Alexander Sasha Kamb
SVP Amgen Research (Retd.)
Alexander (Sasha) Kamb has almost 25 years of experience in the biotechnology sector, ranging from founder/CSO/CEO of a startup company, to SVP and head of Amgen Discovery Research. Apart from drug discovery, he specializes in genetics, genomics, structural biology, neuroscience and oncology. He has published widely, including 13 peer-reviewed papers in the Cell, Science and Nature journals, including the most highly cited scientific publication of 1994 (Kamb et al., Science).
Dr. Kamb received his A.B. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Caltech. His thesis work culminated in the molecular cloning and characterization of the first potassium channel gene (Shaker locus in D. melanogaster), one of the fundamental determinants of electrical excitability in the nervous system (Kamb et al., Cell 1987; Kamb et al., Neuron1988).
As a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, Dr. Kamb invented an extremely rapid and broadly applicable method, using degenerate oligonucleotides coupled with DNA amplification, for cloning gene family members (Kamb et al., PNAS 1989). He also solved co-crystal structures for the cancer drug target thymidylate synthase (Kamb et al., Biochemistry 1992a; Kamb et al., Biochemistry 1992b).
After his postdoctoral training, Dr. Kamb joined Myriad Genetics, a start up company focused on identification and commercialization of human disease genes/diagnostics, and led the Myriad teams that cloned the major familial breast cancer genes, BRCA1 (Miki et al., Science 1994) and BRCA2 (Tavtigian et al., Nature Genetics 1996), and the major familial melanoma susceptibility and multiple tumor suppressor gene CDKN2 (Kamb et al., Science 1994). All these genes were commercialized by Myriad as proprietary diagnostic tests.
He also founded a biotechnology company, Arcaris, specializing in somatic cell genetics. Afterwards, he joined Novartis as Global Head of Oncology. In this capacity he built the Cambridge (NIBR) oncology group, recruiting over 90 FTEs.
In 2006 Dr. Kamb moved to Amgen to direct oncology research at its South San Francisco site, and subsequently was promoted to Senior Vice President of Amgen’s entire Discovery Research organization (~1000 FTEs as of 2016 when he resigned). During this period he and his team conceived of and implemented several strategic initiatives to refresh and sharpen scientific culture, rigor, innovation, disease strategy, organizational design, and academic relations. He led the efforts to integrate into Discovery Research two major platforms: human genetics (deCode Genetics) and bifunctional T-cell engagers (Micromet). Perhaps most important, the group achieved its highest productivity levels in Amgen history, measured by the number of high-quality clinical candidates per FTE (40 molecules in total 2011-2016).
Since January 2018, Dr. Kamb has served as CSO of a biotechnology company which he co-founded called A2 Biotherapeutics located in S. California The company is focused on cancer and immune-mediated diseases.