Lewis Cantley is best known for discovering a key enzyme that’s become the target for a slew of cancer drugs. But he’s also a longtime entrepreneur who is amongst a crop of local scientists trying to prove that startup biotechs can grow and succeed in New York.
Cantley, a Weill Cornell Medical College biochemist, is one of the scientific founders of Petra Pharma, which launched in January with a $48 million financing round from Accelerator Corp. and a group of venture funds. It was not only the largest investment Accelerator has made in its 12-year history, but the most significant round raised by a Manhattan-based biotech in recent memory.
Cantley (pictured) has had entrepreneurial success before—he helped found Cambridge, MA-based Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AGIO) in 2008, and that’s now a publicly traded company with multiple drugs in development. But turning that trick in New York, which is desperate for the type of startup biotech ecosystem that Boston has, is a different challenge altogether for a variety of reasons.
“We have all these fantastic research institutions but very little tapping of that [science] locally,” he told Xconomy back in January. “But I think we’re going to see a big change in New York in the next few years.”
Cantley is among a group of other New York scientists, like Rockefeller University’s Sean Brady and Columbia University’s Charles Zuker, who are trying to kickstart that change and build a big biotech in New York. He’ll be on hand, along with Brady, Zuker, and other key figures in the city’s biotech scene, on March 29 at our “New York’s Life Science Disruptors” event at the Alexandria Center for Life Science to discuss that effort.
There are just a few weeks to go, but you can still save some cash on a ticket if you register here by next Tuesday. Hope to see you all there on March 29.