Dr. Diane Pennica received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the State University of New York at Fredonia, her Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island, and did a post-doctoral fellowship at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology.
Diane joined Genentech on May 1st, 1980 as the 60th employee and retired in July of 2010 after being with the company for 30 years.
Diane is the co-discoverer of the heart attack and stroke drug, t-PA (Activase). In addition to cloning t-PA, she discovered a mutant form of p53, which was voted Molecule of the Year by Science magazine in 1993 for its critical role in helping to suppress cancer. She was also the first to isolate the gene for human Tumor Necrosis Factor, which is a major cause of arthritis in humans. Therapies based on this work, such as Enbrel, spare millions of people pain and degenerative changes.
Other significant accomplishments include being the first to clone the genes for cardiotrophin-1, urokinase, the WISPs, uromodulin, and interferon-gamma.
Her research during the last 10 years at Genentech was focused on trying to identify genes, which are over-produced during tumor development. These genes, and the proteins they encode, may be useful markers for cancer diagnosis and may be potential targets for cancer therapeutics.
Some of her awards and honors are, being chosen by Science Digest as one of the scientists involved in the top 100 innovations of 1984 for her work on t-PA. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Fredonia State University, and a Service to Humanity Award from the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce. In 1989, Diane received the Inventor of the Year Award from the Intellectual Property Owners Foundation in Washington, D.C. for her work on the discovery of t-PA. In 1995, she was named to the State University of New York Alumni Honor Role for excellence in career achievements. In 2006, she was one of the first recipients of the University of Rhode Island Dean’s List Award for Outstanding Professional Accomplishment. In 2014, she received the Distinguished Achievement President’s Award from the University of Rhode Island.
Diane has 100 publications and 41 issued patents.by