Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles billionaire working to beat cancer

Ash Jurberg

Image from WikiCommons images

Forbes recently released their list of the wealthiest 400 people in the United States. Each year I eagerly read through the list,, trying to find stories that can inspire and motivate others.

One name that stood out to me this year is Los Angeles resident Patrick Soon-Shiong. In a time where the world is fixated on vaccines and medical treatments, it is worth recognizing the work and dedication of Patrick to the cause.

The Los Angeles billionaire

Patrick Soon-Shiong has a net worth of $8.9 billion, placing him at number 89 on the United States rich list. Unlike many others on this list who inherited their wealth, Patrick has made all his fortune through his hard work and intelligence. So let's take a quick look at the Los Angeles billionaire who is saving lives.

Patrick was born in 1952 in South Africa, where his parents fled after the Japanese invasion of China. Patrick was naturally intelligent and began studying medicine at the age of just sixteen.

" Growing up in apartheid South Africa, we were always the underdogs. My black friends were always the underdogs. It gave me insight into the dignity and strength of the underdog. So part of what Michele and I do, consciously or unconsciously, is always fight for the underdogs in this country and for ourselves." Patrick Soon-Shiong 

After graduating from medicine in South Africa, he left first to work in Canada before moving to Los Angeles, where he became the youngest professor of surgery at UCLA. In 1984 he became a board-certified surgeon.

At UCLA, he performed a number of firsts, including the first whole-pancreas transplant; however his focus soon turned to finding a treatment for cancer. He left UCLA in 1991 to start a diabetes and cancer biotechnology firm called VivoRx Inc.

"There is a universal molecule called albumin that drives all cancer cells, so I decided if I could make a nanoparticle of albumin, I could trick the cancer to feed, not starve. So I invented that, and then went to the National Cancer Institute and said, “Here you have got to develop this.” They said, “Who are you?” I explained that I'm a surgeon doing diabetes and whole pancreas transplants; I’m a NASA scientist, and I think I have a treatment for all cancers. I have this letter to this day which said, “We tested this, it's fantastic, but please go away. We can't manufacture this.”  Patrick Soon-Shiong 

In 1998 he invented the cancer drug Abraxane which became a huge success thanks to its efficacy against pancreatic cancer. Patrick became a billionaire when he sold two drug companies he had started- APP Pharmaceuticals and Abraxis BioScience. He sold APP to Fresenius Medical Care for $4.6 billion in 2008 and Abraxis to Celgene for $2.8 billion in 2010.

In the midst of this, he also started NantKwest, which is focused on developing and marketing a range of healthcare solutions. NantKwest went public in 2015.

Last month Patrick announced plans to invest in a manufacturing plant and complex in South Africa to produce COVID-19 and cancer vaccines.

Other Los Angeles investments

Not all of Patrick's investments are medical-related.

In 2010 he became a minority owner of the NBA franchise the Los Angeles Lakers, and he was an early investor in Zoom in 2013. In 2018 he purchased the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Tribune for $500 million.

While this was just a brief insight into Patrick Soon-Shiong hopefully it provides a a positive story for readers.

Los Angeles readers, have you ever worked with or met Patrick? What was your experience like. As always please leave your comments in the section below.

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