Our History


Bio-Rad was founded in 1952 by the late David Schwartz and his wife Alice. Dave remained actively involved in the company until he passed away in 2012 at the age of 88. Alice Schwartz continues to serve on the Board of Directors. The Schwartz’s son, Norman, has been with Bio-Rad since 1974 and today is CEO and President. Upon Dave’s passing, Norman also assumed the role of Chairman of the Board.

The name "Bio-Rad" is based on the words "biochemicals and radiochemicals," which described the company's first offerings. However, instead of calling the company "Biochemical-Radiochemical Laboratories," the founders shortened it to simply Bio-Rad Laboratories.

For more than 50 years, Bio-Rad has retained the entrepreneurial spirit of its early days. Its founders launched the company in a Quonset hut in West Berkeley, California, and developed their first product, tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Preparing TMV was a laborious task and the founders believed that providing it in a ready-to-use format would save scientists valuable time and effort, allowing them to focus on their research.

Although TMV was not the success envisioned, the seed was planted and Bio-Rad began its charter to accelerate scientific discovery processes by providing products and tools for researchers.


In the 1950s, Bio-Rad introduced the first analytical grade ion exchange resins for laboratory research applications, launching the company's Life Science Group. In 1957, Bio-Rad incorporated and in 1958 relocated its headquarters to Richmond, California. By 1966 the company sold its stock to the public and expanded internationally with its first overseas office in Germany.

Bio-Rad's early success with ion exchange resin products led to inquiries from physicians and hospital pathologists seeking a more reliable method for determining thyroid function. In conjunction with the medical community, Bio-Rad introduced the T-4 (thyroxine) thyroid test in 1967, the first commercially available test to accurately determine thyroid function. By the early 1970s, Bio-Rad had developed tests for a variety of other medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, lead poisoning, and anemia, paving the way for the formation of the company's Clinical Diagnostics Group.

During the 1970s, Bio-Rad entered the electrophoresis market with reagents, systems, and equipment, and today the company is a worldwide market leader in electrophoresis products. Bio-Rad's advancements in electrophoresis put the company at the forefront of unlocking the secrets of life contained in DNA and determining how genetic information translates into living organisms.

Over the years, Bio-Rad has evolved into a global enterprise that manufactures and distributes a broad range of products around the world. In 1975, Bio-Rad entered the quality controls market with the acquisition of Environmental Chemical Specialties, and today Bio-Rad is the number one supplier of quality controls worldwide.

In 1997, Bio-Rad launched its Biotechnology Explorer science educational program, giving high school and college students the opportunity to learn how real-world methods and applications work on instruments used in laboratories today.

The 1999 acquisition of Pasteur Sanofi Diagnostics, based in France, further broadened Bio-Rad's offerings with products for blood virus testing (HIV and hepatitis), microbiology and autoimmunity testing products, and the notable introduction of its bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow") test in 2000.

Today, Bio-Rad products are used in hospitals, universities, major research institutions, biotechnology companies, reference laboratories, pharmaceutical firms, and classrooms around the world. Bio-Rad's key competencies include separation, purification, and analysis, and the company is a leader in electrophoresis, protein assays, gel image analysis, quality controls, diabetes monitoring, autoimmune testing, blood typing, and BSE and chronic wasting disease testing.

The company's open-door style of leadership and entrepreneurial spirit inspires its employees, who are encouraged to develop new ideas. As a result Bio-Rad continues to thrive and plays a leading role in the advancement of scientific discovery, helping people live longer, healthier lives.


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Media Contacts

Tina Cuccia
Corporate Communications Manager
Phone: +1-510-741-6063
Email: Tina_Cuccia@bio-rad.com

Guillaume Camard
Communications Manager (Europe)
Phone: + 33 1 47 95 6261
Email: Guillaume_Camard@bio-rad.com

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