New York Life Sciences 2031: OrbiMed’s Sam Isaly on Genomics, Health Reform, and Biotech’s Future

9/22/11Follow @arleneweintraub

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metastatic melanoma that’s caused by a gene mutation called BRAF. The drug comes with a companion diagnostic to find the patients who have the mutation and thus are most likely to respond to the drug. “There are now more and more therapeutics that are becoming associated with a diagnostic test,” he says. “It could be decades before we can declare it a revolution, but it is surely promising right now.” Roche is the third-largest holding in Isaly’s Eaton Vance fund.

Sam Isaly of OrbiMed Advisors

OrbiMed provided venture funding to Complete Genomics (NASDAQ: GNOM), a Mountain View, CA-based company that staged a successful $54 million IPO in late 2010. It is also a venture backer of Good Start Genetics, a Boston-based company that does genetic testing for prospective parents. “They start with genes of parents and make predictions about the outcomes of the children—pre-conception,” he says. Good Start is based on discoveries from the lab of Harvard genetics professor George Church.

When it comes to health reform—another likely topic of conversation at our panel event—Isaly declares himself an optimist. “We believe [the new law] is going to be implemented and will give a good stimulus to demand” for both health services and products, he says. “It will be positive.” About 10 percent of the Eaton Vance fund’s portfolio is invested in generic drugs—one of the industry segments that will benefit from that boost in demand, he predicts.

At New York Life Sciences 2031, Isaly will be joined by Eric Schadt of Pacific Biosciences, Barbara Dalton of Pfizer’s venture arm, and Sam Waksal of Kadmon. The discussion will be moderated by Les Funtleyder of Miller Tabak. Isaly predicts the panel will offer a good mix of business, entrepreneurial thinking, and “something approaching science fiction,” he says. “These are all forward-thinking people,” he says. “It’s all future. That’s exciting.”

To catch Isaly and all our other esteemed panelists at New York Life Sciences 2031, click here.

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