A Preview of Xconomy Forum: New York Life Sciences 2031

10/11/11Follow @arleneweintraub

Xconomy’s first public event in New York City—a look ahead at the biotech scene over the next 20 years—is coming up this Thursday, October 13. We’ve been chatting with our panelists over the last few weeks, and the consensus is clear: There are a lot of great topics to cover, and the diverse set of experts we’ve convened will be sure to bring a range of experience to the discussion.

The after-work panel event will be moderated by Les Funtleyder, manager of the Miller Tabak Healthcare Transformation Fund (MTHFX) and author of Health Care Investing (McGraw Hill, 2009). In September, Funtleyder told Xconomy he’s looking forward to a lively discussion about what it’s going to take to increase R&D productivity in the pharmaceutical industry. “We had Genomics Part 1—the sequencing of the human genome,” he says. “Now there’s Genomics Part 2. The cost of sequencing a genome has come down from $3 million to $1,000 and the speed has gone up. Is this going to lead us into better drug discovery in the next decade? Or are we having another fad and nothing will ever come from it?”

Panelist Sam Isaly, founder and managing partner of OrbiMed Advisors, told us he’s sure genomics is anything but a fad. Isaly is a big believer in personalized medicine—the use of genomic discoveries to tailor drug therapies to the people they’re most likely to help. “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.”

Barbara Dalton, Pfizer’s vice president of venture capital, will bring two valuable perspectives to the panel: that of a VC and that of a representative of Big Pharma. She told Xconomy that Pfizer’s venture group invests in therapeutic areas that match what’s in the company’s pipeline, but that it is also looking ahead to what may be important several years from now. “We would do an ophthalmology investment, for example, if we thought it had the potential to be a significant game changer in the marketplace,” she says. “Another area I like to use as an example is hearing. Pfizer does not have any activities at all in the hearing area. But we all know if somebody could identify something for age-related hearing loss there would be a significant market opportunity.”

Another big topic at New York Life Sciences 2031 will be the city itself, and what local leaders need to do over the next 20 years to built it into a biotech powerhouse. Panelist Eric Schadt—CEO of Pacific Biosciences and the new director of Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology—says he’s already seeing some progress on that front. “I think we are beginning to see transformations already in NYC regarding biotech, as the city comes to appreciate that it is home to eight amazing medical centers, top-tier universities, and a very large population that stands to benefit from all of the progress in the life and biomedical sciences,” he says. “I have felt tremendous energy in the city to transform it into a major player in the biotechnology world.”

Here is the roster for the evening:

Opening Remarks:
Joel Marcus, CEO, Chairman, and Director, Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc.
Seth Pinsky, President, New York City Economic Development Corp.

Panelists:
Les Funtleyder (moderator), Health Care Strategist and Portfolio Manager, Miller Tabak Health Care Transformation Fund
Samuel Waksal, CEO, Kadmon
Barbara Dalton, VP of Venture Capital, Worldwide Business Development and Innovation, Pfizer
Sam Isaly, Founder and Managing Partner, OrbiMed Advisors; Manager, Eaton Vance Worldwide Health Sciences Fund
Eric Schadt, Director, Mount Sinai Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology; Chief Scientific Officer, Pacific Biosciences

Please join us on October 13 at 6 p.m. at the Apella Event Space at Alexandria Center. To register, click here.

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