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Levinson *77 to Receive Madison Medal
|Arthur Levinson, president and chief executive officer of Genentech, was selected as the 2006 recipient of one of two of the University's top honors for alumni. Levinson, a 1977 graduate alumnus who is known for his pioneering role in scientific research, will be awarded the James Madison Medal on campus during Alumni Day activities on Saturday, February 25.
The Madison Medal is named for the fourth president of the United States and the person many consider Princeton's first graduate student. Established by the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, it is presented each year by the University to an alumnus or alumna of the Graduate School who has had a distinguished career, advanced the cause of graduate education or achieved an outstanding record of public service. On Alumni Day, Levinson will speak on "Creating and Sustaining a Corporate Culture of Scientific Innovation" at 9:15 a.m. in Richardson Auditorium of Alexander Hall.
Trained as a scientist, Levinson quickly has become known for his business acumen as well. "It is extraordinary to have an individual with an outstanding reputation as both a scientist and an entrepreneur," said Dan Abramowicz, president of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni and the chair of the Madison Medal selection committee. "What makes Dr. Levinson so unique is that he excels in both of these areas." A graduate of the University of Washington-Seattle, Levinson earned his Ph.D. in biochemical sciences from Princeton in 1977. He then began conducting postdoctoral research at the University of California-San Francisco. He was recruited by UCSF faculty member and company co-founder Herbert Boyer as a senior scientist for Genentech in 1980.
Levinson set upon a new area of research, the use of mammalian cells to produce proteins. Once deemed controversial and costly, the method is now considered a standard for the industry. In 1990, he became vice president of research at the company, modifying the research focus by honing in on a narrower set of targets and insisting upon longer and more involved clinical trials. His leadership has helped Genentech become one of the world's leading biotech companies. Levinson was named president and chief executive officer of the South San Francisco-based company in July 1995. He was made a member of the board of directors that same year and was named chair of the board in 1999. He was inducted into the Biotech Hall of Fame in 2003, voted "CEO of the Year" in 2004 by the San Francisco Times, selected by Business Week in 2004 as "One of the Best Managers" and recently listed by Forbes as "One of America's Most Powerful People."