When David Martin left academia 20 years ago, he was worried that he would never be able to return after time in industry. So he made a deal: in three years, if he didn’t like the private sector, he would return to the groves of the University of California, San Francisco, where he’d been a professor of medicine and biochemistry. But until now, academia has never heard from Martin.
Martin, 62, recently teamed up with a brand-new consortium called Pharma-Start — a group of institutions led by SRI International and also comprised of Stanford, UCSD, UCSF, and the QB3 center — that aims to build a drug discovery and development pipeline out of academic work on potential targets. Martin, chairman of the consortium’s nine-member steering committee, says his personal goal is “to actually demonstrate that it is feasible without the participation of the biotech or the pharmaceutical industry … to take drug candidates into the clinic, into phase I or maybe early phase II.” That’s all pretty far off, though: at this point, basic organizational details are still being mapped out.
Martin comes to PharmaStart from Eos Biotechnology, which he cofounded and led as CEO for six years before its acquisition by Protein Design Labs. Before that he was CEO of Lynx Therapeutics and president of Chiron Therapeutics. He began his industry career working as head of R&D for Genentech and later DuPont Merck.