Salk heavyweight Evans raising $33M for an intriguing stealth biotech

Salk's Ronald Evans

Ronald Evans, the heavyweight Salk Institute researcher and serial entrepreneur who co-founded Ligand Pharmaceuticals, Syndax, and X-Ceptor, is putting his shoulder behind a new stealth biotech in San Diego named Metacrine.

According to documents filed with the SEC, Metacrine has raised $6.85 million of a $33 million round, putting them on track to burst onto the San Diego biotech scene in the near future.

MedCity News' writer Meghana Keshavan was the first to report this news, confirming the figures with Metacrine CFO Trisha Millican. And the reporter followed up with some intriguing observations that may help illustrate where this stealth player is heading.

First, Millican is the former interim CFO of Seragon Pharmaceuticals, which was sold to Genentech for a whopping $1.7 billion. And Millican, like a number of other Seragon staffers, came over from Aragon, which was bought out by J&J in a billion-dollar deal. Aragon/Seragon CEO Rich Heyman has made a boatload of money off the sales, and just joined Salk's board. And Heyman and Evans go way back, with both focused over the years on hormone receptors' role in cancer.

Another tidbit: Jackie Hernandez, who's also listed on the Form D for Metacrine, also worked at Aragon, according to her LinkedIn profile.

After linking some of the figures together, Keshavan speculates that Heyman may be using some of his personal fortune to back his old buddy Evans in an endeavor he understands very well.

Whatever the actual case, the mix of biotech professionals from newly acquired companies joining a heavyweight scientist with a yen for company creation is the classic snapshot of what goes into promising startups these days. FierceBiotech will keep you posted on what happens next. 

- here's the Form D
- here's the piece in MedCity News