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March 3, 2017

Icahn Names Gene Transfer Pioneer as Portfolio Manager

  • Days after reportedly taking a stake in Bristol-Myers Squibb, Carl C. Icahn signaled an even greater role as an activist investor in biopharma through the hiring of Richard C. Mulligan, Ph.D., as a portfolio manager.

    Dr. Mulligan will focus on biotechnology investments for two Icahn limited partnerships, Icahn Partners and Icahn Partners Master Fund, the private investment funds comprising Icahn Enterprises' Investment segment.

    "We are very pleased to have Richard join Icahn Capital given the depth and level of experience he brings as we look to enhance our focus on the biotechnology sector," Icahn, the chairman of Icahn Enterprises, said in a statement earlier this week.

    Dr. Mulligan is the Mallinckrodt Professor of Genetics, Emeritus at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and visiting scientist at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. He is also a pioneer in the development of new technologies for transferring genes into mammalian cells. A major interest in Dr. Mulligan's laboratory has been the development of genetically engineered animal viruses as gene transfer vectors.

    In addition to serving as full Mallinckrodt professor at HMS, he previously served as director of the Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative, a collaboration by basic science and clinical investigators at Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals focused on preclinical and clinical evaluation of novel gene-based therapies for inherited and acquired diseases.

    From 2013 to last year, Dr. Mulligan was founding partner and senior managing director of Sarissa Capital Management. Sarissa—led by another biopharma-focused activist investor, Alex Denner—spearheaded the successful effort in 2015 to drive Harvey J. Berger, M.D., into retirement from the helm of Ariad Pharmaceuticals, the cancer drug developer that he founded in 1991 and is being acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical for $5.2 billion.

    Dr. Mulligan is a member of Biogen’s board and has previously served as a director, scientific advisory board member, or officer for numerous public biopharma companies, including Cell Genesys, Cellectis, Enzon, Somatix Therapy, and ImClone. ImClone was acquired by Eli Lilly for $6.5 billion in 2008, 2 years after Icahn acquired a majority of the company’s stock.

    Dr. Mulligan was also a consultant to Amgen, DuPont, and the Genetics Institute. He previously served on the NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, which provides guidance to the agency about experiments involving recombinant DNA, and the FDA Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee, which advises the FDA on matters related to cell and gene therapies, including stem cell-based technologies.

    He received his B.S. degree from MIT and his Ph.D. from the department of biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he studied under Nobel Laureate Paul Berg, Ph.D.

    After receiving postdoctoral training at the Center for Cancer Research at MIT with Nobel Laureates David Baltimore, Ph.D., and Phillip Sharp, Ph.D., Dr. Mulligan joined the MIT faculty and was appointed Professor of Molecular Biology and Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research before moving to Harvard and Children's Hospital in 1996.

    His honors include the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Prize, the Rhodes Memorial Award of the American Association for Cancer Research, the ASMB-Amgen Award, and the Nagai Foundation International Prize.

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