By: Kabous le Roux
Patrick Soon-Shiong, the son of Chinese immigrants to South Africa, is the world’s richest doctor and the wealthiest resident of Los Angeles with a net worth of almost R150-billion. Soon-Shiong was born on 29 July 1952 and grew up “coloured” in Port Elizabeth after his parents fled from China during World War Two. He finished high school when he was 16 and received his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand at 23, finishing fourth out of 189 graduates. He moved to Canada, then to the US, after doing an internship at the all-white Johannesburg General Hospital where he was paid half the salary of everyone else.
Fighting cancer, making money
Soon-Shiong became well-known during the 1980s for transplanting pancreas cells to treat diabetes. He invented the world’s first protein nanoparticle delivery technology to treat breast cancer, doubling the response rate in patients. He founded two drug companies, Abraxis and American Pharmaceutical Partners, which he sold for R112-billion. He holds 50 US patents, including that of block buster pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane.
Soon-Shiong founded Nantworks in 2001 to developed technology that can analyse genetic data from tumours in mere seconds. Through Nantworks Soon-Shiong aims to realise his vision of future cancer treatments where all sorts of technologies such as diagnostics, networked supercomputers and personalised mixtures of cancer drugs converge to manage cancer and achieve a sustained, disease-free state.
Giving his billions away
Forbes ranks Soon-Shiong’s fortune among the 100 largest in the US. Soon-Shiong, as a member of the Buffett/Gates Giving Pledge, plans to give away half of his sizeable fortune while he is still alive. To date has given away hundreds of millions of dollars and funds numerous healthcare projects in the US.