GV Taps Ex-Agios CEO Schenkein to Lead Life Science Investments

Xconomy San Francisco — 

It hasn’t taken former Agios Pharmaceuticals CEO David Schenkein very long to find a new gig.

Schenkein—the Genentech veteran who helped steer Agios (NASDAQ: AGIO) to two drug approvals in less than a decade—has been hired by GV, the venture arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Bloomberg first reported. In his new role as a general partner at GV, Schenkein (pictured above) will co-lead the firm’s life science investments.

The news comes just as Agios’s executive transition has taken place. Last September, Schenkein announced that he would step away from Agios’s top job, but remain executive chairman. Former Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) president and chief operating officer Jacqualyn Fouse was named his successor. The changeover was scheduled for Feb. 1.

Schenkein, 61, told Bloomberg that he wasn’t ready to retire. “I knew I wanted to continue to try and grow the breadth of my impact in healthcare and on patients, but do it in a different way,” he said.

A physician by training, Schenkein crossed over to the biopharma industry around the turn of the century. He then had stints at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, where he helped design the clinical trials for the multiple myeloma drug bortezomib (Velcade); and Genentech, where he oversaw the South San Francisco, CA, company’s portfolio of cancer drugs.

Schenkein joined Agios as CEO in 2009 when the Cambridge, MA, company was still a fledgling startup that didn’t have a prospective drug even close to human testing. But he helped steer the company forward with unusual speed. Agios discovered, developed, and won FDA approval of two “cancer metabolism” drugs meant to block the ways that cancers feed themselves and grow—enasidenib (Idhifa) and ivosidenib (Tibsovo)—in less than a decade. That progress was fueled by a wide-ranging deal Agios inked with Celgene in 2010 that helped propel the company to the public markets three years later.

GV offers Schenkein the opportunity to scout and finance promising new drugs. But he’ll also be able to explore new areas where high tech and biotech converge. GV investments in the past year include Verana Health, a San Francisco company that analyzes electronic health records for information that supports drug and medical device development, and Owkin, a New York startup that uses artificial intelligence to find new disease targets.