West Los Angeles Biomed Innovator Honored

Michael E. Jung is honored with the LA BioStar Award. Photo: Robert Huskey/Cal State LA.

By Staff Writer

Michael E. Jung, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA, was recently honored for his significant contributions to biomedicine during a Cal State LA BioSpace ceremony celebrating emerging entrepreneurs.

A resident of West Los Angeles, Jung was awarded the LA BioStar Award during the graduation ceremony for participants of Cal State LA BioStart, an intensive training program for emerging bioscience entrepreneurs. The project is part of Cal State LA BioSpace, which is leading the university’s efforts to promote a thriving bioscience ecosystem in the heart of Los Angeles.

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Jung, who has developed drugs that help extend the lives of men with late-stage prostate cancer, remarked on how he enjoyed sharing his passion for science and research with the Cal State LA BioStart graduates throughout the day.

“This is a wonderful program—I congratulate you on doing this and I hope you continue for a long time,” Jung told the gathering at Cal State LA. “Thank you again very much for this award. I guarantee I’ll put it in a place of honor.”

During the ceremony, 19 fellows were recognized for completing five weeks of training in business fundamentals, financing models, industrial research and development, intellectual property and other skills essential to launching and directing successful bioscience ventures.

“These graduations are always inspiring because of the great initiative, ingenuity and drive that is represented by each class and because of the ways in which all of these entrepreneurs and their projects will transform our society,” President William A. Covino said to the crowd.

The training is a collaborative project of Cal State LA, the Biocom Institute and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. The initiative is supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and is offered at no cost to eligible participants.

Jung is an internationally recognized expert on synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry and holds more than 25 patents. His research team discovered two FDA-approved drugs that have been used to treat prostate cancer. He is one of the many industry and academic professionals who have shared their expertise with the Cal State LA BioStart fellows since the training first began in 2017.

“Graduates of Cal State LA BioStart learn from industry leaders, like Jung, at the top of their fields who contribute to the scientific and economic vitality of the Los Angeles region,” said Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez, chair of Cal State LA BioSpace. “Our program provides a launchpad for these innovators to develop their cutting-edge research into groundbreaking and successful ventures.”

Cal State LA BioSpace is being developed with investment from Los Angeles County and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The initiative is also supported by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Pasadena Bio Collaborative Incubator, LA Bioscience Hub and the California State University.

The Cal State LA BioSpace initiative was created to address critical shortages of bioscience entrepreneurs and of lab space for startup companies, and promote the bioscience industry in Los Angeles.

The goal of Cal State LA BioSpace is to promote research and entrepreneurship and provide facilities, resources and training to support the region’s burgeoning bioscience industry, including the area known as “Bioscience Valley.” This area extends along Valley Boulevard and includes Cal State LA and Grifols Biologicals Inc. on the east, and the University of Southern California Health Sciences campus and LAC+USC Medical Center on the west.

The new Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center, a 20,000-square-foot facility at the southern gateway of the university, is scheduled to open this spring. The center will house the Cal State LA BioSpace incubator, which will feature wet and dry laboratory space, multi-purpose classrooms, equipment and conference rooms to help bioscience startups turn scientific advances into job-creating ventures. The center will also house the Cal State LA BioStart training program.

Cal State LA BioStart has trained about 60 emerging entrepreneurs under the direction of Cal State LA Microbiology Professor Howard Xu, who also oversees incubator development and programming for the university. Xu was the emcee at the University Club graduation ceremony.

Richelle Toriyama, who received an MBA from Cal State LA, was one of the graduating fellows celebrated at the ceremony. She aims to develop new products, systems and procedures to improve efficacy and minimize risk in the food service industry with the knowledge and skills she gained from Cal State LA BioStart.

“It taught me so much about entrepreneurship and provided realistic views of what it takes to start and operate a business,” Toriyama said. “It exceeded my expectations.”

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