Fall 2015
Alumni Accent

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Bishop Named 2015 Distinguished Alumnus

Story by Anne Pershing

Philippe C. Bishop, M.D.Philippe C. Bishop, M.D. '93 was surprised and humbled upon learning he had been named the School of Medicine's 2015 Distinguished Alumnus earlier this summer.

"It is truly an honor to have been selected for this award. Over the years, the medical school has recognized so many inspiring and accomplished graduates, many of whom have contributed so much to society through patient care, advancing scientific knowledge or leading change in community," he said.

Bishop is senior vice president of hematology and oncology therapeutics at Gilead Sciences, Inc., where he also serves as a member of the Gilead Executive Committee. He is excited to have joined Gilead, a company dedicated to developing and delivering medications that advance the treatment of life threatening disease.

"Over the last several years, Gilead has worked to build strong expertise and an extensive pipeline within the hematology and oncology areas. And now, I have a unique opportunity to grow and shape its future," he explained.

"Every day, I have the pleasure to come to work and interact with some of the brightest, dedicated, scientifically curious minds seeking to solve some of the biggest challenges in medicine. I cannot help but think of the great opportunity we have to bring new therapeutic options to people living with cancer. That is what I was trained to do. It is all about trying to make a difference."

Prior to joining Gilead Sciences, Inc., Bishop served as vice president of product development and oncology at Genentech, where he says he had the pleasure to work for, and learn from, one of the School of Medicine's most influential Distinguished Alumni, Susan Desmond-Hellman, M.D.‘82, who was president of product development at Genentech and now heads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

At Genentech, he contributed to many of the company's oncology pipeline therapeutics and was a member of the Roche/Genentech joint leadership team.

Previous to Genentech, Bishop led efforts to develop cancer therapies at Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi-Aventis. He also held positions at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

Born in Las Vegas, but raised in France, he returned to the U.S. to finish his secondary education and complete his undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University.

"Even prior to starting medical school, I had a special interest in biomedical research. I had spent three years at USC conducting research in the laboratory of John Parker, M.D., so it was natural for me to continue to do so while at the School of Medicine. I joined the laboratory of Dr. William Welch in biochemistry in my first year of medical school," he said.

"In addition, Amy Ellwood in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Matthew Stein, a classmate and my roommate, helped me appreciate my passion for medicine. Along with Dr. Welch and Dr. Stephen St. Jeor, professor of microbiology and immunology, they encouraged me to pursue my interest in biomedical research."

He decided to apply to the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes-National Institutes of Health Research Scholars Program and with the strong support of Jerry May, Ph.D., and then Dean Robert Daugherty, he was one of 36 medical students nationwide to be selected.

"That year turned out to be a career-defining moment for me. The experience was most valuable and shaped my career path," he remembers.

He completed residency in internal medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a medical oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute before embarking in earnest on his career.

Yet he never lost the memories he had of attending medical school in Reno.

"Coming to Reno for the first time as a medical student was a sharp contrast to the southern Nevada town I knew so well. Matthew Stein helped me discover ‘The Biggest Little City in the World.' I still remember our road trip to Battle Mountain, tubing down the Truckee River, and the midnight runs to Circus-Circus to play the nickel mechanical ponies after a long night of studying. And the views from the top of Mount Rose on one of the most wonderful hikes with Elisa DeAngelis, Joan Sanford and Dan Nason."