Genentech has turned 40 years old this month – quite a milestone for the pioneer of modern biotechnology, which is still rocking it in San Francisco, US.
It all began with an experiment conducted by a team led by Herbert Boyer of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), studying antibiotic resistance plasmids in E. coli, and Stanley Cohen of Stanford University, who was studying restriction enzymes.
After getting a proof of concept for recombinant DNA, Boyer and Robert Swanson (who had been a partner at a VC) would start with a $1000 investment.
With no assets, rented equipment, or even a part-time secretary, the pair launched on April 7th, 1976.
The name of the company? GENetic ENgineering TECHnology – Genentech.
The company would go a long way, including to become the first to produce synthetic human insulin and human growth hormone. This paved the way for industrial biotechnology as we know it.
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