Icahn hires on gene therapy legend—and big biotech disruptor—Richard Mulligan as Bristol-Myers rumors simmer

Richard Mulligan

Back in 2010, when Carl Icahn was spooking Henri Termeer and the management of Genzyme, the heavyweight activist investor sent over a list of hand-picked names for new board members that could help shake things up at the company at the time it was grappling with some severe manufacturing problems.

One of those names: Richard Mulligan, a legend in the gene therapy field whose Harvard lab in the 80s included pioneers like James Wilson and Olivier Danos. Mulligan and another of Icahn’s favorites at the time, Alex Denner, had already vaulted on to the board at Biogen in 2009 to push for changes at the top. And they got it, bringing in George Scangos in a management coup in 2010.

Sanofi wound up buying Genzyme for $20 billion in 2011.

Now, Mulligan, a professor emeritus at Harvard and visiting scientist at MIT, is going to work for Icahn full time as a portfolio manager, with a special focus on biotech. Technically, he’s working at Icahn Capital, a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises $IEP, after joining Denner at Sarissa for the past three years.

Now cue the rampant speculation.

Icahn has sent a shock wave through Bristol-Myers Squibb, arriving to take a piece of equity just as rumors were taking hold that the big biotech — damaged by a series of setbacks on Opdivo — was ripe for a megamerger. Now that one of Icahn’s favorite disruptors has come on board full time, could a proxy fight over the board and future direction at Bristol-Myers Squibb be far behind?

I don’t know, but who can resist talking about it?

In the meantime, look for Icahn to start making waves in biotech again as Mulligan spearheads new plays in the field.

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