Announcing 2021 CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences

Date: September 11, 2021 @ 8:30 am – November 1, 2021 @ 11:30 pm
Location: online

The Chinese American Biopharmaceutical Society (CABS) K. Fong Award Committee is very pleased to announce that Dr. John O. Link and Dr. Xian-Ping Lu are the winners of the 2021 CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences for their extraordinary achievements in research, entrepreneurship, and innovation. 

Dr. John O. Link

Dr. John O. Link has 30 years of experience in discovering and developing drugs as a medicinal chemist and project leader. John received his PhD in Chemistry under the direction of EJ Corey at Harvard University working on CBS reduction chemistry and a novel synthesis of amino-acids, now named the Corey-Link Reaction. John elucidated the inhibition mechanism of the immunosuppressant drug CellCept® along with the enzymatic mechanism of its target, inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase at Syntex/Roche Palo Alto. At Celera John worked in the inflammation and antiviral areas with three compounds entering clinical trials.  John was a Vice President of Medicinal Chemistry at Gilead Sciences and led the project teams that discovered the hepatitis C NS5A inhibitors ledipasvir and velpatasvir (Harvoni® Epclusa®) and continued as the project leader through Phase I clinical trials. The NS3/4a protease inhibitor drug voxilaprevir was discovered in his group (Vosevi®). John is co-inventor on the patents disclosing these three approved drugs. Under his leadership, Gilead moved three small molecule HCV inhibitors from discovery to FDA approval. Since their approval from 2014 to 2016, those HCV drugs have cured 1.5 million HCV patients globally by mid-2017. He is also a co-inventor and was a project leader on the first-in-class twice-yearly dosed Capsid inhibitor lenacapavir that is in multiple late-stage clinical trials for HIV treatment or prevention. John was awarded the American Chemical Society’s 2015 “Heroes of Chemistry Award” for his contributions to the discovery of Harvoni®, and in 2017 received the inaugural “Male Ally” award from the “Women at Gilead” employee resource group.

Dr. Xian-Ping Lu PhD

Dr. Xian-Ping Lu is Chairman, CEO of Shenzhen Chipscreen Biosciences Co. LTD. Dr. Lu founded Shenzhen Chipscreen Biosciences 20 years ago with a group of US-trained professionals. He built Chipscreen Biosciences into a leading Chinese drug discovery and development company focusing on innovative small molecular therapeutics. ChipScreen is probably the only truly innovative, vertically integrated biopharma company in China. Using active compounds as probes to characterize proteome functions, this novel approach allows small molecules to be systematically screened as new therapeutic targets, enhancing the ability to create target-specific chemical drugs. The chemical genomics approach led to the discovery of Chidamide, a highly selective histone deacetylase HDAC inhibitor. The approval of Chidamide also broke China’s reliance on foreign imports for innovative drugs. The out-licensing of its overseas patents brought Chipscreen large milestone payments and made Chidamide the first original Chinese drug authorized for use in the US and other countries. This sets a precedent for China to change from a drug imitator to a creator. 

Previously Dr. Lu was Director of Research at Galderma R&D in Princeton until 2000, the year he became visiting professor at China’s State Key Laboratory for Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology in Tsinghua University.  He also participated in founding Galderma Research Inc. and Maxia Pharmaceuticals in San Diego around 1994.

Dr. Lu came to the US in 1989 for postgraduate fellowship study at the Department of Pharmacology, University of California in San Diego, followed by research fellowship at La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation (Burnham Institute). He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and M.S. in Biochemistry from Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and his B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Sichuan University. 

With over 30 years of biomedical research and biotech/pharmaceutical experience in various therapeutic areas, Dr. Lu is a skilled leader of diverse groups in global operating settings.  He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers in prestigious journals including Nature, Science and The Lancet.  He is the lead inventor on over 300 patented inventions in areas of small molecule therapeutics.

In the past 20 years, Dr. Lu has participated and promoted many reforms in regulatory environment, policy, and guideline of NMPA, reimbursement system of national health care, security and exchange of capital market, taxation and many others in China. He has been recognized as “China’s New Drug Trailblazer” as well as winning various prizes and recognitions from the pharmaceutical industry and other institutions. 

About CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences

CABS K. Fong Award in Life Sciences is presented annually to recognize those individuals who make significant contributions in life sciences and the biopharmaceutical industry including outstanding scientific findings, recognized efforts in promoting life science education and initiatives in improving life science community, and those who bring therapeutic breakthroughs to the market and improve healthcare and quality of life.

Candidates must be nominated by an active member of CABS. Selection criteria are based on candidate’s accomplishments in life sciences and contribution to the life science community, including one or all of the following:

  • Proven achievements in therapeutic breakthroughs (including discovery, process or clinical development), diagnostics or research reagent/equipment markets.
  • Significant contribution to the promotion of academic and industrial R&D in biomedical sciences and applications.
  • Significant contribution to the CABS community and promotion of international collaborations in life sciences.

About Dr. Kenneth Fong

Dr. Kenneth Fong has spent the last 32 years in the biotech industry after completing his academic pursuit in biomedical research.

He is best known for founding the biotech company, Clontech in 1984 which he built into one of the largest biomedical tool companies founded by an Asian American in the US (400 employees including 65 PhD scientists). Clontech was sold to Becton Dickinson in 1999 and Ken has continued his career as a Venture capitalist with Kenson Ventures that he founded. He has since cultivated more than 10 highly successful entrepreneurs, advising them and working with them on the growth of their companies.

Currently, he sits on the board of 4 biotech companies and he was intimately involved with the M/A and IPO of more than 10 companies that are worth more than $3 billion. These companies range from research tools, medical diagnostics and drug development. In almost all cases, Dr. Fong has been instrumental in providing strategies for sustainable growth, value creation and liquidity. Those successful entrepreneurs have moved on to assume leadership in other start-up and mid-sized companies, which in turn led to a new generation of entrepreneurs.

Ken has held a number of leadership positions over the years. He served as the President of the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in North America (2006-07) and President of the Bay Area Asian American Manufacturers' Association (AAMA, 1987). He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the California State University System (2006-13). His philanthropic interests include scholarships to San Francisco State University, the Kenneth Fong-Hearst endowed scholarships to the CSU system and 40 student scholarships to Peking University. In 2006, he was involved with establishing the Fong Optometry and Medical library at UC Berkeley, and more recently an endowed professorship at Stanford University and a technology translation endowed fund at San Francisco State University.

Ken obtained his PhD from Indiana University and his BS from San Francisco State University.

Past recipients of CABS K. Fong Awards

2019: Dr. John V. Oyler, Chairman, Co-Found and CEO of BeiGene, for his entrepreneurship and business leadership to establish BeiGene as a world-class biopharmaceutical company.

2018: Dr. Yuling Luo, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Alamar Biosciences, and Dr. Guoliang Yu, Executive Chairman of Crown Bioscience, for their successful serial entrepreneurship in the life science business.  

2017: Dr. Yinxiang Wang, Co-founder and CSO of Beta Pharma, for his role in leading development and commercialization of Conmana®, the first small molecule oncology drug specifically targeting cancer cells that was completely developed in China, and Dr. Edgar Engleman, for his pioneering research that was the basis of the Sipuleucel-T (Provenge) prostate cancer vaccine, the first active immunotherapy for cancer to be approved by the FDA.

2016: Dr. Gerald Chan, co-founder of Morningside, for his extraordinary vision and leadership in cultivating a generation of successful entrepreneurs and life sciences companies.

2015: Dr. Irving Weissman, of Stanford University, for his pioneering work in stem cell research.

2014: Dr. Ge Li, Founder and CEO of Wuxi Apptec, for creating and shaping the CRO business model in China and Dr. Hing L. Sham, formerly of Abbott for his leading role in the discovery of life- saving HIV protease inhibitors, ritonavir and Iopinavir.

2013: Dr. Peter Hirth, Plexxikon & Sugen for his pivotal role in advancing 4 successful drugs to the market and Dr. Jean Cui, formerly of Pfizer for her role as the lead designer and investigator of crizotinib, a successful kinase inhibiting drug used in personalized medicine.