This year we are honouring Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong with the Pioneer in Medicine Crystal award. Patrick is a transplant surgeon who discovered one of the first FDA approved Nano-drugs, Abraxan, for breast cancer. He turned his discovery to a great fortune, which has enabled him to be a remarkable philanthropist. He is a true pioneer and visionary role model.
Dr. Soon-Shiong is Chairman of the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, Chairman and CEO of the Institute for Advanced Health, Chairman and CEO of the Healthcare Transformation Institute and founder of the National Coalition for Health Integration.
Born and bred in South Africa, an ethnic Chinese in the era of apartheid, Dr. Soon-Shiong prevailed against discrimination to qualify as a physician at the age of 23. He and his wife, Michele, also a South African-born Chinese, then emigrated first to Canada and later to the United States in 1980. In 1993, he performed the world’s first encapsulated human islet transplant and the fi rst pig to man islet cell transplant in diabetic patients.
He invented the nation’s first FDA approved protein nanoparticle delivery technology for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doubling the response rate in patients. The drug is now approved in over 40 countries, and currently in trials for lung, melanoma, gastric and pancreatic cancer. Dr. Soon-Shiong is a co-inventor of over 50 issued U.S. patents, has published more than 100 scientifi c papers, and developed and sold two multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies, American Pharma Partners (APP) and Abraxis Bioscience (ABII). APP was responsible for the only safe supply of Heparin in the United States in 2008.
Since 2006, Dr. Soon-Shiong has turned his attention to transforming healthcare by establishing an integrated health information platform and founded the National Coalition for Health Integration (NCHI) to create a national health network for the secure, national sharing of biomedical information with the goal of improving health for individuals. In partnership with the Arizona State University and the University of Arizona he founded a Healthcare Transformation Institute (HTI), which he dubs a “do tank”, whose mission is to promote a paradigm shift in health care in the United States by better integrating the three now separate domains
of medical science, health delivery, and healthcare fi nance. He has also founded the Institute for Advanced Health, which will provide high-speed computing capabilities for human genotyping to target specifi c cancer treatments, as well as technologies for the better management of chronic disease. In all these endeavors, Dr. Soon-Shiong takes as his personal motto a quotation from Will Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic, that “the best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered”.
In 2010 Dr. Soon-Shiong became a co-owner of the LA Lakers, purchasing the stake previously owned by Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Also in 2010, in partnership with the LA Business Journal, he founded the “Patrick Soon-Shiong Innovation Awards”; the first winners of these annual awards were six companies from the media, entertainment, engineering and aerospace sectors.
Together with his wife Michele Chan, Dr. Soon-Shiong has founded the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, which funds health-related research and projects. In 2007 he pledged US $1 billion to support healthcare transformation and a national health information highway. Among other awards and gifts, the Foundation has given a total of $135 million to the Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and a guaranty of $100 million to enable the reopening of the Martin Luther King Hospital in South Los Angeles, thereby restoring access to healthcare to a large underserved population. Dr. Soon-Shiong and Ms. Chan are the only Asian Americans so far to have joined the Giving Pledge, by which several of the wealthiest Americans have pledged to give over the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.
Dr. Soon-Shiong’s research has been recognized by national and international awards such as the Association for Academic Surgery Award for Research, the American College of Surgeons Schering Scholar, the Royal College Physicians and Surgeons Research Award, the Peter Kiewit Distinguished Membership in Medicine Award, and the International J.W. Hyatt Award for Service to Mankind. Dr. Soon-Shiong received the 2006 Gilda Club Award for the advancement of cancer medicine and is a recipient of a 2007 Ellis Island Medal of Honor as well as the St. Mary Medical Center Life Achievement Award in 2007 and the St. John’s Health Center Caritas Award in 2007. In 2008, he received the Medical Visionary Award from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network for his work in pancreatic cancer & the Los Angeles County Economic Development Council (LAEDC) Eddy Award in November 2009. The Los Angeles Business Journal recognized him as their 2010 Business Person of the Year, and the National Library of Medicine awarded Dr. Soon-Shiong the Distinguished Medical Science Award. The University of Arizona awarded him an honorary doctorate in December 2010.