Welcome to MPM Ed! Your big reputation in life sciences investing precedes you, and we feel very fortunate that you chose to join us. Share with us a couple of pre-MPM career highlights.
Thanks, I’m very happy to be here! Granted it’s just over 20 (business) days, but so far my expectations have been exceeded. I’ve been fortunate to have had some truly moving – emotional, even – experiences in my professional life. As an investor in Calistoga, I attended their clinical advisory board meeting at the ASH conference where they reported out on their first dozen or so patients being treated in their Phase I study of which most were responders. The excitement of the KOLs in the room was palpable. I knew I was witnessing a therapeutic inflection point. A similar moment came when, as an investor in Avid, I was at an important Alzheimer’s conference where Avid presented pivotal data from the first PET imaging agent (of amyloid plaques) that allowed clinicians to distinguish between Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It was again an electric moment, when the several hundred scientists in the room realized that this would revolutionize the management of Alzheimer’s.
What drew you to MPM?
The technical sophistication of the team and their commitment to taking on complicated, even audacious, projects, and really getting it right. It’s a pleasure to have colleagues who are so willing to dig in and figure it out and throw the full weight of the firm behind doing great work.
Tell us about your family. And we heard that how you and your wife met is cute. Don’t leave that part out.
I managed to fit in six weeks in Thailand and China in my last semester of law school, and met my lovely British wife in a tropical paradise – an island in Thailand called Koh Samui. Back then it had no electricity and the lodgings were nothing more than huts with thatched roofs. I asked her if she want to join me for dinner as Thai food is always better if shared. Our relationship blossomed from that moment. I did have to chase her down around the world after that, but I persuaded her to come to San Francisco for a visit – and she never left. Fast forward: our family today includes three kids and a chocolate lab. Our oldest Zack is 17 and the twins Cassidy (girl) and Chase (boy) are almost 13. The dog, incidentally, has also made out pretty well as a result of my move to MPM, since she’s now in the care of a professional dog-walking service that takes her for four-hour, off-leash runs at a 400-acre ranch on the coast.
I heard that those kinds of off-leash activities are what lured you to California in the first placed?
True! I like outdoor activities – hiking, biking, skiing – and that is what lured me to California in the first place. I grew up in Williamsport, PA – aka, home of little league.
And how did you end up pursuing a career in life sciences investing?
I had several relatives in the medical profession and there was always the tacit understanding that I had to grow up to be a doctor. I was on a premed track when I graduated from Cornell but fortunately, for me, my brother was already in medical school. He made it sound so awful that I ended up taking a year off after college to work in the lab of a biotech company. During that “year off,” it quickly became clear that I was more interested in the application of science rather that doing it. So off I went to law school at Berkeley. When I got there though I had an epiphany that these people cared too much about where the comma goes – and at that point I decided to hedge my bet by going to business school at the same time. I did spend two years at a law firm, Cooley, doing corporate work, but fortunately I was “discovered” during a due diligence session for asking tough questions. This led to a job as a research analyst that I loved – and I have been in the investment world ever since.