SAN DIEGO – (September 22, 2011) – David R. Webb, Ph.D., an accomplished biopharmaceutical executive with more than 30 years of experience in drug research and development, was recently elected to the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology’s Board of Directors.
Dr. Webb is former vice president of research of Celgene-San Diego, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies for severe inflammatory conditions and cancer. He retired from Celgene in June after leading its Signal Research division in San Diego for eight years, during which time six drugs were placed into clinical development; four of which are still in clinical trials. Following his retirement, Dr. Webb, who holds a Ph.D. in microbiology/immunology, became an adjunct professor in The Scripps Research Institute’s department of molecular biology.
Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute president & chief scientific officer, said Dr. Webb brings an exemplary combination of skills to the Institute’s Board. “His experience both as a scientist and in overseeing the complex process of drug development will be invaluable as we seek to bring more and more of our Institute’s discoveries from the laboratory into therapeutic development,” said Dr. Kronenberg.
He also noted that Dr. Webb is a strong community supporter who holds leadership positions in several major life science and charitable organizations. “His passion for fighting disease is reflected in his volunteer activities with groups like the American Cancer Society’s San Diego chapter and with Biocom, the Southern California life sciences industry group, where he is chairman-elect of their executive committee,” said Dr. Kronenberg. “His personal commitment to improving the lives of disease sufferers, combined with his strong drug development background, will make him a wonderful addition to our Board.”
A nonprofit organization, the La Jolla Institute is dedicated to fighting disease through the study of the immune system and was recently ranked among the top five organizations worldwide for research impact in immunology. Five potential therapies, based on Institute discoveries, are currently in the pharmaceutical pipeline, two of them in clinical trials.
Dr. Webb said he is very honored to join the La Jolla Institute Board of Directors. “I have had the privilege of working with many members of the Institute going back to its founding by Dr. Kimishige Ishizaka over 20 years ago and have the highest respect for the Institute and its many scientific accomplishments,” he said. “I look forward to working with Mitch and his colleagues as they continue their very exciting and novel research programs to discover insights that can be translated into cures for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”
Dr. Kronenberg added that Dr. Webb’s expertise, which is particularly focused on immunology, is a “perfect complement to our Board membership, which includes prominent business executives and scientists who strongly support our efforts to improve human health through harnessing the incredible power of the immune system.”
The immune system, and vaccines which boost its potential, protect people daily from infections. However, the immune system can also cause disease, when it mistakenly attacks normal tissues. This creates autoimmune disorders which affect millions worldwide and include many of society’s most debilitating illnesses, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Immune system function also affects the development of cancer and heart disease.
Prior to joining Celgene in 2003, Dr. Webb held a series of senior management positions in several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, where he developed and led drug discovery programs focused on inflammation, asthma, cancer and diabetes resulting in three marketed drugs. These include Syrrx, OSI Pharmaceuticals and Cadus Pharmaceutical Corporation, where he was vice president of research and chief scientific officer from 1995 to 1999 and adjunct professor of microbiology and immunology at New York Medical College. From 1987 to 1995, Dr. Webb was at Syntex, Inc., where he held the positions of distinguished scientist and later, director, institute of immunology and biological sciences, and was also a consulting professor of cancer biology at Stanford University. From 1973 to 1987, he was a member of the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology’s department of cell biology and adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Webb is a member of the American Association of Immunologists and the American Association of Cancer Research, among other national organizations. Locally, in addition to Biocom and the American Cancer Society, where he chaired the 2010 San Diego Invitational golf fundraiser, Dr. Webb is a member of the CONNECT Executive Committee and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the San Diego Science and Engineering Festival. He earned his Ph.D. at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, and a B.A., M.A. in biology from California State University-Fullerton.
About La Jolla Institute
Founded in 1988, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology is a biomedical research nonprofit focused on improving human health through increased understanding of the immune system. Its scientists carry out research seeking new knowledge leading to the prevention of disease through vaccines and the treatment and cure of infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, Crohn’s disease and asthma. La Jolla Institute’s research staff includes more than 100 Ph.D.s and M.D.s. For more information, go to www.liai.org