Governor Gray Davis (Ret.)

Of Counsel, Loeb & Loeb LLP

Joseph "Gray" Davis offers a combination of experience, insight and perspective following a long and distinguished career in California government. He is a trusted advisor to companies and provides a strategic approach to solving complex issues through the network of relationships he has developed and the extensive knowledge he has gained over his 30 plus years of public service.

Davis was overwhelmingly elected the 37th governor of California in 1998, winning 58 percent of the vote. As Governor, he made education a top priority, signing legislation to strengthen California's K-12 system, increasing accountability in schools, and expanding access to higher education with a record number of scholarships and college loans. These reforms improved student achievement scores for six consecutive years.

While presiding over California during an economic expansion, Davis made record investments in infrastructure, created four Centers of Science and Innovation on UC campuses, and expanded state health insurance for an additional one million children. He also was the first Governor in the nation to authorize stem cell research. As Governor, he demonstrated bold environmental leadership by signing the first law in the nation to reduce global warming and greenhouse gases. He also created the first Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Registry, and was the first to establish the nation's most ambitious commitment to renewable energy by creating the statewide Renewables Portfolio Standard. Despite a wave of Republican victories across the nation in 2002, Davis was re-elected to a second term.

To view an archive of his gubernatorial accomplishments, please visit the Governor Gray Davis’ Digital Library Web site at

Governor Davis is also a Distinguished Policy Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, and regularly speaks before various academic and civic groups. Davis was the Keynote speaker at the Columbia Law School Graduation Ceremony in May of 2009. Davis serves on several civic boards, including the Saban Free Clinic, and is the 2010 Co-Chair for the Southern California Leadership Council.


Joe DeRisi, UC San Francisco

Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry, UC San Francisco
HHMI Investigator
MacArthur Fellow, 2004

[from HHMI] To describe Joseph DeRisi as a molecular biologist who has made major contributions to malaria research would be accurate, but it would also be incomplete. He might be described more precisely as a scientific polymath who delights in tinkering with new technology, moves readily among disciplines, shares what he knows as widely as possible, and dives fearlessly into new scientific challenges.

DeRisi helped pioneer the use of DNA microarray technology as a graduate student. He now uses that same approach to study the activity of the full range of malaria genes and has already generated provocative insights. Malaria and emerging viral diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and avian flu, represent serious threats to world health. Efforts to control malaria—which kills some 2.5 million people a year, mostly children—have made only halting progress and drug resistance is now emerging as a grave problem.

DeRisi's analysis of gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most deadly form of human malaria, has revealed that an unusually high percentage of genes are expressed in a highly periodic fashion during the parasite's life cycle—many only once and in a specific order—as it invades and destroys red blood cells. This finding reveals a vulnerable point in the malaria parasite's life cycle, a weak spot where drugs and vaccines could be especially effective. DeRisi, together will his collaborator Kip Guy, has begun screening new antimalarial compounds.

In a separate area of research, DeRisi and his colleagues created a "virus chip"—a comprehensive array of the most conserved and characteristic DNA sequences from each viral family. This broad array maximizes the probability of detecting a new virus. The chip is used for rapid detection of viruses and discovery of unknown viruses. In 2003, he used the chip to identify and characterize the SARS virus within 24 hours after receiving a sample from the Centers for Disease Control.

Visit the DeRisi Lab webpage

Visit Joe's Wikipedia page


Michael Gaito, JPMorgan

Michael Gaito leads JPMorgan's Healthcare Group on the west coast and is responsible for the firm's relationships with biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Gaito has been with the firm nearly 20 years and during that time has worked on a broad range of strategic and financing transactions for domestic and international clients of the firm. He received his AB degree from Princeton University, his MBA from Columbia University, and resides in San Francisco with his wife and two daughters.

Regis Kelly, OBE, QB3

Director, QB3
Byers Family Distinguished Professor, UCSF

Prior to joining QB3 in 2004, Regis Kelly served as executive vice-chancellor at UCSF; he oversaw the UCSF research enterprise and was also responsible for construction of the new Mission Bay campus. Kelly was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to science, innovation, and global health. He joined the UCSF Department of Biochemistry in 1971 and has served as director of the Cell Biology Graduate Program, director of the Hormone Research Institute, and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. In 2015, he was awarded the inaugural Byers Family Distinguished Professorship at UCSF. He was chairman of the Bay Area Scientific Innovation Consortium and has served on the boards of the Malaysian Biotechnology Industry Advisory Board, the Scleroderma Research Foundation, and Bridge Pharmaceuticals. He is an advisor to the Thailand Bionanotechnology Institute, Ho Chi Minh City Biotechnology Department Corp., University of Oxford Systems Biology Program, and the San Francisco Mayor’s Biotechnology Advisory Group. Kelly earned an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in biophysics from the California Institute of Technology.

Jasper Rine, UC Berkeley

Professor of Genetics & Developmental Biology, UC Berkeley
Member, National Academy of Sciences
HHMI Investigator

Jasper Rine has been on the Berkeley faculty since 1982. His research spans the fields of genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry. He was the director of the LBL Human Genome Center from 1991 to 1994, and more recently was the Director of the Center for Computational Biology. His research accomplishments include the construction of the first genetic map of the dog genome, discovery of biochemical links between cholesterol biosynthesis and cancer causing genes, and the discovery of a mechanism of epigenetic inheritance. His most recent research interests focus on understanding the impact of human genetic variation, epigenetic mechanisms, and the link between the two. He is a recipient of the University Distinguished Teaching Award, and is a Professor of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  Among his honors are election to the National Academy of Science, and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is currently the President of the Genetics Society of America.

Visit the Rine Lab website

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Beth Shapiro, UC Santa Cruz

Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz
MacArthur Fellow, 2009

Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist who specializes in the genetics of ice age animals and plants. A pioneer in the young field called “ancient DNA,” Beth travels extensively in the Arctic regions of Alaska, Siberia and Canada collecting bones and other remains of long-dead creatures including mammoths, giant bears, and extinct camels and horses. Using DNA sequences extracted from these remains, she hopes to better understand how the distribution and abundance of species changed in response to major climate changes in the past, and why some species go extinct while others persist. The results could be used to help develop strategies for the conservation of species that are under threat from climate change today.

Associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California Santa Cruz and a research associate of the Denver Museum of Natural History, Shapiro has been widely honored for her research. She has been named a Royal Society University Research Fellow, Searle Scholar, Packard Fellow, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. In 2009, she received a MacArthur “genius” award. Her recent book is “How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-extinction.”

Visit the UCSC Paleogenomics Lab website

Visit Beth's Wikipedia page

Ed Viesturs

Mountaineer & Adventurer

Washington resident Ed Viesturs is widely regarded as this country’s foremost high-altitude mountaineer. He is familiar to many from the 1996 IMAX Everest Expedition documentary and in 2002, he was awarded the historic Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorer’s Club for outstanding achievement in the field of mountaineering. In winning the award, he joined an elite group of climbers including Sir Edmund Hillary. In 1992 he was awarded the American Alpine Club Sowles Awards for his participation in two rescues on K-2.

Viesturs is a professional mountaineer and works as a design consultant for several prominent outdoor equipment manufacturers such as Eddie Bauer/First Ascent and Grandoe Gloves. He also represents companies such as Rolex and the Seattle Seahawks. He does corporate motivational speeches as well, touching on subjects such as Risk Management, Leadership, Team Work, Overcoming Major Obstacles, and Decision Making Under Pressure.

Ed serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Big City Mountaineers (BCM), an organization that instills critical life skills in under-resourced youth through wilderness mentoring experiences that help keep kids in school, reduce violence and drug use. He is spokesperson for their Summit For Someone benefit climb series which placing individuals on iconic peaks raising support for BCM youth and programs.

Viesturs has successfully reached the summits of all of the world’s fourteen 8000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, an 18 year project he christened Endeavor 8000. His goal was completed on May 12, 2005 with his ascent of Annapurna one of the world’s most treacherous peaks. He is one of only a handful of climbers in history (and the only American) to accomplish this. That year Viesturs was awarded National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year.

In August 2011, Ed made is 208th ascent of Mt. Rainier while guiding for Rainier Mountaineering.

During the 18 year span to climb the world’s highest peaks he went on 29 Himalayan expeditions and reached the summit on 20 of these occasions and stood on the top of Everest seven times. He climbs without benefit of an oxygen tank, which he feels can be burdensome and potentially troublesome. Only a superior conditioned athlete can scale heights above 25,000 feet without artificial oxygen – a fact Viesturs has turned into an important metaphor for his audiences (i.e., that the key to the journey is in the time and energy invested in the preparation).

Viesturs motto has always been that climbing has to be a round trip. All of his planning and focus during his climbs maintains this ethic and he is not shy about turning back from a climb if conditions are too severe. In spite of his conservative attitude Viesturs has been one of the most successful Himalayan climbers in American history. His story is about risk management as well as being patient enough for conditions to allow an ascent. Ultimately, in his words, “The mountain decides whether you climb or not. The art of mountaineering is knowing when to go, when to stay, and when to retreat.”

At the start of their 2005 season the Seattle Seahawks football team brought in Viesturs to speak to them about teamwork. The team and coaches incorporated some of his messages and ideas into their practices and games and went on to play in the Super Bowl that season. According to Viesturs, regardless of the industry, teamwork is the same: “It is an implicit trust in, and recognition that the person next to you is No. 1,” he explains. “If we’re climbing a mountain together and you slip and fall, I’m there to save your life” – which is the ultimate definition of teamwork. Another lesson Viesturs espouses is the importance of perseverance, or going step by step and not getting discouraged when working toward your goal. Viesturs recalls once being just 300 feet away from the top of Mount Everest when he had to turn back.

In October 2005 Viesturs best selling autobiography “No Shortcuts To The Top” was published and released by Broadway Books. The book covers in detail Ed Viesturs’ career as a mountaineer, how he prepared for his expeditions and his philosophy about how he managed the inherent risks.

In 2008 Viesturs published his second book-“K-2, LIFE AND DEATH ON THE WORLD”S MOST DANGEROUS MOUNTAINS”, as by Broadway Books. This book chronicles 6 historic expeditions on the world’s second highest peak, and discusses the risks of success and the costs thereof. Risk management is a key theme throughout.

Viesturs third book- The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peakwas released on October 4, 2011.

Viesturs was born in 1959 and now lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with his wife of 15 years, Paula, and their four children. He continues to go on adventures. On May 19th 2009 he made his 7th ascent of Everest. In January of 2011 he lead a climb of Vinson Massiff, the highest peak in Antarctica, at ‘16,066. Most recently in August, 2011 made his 208th ascent of 14,410’ Mt. Rainier.

Visit Ed's website

Dan Widmaier, Bolt Threads

CEO, Bolt Threads

Dan is fascinated by finding the right conditions to grow things, whether he’s cultivating the broccoli in his vegetable garden, yeast in his microbrews or the people at Bolt Threads. He’s carefully tended our growth since 2009, using his passion and expertise to lead the company through technology development, expansion, and financing. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from UC San Francisco, where his graduate research involved designing genetic circuits to control microbial organelles. He’s also passionate about the growth of something over which he has less control: the progress of the Seattle Seahawks.