Who are the most valuable players in California’s life sciences sector? For the past 20 years, Pantheon has celebrated the transformative work of individuals and organizations propelling solutions that lead to longer, healthier lives.

Presented to a non-profit, academic, or research organization that made the greatest advancement in, and/or the greatest overall contribution to, the California life sciences sector in the prior year.

Erica Ollmann Saphire, PhD

Dr. Saphire has spearheaded several global multidisciplinary consortia that successfully addressed the urgent need for effective antibody therapeutics against COVID-19 as well as emerging viral threats such as Ebola and Lassa. Dr. Saphire is President and CEO of La Jolla Institute for Immunology, where she recently launched a new, faculty-driven initiative to address sex-based differences in the immune system.

Crystal Mackall, MD

Crystal Mackall is a scientific innovator who is advancing fundamental understanding of human immunology and applying these discoveries to create new effective therapies for cancer. Chimeric antigen receptor modified T cells developed by Dr. Mackall are providing new hope for patients with lymphoma and children with brain tumors. She is also tirelessly advocating to accelerate therapeutic development for pediatric cancer.

Presented to a biotech or pharmaceutical company that made the greatest advancement in, and/or the greatest overall contribution to, the California life sciences sector in the prior year.

BioMarin Pharmaceutical

BioMarin is a global biotechnology company with eight marketed products that treat life-threatening genetic conditions. The company’s distinctive approach to drug discovery has produced a diverse pipeline of commercial, clinical and preclinical candidates that address a significant unmet medical need, have well-understood biology, and provide an opportunity to be first-to-market or offer a substantial benefit over existing treatment options.

Day One Biopharmaceuticals

Day One Biopharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that believes when it comes to pediatric cancer, we can do better. Founded to address a critical unmet need: the dire lack of therapeutic development in pediatric cancer. We aim to re-envision cancer drug development and redefine what’s possible for all people living with cancer—regardless of age—starting from Day One.

Protagonist Therapeutics

Protagonist is a leading discoverer and developer of peptide therapeutics. It’s late-stage assets, both internally discovered, are Rusfertide and JNJ-2113. Rusfertide, fully owned, is in a phase 3 study for polycythemia vera, a rare blood disease. JNJ-2113, an oral IL-23r antagonist peptide, is partnered with Janssen with multiple phase 2/3 studies underway in psoriasis and ulcerative colitis.

An organization or individual identifying and removing barriers to healthcare access and quality by advocating for healthy policies and driving system and environmental changes.


Curebound is a San Diego-based 501c3 philanthropic organization that raises and invests strategic funding in translational cancer research projects aimed at accelerating new discoveries to clinical application. Curebound is committed to investing $100 million into collaborative cancer research across five pillars, one of which is cancer equities, in San Diego to make the vision of cures in our lifetime a reality.

Innovative Genomics Institute

Founded by Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna, the Innovative Genomics Institute is using genome engineering to create affordable and accessible solutions in human health, climate, and agriculture. We are working toward a world where genomic technology is routinely applied to treat genetic disease, enable sustainable agriculture, and help achieve a carbon-neutral economy.

Life Science Cares

Life Science Cares (LSC) activates the financial and human capital of the life sciences industry and partners with nonprofits to disrupt the cycle of poverty and inequality in our communities. Now operating in five life science hubs (Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and New York), LSC has invested $12.6 million and tens of thousands of volunteer hours in community organizations providing access to basic needs.

Presented to an emerging life sciences company 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 California-based innovators who are making strides towards transforming the life sciences landscape.


Cellares, the first Integrated Development and Manufacturing Organization, takes an Industry 4.0 approach to mass manufacturing the living drugs of the 21st century. Developing and operating integrated technologies for cell therapy manufacturing to accelerate access to life-saving cell therapies, their Cell Shuttle integrates all technologies required for the manufacturing process in a flexible, high-throughput platform.


Metagenomi is a precision genetic medicines company harnessing the power of its proprietary metagenomics platform to create potentially curative therapeutics. Our platform translates highly active natural enzymes into powerful genome editing systems optimized for efficiency and specificity. Our diverse and modular toolbox positions them to access the entire genome and select the optimal tool to unlock the full potential of genome editing for patients.

Verge Genomics

Verge Genomics, is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing therapeutics for diseases with high unmet need, using human tissues and artificial intelligence (AI). Verge’s AI-powered CONVERGE™ platform which features one of the largest, most comprehensive databases of multi-omic patient data, is used to advance clinical and preclinical programs in various diseases, including ALS and Parkinson’s. 

Presented to an individual or individuals who demonstrate their commitment to make the world a better place by employing new, innovative business models and practices in support of their team and the life sciences. They will be recognized for overall achievement in and contribution to the California life sciences community, ability to create and execute on a vision, mentorship of future leaders, notable track record of value-creation, and support of initiatives that impact the patients we serve.

Nina Kjellson, Canaan

Nina Kjellson is a General Partner at Canaan, where she invests in early-stage biopharma companies. Prior to Canaan, Nina was a General Partner at InterWest and worked at Bay City Capital, Oracle Partners, and KFF.  As a founder of WoVen:  Women Who Venture, Nina is a vocal advocate for women in venture. She is a Health Innovators Fellow of the Aspen Institute and serves as Co-Chair of Life Sciences Cares Bay Area.

Emily Leproust, PhD

An early pioneer in the high-throughput synthesis and sequencing of DNA, Emily Leproust, Ph.D., is disrupting markets to enable the exponential growth of DNA-based applications across chemicals/materials, diagnostics, therapeutics, food and digital data storage. As CEO and co-founder, she has integrated biosecurity into Twist’s processes and offerings while growing Twist from a startup to the leading global company that it is today.

Bill Newell, Sutro Biopharma

Since 2009 Bill Newell has served as CEO of Sutro Biopharma, a clinical stage cancer therapeutics company.  He has served as the Board Chair, Board Vice Chair and member of the Executive Committee of CLS and its predecessor BayBio.  He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and is co-Chair of BIO’s Capital Formation Committee.

Presented to medical device, digital health, or medical diagnostic companies that made the greatest advancement in, and/or the greatest overall contribution to, the California life sciences sector in the prior year.


AliveCor, the leading innovator in FDA-cleared personal electrocardiogram (ECG) technology, is transforming cardiology with the most comprehensive heart health service to help patients care for their hearts at home. AliveCor provides patients with AI-enabled technology right at their fingertips in patchless, wireless and convenient form factors that are cleared to detect more arrhythmias than any other device. 

Cue Health

Cue Health is a healthcare technology company that uses diagnostic-enabled care to empower people to live their healthiest lives. The Cue Health platform offers individuals and healthcare providers convenient and personalized access to lab-quality diagnostic tests at home and at the point-of-care, as well as on-demand telehealth consultations and treatment options for a wide range of health and wellness needs.

Viz ai

Viz.ai is the pioneer in the use of AI algorithms and machine learning to increase the speed of diagnosis and care. The AI-powered platform identifies more patients with a particular disease, informs critical decisions at the point-of-care, optimizes care pathways and helps improve outcomes. The Viz.ai Platform delivers significant value to patients, providers, and biopharma and medtech companies.