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Robert Nowinski


United States

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About Robert Nowinski

RobertNowinski, a scientist with a doctorate in immunology and a flairfor creating new businesses, has combined those talents to found sixbiotechnology companies. Four of these companies were eventually takenpublic, and several were acquired by larger corporations. In eachbusiness, Robert Nowinski determined the direction, acquired theinitial technology, recruited key management and provided oversight forthe research programs. Robert Nowinski also ensured the continuinghealth of the companies by conducting private and public financings ofup to $130 million for each one.

Education and Early Career Moves
Robert Nowinski received his Ph.D. in immunology from theSloan-Kettering Institute in 1971. From 1971 to 1975 he was anassistant professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin, afterwhich he served as associate professor of microbiology and immunologyat the University of Washington through 1981. Dr. Robert Nowinski alsowas a founding scientist and head of the Virology Program of the FredHutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. His academic researchfocused on cancer-causing retroviruses, antibody treatments for cancerand antibodies for the diagnosis of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Genetic Systems Corp.
In 1981, Dr.Robert Nowinski began a second career in the biotechnologyindustry when he founded Genetic Systems Corp., Seattle. GeneticSystems conducted an IPO financing within one month of its formation.The company developed diagnostic products and treatments for infectiousdiseases and cancer. From 1981 through 1985, Dr. Robert Nowinski wasthe company’s chairman and CEO.
Genetic Systems developed the first rapid test for Chlamydia, the mostprevalent sexually-transmitted disease in humans. This test decreasedthe average time of diagnosis from 21 days to 45 minutes, lowered thecost of diagnosis from $150 to $4.50 and expanded the U.S. market from150,000 tests per year to an estimated 20 million. In collaborationwith the Institut Pasteur, Genetic Systems then developed the mostaccurate blood test for HIV within the first generation of HIVdiagnostics.
Oncogen LP
In 1983, within the structure of Genetic Systems, Dr. Robert Nowinskifounded the subsidiary Oncogen LP, dedicated solely to cancerdiagnostics. Oncogen, located in the Genetic Systems building, wasco-owned and solely financed by Syntex Corp. In 1985, Genetic Systemsand Syntex each sold one-third of their interests to Bristol-MyersCorp. and the mandate of Oncogen was expanded to include cancertherapeutics.
In 1986, Dr. Robert Nowinski initiated and managed the merger ofGenetic Systems and Oncogen LP into Bristol-Myers through a pooling ofinterests valued at $310 million. Dr. Robert Nowinski was appointedcorporate vice president for new technology at Bristol-Myers andchairman of the new Genetic Systems Division.
Icos Corp.
In 1989, Dr. Robert Nowinski foundedIcos Corp. based in Seattle. Dr. Robert Nowinski served as CEO of Icos from 1989 to 1991. In 1991,he brought Icos public. The company focused on inflammation and novelmethods for drug discovery. Icos developed the drug Cialis for treatingerectile dysfunction. Eli Lilly markets Cialis, with annual salesexceeding $1.2 billion. In 2006, Icos was acquired by Eli Lilly for$2.2 billion.

In 1992, Dr. Robert Nowinski founded PathoGenesis, a Seattle companyfocused on the cause and treatment of chronic illnesses. Dr. RobertNowinski served as chairman of PathoGenesis from 1992 to 1995. In 1993,he brought PathoGenesis public. In 1997, PathoGenesis received FDAapproval to market an aerosolized form of tobramycin, or TOBI, fortreating cystic fibrosis. In addition, research within PathoGenesisidentified HerpesVirus 6 as a primary causative agent of multiplesclerosis. In 2000, PathoGenesis was acquired by Chiron Corp. for $660million. TOBI is now the leading treatment for cystic fibrosis; annualsales exceed $600 million.  
In 1995, Dr. Robert Nowinski founded VaxGen, a South San Francisco,Calif.-based company that develops preventive vaccines for infectiousdiseases such as HIV, anthrax and smallpox.  Dr. Robert Nowinskiwas VaxGen’s Chairman and CEO and brought the Company public in 1998. 

Primal Inc.
In 2000, Dr. Robert Nowinski founded Primal Inc. Primal, based inSeattle, develops products for behavioral disorders, including thosethat address disorders in appetite, sexuality, mood, pain andaddiction. The company focuses on gene knock-out technology in mice andthe biology of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), the targets forover 45% of today’s pharmaceuticals. Primal was co-founded with Dr.Linda Buck, the winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Primal wasthe first to describe the full complement of 475 GPCR genes in humansand has within its patent portfolio claims for the entire family ofGPCRs as potential drug targets. Primal currently develops new drugs toGPCRs.

In 2008, Dr. Robert Nowinski founded ContraFect Corporation in New YorkCity.

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