Speaker Biography

Richard M. Lawn, Ph.D.

Richard LawnRichard Lawn received a B.A. degree in astronomy from Harvard College and a Ph.D. degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from the University of Colorado. Dr. Lawn’s post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Tom Maniatis at the California Institute of Technology featured the construction of the first human genomic DNA library, and the characterization of the globin genes, the first human genes isolated and analyzed at the genomic DNA level. Dr. Lawn then spent ten years as a Senior Scientist and Staff Scientist at Genentech, Inc. His research included a number of genes and recombinant proteins in the fields of thrombosis, hemostasis and atherosclerosis, including several that became protein therapeutics or targets for therapeutic inhibition. He led the successful isolation and characterization of the factor VIII gene and production of recombinant factor VIII protein, one of the most difficult and competitive projects at the time in the field of biotechnology. This work resulted in the unprecedented publication of three full length articles in a single issue of Nature. Recombinant factor VIII for the treatment of hemophelia became a billion dollar drug, replacing earlier blood-derived products that had exposed most hemopheliacs to hepatitis and HIV. Dr. Lawn received the Dr. Murray Thelin Award from the National Hemophelia Foundation and the Distinguished Inventor Award from the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association for this work.

Dr. Lawn then became a Professor of Medicine at Stanford Medical School. There he continued his research on the structure, function, activity and unusual evolution of the lipoprotein Lp(a), a major inherited risk factor for cardiovascular disease. He subsequently served as Vice President, Discovery Research at CV Therapeutics, Inc. until the acquisition of the company. Among the projects he led there was the first use of gene expression microarray profiling to discover the defective gene in a human inherited disease, Tangier disease. This work, which was selected as one of the year’s top ten breakthroughs of 1999 by the American Heart Association, identified the lipid transporter ABCA1 as a target for therapeutically modulating the HDL cholesterol pathway as a means to reduce cardiovascular disease. In July of 2009, he received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Contributions to Atherosclerosis Research from the International Atherosclerosis Society.

Dr. Lawn served for a number of years as a consultant for the molecular diagnostic company CardioDX  and for  Bay City Capital, and as the Executive Director, Translational Medicine of SomaLogic, Inc. He is currently a Consulting Professor for the Cardiovascular Institute of Stanford Medical School.