of Ivor Royston
Ivor Royston is an oncologist, researcher, academic physician, venture capitalist, and serial entrepreneur who is widely recognized for developing new medicines in areas of high, unmet medical need. He has been instrumental in the formation, financing, and development of numerous companies including Hybritech, Inc., IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and Viracta Therapeutics.
Royston got his start in 1978 with the cofounding of Hybritech, San Diego’s first biotechnology company and the developer of the PSA test for prostate cancer. The scientists and executives involved with that venture would go on to create dozens of biotechnology companies in San Diego, helping to launch the region’s biotech industry for which it is now globally recognized.
He then cofounded IDEC, which developed the first monoclonal antibody therapy for cancer and subsequently merged with Biogen to form Biogen Idec (now Biogen). Around that same time, Royston also served as the director of clinical immunology at the University of California-San Diego Cancer Center. From 1990 to 2017, he formed and invested in companies as a managing partner of Forward Ventures, a specialized life sciences venture capital firm, while also serving as the founding president and CEO of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (1990–2000).
Royston is currently the president, CEO, and director of Viracta Therapeutics, a San Diego-based biotechnology company focused on novel therapies for viral-associated cancers. He also serves on the board of Biocept.
Royston received his BA and MD degrees from Johns Hopkins University and completed postdoctoral training in internal medicine and medical oncology at Stanford University. His honors include the San Diego Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the appointment by President Clinton to a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board, the induction into the San Diego Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, and the 2019 Xconomy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Previous Winners of the Biotechnology Heritage Award
- Frederick Frank (2021)
- Ivor Royston (2020)*
- Janet Woodcock (2019)
- William Rastetter (2018)
- John C. Martin (2017)
- Stanley Cohen (2016)
- Moshe Alafi and William Bowes (2015)
- Robert Langer (2014)
- George Rosenkranz (2013)
- Nancy Chang (2012)
- Joshua Boger (2011)
- Art Levinson (2010)
- Robert Fraley (2009)
- Henri Termeer (2008)
- Ronald E. Cape (2007)
- Alejandro Zaffaroni (2006)
- Paul Berg (2005)
- Leroy Hood (2004)
- William Rutter (2003)
- Walter Gilbert and Phillip A. Sharp (2002)
- Francis Collins and J. Craig Venter (2001)
- Herbert Boyer and Robert Swanson (2000)
- George B. Rathmann (1999)
*Presented in 2022 due to the pandemic.
About the Sponsors
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers, and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.