Art Levinson is always introduced as the former CEO of Genentech but I didn’t know his story until I read the Herceptin story in Emperor of All Maladies. Turns out Levinson was trained by Nobel Michael Bishop of oncogene fame. In the late 80’s Levinson was leading a group pursuing treatment for breast cancer by doggedly tracking a gene called HER-2. Genentech’s executives turned away from cancer research after some high profile failures in the 80’s. This should have been the end of genentech’s role in HER-2 except for the leadership of Levinson. He dodged the bureaucracy, pursued resources and lead a small team to continue work on HER-2. The group produced Herceptin, one of the most important breakthroughs in chemotherapy in the molecular era in, a jaw-dropping, 3 years.
Reading that story I can see why Jobs would want him on the Apple board.