For the past 18 years, California Life Sciences (CLS) has recognized the state’s leaders and gamechangers from across the life sciences industry, paying tribute to those making exceptional contributions and advancements for a better world. For 2021, Pantheon Award winners were selected by the public and were recognized for their excellence.

The Life Sciences Leader is an individual who strives to make the world a better place by employing new, innovative business models and practices in support of the life sciences. They will be recognized for overall achievement in and contribution to the California community; ability to create and execute on a vision; mentorship of future leaders; notable track record of value-creation; support of initiatives that impact the patient lives.

Frances H. Arnold, Ph.D. Linus Pauling Professor, Caltech

Frances Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2018). Co-inventor on more than 60 patents, Arnold was inducted into the US Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Wa’el Hashad, President & Chief Executive Officer, Avanir Pharmaceuticals

Wa’el Hashad is President & CEO of Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and has more than 25 years of experience in biopharmaceutical management, sales, and marketing, in the U.S. and international markets.

Paul J. Hastings, Chief Executive Officer, Nkarta, Inc.

Inspired by science after a childhood spent as a patient and then patient advocate, Paul Hastings studied pharmacy, joined the biopharma industry upon graduation and is now CEO of SF based Nkarta Therapeutics, developing natural killer (NK) cell therapies for cancer.

Emil D. Kakkis, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Kakkis is Founder, President and CEO of Ultragenyx and Founder of the EveryLife Foundation. He is devoted to developing novel treatments for rare disorders and advocating on policy.

Ted W. Love, M.D., President and CEO, Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT)

As president & CEO of GBT, Ted W. Love, M.D. has broad leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. Before joining GBT in 2014, Dr. Love was in senior management roles at Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Nuvelo, Theravance & Genentech. Dr. Love holds a B.A. in molecular biology from Haverford College & an M.D. from Yale Medical School. He completed a residency in internal medicine & a fellowship in cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Eric Topol, M.D., Founder & Director, Scripps Research Translational Institute

Eric Topol is the Founder and Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, Professor, Molecular Medicine, and Executive Vice-President of Scripps Research. His principal scientific focus has been on the genomic and digital tools to individualize medicine.

Presented to the life sciences company making the greatest advancement in, and/or the greatest overall contribution to, the California life sciences industry in the prior year; singular innovations in business model, product, R&D, manufacturing, management, diversity and inclusion.

Gilead Sciences

Gilead’s vision is to create a healthier world for all people by delivering innovative medicines that aim to prevent, treat and cure life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer.

Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT)

Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development, and delivery of life-changing treatments that provide hope to underserved patient communities. Founded in 2011, GBT is working to transform the care of sickle cell disease (SCD), a lifelong, devastating inherited blood disorder. The company has introduced Oxbryta® (voxelotor) tablets as a treatment for SCD and is advancing its R&D pipeline.

Guardant Health

Guardant Health is a leading precision oncology company dedicated to helping patients across all stages of cancer, through the power of liquid biopsy and the data it unlocks.


HeartFlow is revolutionizing precision heart care with the HeartFlow Analysis, a non-invasive personalized cardiac test that combines 30 years of human ingenuity and advanced technology.

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical

Ultragenyx is a biopharmaceutical company committed to bringing novel therapies to patients for the treatment of serious rare and ultra-rare genetic diseases, who have no other approved treatment options available.

Recognizing the most promising or significant new life sciences product or technology. Preference is given to commercial stage products. Qualified life sciences products and applications include therapeutics, diagnostics, medical technology, biofuels, industrial enzymes, agricultural products and all other bio-based products and technologies.

Veklury® (remdesivir)

Veklury® (remdesivir) is the antiviral standard of care for COVID-19 and is playing a critical role in the pandemic by reducing disease progression and enabling hospitalized patients to recover faster.

LUMAKRAS™ (sotorasib) 120 mg tablets

LUMAKRAS is the first and only KRASG12C inhibitor to receive regulatory approval. Amgen took on one of the toughest challenges of the last 40 years in cancer research by developing LUMAKRAS, which has demonstrated a positive benefit-risk profile with rapid, deep and durable anticancer activity in patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer harboring the KRAS G12C mutation.

IpsiHand, Neurolutions

The Neurolutions IpsiHand system represents the cutting-edge of medical technology and is the first FDA-approved wearable, robotic, brain-computer-interface for rehabilitation – allowing patients to significantly improve function and quality-of-life after stroke.

Caption AI™

Caption Health’s FDA cleared, AI-guided ultrasound system empowers any healthcare provider to perform diagnostic-quality ultrasound exams, enabling earlier disease detection and management.

Acknowledges an outstanding collaboration by two or more companies that resulted in a significant impact on human health including drug therapy, R&D, capacity and access, manufacturing, drug approvals, social impact, etc.

Kite, a Gilead Company, and Shoreline Biosciences, Inc.

Kite, a Gilead Company, and Shoreline Biosciences, Inc., have entered a strategic partnership to develop novel cell therapies across a variety of cancer targets.

Scribe Therapeutics and Biogen

A pioneering collaboration between Scribe Therapeutics and Biogen to develop novel CRISPR-based therapies to address the underlying genetic cause of Neurological disorders such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

The Inspiring Future Leaders Award recognizes an educator, industry advocate, community program or business leader that has set an example for others in California’s life sciences industry by highlighting and promoting inclusivity and empowerment, resources and mentorship, and professional development to foster greater involvement between life sciences students, educators and the life sciences ecosystem.

Kits Cubed

Kits Cubed is a youth-led, nonprofit organization whose mission is “to introduce youth to the wonders of science through fun, affordable, and accessible means.

Berkeley Engineering’s Bay Area Teen Science (B.A.T.S.)

Bay Area Teen Science (B.A.T.S.) is a portal to STEM opportunities for all Bay Area teenagers. It’s also a growing community of professionals who provide STEM programming in out-of-school settings.

MedTech Color

MedTech Color is an organization aiming to build a community of diverse leaders in MedTech, increase numbers of underrepresented executives who enter and stay in MedTech, and drive thought leadership.

Recognizes and promotes the work of a life sciences company, an individual, or a group of individuals whose achievement during the preceding year shows potential to make significant contributions to the future of the life sciences. This award highlights up-and-coming innovators who are making strides towards transforming the life sciences landscape in California.


insitro is a data-driven drug discovery and development company using machine learning and data generation at scale to transform the way that drugs are discovered and delivered to patients.


Neuron23 is a dynamic biotechnology company developing personalized medicines for genetic disorders. Our mission is to create revolutionary treatments and cures through advances in genetic research and AI-enabled drug development.

Scribe Therapeutics

Engineering the future of genetic medicine: Scribe’s bioengineering “CRISPR by design” approaches aim to enable an era of potentially curative CRISPR-based therapeutics for genetic diseases of the greatest unmet need.

In recognition of a scientist or a team of scientists making the greatest scientific contribution towards advancing research and development in the field of life sciences.

Daniel A. Erlanson, Ph.D.

For technologies Dan co-invented enabling the drugging of cancer target KRAS, leading to its first approved inhibitor, sotorasib. He has advanced fragment-based and covalent drug discovery techniques for over twenty years.

Benjamin L. Oakes, Ph.D.

For engineering the novel CRISPR molecules as breakthrough CRISPR-based in vivo therapeutics to treat the underlying cause of disease, pioneered by CEO Benjamin Oakes and Nobel Laureate/CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna.

Sonja Schrepfer, M.D., Ph.D.

For overcoming the immune barrier in cell therapy & regenerative medicine: This novel immune editing technology can lead to a new class of universally-compatible cell therapeutics for major diseases that can serve diverse patient populations & accelerate affordable, large-scale manufacturing.