Innovations Award

Joseph Panetta
President and CEO

The Innovations Award is presented to Joseph Panetta and Biocom for their leadership with the passage of the Protect Medical Innovation Act and their role in supporting California’s life science sector as it makes vital investments to find treatments and cures for liver disease.

Joseph Panetta is President and CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of Biocom, California’s largest and most-experienced leader and advocate for the life science industry.  Biocom works on behalf of over 1,100 members to drive public policy, build an enviable network of industry leaders, create access to capital development, introduce cutting-edge STEM education programs, and create robust value-driven purchasing programs.  Mr. Panetta works with an experienced professional staff of 50, with offices located in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Panetta is co-founder of the Biocom Political Action Committee, the Biocom Institute for education and workforce development, and chairman of the California Biotechnology Foundation.  In 2014, Mr. Panetta was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which serves as the governing and oversight board for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and is responsible for providing grant funding under the $3 billion California Stem Cell Initiative.

Mr. Panetta holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from LeMoyne College, and a Master of Public Health degree in industrial and environmental health from the University of Pittsburgh.   Mr. Panetta brings a depth of experience to his role, having worked in the life science industry at companies including Dow AgroSciences, Mycogen, Shearing AG, and Pennwalt Corp.  He also served as a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Panetta joined Biocom in 1999.

Mr. Panetta serves on the boards of directors of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and CONNECT.   Mr. Panetta is a member of advisory boards at UC San Diego, San Diego State University, Cal State University San Marcos, and National University.

He received the following awards: the American Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians Special Recognition Award; the CONNECT Distinguished Contribution Award for Life Science Innovation;  the Association of Pan Asian Communities Annual Leadership award;  and the  LEAD San Diego Ronald Kendrick Memorial Award for Regional Collaboration.  In June 2018, he was awarded the Most Admired CEO of the Year for Non-Profit by the San Diego Business Journal.

Physician of the Year Award

John L. Person, MD, FACP
Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group

The Physician of the Year Award is presented to Dr. John Person, a gastroenterologist/hepatologist at Sharp Rees-Stealy (SRS) Medical Group.  He joined Sharp Rees-Stealy in 1995 and was head of Gastroenterology at Sharp Rees-Stealy from 2003 until July o f2008.  Prior to Sharp Rees-Stealy he was Head of Gastroenterology at Naval Hospital, San Diego.

He originally performed his Medical School training at University of Iowa where he graduated with AOA honors.  He performed an internship and residency at the Naval Hospital, San Diego in internal medicine.  He also performed a gastroenterology fellowship at Naval Hospital, San Diego and performed a hepatology fellowship at University of Southern California.

Dr. Person belongs to numerous medical societies.  He has served on the American Liver Foundation Medical Advisory Committee San Diego for over 25 years and as Chairman of this committee from 1996 to 1999.  He also has served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee for the San Diego Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America and as an Associate Clinical Professor at UCSD for many years.  He has been listed as top Doctor” in San Diego in several magazines on multiple occasions.  Other awards include the “Health Hero Award” from San Diego Combined Health Agencies and the “Physician of the Year” award from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation San Diego.  He is or has served on the SRS CME committee, SRS Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Healthnet of California Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Sharp Health P and T Committee, and the Sharp Memorial Internal Medicine Supervisory Committee.

Chef of the Decade

Chef Christopher Gardner
Volunteers of America, SW

Born in Walla Walla, WA in 1969, Chef Christopher’s culinary interests started at a young age, growing up in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. The rich Walla Walla Valley, with the hot dry summers and cold winters, afforded Christopher the knowledge of produce and its availabilities that changed with each season.

Chef Christopher attended culinary school at age 27 in Seattle, WA. There, he honed the many skills that he had learned throughout his years of working at various restaurants and hotels in the Pacific Northwest.

Chef Christopher began his career with Sea Galley, a long-gone restaurant group.  He also worked for Marriot and W Hotels, RUI Restaurants based out of Seattle, and worked with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar for twelve years.

He is currently the Executive Chef and Food Service Director at Volunteers of America, SW in San Diego California.  He is responsible for their program development and management of their Food Service Social Enterprise incorporating Fresh Food Factor and building their Catering for a Cause program.  This includes meals prepared for our Volunteers of America residents, School Meals, and meals for Adults and Seniors.

Chef Christopher calls San Diego home, where he lives with his wife Bethney, and their daughters Olivia and Madeline, and two beagles.   He enjoys growing fresh tomatoes and peppers, and prides himself in his garden of over 30 cactus.

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