Sci­en­tist-turned-VC: Kevin Bit­ter­man takes his biotech hatch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to a new role at At­las

Kevin Bit­ter­man knows a thing or two about biotech star­tups.

Kevin Bit­ter­man

As a part­ner at Po­laris, which spe­cial­izes in cre­at­ing cut­ting edge de­vel­op­ers, he was the found­ing CEO of Ed­i­tas $ED­IT, one of the lead­ers in the gene edit­ing field. He was present at the cre­ation of Mor­phic and co-found­ed Geno­cea $GN­CA, among oth­ers.

And now he tells us he is mov­ing over to At­las Ven­ture, which plays a high pro­file role in kick­start­ing its own biotech ven­tures with a care­ful eye on the po­ten­tial pay­out.

I asked At­las’ Bruce Booth what in­spired the firm to re­cruit Bit­ter­man. His re­sponse:

Kevin is an ex­pe­ri­enced and ac­com­plished in­vestor who shares our pas­sion for com­pa­ny cre­ation, hav­ing helped co­found a num­ber of suc­cess­ful biotechs dur­ing his tenure at Po­laris. As a sci­en­tist-turned-VC, he al­so em­braces our mis­sion of “do­ing well by do­ing good” with a fo­cus on trans­for­ma­tion­al rather than in­cre­men­tal bio­med­ical ad­vances. Plus he’s a fan­tas­tic hu­man be­ing.

As you well note, he fits right in­to our seed-led ven­ture cre­ation strat­e­gy and brings com­ple­men­tary skills and ca­pac­i­ty to the firm.

I asked Bit­ter­man how he would de­fine suc­cess in his new role. His re­ply:

Suc­cess to me is pret­ty sim­ple. Hav­ing the world’s best life sci­ence en­tre­pre­neurs trust us with their ideas and as long term stew­ards of their sci­ence. Be­ing seen as pas­sion­ate com­pa­ny builders and as thought­ful, dili­gent part­ners to the en­tre­pre­neurs, op­er­a­tors and co-in­vestors (in­clud­ing my good friends at Po­laris) who we’re lucky enough to work with. Hope­ful­ly that for­mu­la al­lows us to build some com­pa­nies that will ul­ti­mate­ly change med­i­cine for the bet­ter and have a re­al im­pact on pa­tients’ lives.

You can watch their progress in cre­at­ing new com­pa­nies here at End­points News. Bit­ter­man and Booth have the mon­ey and the know-how to boot up a string of new biotechs in the next few years. That should be fun to watch.

John Hood [file photo]

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It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

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ICER blasts FDA, PTC and Sarep­ta for high prices on DMD drugs Em­flaza, Ex­ondys 51

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The final report — which cements the conclusions of a draft issued in May — incorporates the opinion of a panel of 17 experts ICER convened in a public meeting last month. It also based its analysis of Emflaza (deflazacort) and Exondys 51 (eteplirsen) on updated annual costs of $81,400 and over $1 million, respectively, after citing “incorrect” lower numbers in the initial calculations.

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There was the first snapshot of a handful of patients, with a 50% response rate. Then came word that Amgen researchers are also tracking responses in different cancers, at least one in colorectal cancer and appendiceal too. 

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UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

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At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.