Convocation Welcomes a New Class
Celebrates the ‘Life and Times’ of Institute’s First Professor Emeritus
Among the headliners at the 2012-2013 Convocation were keynote speaker Dr. Randall Schatzman, president and CEO of Seattle-based Alder Biopharmaceuticals, Jim Cregg, KGI's first professor emeritus and, of course, that little microorganism known as Pichia pastoris. The day began with a tour of the Cregg lab where students, colleagues and fellow faculty members had the opportunity to see firsthand how Cregg's name became almost synonymous with Pichia pastoris research and discovery. Dr. Cregg is internationally recognized as a leading expert in Pichia pastoris as a system for the production of recombinant proteins and was the lead inventor on many seminal Pichia protein expression patents.
In his opening remarks, KGI President Sheldon Schuster praised Cregg's enormous dedication to both his students and his research and called him the "finest model of a scientist." He also welcomed the 97 members of the 2012-2013 incoming class, the largest in KGI's history, and emphasized how the incoming students had an enormous opportunity to educate themselves in a broad base of life science disciplines; thereby preparing themselves to not only function but also thrive in a rapidly changing health care system and global economy.
In his keynote, Dr. Schatzman also spoke about the advantages KGI students gain from having had the opportunity to get a solid understanding of business and finance and develop their management and leadership skills. Alder's success, he noted, was based on an amazing level of dedication and countless hours of teamwork. While many life science professionals had to learn the details of fundraising, deal making and successful project development from "the school of hard knocks," KGI students were able to learn and hone many of these skills before "jumping into the fire pit."
Jim Sterling, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty, introduced Cregg and also gave some updates on KGI initiatives, including the new Chapman University-KGI School of BioPharmacy. He also introduced Cregg, who spoke about how he first saw the enormous potential for using Pichia as an expression system for foreign genes in the 1980s when he was working for the Salk Institute for Biotechnology/Industrial Associates, Inc. (SIBIA). He also noted that KGI had provided him with perfect environment to continue doing what he was passionate about and had allowed him to "maintain those partners in industry that were vital to his work."
In fact, the day ended with several of those industry partners speaking about how Cregg's research had benefited their own endeavors. They included Juerg Tschopp, president, Stratum Medical Corporation; Martin Gleeson, vice president, Genalyte; John Latham, chief scientific officer, Alder Biopharmaceuticals; and Kurt Gehlsen, vice president and chief scientific officer, Research Corporation Technologies. They also included Knut Madden, Thomas Chappell and Ilya Tolstorukov — Cregg's co-founders in Biogrammatics, Inc., a small Carlsbad-based company that focuses exclusively on heterologous protein expression in Pichia."Celebrating the many achievements of our first professor emeritus was a wonderful way to kick off the year and focus our attention on how advances in the life sciences do actually improve people's lives," Sterling said.