Bulletin, Institute

2017 Year in Review: Poised for Growth & Success

The California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI) is wrapping up another year on a high note, and would like to express our sincere gratitude to the outstanding companies, volunteers, students, educators, partners, sponsors and others who have joined us to further bolster our thriving California life sciences ecosystem.

During 2017, CLSI ‘s FAST and CARB-X accelerator programs allowed us to expand our startup services to even more companies across the state, country and globe. Our education programs celebrated some of the region’s most remarkable students, while continuing to create access to career pathways and industry-relevant experience for increasing numbers of students from underrepresented groups. And life science professionals built new management and other skills through CLSI’s multiple career development offerings.

Below are a few highlights from 2017.



  • Quick Statistics:
    • CLSI served a record 17 startups from the Bay Area and Davis, nine of whom presented their companies at a packed FAST Showcase on December 13.
    • CLSI’s 50 FAST graduates have collectively raised over $317 million; and 15 with Series A investments.
    • Fourteen companies are generating revenue, three have successfully exited, and nine have formed strategic partnerships.
    • Over 240 new jobs have been created by FAST companies.
  • Drawing from a generous advisory pool of over 250 professionals, FAST companies receive an estimated $25K in advisory services during the FAST program, with many continuing their advisory relationships well beyond FAST.
  • Many FAST graduates have stayed in touch with the program, some serving on advisory teams, some providing best practice advice to new FAST companies in “pass-the-torch sessions”, and a few offering valuable FAST “Retrospectives” at the Closing Showcases.
  • Earlier this fall, CLSI joined forces with the SENS Research Foundation (SRF) to launch the first “Rejuvenation Biotechnology Showcase” at the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center with over 100 persons in attendance. The evening included presentations from four FAST companies as well as a snapshot of technologies at SRF that hold promise for addressing age-related disease. SRF and CLSI plan to seize on the significant interest generated in this launch event to embark on additional collaborations in 2018 designed to highlight innovation in the rejuvenation biology field
  • Based on increasing demand in Southern California, CLSI is actively raising funds to expand FAST to San Diego in Fall of 2018.

After a full year of operation that included relationship-building, networking, discovering resources, making connections, participating in conference panel discussions, and providing substantive advisory services, CLSI and partners have launched a successful international CARB-X program.  Since the beginning of its partnership with CARB-X, CLSI has created a diverse set of models to provide accelerator support for companies developing products to prevent, diagnose or treat serious bacterial infections.

  • Quick Statistics:
    • With over 350 applications, CARB-X has granted a total of $60M in nondilutive funding awards to 23 companies, with up to an additional $75.25M in awards if project milestones are met.
    • CLSI has recruited over 75 remarkable advisors who have volunteered more than 575 hours, valued at over $171K of in-kind services to “Powered by CARB-X” companies, CARB-X applicants as well as future CARB-X prospects.
  • In a stellar model of advisory services for Powered by CARB-X companies, CLSI hosted a three-day strategy session for Proteus IRC from Edinburgh, which drew 22 volunteer advisors to help the Proteus team plan the transition from a research consortium to a privately funded corporate entity.
  • CLSI assisted with CARB-X pipeline development by creating a “CARB-X Track” within the FAST Program, including at least one company in the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) space in each cohort. Facile Therapeutics, BioAmp Diagnostics, and Inflammatix all have graduated from FAST’s CARB-X Track.
  • CLSI helped to build the AMR community in a series of events this year:
    • CLSI hosted an informational event at BioLabs San Diego in July, bringing together the local AMR community to hear from two San Diego-based CARB-X funded companies, Forge Therapeuticsand Cidara Therapeutics. (As testament to the vibrant AMR community in San Diego, two more San Diego-based companies joined the portfolio this Fall: InhibRx and Amicrobe)
    • Earlier this fall, CLSI hosted Kevin Outterson at a networking event with local Bay Area therapeutics and diagnostics companies who were eager to meet the Executive Director of the CARB-X consortium.
  • CLSI helped build awareness of the CARB-X program through numerous speaking engagements at AMR-related panels and conferences, notably the BIO Investor Forum in San Francisco, BARDA’s Industry Days in Washington, DC, and the One Nucleus AMR Leadership Seminar in Cambridge, England. Heather Shane, Executive Director of CLSI’s CARB-X accelerator, continues to share the CARB-X mission and to highlight the role of accelerators in providing and facilitating support for CARB-X projects and AMR innovation.

CLSI Innovation Series

In October of this year, CLSI launched a new Innovation Series focusing on issues most pressing for life science startups at early and more advanced stages of development. The inaugural panel – Reimbursement 101 – explored how provider groups and payers use value in their analysis of what technologies to adopt.  Held at Verily, the panel included experts from Argenta Advisors, Sutter Health, Dignity Health and Verily.  CLSI has several new panels lined up for 2018, including the upcoming Early Interactions with FDA: Developing the Value Story for Your Innovative Product at Hogan Lovells in Menlo Park this February.

 I-Corps Bio-Entrepreneurship Workshop

CLSI helped secure industry mentors and access to the June BIO International Convention for the first I-CORPS Bio-Entrepreneurship Workshop, which included undergraduates, graduates, post docs and assistant professors representing underrepresented groups from 18 institutions across the country. Organized by the American Society of Microbiology (ABRMS), Biocom Institute, California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI), CSU I-Corps, and the EE Just Life Sciences Society / United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the workshop paired participants with industry mentors to explore solutions to combatting antimicrobial resistance, who then applied evidence-based entrepreneurship concepts via customer discovery interviews at the BIO 2017 exhibition.

The Bio-Entrepreneurship Workshop coincided with BIO’s release of a set of principles on workforce development, diversity, and inclusion (WDDI). The partners are working with BIO to make the Bio-Entrepreneurships an integral part of the BIO International Convention to help expand and diversify the ecosystem for life science innovation, and will offer the workshop again next year at the BIO Convention in Boston.


Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius Challenge

Mythri Ambatipudi, of Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, took first-place at the Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius Challenge in April and went on to represent the Bay Area in the International BioGENEius Challenge at the BIO International Convention in June. The Bay Area Challenge, held at Amgen in South San Francisco, included a keynote address by Ms. Daljit Bains, Deputy Director in the Office of Permit Assistance in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, as well as a Career Panel, lunch with Amgen scientists and a poster viewing and reception with Amgen employees.

Career Pathways

During year three of the 4-year $6M California Career Pathways grant, CLSI and partners have stepped up work-based learning initiatives with high schools and credit recovery programs that have large numbers of underrepresented students, while increasing dual enrollment opportunities for all SFUSD students.  Working closely with the Bay Area Bioscience Education Community (BABEC) to provide hands-on Genetic Engineering weeks for students, CLSI has connected industry volunteers with students, teachers and faculty to provide career talks, job shadows, internships resume review, etc, and in February 2018, a new speed networking initiative for high school and community college females with Young Women in BIO (YWIB) professionals.

NexGeneGirls Bootcamp and Internship Academy

CLSI partnered with NexGeneGirls to develop the 2017 NexGeneGirls Bootcamp and Summer Internship Academy. Over the spring, the program provided hands-on laboratory skills training taught by students in City College of San Francisco’s Stem Cell program to six high school females, helping them to master basic laboratory techniques such as pipetting, general biosafety, DNA extraction, and cloning and plasmid maps. Over six weeks in the summer, the NexGeneGirls interned three days a week in labs at UCSF, The Gladstone Institutes and San Francisco State University, and led hands-on science experiments with elementary- and middle-school females one day per week at the San Francisco Boys and Girls Club. A key element of the program’s success is the incorporation of a multigenerational teaching model, which reinforces learning and develops the confidence of the student “teachers,” while inspiring students with female role models who look like them.

The partnership is aimed at increasing diversity in STEM fields by tapping women leaders, students and industry professionals to mentor and inspire NexGeneGirl participants.

 Giants of Science Competition

KNBR, CLSA and CLSI collaborated this year on a competition to expand science programming in Bay Area high schools. Three Bay Area schools in the North Bay, East Bay, and South Bay were awarded $20,000 each at the San Francisco Giants game on September: Abraham Lincoln High School, Northgate High School and Carlmont High School.  Members of the life science community were eager to step forward to support the competition, and included Alexandria Real Estate, Celgene, Genentech, Gilead, Illumina, Nektar, Sutro Biopharma, Theravance, and Wareham Development.  KNBR plans to run the competition again in 2018.

Professional Development Workshops

CLSI offered ten professional development workshops in 2017 on BioBasics, Drug Development, and Labs to Leadership, serving 230 life science professionals. CLSI will expand its offerings in 2019 to include workshops on Drug Pricing and Strategic Commercialization.

Coming Age of Genomics Documentary

CLSI has entered into a partnership with Wine Cow Productions to produce a documentary film on the past, present and future of genomics research and development. If funded, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) will collaborate on the project. The goal is to portray science as a human enterprise with far-reaching social, cultural, economic, and political implications; and genomics, as a technical force capable of fundamentally transforming society and the human condition. The film will target outlets such as Discovery, HBO, National Geographic, Netflix and PBS.

Happy Holidays! We look forward to seeing you in 2018!