Roy Doumani.

Roy Doumani. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Roy Doumani has generated billions of dollars through a lifetime of real estate, finance, biotechnology ventures and education.

He launched the UCLA Business of Science Center to help turn the school’s research into revenue.

He adds a dash of moxie as chief executive of the center.

“I don’t believe in lecturing,” Doumani said from his office at the California NanoSystems Institute, another UCLA center he helped found. “I believe in interacting. All of our classes are workshops. They put together teams. They pick a subject and start a project. They build companies.”

Doumani’s longtime dedication to the application of business principles to academic research brought him honors as Business Leader of the Year for 2018 in the Education category during the Business Journal’s March 21 Business Hall of Fame Awards luncheon at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

The 82-year-old Venice resident is credited for his business savvy in starting a string of successful Los Angeles companies, from First Los Angeles Bank to Agensys Inc., which sold for $537 million, and Kite Pharma Inc., which sold last year for $12 billion.

He also is lauded for helping UCLA – which once made relatively little from its intellectual property and patents – earn $1.2 billion a year from its scientific research.

Doumani has helped spur a generation of business leaders through courses with titles such as “Business of Science,” “MedTech Innovations” and “Healthcare Technology” at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Christian Olano was a third-year law student and founder of a home health care firm when he stepped into a Doumani class in medical tech and innovation.

“I loved it,” said Olano, 33, of Woodland Hills, founder of a group home for adults with developmental disabilities and an employee of Doumani. “Knowing that Roy is actually working with companies trying to move the needle forward to change the world – it inspired me.”

Doumani, a wiry man with a bristly salt-and-pepper mustache and goatee, keeps a sparse white office that sports hand-written wall inscriptions: “I am relentless,” “Hard is good/Easy is a waste of time,” and “Why are people frightened of new ideas/I’m frightened of the old ones.”

The son of Lebanese immigrants studied business and finance at UCLA, earned a law degree at USC, and had served as a reserve officer and as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.

His approach to life, he said with a gleam, is innovation.


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