In Sight: My Life in Science and Biotech
In Sight is a memoir about how a love of science and discovery drove Julia Levy, a celebrated scholar and biotech CEO, to work her way through gender bias in order to achieve academic and professional recognition. Her story traces the unconventional invention of a breakthrough drug treatment from its development from laboratory research to its application as a medical treatment for vision loss.
Told from a female perspective, In Sight is a unique and personal story covering Levy’s early years as a refugee, her university training in the UK, and her appointment as professor at the University of British Columbia. Years spent as an academic led the author to unexpected exposure to the biotechnology industry and a chance meeting with colleagues that led to the formation of a lucrative biotechnology company, known today as QLT Inc. The bulk of the book covers the years spent building the company, and Levy’s surprising transition from chief scientific officer to CEO. In Sight is an honest description of the trials of drug development, the tensions inherent in the commercialization of health innovations, and the truly remarkable hurdles faced by women in the scientific community.
- Imprint: Rotman-UTP Publishing
- World Rights
- Page Count: 312 pages
- Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.0in x 9.3in
"Dr. Julia Levy’s life story is a compelling and exhilarating read, one to inspire and motivate scientist entrepreneurs to take their discoveries from lab to patient, overcoming multiple levels of adversity along the way. But this book is far more than an account of the positive impact on human health made possible by a brilliant and determined scientist: it is a testament to the human spirit and what is possible with creativity, preparation, persistence, and serendipity. As such, this is a book for anyone who is looking to channel their talents and energies to a greater purpose.
Julia did it. And so can you."
Paul Cubbon, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia
"Dr. Julia Levy’s story of personal and scientific discovery is dramatic, uplifting, and powerful. It is the story of a pioneer and leader who used her great intelligence to overcome difficult obstacles and illuminate the way for others. I highly recommend it."
Linda Solomon Wood, CEO, Observer Media Group, Founder, Editor-in-Chief of the National Observer
"A timely book given the renaissance of the biotech/drug sector in Canada and the rise of women in leadership roles. This is the story of the remarkable woman behind QLT, the only Canadian-based company to have discovered and led the development of a successful drug independently and one that once had a valuation higher than some Canadian banks. It provides a look into the hurdles faced by women as well as inspirational insights for all those who maintain it’s not possible to undertake drug development from Canada."
Christine Charette, Former managing director, Biotechnology, BMO
"Pioneering a biotech in the 1980’s was no easy task, and even more challenging in Canada, where venture capital was virtually non-existent. QLT rose to the ranks of a small group of international profitable biotech companies, lead by this remarkable woman. Having lived through many of the events in the book, I can attest to the riveting cadence of the narrative, and the many ups and downs of biotech companies. Levy continues to give back to the Canadian biotech scene, mentoring new CEO’s and helping to build new companies in a richly innovative Canadian ecosystem of academic and entrepreneurial excellence."
Paul J. Hastings, President & CEO, Nkarta Therapeutics
"Julia Levy created a once in lifetime experience for the employees who were fortunate enough to work for her and at the same time created a flagship biotech company for Canada. Julia’s own complexity as a person comes through brilliantly in this book. Her intellect, strength of character, innovative and curious mind and her deep understanding of the contradictions of human beings.
Julia was at first the brilliant scientist and then became the accidental CEO. She was a living masterclass in ‘servant leadership’ long before anyone coined the term. As someone who lived the journey right beside her, I am so pleased that she told this story.
Linda Lupini, Global Vice-President, Employee Experience, Copperleaf Technologies
"Julia Levy broke every glass ceiling she encountered in sports, school, research, entrepreneurship, finance, management, and, most importantly, health care. An inspiring read for those with aspirations to change the world, those who have made their mark, and especially for those aiming to break barriers encountered by free-thinking, determined women. This book, as well as the author’s career and present-day active mentoring of young science entrepreneurs, ensure her legacy will be a beacon for generations to come."
Haig Farris, O.C. Founding Chairman, D-Wave Systems | Co-chair, Creative Destruction Lab
Author InformationJulia Levy is a professor emerita at The University of British Columbia.
Table of contents
Foreword by Molly Shoichet
1. Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop
2. Does Your Dog Always Sit in the Front Seat?
3. Where I Wanted to Be
4. Life in Bed-Sits
5. Woefully Outclassed
6. Whose Lab Do You Work In?
7. Earning My Stripes
8. Seeing the Light
9. Becoming Part of a Biotech Start-Up
10. Positioning QLT as a Photodynamic Therapy Company
11. Colleagues at American Cyanamid Come to Our Rescue
12. The Nation’s Blood Supply
13. PDT Is Different from Other Cancer Drugs
14. I Was Surprised and Not at All Pleased
15. Splitting Up
16. Failure Was Never an Option
17. Nothing Can Prepare You for the Torture of ODAC
18. Taking Big Steps in Our AMD Clinical Trials
19. An Open and Respectful Relationship
20. Our Work on Age-Related Macular Degeneration Is Her Legacy
21. We at QLT Were on Pins and Needles
22. People Couldn’t Stop Smiling
23. More Than a One-Trick Pony
24. Launching the Product and Hoping for No Unpleasant Surprises
25. Growing the Company
26. Time to Reflect
27. An Enormous Rush of Relief
28. A Biotech Company with a Lot of Money Is in Danger
29. I Thought These Problems Would Be Transient
30. Ongoing Headaches
31. He Felt Thoroughly Betrayed
32. Problems with Activist Shareholders
33. New Opportunity
About the Author
Subjects and Courses