Genentech Inc. a composite of Genetic Engineering Technology, Inc., is a leading biotechnology corporation, which was founded in 1976 by venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson and biochemist Dr. Herbert W. Boyer. It is considered to have founded the biotechnology industry. One of its founders, Boyer, is considered to be a pioneer in the field of recombinant DNA technology (the company's ticker symbol reflects Boyer's contribution to the field). Boyer with a fellow researcher, Stanley Norman Cohen, in 1973, invented recombinant genetic engineering, by realizing that restriction enzymes could be used as "scissors" to cut DNA fragments of interest from one source, to be ligated into a similarly cut plasmid vector. While Cohen returned to the laboratory in academia, Robert Swanson contacted Boyer to found the company. Boyer worked with Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Itakura from the Beckman Research Institute, and the group became the first to successfully express a human gene in bacteria when they produced the hormone somatostatin in 1977. David Goeddel and Dennis Kleid were then added to the group, and contributed to its success with insulin in 1978.

As of March 2008, Genentech employs more than 11,000 people and Arthur D. Levinson is the Chairman and CEO. The Swiss pharmaceutical conglomerate Hoffmann-La Roche owns the majority of Genentech shares and has offered to buy the remaining.

Product Timeline

  • 1982 - Synthetic "human" insulin approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thanks largely to its partnership with insulin manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company, who shepherded the product through the FDA approval process. The product (Humulin) was licensed to and manufactured by Lilly, and was the first-ever approved genetically engineered human therapeutic.
  • 1985 - Protropin (somatrem) - Supplementary growth hormone for children with growth hormone deficiency (ceased manufacturing December 2002).
  • 1987 - Activase (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) - To dissolve blood clots in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Also used to treat non-hemorrhagic stroke.
  • 1990 - Actimmune (interferon gamma 1b) - Treatment of chronic granulomatous disease (licensed to Intermune).
  • 1993 - Nutropin (recombinant somatropin) - Growth hormone for children and adults for treatment before kidney transplant due to chronic renal insufficiency.
  • 1994 - Pulmozyme (dornase alfa) - Inhalation treatment for children and young adults with cystic fibrosis - recombinant DNAse.
  • 1997 - Rituxan (rituximab)- Treatment for specific kinds of non-Hodgkins lymphomas.
  • 1998 - Herceptin (trastuzumab) - Treatment for metastatic breast cancer patients with tumors that overexpress the HER2 gene. Recently approved for adjuvant therapy for breast cancer.
  • 2000 - TNKase (tenecteplase) - "Clot-busting" drug to treat acute myocardial infarction.
  • 2003 - Xolair (omalizumab) - Subcutaneous injection for moderate to severe persistent asthma.
  • 2003 - Raptiva (efalizumab) - Antibody designed to block the activation and reactivation of T cells that lead to the development of psoriasis. Developed in partnership with XOMA
  • 2004 - Avastin (bevacizumab) - Anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody for the treatment of metastatic cancer of the colon or rectum.
  • 2004 - Tarceva (erlotinib) - Treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
  • 2006 - Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved LUCENTIS(TM) (ranibizumab injection) for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The FDA approved LUCENTIS after a Priority Review (six-month). Genentech started shipping product on June 30, 2006, the day the product was approved.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Genentech was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004, 2006 and 2007 by Working Mother Magazine. ..
  • It was named as one of the 100 best corporate citizens 2005 by the Business Ethics Magazine
  • Fortune Magazine named Genentech number one on its 2006 list of the "100 Best Companies To Work For." This was the first number one ranking for the company. In 2007, it dropped to second place, behind Google. The company has been named to the list for nine consecutive years. The ranking is based on anonymous employee responses to a survey as well as an evaluation of the company's policies and culture.
  • Genentech was named Top Employer by Science Magazine on October 15, 2007, where it has been recognized for six consecutive years.
  • Also in October 2007, Genentech was named Most Admired Biotech Company as well as most admired Pharmaceutical company in Fortune in 2008.
  • In June 2008, Genentech was named as one of the "Top 100 Best Places to Work in IT" by ComputerWorld Magazine. ..

Facility locations

Genentech's corporate headquarters is at South San Francisco, California, with additional manufacturing facilities in Vacaville, California and in Oceanside, California. On March 17, 2006, Genentech announced its decision to construct a new fill/finish manufacturing facility with a distribution center in Hillsboro, Oregon (near Portland) which is expected to be operational by 2010. In December 2006, Genentech sold its Porrino, Spain facility to Lonza and acquired an exclusive right to purchase Lonza's mammalian cell culture manufacturing facility under construction in Singapore. In June 2007, Genentech began the construction and development of an E. coli manufacturing facility, also in Singapore, for the worldwide production of LUCENTIS® (ranibizumab injection) bulk drug substance with licensure anticipated by early 2010.


In 1999, Genentech agreed to pay the University of California, San Francisco $200 million to settle a nine-year-old patent dispute. In 1990, UCSF sued Genentech for $400 million in compensation for alleged theft of technology developed at the university and covered by a 1982 patent. Genentech claimed that they developed Protropin, a growth hormone, independently of UCSF. A jury ruled that the university's patent was valid last July, but wasn't able to decide whether Protropin was based upon UCSF research or not. Protropin, a drug used to treat dwarfism, was Genentech's first marketed drug and its $2 billion in sales has contributed greatly to Genentech's position as an industry leader. The settlement was to be divided as follows: $30 million to the University of California General Fund, $85 million to the three inventors and two collaborating scientists, $50 million towards a new teaching and research campus for UCSF, and $35 million to support university-wide research.


Genentech markets itself as a research-driven corporation that follows the science to make new innovations. They employ more than 700 scientists and cover a wide range of scientific activity - from molecular biology to protein chemistry to bioinformatics and physiology. Genentech scientists in these various areas of expertise currently focus their efforts on three disease categories: Oncology, Immunology, and Tissue Growth and Repair. Genentech recent hiring and acquisitions indicate an intent to expand into Microbiology, Medical Imaging, and Neuroscience divisions. Genentech research facilities are located only on the South San Francisco campus.


Corporate Chronology. Genentech Inc.. .

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