Bulletin, President's Corner

CLSA’s 2019 Year in Review

The California Life Sciences Association (CLSA), along with the California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI), would like to thank everyone – members, board members, national organization partners, strategic partners, academic partners and the California life sciences community – for your membership, support and participation throughout the year.  As 2019 draws to a close, we’d like to share key milestones we accomplished as your trade association representing California’s life sciences sector:


secured a key victory for precision medicine in the California State budget. On June 27th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s $215 billion 2019-2020 budget. Of the Governor’s three line-item vetoes, one was made at the request of CLSA to remove restrictions on the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine’s (CIAPM) ability to spend funds. CLSA’s state team worked closely with the Governor in securing this important victory for the life sciences sector. Learn more or read this op-ed in CalMatters. CLSA also worked with partner stakeholders to secure funding for asthma prevention, Alzheimer’s disease education and care, HIV and hepatitis C prevention, and California’s participation in the Healthy Brain Initiative.

…educated members of the State Legislature and Congress with life sciences company tours and roundtables at numerous CLSA members’ facilities, including Allergan, BD, Edwards Lifesciences, Proteus, Johnson & Johnson Innovation | JLABS and more.…spearheaded a multi-state association effort to oppose the use of foreign price controls. The CLSA-led multi-state life sciences association letter to House and Senate bipartisan leadership – co-signed by a remarkable 44 state and regional associations from 41 states and one territory – detailed opposition to international reference pricing (foreign price controls) as a strategy for controlling drug costs.  CLSA launched a print and digital PR campaign to amplify the letter, including publishing full page ads in Politico and Roll Call, as well as targeted display ads, reaching Congressional staff, policymakers and more.

commissioned a report detailing how the international reference pricing proposal in H.R. 3 would slash life-saving R&D and harm small company drug development, especially in California.

CLSA organized numerous meetings with Members and staff of key Members of the Delegation and bipartisan Committees of jurisdiction – including an hour-long meeting with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – to explain the study’s methodology and findings that H.R. 3 would decimate California’s life sciences sector.

…advocated for predictability and affordability for patients in Medicare Part D. In 2019, CLSA launched a new digital campaign to activate Californians and educate Members of Congress about the need to cap patient out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D. Utilizing various communications channels, our robust #CapCostsNotCare campaign advocates for predictability and affordability, while encouraging continued life sciences innovation.

…hosted the 1st Annual MedTech Showcase Reception in Sacramento. Seventeen members of the California State Legislature, plus legislative staff and members of the community were able to see firsthand the incredible value that California’s medical technology sector is bringing to patients and the economy.

helped lead the charge to defeat AB 1586, a bill that would have restricted certain animal research and testing, negatively impacting the life sciences sector in California.

…led aggressive efforts to successfully urge Congress to fully and permanently repeal the medical device tax, including cultivating support for repeal from over half of our state’s Democratic and Republican delegation members, joining and amplifying MDMA/AdvaMed/MITA letter signed by over 600 organizations (including almost 300 from California), spearheading a targeted CLSA digital communications campaign, and more.

…hosted a Sacramento legislative fly-in to connect CLSA Board members with Governor Newsom’s office and key members of the State Legislature to discuss proactive ways by which the life sciences sector can have a meaningful impact on California healthcare policy.

successfully led coalition efforts to defeat AB 889, a harmful bill that would have impacted life science researcher safety.

…hosted an interactive lunch briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. entitled “You’re the CEO: Discovering New Treatments & Cures,” during which attendees became the CEOs of small biotech companies and used hand-held voting devices to make decisions about the various complex factors involved in the development, pricing, and marketing of breakthrough therapies that their company has decided to pursue. The briefing was a great tool for attendees to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges associated with bringing innovative, life-saving medicines to patients.

…continued to grow the ‘Faces of California Biomedical InnovationCampaign to highlight the impact of life sciences treatments and unveiled new patient videos highlighting CLSA Member treatments saving patients’ lives.

…spearheaded efforts to defeat AB 1788, a bill that would have negatively impacted the life sciences industry’s manufacturing and research facilities.

…sponsored and participated in the 7th Annual Rally for Medical Research Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C. to call on our nation’s policymakers to make funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in medical research that leads to “more progress, more hope and more lives saved.”

…co-hosted a Rare Disease Day Rally on the Capitol steps in Sacramento to raise awareness around the over 7,000 rare diseases effecting 3.9 million in California.

honored Senator Jeff Stone and Assemblymembers Chad Mayes and Adam Gray as champions of biomedical innovation at our Back to Session Reception in Sacramento.

…participated in AdvaMed’s executive advocacy day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to advocate for the full repeal of the excise tax on medical devices – the only state medtech association to participate.

hosted the 2019 CLSA Life Sciences Leadership Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. to foster stronger relationships with the entire California Congressional Delegation and advance policies that improve health and bring positive change for California patients and their families.

…convened a CLSA member roundtable discussion with the FDA’s Director and Deputy Director of the Office Of New Drugs (OND) and member discussions with the new Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the new Director of the Governor’s Office of Businses and Economic Development, Lenny Mendonca, and Governor Newsom’s advisory staff on issues of health policy, among others.

…digitally thanked and welcomed over 40 federal and California state legislators for their support of biomedical innovation and R&D in California and we continue to grow our Digital Advocacy Center to help members contact their elected officials, stay informed about CLSA’s advocacy efforts, view priority legislation, and more.

…achieved thousands of media mentions and educated policymakers and influencers through numerous op-eds in leading publications on key life sciences policy priorities such as the medical device tax, precision medicine funding, foreign price controls, HR 3, California’s life sciences leadership, rare disease drug discovery and more.



…welcomed Mike Guerra as CLSA President & CEO, Andrew Setikas, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Strategy, and Patrick Henning as Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs

…added 242 new members to our statewide membership.

…celebrated our 16th Annual Pantheon DiNA™ Awards by awarding our Life Sciences Leadership award to Jennifer A. Doudna for her impact on the life sciences sector in California and highlighting the impact of CLSI’s STEM education programs and the next generation of life science leaders including BioGENIUS and NexGENEgirls. See our press release and photos.

…partnered with Brex to launch a unique new funding resource, a new corporate credit card specifically tailored for companies in the life sciences industry that includes exclusive reward benefits for CLSA members.

…added Springer Nature, Science and Medicine Group, Recro Gainsville, Arnold & Porter, Fang Consulting, Notable Labs and other significant member benefits to our Power Purchasing program.

… added strategic partners including Eli Lilly & Company, IQVIA, and more!

…released our 2019 Digital Health Trends Report in collaboration with Accenture – the first comprehensive research report covering digital health specifically focused on California Life Sciences companies. This report highlights the real digital health opportunity for California Life Sciences companies and the key internal and external challenges to overcome.

…hosted our annual Evening with Thought Leaders, bringing together on one stage the leaders of four national life sciences trade associations to discuss the State of the Sector: Policy, Leadership & Direction and their predictions for 2020. The panel was moderated by Melinda Richter, CLSA Board Chair and Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation | JLABS.  

…launched our first Member Appreciation Reception event, “Holiday on the Bay”, attended by more than 70 CLSA Members.

…partnered with CLSA Member, University Lab Partners, for “Rock the Science” to launch a regional biotech/lifesciences career awareness campaign with educators, employers, and community partners in Orange County.



…brought nine life science startups through the FAST advisory program. As of this month, 69 startups will have completed the program, nine of them during 2019.  These FAST graduates have collectively raised over $1B, including 27 Series A or higher investments, 16 have formed strategic partnerships, 14 are generating revenue, and 5 have successfully exited since leaving the program. FAST graduates have more than tripled their workforce, creating 397 new jobs. This success is in part due to the over 7300 hours offered by CLSI’s network of over 400 advisors valued at over $1.6M.

…expanded its FAST International program bringing commercialization expertise to researchers, startups and emerging companies from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and the UK who are seeking to spin out companies and/or gain commercial footholds in the U.S. CLSI’s inaugural and subsequent FAST International Showcases for Startup and Emerging Companies, in June and December, allowed several of the FAST International participants to present their companies to our community.

…continued to serve as an accelerator to CARB-X, the globe’s largest public-private partnership devoted to accelerating antibacterial innovation, which has awarded over $160.6M in grants to date, with 52 active portfolio companies/product-developers in 7 countries. The program is a boost to California, with 21 of grantees securing 26% of the funds to date.

selected 2019 Amgen Bay Area BioGENEius winner, Melanie Quan, a 10th-grader from Las Lomas High School, for her research focusing on using waste products of algal biofuel production to create algae-based bioplastics that are compostable, water soluble, and work as a natural fertilizer. Melanie went on to take one of the highest honors in the Global Environmental Challenge at the BIO International BioGENEius at BIO 2019 in Philadelphia!

…showcased the Bay Area BioGENEius winners and seniors from CLSI partner program NexGeneGirls  at  CLSA’s 19th DiNA Pantheon Awards during which the 6 high school seniors announced their research projects to multiple standing ovations. Relive the magic here.

… continued its Women Leading Life Sciences Initiative, which this year included 3 Women Life Science Executive Dinners, convened by Kilpatrick Townsend, Genentech, and Latham & Watkins. The dinners brought together women founders and executives from mature companies and investment firms for private dinners and peer-to-peer exchanges on industry issues. The Initiative also included the professional development series the Leadership Edge for Women aimed at helping women advance in their careers.

served over 2000 students in high schools and community colleges throughout the Bay Area with partners through its Life Science Connections program. This included connecting students with industry volunteers for hands-on science, labs, career talks, speed networking, mock interviews, resume review, job shadowing, Capstone mentoring, and more.

…launched a campaign to support CLSI’s efforts in developing the next generation of life science leaders! Click here to learn more.

…for more, see CLSI’s 2019 Year in Review 

It has certainly been an exciting year, and we look forward in 2020 to supporting every organization here in California that contributes to our world-leading life sciences ecosystem.

Happy holidays,