El Cerrito woman makes Forbes 2020 list of billionaires

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El Cerrito woman makes Forbes 2020 list of billionaires
Bio-Rad laboratory file image

An El Cerrito woman made Forbes’ 34th annual world’s billionaires list, which was released last week

Alice Schwartz, whose net worth is pegged at $1.8 billion, launched Bio-Rad Laboratories with her late husband David in 1952. She met David at UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in biochemistry, and together they launched their company with $720 in savings in a Berkeley Quonset hut, according to Forbes. Early products include “ion exchange resins, which are substances used to facilitate pharmaceutical manufacturing and lab research,” the magazine said.

Based in Hercules, Bio-Rad now sells 10,000 life science research and clinical diagnostic products, with 8,100 employees worldwide and revenues last year totaling $2.3 billion.

Schwartz is America’s oldest self-made female billionaire and remains on the board of the company and has an 11 percent stake in it. Her son, Norman David Schwartz, is the current chairman and CEO of the company.

The Forbes article points out some of the world’s wealthiest are stepping up to support others amid the COVID-19 crisis. Bio-Rad has played an important role, having partnered with labs worldwide to support COVID-19 testing. Multiple testing laboratories are utilizing the products created by Bio-Rad for quick and accurate results.

Bio-Rad recently announced the launch of a blood-based immunoassay kit to identify antibodies to the coronavirus. The kit, now undergoing clinical evaluation in several hospitals, will help clinicians determine if an individual has been infected by the virus and therefore has developed an immune response against COVID-19.

According to Forbes, Schwartz is one of 2,095 billionaires worldwide on the 2020 ranking. The total combined net worth of this year’s billionaires is $8 trillion, the magazine said.