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Robert Chess

Robert   Chess
Lecturer
Contact Info
RobertChess
Lecturer in Management

Teaching Statement

Rob draws on his experience in starting and growing businesses across multiple science-based industries — biotech, cleantech, and information technology — in teaching courses in entrepreneurship and the management of innovation in the health care industry. His research interests are in the area of health care policy, global health, and science-based start-ups. Rob's teaching focus is on exposing students to the complex, real-world issues and trade-offs they will face in starting, growing, and operating companies in science and technology-based industries. He has been a lecturer at Stanford GSB since 2004.

Bio

Rob Chess is a serial entrepreneur in the life sciences field.  He currently is Chairman of Nektar Therapeutics, (NASDAQ:NKTR), a health care biotechnology company, and Biota Technologies, a company he co-founded which is developing industrial applications of the analysis of microbial communities.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of Pelvalon, a medical device company, and Twist Biosciences, which is pioneering a new high throughput system for producing synthetic genes.  Rob joined Nektar as its first non-founder employee in 1991 and led the company as CEO through 1999 and as Chairman since then.   Rob co-founded and was President of Penederm, a dermatology company that went public and was acquired by Mylan Laboratories, and was the start-up CEO and later Chairman of OPX Biotechnologies, a renewable chemicals company which was sold to Cargill.  He started his career in the technology field and held management positions at Intel and Metaphor Computer Systems (later acquired by IBM).  Rob served on the White House Staff in the first Bush Administration as a White House Fellow and Associate Director of the White House Office of Economic and Domestic Policy.

In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors and activities at Stanford GSB, Rob is a trustee of Caltech and Chairman of the Caltech Board Technology Transfer Committee.  He also was the initial Chairman and is now a Board member of Bio Ventures for Global Health, and was a long-time Board member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization where he was chairman of the Emerging Companies Section and co-chairman of the Intellectual Property Committee.  Rob received a BS in engineering with honors from Caltech and an MBA from Harvard.

Rob is an out-of-practice but avid golfer, a reformed political junkie, and father of 18 year old triplets.

Academic Degrees

  • MBA, Harvard University, 1980
  • BS in Engineering with honors, Caltech, 1978

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 2004

Professional Experience

  • President and CEO, Nektar Therapeutics, 1991–2001, Chairman, 2001-present
  • Co-Founder and Chairman, Biota Technologies, 2013-present
  • Chairman, OPX Biotechnologies, 2007-present, CEO 2007-2008
  • Deputy Associate Director, White House Office of Economic and Domestic Policy, 1990–1991
  • White House Fellow, 1990–1991
  • Cofounder and President, Penderm, 1986–1989
  • Partner, Chess, Frederick and Associates, 1985–1986
  • Market Segment Manager, Metaphor Computer Systems, 1983–1985
  • Product Manager and Strategic Marketing Manager, Intel, 1980–1983

Courses Taught

Degree Courses

2015-16

The health care system accounts for over 17% of US GDP and is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. This two unit class focuses on the interplay and tension between the main players in the health care field - providers of health...

This course is offered for students who at some time may want to undertake an entrepreneurial career by pursuing opportunities leading to partial or full ownership and control of a business. The course deals with case situations from the point of...

2014-15

The health care system accounts for over 17% of US GDP and is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. This two unit class focuses on the interplay and tension between the main players in the health care field - providers of health...

This course is offered for students who at some time may want to undertake an entrepreneurial career by pursuing opportunities leading to partial or full ownership and control of a business. The course deals with case situations from the point of...

Stanford Case Studies

Amyris | E331
Robert Chess, Claire Magat, Jessica Morgan2015
Gametime | E496
Robert Chess, Yin Li2014
Brown Robin Capital Executing a Search Fund Acquisition | E472
Robert B. Chess, Austin Kiessig2013
Opxbio | E476
Rob Chess, Peter Reiss. Justin Randolph2013
Sunrun - Managing Hypergrowth | E433
Robert Chess, Sara Rosenthal2013
iPierian | E393
Robert Chess, Sara Rosenthal2011
Navigenics | E394
Robert Chess, Sara Rosenthal2011
Gilead: Launching Truvada in Europe | OIT94
Robert Chess, Sara Leslie2009
Exubera and NICE | OIT80
Robert Chess, Lyn Denend, Stefanos Zenios2008
Minova (B) | E286B
Katherine Bose, Robert Chess, Peter Reiss2008
Minova (C) | E286C
Katherine Bose, Robert Chess, Peter Reiss2008
Minova (D) | E286D
Katherine Bose, Robert Chess, Peter Reiss2008
Negotiating Partnerships in the Healthcare Industry (A): The Pharmac and Respire Deal | OIT81A
Robert Chess, Lyn Denend, Sara Gaviser Leslie, Stefanos Zenios2008
Negotiating Partnerships in the Healthcare Industry (B): The Pharmac and Respire Deal | OIT81B
Robert Chess, Lyn Denend, Sara Gaviser Leslie, Stefanos Zenios2008
Early-Stage Business Vignettes | E304
Robert Chess, Sean Harrington, Peter Reiss2007
Connetics and Relaxin | E200
Robert Chess, Mark Leslie, Joshua Spitzer2006
Genomic Health: Launching a Paradigm Shift ... and an Innovative New Test | OIT49
Robert Chess, Lyn Denend, Stefanos Zenios2006
Napo Pharmaceuticals | E223
Robert Chess, Joshua Spitzer2006
Abbott Laboratories And HUMIRA: Launching A Blockbuster Drug | OIT44
Robert Chess, Lyn Denend, Stefanos Zenios2005
Abbott Laboratories and HUMIRA: Launching A Blockbuster Drug | OIT44 Condensed
Robert Chess, Lyn Denend, Stefanos Zenios2005
Note on Market Research | E165
Robert Chess, Alicia Seiger2004

Stanford University Affiliations

Stanford GSB

  • Center for Entrepreneurial Studies

Greater Stanford University

  • Center for Health Policy

Service to the Profession

  • Board of Trustees, California Institute of Technology, 2006-present
  • Chairman, Bio Ventures for Global Health, 2004-2009, Board member 2004-present
  • Board of Directors, Biotechnology Industry Organization, 1997-2008
  • Trustee, Committee for Economic Development, 2002-present
  • Board of Directors, Pelvalon, 2011-present

Insights by Stanford Business

September 11, 2015
Novice entrepreneurs often make the mistake of sticking with a business plan for too long.
June 4, 2015
What if algorithms could predict how often someone will get sick, and make it easier to shop around for medical procedures?