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New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

At check-in time, alphabetical order is harder than it looks.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Yancopoulos showing the proper way to wear 3 layers in 20 degree weather.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Even on a frigid night in New York, folks came and packed the house.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, a key figure in putting together the city’s ambitious biotech plan, “LifeSci NYC,” gives the crowd an overview of the deal and the city’s life sciences future.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Xconomy CEO Bob Buderi (far left) kicked off the main panel by asking the four panelists, (left to right) Carlo Rizzuto, George Yancopoulos, Judy Dunn, and Jeremy Levin, to throw down a challenge for New York biotech to achieve in the next five years.

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Ovid Therapeutics CEO and former Teva Pharmaceutical Industries CEO Jeremy Levin noted that the blockbuster cancer drug cetuximab (Erbitux) was developed in Manhattan labs; his hope for New York biotech by 2021 is that the city has catalyzed “real on the ground actions” that lead to another, similar medical advance.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Audience members mixed it up with our panel, asking questions about New York’s future and the differences between biotech in the Big Apple and other hubs.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Yancopoulos repeatedly mentioned that success in biotech comes from talented people with great ideas, not just "throwing money at a problem."

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Judy Dunn noted that the Swiss firm purposely didn’t set up its own labs in New York when it opened up the Roche Innovation Center in 2013. Its goal was to drive its scientists to work with researchers in labs in the area and tap into the “best” of what New York has to offer. “They have to get out there and do collaborations,” she said.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Rizzuto brought a surprise guest, Sarah Bettigole, a young entrepreneur---and Boston transplant---serving as the research director of a stealthy startup called Quentis Therapeutics. “We’re staying in New York because we deeply believe in the excitement that is here in this city,” she said.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

One attendee asks: How, in biotech, to prepare mentally for failure? The answer, from Rizzuto, is you have to be a little crazy. "A rational person would probably never touch this industry," he said.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Attendees take notes during the discussion.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

What has held New York biotech back, this attendee asked? The answer from our panelists: Among other things, New York was disinterested in life sciences.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Part of the reason Levin started Ovid Therapeutics in New York City was to be close to the network of hospitals, patients, and patient foundations in the city. That’s how he met Princeton University professor Rebecca Burdine (pictured), for instance, the parent of a child with the rare Angelman’s Syndrome, which Ovid is developing a drug for.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Yancopoulos introduced Aris Baras, the head of the Regeneron Genetics Center, which the Tarrytown, NY, company has set up as a sort of genetics discovery subsidiary.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

The crowd begins filing out, and our speakers stick around to chat.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Here's Rizzuto with an attendee.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

And champagne has officially worked its way into the auditorium.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

And, of course, a Brooklyn Pilsner.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Let the post-event schmoozing begin.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

There was plenty to talk about this week.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Don’t let the lighting fool you, this is a biotech event, not a rave.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Two of the attendees are Eric Soller (far left) and Cameron Pitt (middle), both part of Versant Ventures' New York outlet.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Decisions, decisions.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

All smiles on a cold night in NYC.

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

New York Life Sciences 2021

New York Life Sciences 2021

Hope you all had fun, see you again next year!

photos by Keith Spiro Photography

Xconomy New York — 

New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said it best: “It’s about creating what I call a ‘New York gestalt’ around life sciences.” Showing that New York biotech can rise above its problems, become greater than the sum of its currently disparate parts, and create a brand that ranks up there with Wall Street, the theater, or Silicon Alley.

Glen, addressing the throng of attendees at Xconomy’s New York Life Sciences 2021 last week, was referring to an ambitious plan by New York City government called “LifeSci NYC.” The goal, via a series of targeted investments, tax incentives, and startup and entrepreneurial support mechanisms, is to finally break the shackles that have held New York biotech back and re-brand the city as a life sciences center. Its wealth of academic institutions, financial power and diverse population notwithstanding, New York’s life sciences scene is dwarfed by the biotech beehives in Boston and San Francisco. Though it is consistently near the top every year in NIH funding, New York is far behind those hubs in VC investments for life science companies.

As Versant Ventures partner Carlo Rizzuto pointed out, there may have been more venture-backed biotech startups formed in the last 18 months in New York than the rest of the city’s history combined—but there is much work to be done. New York is at a tipping point, he said, and there are “a lot of things that could send us the wrong way.”

But there is optimism about the future, a “palpable” excitement, he said, in part because the city and state governments last week vowed to put a total of $1.15 billion into New York biotech through two different initiatives. Though there has been momentum in New York biotech before, the two plans—LifeSci by the city, and a separate, complementary $650 million initiative by Governor Andrew Cuomo—show that the state is now taking biotech seriously. It’s not the afterthought it once was. The progress made over the next five years is critical, however: By 2021, will venture-backed biotechs finally have places in Manhattan to take root and grow? If they do, will they stay and succeed? Will the city have built the planned Applied Life Science Campus, a connective hub viewed as the linchpin to LifeSci NYC? What can members of the community do to maximize the chance that has been presented here, and continue the momentum?

“It’s great to throw some money at a problem but, we all know—there are 5,000 biotech companies in America and most of them won’t amount to anything,” said George Yancopoulos, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. “It all boils down to incredible, special, talented people, and those people are incredibly rare.”

These topics and more were part of a spirited discussion last week at the Alexandria Center for Life Science on Manhattan’s East Side led by Rizzuto, Yancopoulos, and two other local New York biotech leaders: Judy Dunn, head of Roche’s Manhattan-based Innovation Center; and Jeremy Levin, CEO of Ovid Therapeutics. A big thank you to them, Deputy Mayor Glen, to the attendees that packed the house despite a frigid New York night, and to our event host Alexandria, whose CEO Joel Marcus kicked things off. Thanks also to our sponsors Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and The Rockefeller University, and to Keith Spiro of Keith Spiro Photography for the photos.

We’re sharing some of those photos in a slideshow today to give you a taste of the festivities. Hope you enjoy them—see you next year, New York.

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