The un­der-40s: How does the next gen­er­a­tion of bio­phar­ma ex­ec­u­tives view the fu­ture?

A group of outstanding up-and-coming biopharma professionals under 40 talk about their jobs, their plans and their dreams — and some of the things that just have to change about this industry.


The young standouts featured here have worked hard to get where they are, and they’re nowhere near finished. If you’re looking for a common theme, it’s about making a difference — in a big way — in how people will deal with disease in the future. Together, they are thinking about groups of millions that all have to be stripped down to one single case at a time.

Mentors figure prominently for many on the list, with gratitude for the help and positive guidance in mapping careers that have decades to run. And it’s influencing how they deal with the generation coming up from behind.

No one is denying the risks involved. They’re not keen on tradition. And they all like to surround themselves with smart, savvy colleagues.

But more than anything, this is a story about working to change biopharma for the better — both a revolution and an evolution. That may be about pushing new tech that can deliver dramatic improvements in R&D and development programs, new attitudes about work and life, or working toward the day when thorny issues like gender diversity are dealt with once and for all.

None of it will be easy. But they have decades to fulfill their dreams.

  • Yasir Al-Wakeel: CFO, Neon Therapeutics
  • Laura Deming: Founder & general partner, The Longevity Fund
  • Chris Gibson: Co-founder & CEO, Recursion Pharmaceuticals
  • David Giljohann: CEO, Exicure
  • Michael Gladstone: Principal, Atlas Venture
  • Arjun Goyal: Co-founder & managing director, Vida Ventures
  • Julie Papanek Grant: Partner, Canaan Ventures
  • Rachel Haurwitz: CEO, Caribou Biosciences
  • Christina Isacson: Chief business officer, Magenta Therapeutics
  • Cigall Kadoch: Co-founder, Foghorn Therapeutics; Associate professor, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School; Member, Broad Institute
  • Samarth Kulkarni: CEO, CRISPR Therapeutics
  • Neil Kumar: CEO, BridgeBio
  • Timothy Lu: CEO, Senti Biosciences
  • Kush Parmar: Managing partner, 5AM Ventures
  • Armon Sharei: CEO, SQZ
  • Alok Tayi: Co-founder & CEO, TetraScience
  • Geoffrey von Maltzahn: Partner, Flagship Pioneering
  • Feng Zhang: Co-founder, Editas Medicines & Arbor Biotechnologies; Professor in neuroscience, McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT; Core member, Broad Institute

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How Pa­tients with Epilep­sy Ben­e­fit from Re­al-World Da­ta

Amanda Shields, Principal Data Scientist, Scientific Data Steward

Keith Wenzel, Senior Business Operations Director

Andy Wilson, Scientific Lead

Real-world data (RWD) has the potential to transform the drug development industry’s efforts to predict and treat seizures for patients with epilepsy. Anticipating or controlling an impending seizure can significantly increase quality of life for patients with epilepsy. However, because RWD is secondary data originally collected for other purposes, the challenge is selecting, harmonizing, and analyzing the data from multiple sources in a way that helps support patients.

$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

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Gene ther­a­py from Bio­gen's $800M buy­out flops in mid-stage study, deal­ing blow to new am­bi­tions

The #2 candidate from Biogen’s $800 million ocular gene therapy buyout has failed in a mid-stage trial, dealing an early blow to the big biotech’s plans to revitalize its pipeline with new technologies.

Biogen announced that the candidate, an experimental treatment for a rare and progressive form of blindness called X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), failed to sufficiently improve vision in patients’ treated eye — patients only received an injection in one eye — after a year, on a standard scale, compared to their untreated eye. The company said they saw “positive trends” on several secondary endpoints, including visual acuity, but declined to say whether the trial actually hit any of those endpoints.

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Vas Narasimhan (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis whiffs on En­tresto study af­ter heart at­tacks — but that does­n't mean it's go­ing down qui­et­ly

If Novartis learned one thing from its interaction with the FDA over its latest heart failure approval for Entresto, it was that missing a primary endpoint may not be the nail in the coffin. Now, Entresto has missed again on a late-stage study in high-risk heart patients, and it’s already sowing the seeds for a path forward regardless.

Novartis’ Entresto couldn’t best standard-of-care ramipril in staving off a composite of deaths and heart failure events in patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and/or pulmonary congestion who have had a prior heart attack, according to topline data from the Phase III PARADISE-MI study revealed Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Michael Dell (Richard Drew, AP Images)

'Dude, you're get­ting a Del­l' — as a new deep-pock­et biotech in­vestor

What happens when you marry longtime insiders in the global biotech VC game with the family fund of tech billionaire Michael Dell, a synthetic biology legend out of MIT and Harvard and the former director of the NCI?

Today, the answer is a newly financed, $200 million biotech SPAC now cruising the industry for a top player interested in finding a short cut to Nasdaq.

Orion Biotech Opportunities priced their blank check company today, raising $200 million with Dell’s multibillion-dollar MSD group’s commitment on investing another $20 million in a forward-purchase agreement.

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BAR­DA slows its $9B en­gine for new Covid-19 ther­a­peu­tics

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is cooling its jets in looking for new, potential Covid-19 treatments, at least in the near term.

An HHS spokesperson told Endpoints News via email, “to date, BARDA has obligated more than $9 billion for the development and/or purchase of 13 therapeutics, beginning in February 2020 with support to develop Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapeutic. Therapeutics are an important element of the COVID-19 response, and we are focused on the programs currently underway and/or in negotiation using the funds available to us.”

Bris­tol My­ers backs up its case for heart drug mava­camten as FDA weighs app in car­diomy­opa­thy

When Bristol Myers Squibb signed off on its $13 billion acquisition of MyoKardia back in October, it was making a big bet that lead drug mavacamten could prove a game changer in cardiac myopathy. Now, with the drug up for FDA review, Bristol Myers is backing up its case with new quality of life data.

Patients dosed with myosin inhibitor mavacamten posted a clinically significant increase in scores on the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, a catch-all summary of symptoms and quality of life markers, over placebo at 30 weeks, according to data from the Phase III EXPLORER-HCM study presented Saturday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Stephen Squinto, Gennao Bio CEO (Gennao)

Alex­ion co-founder Stephen Squin­to is back in the game as CEO, this time for a small gene ther­a­py play­er

With his name already behind a rare disease success story in Alexion, Stephen Squinto was looking for a great story to drive him to jump back into the biotech game. He found that in a fledging non-viral gene therapy company, and now he’s got a few backers on board as well.

On Tuesday, Gennao Bio launched with a $40 million Series A co-led by OrbiMed and Logos Capital with participation by Surveyor Capital. The biotech, which is looking to use its cell-penetrating antibody platform to deliver nucleic acid “payloads” during into the nucleus, had to rush for its initial series — and had a name change along the way.

UP­DAT­ED: Apel­lis bags FDA nod for Soliris chal­lenger with a dif­fer­ent path­way to PNH — but can it slay the gi­ant?

With a blockbuster rare disease giant in its sights in Alexion’s Soliris, small biotech Apellis has reason to think its competitor is worthy of the spotlight. Now, with the FDA on its side, Apellis will get its chance to be the David to Alexion’s Goliath.

The FDA on Friday approved Empaveli (pegcetacoplan), a C3 complement inhibitor the biotech thinks can prove a worthy challenger to Alexion’s C5 inhibitors Soliris and follow-up drug Ultomiris in rare disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).