Cal State LA honors renowned microbiologist, emerging bioscience entrepreneurs

Jill Adler-Moore speaks at lectern

Jill Adler-Moore, a renowned microbiologist and professor emerita at Cal Poly Pomona, was honored for her research, leadership and years of mentorship during a Cal State LA BioSpace event celebrating emerging entrepreneurs.

The LA BioStar Award was presented to Adler-Moore at the Aug. 13 graduation ceremony for participants of Cal State LA BioStart, an intensive training program for emerging bioscience entrepreneurs. The award recognizes leaders who have made significant contributions that advance the bioscience industry.

Adler-Moore developed AmBisome, a life-saving drug that treats human fungal infections. For more than four decades, she has mentored and trained students as a biological science faculty member at Cal Poly Pomona. She also serves as director for Cal Poly Pomona’s National Institutes of Health RISE program, which helps support students from underrepresented communities advance to successful Ph.D. careers in biomedical research.

At the ceremony, Adler-Moore shared lessons learned throughout her illustrious career in academia, research and industry. She was introduced by Craig LaMunyon, associate dean of academics and research in Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Science.

“To achieve what you want in life and to be the best person you can strive to be, number one: it takes a village,” Adler-Moore said during the gathering at the University Club. “Number two: You have to have the confidence in who you are and in what you are able to do; and three: the willingness to persevere and the humility even in the face of what seems to be overwhelming obstacles.”

During the ceremony, 25 fellows were recognized for completing five weeks of training in business fundamentals, financing models, industrial research and development, intellectual property and other skills essential to launching and directing successful bioscience ventures.

“I think you all will of course follow in the tradition of our LA BioStar Award recipient tonight, Jill Adler-Moore,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino said to the graduating participants. “Year after year it is more and more exciting to see the accumulation of talent and transformational energy that we welcome to campus.”

The BioStart program is part of Cal State LA BioSpace, which is leading the university’s efforts to foster a culture of inclusive entrepreneurship and promote the bioscience industry in the heart of Los Angeles. The training has been a collaborative project of Cal State LA, the Biocom Institute and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. With investment from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the training is offered at no charge to eligible participants.

Adler-Moore was a founding member of the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB), helping advance biotechnology research and education throughout California.

She is a member of the Cal State LA BioSpace Advisory Board, and one of the many industry experts and academic professionals who have shared their expertise with the Cal State LA BioStart fellows since the training first began in 2017.

“Jill Adler-Moore is a giant in her field,” said Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez, who also serves as university provost and chair of Cal State LA BioSpace. “She has dedicated her career to research that has helped save lives and has mentored young scientists and entrepreneurs who are making a difference in the communities they serve.”

Cal State LA BioSpace is being developed with investment from Los Angeles County and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The initiative is also supported by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Pasadena Bio Collaborative Incubator, LA Bioscience Hub and the CSU.

Cal State LA BioStart has trained more than 80 emerging entrepreneurs under the direction of Cal State LA Microbiology Professor Howard Xu, who also oversees incubator development and programming for the university. Xu was the emcee at the University Club graduation ceremony.

Michael Selvan Joseph, an assistant professor in Cal State LA’s School of Kinesiology and Nutritional Science, was one of the graduating fellows celebrated at the ceremony. He grew up blocks away from Cal State LA on Los Angeles’ Eastside and earned a master’s degree in biological sciences from Cal State LA before going on to earn his Ph.D. from UCLA.

With the knowledge and skills he gained from Cal State LA BioStart, Joseph hopes to develop a bioinformatics company to help scientists understand biological data needed to further their groundbreaking research.

Joseph is also eager to impart what he learned from the training to his students in the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services.

“It’s like an MBA in five weeks,” Joseph said of the training. “As faculty, now I have this network to talk to and have come talk to my classes. As an entrepreneur, it’s demystified—I now have the ability to go on and potentially start a company in this area.”

Photo: LA BioStar Award recipient Jill Adler-Moore. (Credit: Robert Huskey/Cal State LA)

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