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Thursday, Dec 7, 2023

Biocom Honors Seven Local Nobel Prize Winners

San Diego not only likely has the highest concentration of sailboats per capita, it is also home to more Nobel Prize winners in science than anywhere on the planet , seven to be exact, according to Biocom San Diego, the trade group representing the local biotech community.

The reason for the higher-than-average number is the high caliber of research conducted at places like UCSD, the Salk Institute, Scripps Research Institute, the Neurosciences Institute, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

As a way to link itself to the Nobel Prize awards, and puff out its collective chest, Biocom hosted a special dinner Dec. 16 at the Hotel del Coronado honoring the seven local Nobel laureates who make this city their home.

In addition to honoring the past Nobel winners, the event is meant to promote the fact that San Diego’s biomedical community has so much cutting-edge research going on it deserves greater recognition, said Joe Panetta, Biocom’s president.

“We wanted to raise the level of awareness beyond the scientific community,” he said.

Five of the seven attended the dinner along with about 450 others: Francis Crick, Gerald Edelman, Roger Guillemin, Kary Mullis and George Palade. The two who couldn’t make it are Renato Dulbecco and Paul Crutzen.

The idea behind the event originated from the local Swedish Consulate, representing the nation that bestows the Nobel Prizes annually. As a way to link the dinner to the actual one in Sweden, the Hotel del’s Grande Hall was decorated to resemble the Blue Hall in Stockholm. In addition, the meal featured traditional Swedish fare and the official Nobel dinnerware.

A men’s choir and procession of robed girls holding candles added to the authenticity.

Some 450 people attended the dinner, about double the number who were at the first dinner last year, Panetta said.

Any profits from the event will go toward a scholarship fund for local students. Ten students and their teachers attended the dinner who won that trip based on essays on the topic of why they wanted to be a scientist.

Biocom, with 375 companies as members, is the main association for the local biotech industry, which has some 500 firms, and about 30,000 employees.


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