Dr. Higgins earned his Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics from the University of Rochester in New York, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute before moving to San Diego in 1990. He has a professional background in biotechnology research, project management, and business development. He has held positions at several biotech companies including Invitrogen, Chiron, Idun Pharmaceuticals and most recently as Executive VP for Business Development and Head of US Operations for BioMedica, Inc., a UK-based gene therapy company. He has served as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Biology at SDSU and as an Instructor in the biotech technician-training program at SD City College.
More recently Higgins has done consulting work in the biotech industry and has volunteered for various community-oriented organizations. He served as foreman of the 2006/2007 San Diego County Grand Jury, and from 2008-2014 on the Board of Directors of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, including 2 years as president. Currently he serves as president of the Parkinson’s Association, as an Assistant State Director for the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), and on the Executive Committee of the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology.
For Higgins, Parkinson’s disease is a family legacy. His maternal grandmother and uncle suffered from PD and in early 2014 his mother died with Lewy Body Dementia after a long and severely debilitating illness. In his late 40’s Higgins began experiencing Parkinson’s symptoms and in 2011 was diagnosed with PD himself.
Higgins has become an advocate for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers and uses his personal experiences to work to improve quality of life issues through education, support, increase research funding leading ultimately to a cure.
He lives in the Northpark neighborhood of San Diego.