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

Xconomy New York — 

Sam Isaly, the founder and managing partner of OrbiMed Advisors in New York, will bring a breadth of investing experience and range of perspectives to Xconomy’s first New York event—Life Sciences 2031, a panel discussion on October 13. OrbiMed operates healthcare hedge funds, private equity funds, and mutual funds, including the Eaton Vance Worldwide Health Sciences Fund, which Isaly manages. In August, OrbiMed closed a new $600 million fund called Royal Opportunities, which will acquire healthcare royalty streams and provide structured debt capital to companies in the industry.

Isaly thinks of his approach to investing as “the endless pursuit of the new,” he says. He loves to describe his experience having his own genome sequenced, and likens himself as an investor who’s ahead of the curve when it comes to spotting innovations in health care.

The topic of genomics and personalized medicine is sure to be a hot one at Xconomy’s forum—and that suits Isaly just fine. “We have multiple interfaces with next-generation sequencing,” he says of OrbiMed’s investment portfolio. For example, one of the top 25 holdings in the Eaton Vance fund that Isaly manages is Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN), a San Diego-based maker of research tools that boost the efficiency of high-speed gene sequencing, spot subtle variations in DNA, and analyze the various methods by which genes can get turned on or off. Although Illumina’s stock has faltered lately on concerns about slower-than-expected sales and profit growth, as a long-term holding, Isaly says, “Illumina has been great.”

Isaly believes advances in gene sequencing will ensure that the long-awaited promise of personalized medicine will come to fruition. As proof, he points to the new Roche drug vemurafenib (Zelboraf), which the FDA approved in August to treat … Next Page »

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