Biotech Community Loses A Leader: Duane Roth


Duane J. Roth, a respected San Diego business and life science leader, died Saturday of injuries suffered in a bicycling accident on July 21. Roth, 63, was CEO of Connect, an organization that promotes technology entrepreneurship. Roth was also vice chairman of California’s stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM. He was to become chairman of the board for the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in September.

Duane Roth

Prior to joining CONNECT, Mr. Roth founded Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp., where he served as CEO and Chairman of the Board for over twenty-five years. Prior to Alliance, he held senior management positions at Johnson & Johnson and American Home Products (now Pfizer) operating companies. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors and executive committees of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the California Healthcare Institute (CHI) and BIOCOM (past Chair).

“I speak for the BIOCOM board, staff, and the entire BIOCOM family in saying the life science industry has lost one of its most devoted champions.  Duane’s passion for the industry first as a company executive (with Alliance Pharmaceutical) and later as CONNECT’s President and CEO was unwavering.  His contributions to San Diego are not limited to the life science industry, and his loss will be felt throughout our community” shared Joe Panetta, president and CEO of BIOCOM. “Personally, I will deeply miss Duane as a friend, colleague, and confidant.  Our lives were intertwined not only professionally but socially and casually as well.  Karin and I extend our deepest sympathies to Renee and the entire Roth family.”

Duane Roth was a founding member of the BIOCOM Board of Directors and is the only person to have served two terms as BIOCOM board chair, in 1996-97 and 2004-05.  In 2010, Roth was given the highest honor BIOCOM can bestow on a board member, that of Life Director, a position reserved only to those who have distinguished themselves in service at the highest levels to BIOCOM and the Southern California life science community.


“Duane’s personal touch and dedication to those who worked with him became evident to me on my first day on the job at Alliance Pharmaceuticals back in 1993, when he personally came down to my office to welcome me to the company” shared Pete Manspeaker, president of Vision Quest Bioscience, LLC.  ” He always made a point to recognize and reward the importance of his people, both at the individual and team level, in the drug development process,  Duane pushed those around him to seek greatness, and his contributions to our industry will be greatly missed”

Irwin M. Jacobs, co-founder of telecom giant Qualcomm and chair of the Salk Institute, praised Roth for playing key roles in many aspects of the San Diego community.

“He was wonderful in the way he ran Connect and the way he promoted the city here and in Washington, particularly high tech and biotech.,” Jacobs said. “He was instrumental in so many areas. This is a real loss, a loss of a friend that I enjoyed meeting with and talking to and exploring possibilities.”


Duane Roth will be remembered at a memorial service on Friday, August 9th. 

The service for Roth, 63, is set for 11 a.m. at the Immaculata Church at the University of San Diego, according to Connect, the organization he led.


Posted in AZBio News.