Sirtris Vet Michelle Dipp Takes Over Key Role at Glaxo as Westphal Returns to VC

4/22/10

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their own venture capital firm called Longwood Founders Fund in Boston. While the three Longwood founders have declined to comment on the new fund because it is in an SEC-required quiet period, it’s been reported that Glaxo is pumping capital into the venture outfit. And according to an address on an e-mail from Westphal, Longwood has also opened an office in the Prudential Tower, one of Boston’s most prestigious business addresses. Aldrich, a co-founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) and part owner of the Boston Celtics, previously occupied an office at the Pru when the biotech hedge fund he founded, RA Capital Management, had its office there before moving to more humble quarters over the past year.

In an e-mail to his colleagues at Sirtris and others (including Xconomy) yesterday, Westphal wrote that at Longwood “we will found, build and run important new medical companies, as we have been doing for the last decade.” Indeed, Westphal made some savvy investments during his previous stint as a venture capitalist with Polaris Venture Partners, backing such biotech companies as Sirtris, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), and Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA).

More recently, in 2008, Westphal, Dipp, and Aldrich co-founded Cambridge-based Alnara Pharmaceuticals, which has garnered lots of attention in the drug industry for its late-stage experimental treatment for people with cystic fibrosis. Last year, Dipp and Westphal teamed with Sirtris founding scientist David Sinclair and others to launch the Healthy Lifespan Institute, a Boston nonprofit focused on funding research of how to extend healthy living (as the name suggests). Dipp is president of the nonprofit.

“I think I’ve been incredibly fortunate,” Dipp says. “I’m a believer in just focusing on your work and doing great deals. I do think that biotech affords young, bright people a lot of opportunities.”

[Disclosure: Xconomy's brand new life sciences columnist, Sylvia Pagán Westphal, is married to Christoph Westphal. Sylvia had no involvement in this story, we swear!]

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