BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS -

only a few peo­ple would rise up to be the top re­searchers, he said.

“Maybe I am not as tal­ented as I thought I was as a re­searcher. Maybe I am good at de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices to help the re­searchers to do dis­cov­ery. I can be sup­port­ive to their in­no­va­tion and dis­cov­ery,” Fong said.

In late 1983, Fong de­cided to take a chance with Clon­tech. With fund­ing of $35,000 from his younger brother Danny and the use of some lab­o­ra­tory space at Danny’s wa­ter anal­y­sis busi­ness, he started work­ing on his first prod­uct in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a then- Stan­ford re­searcher, Richard Young.

In the old days, peo­ple wanted to dis­cover genes, as they found some genes de­ter­mine cer­tain diseases, Fong said. “The first prod­uct I mar­keted to re­searchers was to help them iso­late the genes,” he said. “And one suc­cess­ful prod­uct leads you to an­other one.”

In 1985, Clon­tech’s sales rose to $200,000 and the next year jumped to $1 mil­lion. In the fol­low­ing years, the com­pany posted 48 con­sec­u­tive quar­ters of dou­bledigit growth and prof­its.

To­day, Fong nur­tures the emerg­ing biotech­nol­ogy field in the Bay Area and Asia by serv­ing on non­profit and univer­sity boards and gov­ern­ment-spon­sored in­sti­tutes.

Fong also at­trib­uted his achieve­ments to his early years, when he learned to work hard and do not com­plain about it.

“My fa­ther was a cook work­ing in the kitchen. He left me noth­ing in terms of money. But I thank him, be­cause we learned to do ev­ery­thing our­selves to make things hap­pen. I enjoy work­ing and help­ing other peo­ple,” he said.

“That is how you de­rive hap­pi­ness and plea­sure from your life when you know the peo­ple you help be­come suc­cess­ful,” he said. “Be­cause if they be­come suc­cess­ful, I know they will help other peo­ple.”

Fong and his wife, Pamela, both de­voted phi­lan­thropists, es­tab­lished the Fong Op­tom­e­try and Bio­med­i­cal Li­brary at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, in 2006, and of­fered schol­ar­ships at San Francisco State Univer­sity, Pek­ing Univer­sity and in the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity sys­tem.

He also plans schol­ar­ships for Pek­ing Univer­sity stu­dents to ob­tain PhDs in fi­nance and eco­nomics in the US.

“Be­cause tal­ents in the two ar­eas

KEN­NETH FONG will be very im­por­tant to China’s fu­ture,” he said.

Fong was a trus­tee of the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity sys­tem from 2006 to 2o13, which com­prises 23 cam­puses and more than 430,000 stu­dents.

Fong also helped se­lect three pres­i­dents of Asian de­scent for Cal­i­for­nia State uni­ver­si­ties in the Bay Area from 2012 to 2014. “If you want to make a dif­fer­ence, you need to speak out and make your voice heard,” he said.

He vol­un­teered much of his time and re­sources to pro­mot­ing un­der­stand­ing of Asian Amer­i­cans. He has promised a match­ing fund to build a mon­u­ment at Gold Run, a for­mer set­tle­ment of early Chi­nese la­bor­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, to rec­og­nize and com­mem­o­rate those who lost their lives dur­ing the con­struc­tion on the US Transcon­ti­nen­tal Rail­road 150 years ago.

The Chi­nese used to make great con­tri­bu­tions to the US de­vel­op­ment by build­ing the rail­road which links the West and the East, he said. “We should re­mem­ber it.”

As a mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee of 100, Fong ini­ti­ated and co-spon­sored the “UC-China Di­a­logue”, a speaker se­ries that aims to pro­mote bet­ter un­der­stand­ing be­tween the United States and China.

“I’d like the se­ries to con­tinue and do well, and then we will be able to even­tu­ally im­pact the Amer­i­can peo­ple to re­al­ize how im­por­tant the US-China re­la­tion­ship is to our fu­ture,” he said.

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