Wil­liam K. Bowes Jr. — early in­vestor in biotech in­dus­try well known for phi­lan­thropy

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BAY AREA - By David Perl­man David Perl­man is The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle’s sci­ence edi­tor. Email: dperl­man@sfchron­i­cle.com

Wil­liam K. Bowes Jr., a pioneer in­vestor in the biotech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, an ar­dent sup­porter of ba­sic med­i­cal re­search, and long an ac­tive phi­lan­thropist, died of car­diac ar­rest at his home in San Fran­cisco on Dec. 28 with his wife, Ute, by his side. He was 90.

Mr. Bowes was a founder of U.S. Ven­ture Part­ners, the wide-rang­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley firm that has backed more than 450 startup com­pa­nies in var­ied new fields, and that fo­cuses now on in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and health care.

As an in­vest­ment banker nearly 40 years ago, Mr. Bowes be­came aware of a new and still con­tro­ver­sial gene-splic­ing sci­ence known as re­com­bi­nant DNA, and it led to his in­vest­ment in one of the first com­mer­cial ven­tures in ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing, a young Emeryville gene-splic­ing com­pany called Ce­tus.

When man­age­ment is­sues plagued that com­pany in 1983, Mr. Bowes re­cruited a team of sci­en­tists and founded a new firm at first called Ap­plied Molec­u­lar Ge­net­ics. He raised $200,000 from six other in­vestors to fi­nance it.

The firm be­came Am­gen, and it is now the largest in­de­pen­dent phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in the world, val­ued at more than $120 bil­lion.

Its first bio­engi­neered prod­uct was the re­com­bi­nant hor­mone called ery­thro­poi­etin, which treats the of­ten fa­tal ane­mia from chronic kid­ney fail­ure and cancer. It still saves lives.

As his ven­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ments in var­ied com­pa­nies grew through U.S. Ven­ture Part­ners, Mr. Bowes turned to what he called “ven­ture phi­lan­thropy,” and over the years he be­came a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to UCSF. His most re­cent “in­vest­ment” in the univer­sity was a $50 mil­lion pledge to sup­port young med­i­cal re­searchers and it brought his gifts for the med­i­cal cen­ter to more than $100 mil­lion.

With his wide range of in­ter­ests in sci­ence, cul­ture, the en­vi­ron­ment and hu­man­i­tar­ian causes, Mr. Bowes cre­ated the Wil­liam K. Bowes Jr. Foun­da­tion and gave fi­nan­cial and of­ten lead­er­ship sup­port to many lo­cal and na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Among them were the Ex­plorato­rium, where he had served as chair­man of the board; the San Fran­cisco Opera; the San Fran­cisco Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic; the Asian Art Mu­seum; the Fine Arts Mu­se­ums of San Fran­cisco; the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Fund; the in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary bio­sciences in­sti­tute called Stan­ford Bio-X; the Har­vard Stem Cell Re­search In­sti­tute; the In­sti­tute for Sys­tems Bi­ol­ogy; the Cal­i­for­nia Academy of Sciences; Teach for Amer­ica; and the In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee.

He was also a ded­i­cated sup­porter of San Fran­cisco’s Grace Cathe­dral and of Bishop Wil­liam E. Swing’s United Re­li­gions Ini­tia­tive, an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes in­ter­faith co­op­er­a­tion, and seeks to end re­li­giously mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence.

“Bill was so widely re­spected and beloved in the Bay Area com­mu­nity that when he said some­thing was worth in­vest­ing in, oth­ers trusted his in­stincts and fol­lowed his lead,” said UCSF Chan­cel­lor Sam Haw­good.

Mr. Bowes was born in San Fran­cisco and grad­u­ated from Low­ell High School. He in­ter­rupted his col­lege years at Stan­ford to join the in­fantry dur­ing World War II, and served in the Philip­pines and Ja­pan be­fore re­turn­ing to Stan­ford to earn his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in eco­nom­ics in 1950. He ob­tained his MBA from Har­vard in 1952.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Ute Con­chita Bowes; by Frances Fay Bowes, the widow of his late brother, John; and by his nieces, Alexan­dra, Diana and Elena Bowes.

Memo­rial ser­vices will be held at Grace Cathe­dral on Feb. 6 at 4 p.m.

UC San Fran­cisco

Wil­liam K. Bowes Jr.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.