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Marjorie E. Winkler, Ph.D., '80 and B.A. '75, of Burlingame, Calif., Clifford C. Furnas Award

By Barbara A. Byers

Release Date: March 3, 2009

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Marjorie Winkler

When Marjorie Winkler joined Genentech, Inc., in 1982 as a research scientist, she was one of about 400 employees working for a company that had gone public less than two years earlier. Today that company, considered to be the founder of the biotechnology industry, is still considered a strong leader in biopharmaceutical research, development and sales.

Winkler has also served as senior scientist, director of analytical chemistry, director of global manufacturing science and technology, and senior director of pharmaceutical and analytical development. Today, as Genentech's senior director, CMC liaison and technical advisor, she provides training and technical advice to more than 60 leaders responsible for the development of all manufacturing processes of the products in Genentech's rich commercial and development pipeline.

Early on, the company created medicines by splicing genes into fast-growing bacteria and mammalian cells that produced therapeutic proteins and subsequently cutting-edge medicines to treat people with serious and life-threatening diseases. Genentech manufactures and commercializes 12 such protein-based biotherapeutics, making it one of the leading product portfolios in the industry.

The company was named a "top employer and most admired company in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries" by Science Magazine for the past seven years and was selected as among the top 10 companies to work for in the country by Fortune magazine in January 2009, for the 11th consecutive year.

Today, with some 11,000 employees, 1,100 of whom are scientists and researchers, Genentech is the largest biotech firm by market capitalization (more than $86 billion), the largest U.S. manufacturer of cancer drugs (based on sales) and, since 1985, has donated approximately $1.3 billion in free medicine for those patients in financial need who qualify.

Internationally recognized for her research, Winkler is a member of the UB College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Advisory Council and was a recipient of its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005. She has played a key role in engaging alumni in the San Francisco Bay area, assisting in organizing UB alumni events and conducting key meetings with constituents on behalf of the college.

She has established an annual fellowship in the UB Department of Chemistry for two to three incoming students, has added support to full teaching assistantships and last year became a member of the UB Foundation board of directors.