Third Rock Ventures Secures $426M Second Fund, Makes Changes to Partner Ranks

9/13/10

Third Rock Ventures, a healthcare-focused venture firm with offices in Boston and San Francisco, says today it has raised $426 million for its second fund. The fund represents a vote of support for the firm’s model of investing in and starting life sciences ventures that have the potential to transform healthcare.

The Boston-based firm, which launched in 2007 with a $378 million first fund, says that it has also made some personnel moves, in part to facilitate its recent expansion in the Bay Area. Charles Homcy, the former CEO of South San Francisco-based Portola Pharmaceuticals, has been named a venture partner at Third Rock and will head the firm’s West Coast office. Alexis Borisy, the former chief executive of Cambridge, MA-based Zalicus (formerly CombinatoRx), has been promoted from entrepreneur-in-residence to partner. Also, Nick Leschly has left the partnership at Third Rock to become CEO of its Cambridge-based portfolio company, Bluebird Bio (former Genetix Pharmaceuticals).

Meantime, Third Rock has recently added Chris Varma, previously of Flagship Ventures, and David Armistead, the former chief scientist of CGI Pharmaceuticals, as entrepreneurs-in-residence. With the recent West Coast expansion, Third Rock partner Craig Muir and principal Jake Bauer are moving from the Boston office to the San Francisco outpost, according to the firm.

Third Rock—which includes founding partners such as Mark Levin and Kevin Starr who previously served as senior executives at Millennium Pharmaceuticals—has been one of the few venture outfits in the Boston area to aggressively launch and invest in life sciences startups during the past years, a period of financial turmoil for many of their counterparts in the venture industry. Since 2007, the firm has launched or invested in more than 15 life sciences companies, such as Cambridge-based cancer drug developer Agios Pharmaceuticals and Zafgen, a developer of obesity treatments in Cambridge, as well as Bay Area firms Ablexis, an antibody drug specialist, and Afferent Pharmaceuticals, which is focused on new treatments for chronic pain.

“These companies were formed around disruptive areas of science and medicine and many were developed as part of Third Rock’s unique company discovery process,” Starr said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to partner with entrepreneurs, researchers and company founders to pursue bold ideas and groundbreaking science that promise to dramatically improve the lives of patients.”

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